She sat down at the table with her coffee mug, squeezing it with her little hands and absorbing the warmth that she desperately needed. Under the table her leg swung back and forth erratically. 

She heard the door, and soon he walked into the kitchen.

— I’m starving. What’s for dinner?

Ugh… She forgot. She had been thinking all day about how to break the news to him.  

— I’ll make you something. 

He took three beer cans out of the fridge and settled on the couch. 

— Bob is getting a divorce… Turns out he was sleeping with some college student… Can you imagine? 

— Oh I can imagine… — she muttered to herself as she was flipping the omlet.

— What’s that supposed to mean? 

— As if you had never thrown yourself at women… 

— When will you stop bringing this up?  — he turned on the TV. 

— I won’t. — The woman suddenly lit up and turned towards him — you cheat and lie, then push all these things away… the lengths to which your mind goes to separate those two realities, you almost made yourself believe that it never happened just to cling onto the image of a “great husband and father”… you aren’t just lying to me but to yourself. You are the one who can’t face the truth! 

— Where are my flip-flops? — the emptiness of his voice infuriated her. She couldn’t stop vomiting the toxins out of her body. 

— The audacity to expect me to stay silent.. you gag me, you push your filth down my throat and make me swallow it! You can’t possibly fathom my pain… How can you be so indifferent?

— Oh come on, you are hysterical! 

His laugh pierced her ears. It was cruel and cold. She stopped. He was completely deaf to her screams. 

He couldn’t quite understand. What was the big deal? Men cheated all around him. His father had cheated, no doubt. She didn’t even know what an angel her husband was compared to his coworkers.  

And yet her words stung him, made him feel nauseous. His mind stumbled upon a memory — the night he spent with Elsa. No argument, no list of all the things he had done wrong, no reminders of his endless responsibilities shoved into his face… That night he felt free and light in his heart.. But the following morning, he tried to forget it… sickness crept up on him, he was plunged back into his world of responsibilities, endless cycles of traffic, the noise, the chaos, the constant news of war and suffering overseas, the inevitable doom looming in the back of his mind, and now with an added load, he had to continue rotting away at his manual job… 

She didn’t seem to appreciate the way he was toiling his youth away just to give her the house she always wanted, give her time off work to stay with the kids… He was exhausted, he deserved a break once in a while… 

He couldn’t hold it any more, she was pricking something inside him, a long forgotten guilt that he shut away, she was holding up a mirror to his face and he didn’t want to look in. No! He hadn’t done anything wrong. She was the one who was ungrateful.

The man’s eyes were glaring. He was clenching his fists. 

— You are the one who never stopped asking for more! Always reaching for the most expensive wallpaper… What a hypocrite… 

That’s how she looked at him now — her touch, her gaze, her words seemed so alien, so far away, retreated in the background. She could imagine herself in space, in nothingness, drifting away from him. None of them tried to reach out, hold out their hand. Their expressions conveyed a tragic sense of inevitability, acceptance, powerlessness. Nothing could be done. 

— If only we had a fireplace like your sister does! Your sister, with her jacuzzi and Kandinsky paintings in her bigger house with her better husband? You think I didn’t get the hints that you so casually dropped? 

Did they rot themselves? 

— You are just insecure. 

She felt part of her self was observing the scene from the outside. It all seemed so meaningless, a mere cacophony. Was it ever different? 

In her memory, warmth was shrouded by struggle, love muffled by the harsh mundane demands of everyday life. It must have been there, at some point. The illusion of  “a better future” and pipedreams lured them in, making their everyday sacrifices seem justified. Couldn’t they have simply been happy in the present? 

— You are ungrateful, self-absorbed!

She looked away from him, yet her gaze ran into the sight of a half-rotten apple on the window counter. The rot. There was no avoiding it

Half-rotten, it looked strange under the sun invading the glass. She observed it from afar, lasered through it. You could see brown rings on the right side of the rotting fruit. Rings were covered with little sand-like beige specks that gave the fruit especially repulsive air. She couldn’t look away. Hypnotized, she said without looking back at him:

— I filed for divorce. 


Morning was cold. Soon it would snow. She shrugged at the thought of the looming winter. 

She was tracing the contours of the family picture frames on the table with her fingers. It felt dusty, like chalk.  Her touch was tender, yet indifferent, depleted of the warmth with which she used to caress her space. Her gaze was almost devoid of emotion, but you could still see a flicker of nostalgia in her deep honey eyes. Silence embraced her like a mother — made her feel safe and calm. It used to disturb her, but now she found her escape into it, as if silence was more real than sound. She was eager to stay alone, to be unbothered, undisrupted. Words only brought noise now. She felt exhausted, sat down at the table and screened her surroundings. 

The apple still lay on the counter. She sliced it in half, like a surgeon amputating a rotten limb in an attempt to save the patient. She stared at the two halves. Expressionless, she listened to her thoughts. Nothing, her mind was as quiet and as clear as a night sky. She took the rotten half towards the trash and was about to drop it in the can, but her hand froze above the can. She squeezed the rot instead, the brownish mass spilled over from the crevices of her fist. She observed it, fascinated, as if trying to comprehend the rot. Where did it come from? When did it creep up on them? She felt sharp pain in her chest. Her eyebrows twisted, her lips trembled and gave way to a bottomless pit of her silent scream. She crossed her hands over her chest and squeezed the rot even tighter, held onto it for dear life. The liquified substance dripped on her clothes with a burning sensation. 

The second half of the fruit was still lying on the counter, left there for the sun to rot. 

Writer | Mariam Beshidze ’27 |
Editor | Gabrielle Avena ’25 |