Fire and Water

by Copper Rose

The sun was shining down. Twenty degrees with water dripping from the metal roof onto the sidewalk, making it slick with dark ice. I clasped my hand around my rosary, closed my eyes and prayed. It had been four days since I put wood on the fire.

I knew it would come to this.

“Take it from that pile,” he said.

“Why did you use that wood?” he said.

“That’s not the way to bank the fire so it will burn all night,” he said.

“Why did you let the fire go out?” he said.

I was tired of not understanding what he wanted done, and how.

I no longer cared about the fire.

I washed the dishes though.

By hand.

Even when I asked him not to stack them in the sink. Because it was extra work to take them out again when it was time to wash them. Take them out so I could tighten down the stopper to keep the hot water in.

Everyday he put his dishes in the sink. Not off to the side like I asked.

Maybe it was time to add a new ingredient to his meals. The mushroom I found in the woods early in the fall had shriveled up just right. After the meal, I could put the plate on the sideboard. Let my water-soaked fingers take one more turn around the beads. Pray for forgiveness. And then turn up the thermostat. It would be nice to feel warm again.

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