Walking On Seashells by Susan Gibb

“It’s like walking on seashells trying to talk to you!” she said.

“You mean eggs,” he said, “it’s like walking on eggshells.” He snorted to make his point, left the table and went into the other room.

And somehow that ended the argument this time.

She heard the television blare up. People laughing. She couldn’t imagine what in life was so funny anymore that an entire audience would laugh. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down. Her nerves zapped with electric anger. She stuck her hands in the dishwater and watched as they sizzled and spat. It was getting harder and harder. She stopped scrubbing dried pasta off the plate and swore she’d give that one to him at the next meal.

The next night was the same thing. “How the hell do you think my day went?” he said. His eyebrows were set in that mean way they had of placing themselves whenever he talked to her lately.

She poked at the cioppino she’d thought would please something inside him. “What the fuck’s this?” he had growled.

“You don’t have a clue what it’s like out there,” he went on. He worked on a mussel, fork and knife teasing it open. It slid from the plate and flew off. He sat staring at his plate, building up steam, and then shoved the plate off the table and banged out the door.

“Broken shells,” she whispered as she picked them up off the floor. “Seashells.”


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Filed under Susan Gibb

13 responses to “Walking On Seashells by Susan Gibb

  1. Andrew

    I know these people, Susan, know them both.

    Terrific, of course.

  2. Thank you, Andrew. I suspect this couple is not rare.

  3. So she’s someone trying to please someone who can’t be. Frustrating and sad.

  4. Maude Larke

    Exactly. Walking on seashells. They cut a thousand times more. Brava, Susan.

  5. Michie

    “Her nerves zapped with electric anger.” — I love this! Aaugh, the man’s character is well written. I know of men (uncles, papas) like this and I can’t stand them. Well done!

  6. A man like this should be suffocated with a pillow while he sleeps. I hate him passionately. I wonder why the woman stays? But it makes for a hell of a dramatic flash, Susan

  7. a drama in a seashell. perfect. loved the sizzle, too.
    the story also made me think of the tale of seal woman. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie )

  8. Lou

    Yes, some seashells can be just as delicate as eggshells, and walking on either one exhausts the soul. This is beautifully done, Susan.

  9. John Riley

    Great characterization, Susan, and a tightly woven story. Great story.

  10. The setting details, the tension filtered through the brilliant dialogue, and that sinking feeling that this is all too familiar. Amazing work!

  11. The tension took me back to high school and my step-dad’s frustrated explosions at the dinner table. He’s a bit calmer now, but I haven’t forgiven him all those tantrums–the nerves have stayed zapped. Powerfully captured.

  12. Pingback: Week #45 – Broken shells | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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