© Olivia Tejeda
“What’s wrong with this?” she asked holding out the copy of Oprah she brought back with her.
Her husband looked up, eyes only, over the top of his glasses. He said nothing and went back to reading.
She leaned in and said through tight lips and a clenched jaw, “I asked you if there’s something wrong with this.”
“Edward!” Louder this time.
Edward closed the book and slid his glasses down. He pondered the pinched looking woman standing in front of him as he stroked his short salt and pepper beard.
“Can I … help you?” he said.
“Why did you say ‘Oh my God?’ ”
“You are truly pathetic.”
“Wrong again, Edward,” she said, pointing a sharp finger at him. “You are an impotent troll.”
Fredrika sat down and noticed the woman at the next table, caught mid-sip and still staring, surprised and embarrassed by their candid contempt. Fredrika smiled and began flipping the pages of the magazine.
Flip. Flip, flip. Flip.
“Did I do something?” she said. “Is that why you said ‘Oh my God?’ ”
Edward sighed. “Really, Fredrika? Really?”
“Just tell me.”
Flip, flip, flip.
“Want pizza for dinner?” she asked.
“Chinese? You want Chinese?”
She flipped more pages.
“We can have dinner with the Crandalls. You like the Crandalls.”
“Fredrika,” Edward said.
“Fredrika,” he said
“Edward,” she said.
“Fredrika,” he said.
“What?” she hissed.
“Can I tell you what I want?”
She sat mute.
“I want you to shut up,” he said. “For one minute of one day in the entirety of your life, I want you to shut your mouth and be silent.” Then he went back to reading.
Fredrika huffed and straightened her posture.
Flip. Flip, flip.
After flipping the last of the pages, she took a deep breath and rubbed her forehead.
Edward looked up. “Are you all right?” he asked.
“My contacts are bothering me.”
“Do you want to leave?”
“I hate to disturb your book, but yes, yes, I think so.”
He closed the book and stood up.
“Here,” he said reaching out. “Give me your magazine. I’ll put it away for you.”
When he returned, he took her hand and they walked together to the exit.