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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Blessed (10/11/12)

TITLE: The Perfect Marriage
By Michael Throne


He takes the dishes from the table.

"I don't want to live like this anymore," he says. "We're always angry."

"It's not my fault," she says. "I'm not the one who keeps picking. First, you don't like my roast. Then my green beans are too done!"

"I didn't say that I didn't like the roast."

"You said it was dry! It was embarrassing."

"I guess I do I like my beans to snap a little. Honestly, how hard would it be to cook them a little less?"

"Well, why don't you cook the next time we have company?

"Maybe I will."

He pauses. "See, this is exactly what I'm talking about."

"I didn't start it."

"It doesn't matter who started it. It's got to end. Especially with the baby coming."

"So stop complaining about the things I do!"

"Like you don't complain about me?"

"I don't," she says, angrily. "Not like this."

"Yeah? What about the cable bill?"

"Well, of course, I'm upset about that. We're way behind on our bills, but we're spending over three hundred dollars a month on every sports and movie package they offer!"

"It's calming to watch a game after work. It relieves my stress."

"It's expensive!"

"So if it's something I want, we can't afford it! But what about all that new stuff? Did we really need an entire room full of Newman Marcus baby furniture?"

"Yes, we did! It's for our baby. I didn't want a bunch of junk!"

"So you paid top dollar...."

"Stop it! You were there with me!"

"To try to keep you in line."

"So how about all that ski equipment? That's over a thousand dollars we're still paying off!"

"Skiing is peaceful."

"But we could have rented them!"

"Buying's cheaper in the long run."

"You're always so good at rationalizing."

"I am not."

"And the BMW? We can't afford that and this house payment!"

"Sure we can. We just need to make a little effort to be thrifty. Like grocery shopping, for instance."

"Grocery Shopping? How about all that home theatre equipment?"

"It's cheaper than paying ten bucks each to see a movie."

"And that's not rationalizing?"

"No, it's not. It's thinking things through."

"Then why are we always broke? Why are we so far behind on our bills? Rick and Janet earn half of what we do, but they don't have money problems."

He pauses. "I knew it was a mistake to have them over."

"Why? Why is it their fault, all of a sudden?"

"It's not. I just get tired of their 'perfect marriage.'"

"I never said they were perfect."

"You imply it."

"Well, they do seem happy."

"And we're not?"

"Sometimes. Not always."

"Yeah. Not always."

"I don't know. I guess I get a little envious."

"Yeah." He puts a plate in the dishwasher. "Honestly, I get envious, too. I look at them and wonder what we're doing wrong."

"And now we're bringing a baby into this," she says.

"I know."

"We have to figure this out."

"I know."

He puts his hands in his pockets. "So what are they doing different?"

"Besides not fighting?"

"Yeah. Besides not fighting."

"I don't know. It's like, they actually care about each other."

"I care about you."

"Yeah, and I care about you, too. But they, I don't know, they have something, a peacefulness." She lowers her voice. "Janet mentioned their church again."

"So now you want to start going to church?"

"No, of course not! I'm just saying that it seems to calm them somehow, keeps them a little more mellow...."

"The opiate of the masses."

"Yeah." She shrugs. "Some marriages are just naturally blessed, I guess."

"I guess."

"But maybe," he concedes, "maybe there is something there. Maybe we should start taking walks in the woods, getting more in touch with our spiritual side."

"I don't know. Remember how we tried trail riding for a while? We were suppose to 'get back to nature,' isn't that what you said? All we did was blow a couple grand on some bikes that we never rode after the first few weeks."

"So we need to stick with it."

"Honestly, I don't see how that's going to help."

"Of course, it is. Come on, we have to do something. We have a baby coming."

"Yeah, we do."

"Trust me."

"I don't know."

"It's worth a try."

She looks at him thoughtfully. "You really think it will help?"

"I'm sure."

"Well, I could use some new hiking boots, I guess."

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This article has been read 501 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 10/18/12
I really felt for the characters and wanted them to learn from the other couple. Your dialogue was very realistic. I'm sure many readers including myself can relate to the picking arguments that ruin the joy in marriage. Nice job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/19/12
Oh this is great! Normally I'd suggest not to use taglines but instead use narratives that do more showing but this piece is a perfect example of how the dialog does more showing than the narrative. I bet any couple who has been married more than a year or two can relate to this. You made some great points in this piece. Marriage is hard work. I enjoyed this one a lot.
Genia Gilbert10/21/12
I enjoyed this, and you did well with the dialogue to tell the whole story. My heart is pulling for this young couple and thousands like them! Good writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/23/12
Excellent "showing" through dialog. Your last line shows that they don't really get it yet, but maybe their friends' example will help them.
Leola Ogle 10/25/12
Good job Michael! Congratulations! God bless!
Nancy Bucca10/25/12
Excellent work here. I love the dialogue leading up to the couple (possibly) checking out the idea of going to church. The markers you put in here and there were a great way to keep track of who's talking to whom - so easy to lose track of in a dialogue.

Congratulations on winning 2nd place. It's well deserved.
Bea Edwards 10/26/12
Wow this seemed like a scenario of numerous arguments in my previous(unsaved)and former married life.
You did a wonderful job portraying the American dream lie. Fantastic and unique way to present the topic. A well deserved win--congratulations!