tagLoving WivesA Good Little Housewife

A Good Little Housewife


The yellow curtain valance above the sink featured a maraschino print that suggested a cheerfulness that Hanna didn't feel. She had selected the window treatment herself, many years ago when Sam and her had first moved into the neighborhood, before kids, before restrictive budgets, and before Hannah could have ever imagined that life with Sam could be anything but perfect.

Now the days dragged on, one gray harsh day after another, cleaning up messes, meting out punishment and reward, cooking and dusting and generally being taken for granted. Currently, the children where playing some made up tackling game in the front yard while Hanna stood elbows deep in soapy water, rewashing the same dishes that never seem to stay clean. She could see them out the window which was hung with the cherry print valance that was now at least 14 years old. Their exuberant voices carried through the thin pain of glass as crunchy orange leaves fell all around them.

Sam was in the garage, working on one of his latest projects. Hanna didn't even know what that might be. She had long ago realized that the garage was his retreat, that he went there to be left alone. Even the children knew that when he was in there he was not to be disturbed. Hannah herself had no such consideration. She could be interrupted at any time for the littlest thing. She couldn't remember a time when she had taken a bath- or even a shower without a knock on the door and a problem that could only be handled by Mommy.

Even now, with her hands wet and soapy, in the midst of her endless daily chores, she knew she was not safe from interruption. Sure, the children seemed busy and happy, but a fight could break out, or one of the kids might decide that a snack was in order, and come tracking leaves and mud in and demanding to be fed. Then she would have to dry her hands and switch gears in order to prevent said child from trying to do it themselves (if it was Anne) and making a bigger mess for her to clean, or sitting at the table and whining (if it was Shelby or Bert) until she felt like she was going crazy.

Lately, Hanna had just started feeling so tired and worn, as dry and aged as the window curtains. She stands in faded jeans, swishing a dishcloth over a chipped plate in lukewarm water. The stack of plates and cups curved menacingly toward her threatening to collapse, to tumble down upon her and buried alive. She wondered how that would be any different from the way she currently felt, buried alive by her housework and family responsibilities.

She pushed her ash blonde hair behind an ear with her elbow, and thought about Lazarus, friend of Jesus, dead and buried and raised up again. "I need a resurrection," Hannah thought, not without some bitterness. She still went to Church two times a week, less because of any strength of faith than because it was the most peace and quiet she was ever afforded at one time.

She was lucky enough not to have a fire and brimstone pastor, but a soft-spoken young minister who was, if she let herself admit it about a married man of God, quite easy on the eyes. His lean body, disarmingly distinguished in dark suits and bold colorful ties, probably picked out by his wife to bring out the clear blue of his eyes. Hannah had always had a weakness for men with dark hair and blue eyes, perhaps it was the unexpectedness of the combination that made her feel week in the knees.

Hannah tried to be good, to do the things she was supposed to, to fulfill her duties with a cheerful heart, to keep her thoughts pure. But life had worn her down, and sometimes her own private thoughts were the only joy she could find in life. She felt guilty, sitting in a pew with the hymnal in her hands, and her own husband standing next to her, wondering what the good reverend's lips might feel like on her neck, what his hand would feel like on the small of her back.

She remembered with mortification how her face had been so flushed with the culpability of her sinful thoughts after one particular stirring service. Pastor Hopewell had spoken so enthusiastically on his topic, that Hannah had mentally transferred some of that passion onto herself, to the point that she was embarrassingly damp between her legs for the time and the place. As they were leaving the building, they exited though the line of farewell handshaking of the church elders.

When they reached the pastor, he had looked upon her, red faced and glowing with a delicate film of perspiration, and proclaimed joyously to her and her husband that she 'must have really been filled with the holy spirit.' And that he could see that the sermon had 'moved her.' She felt her color darken still more, and tried to nod and agree. She prayed that her husband didn't suspect the truth, hoped that the preacher wasn't mocking her somehow, having gotten by divine communication, a revelation of the true nature of her appearance. It seemed a bit ridiculous, but her own mortification was clouding her intellect. In her shame, she felt that everyone could see right through her. She felt exposed, naked, ashamed.

Why then, did this incident not keep her, week after week from escalating her fantasies? Always the hand on her back, his lips on the back of her nape, his nose nuzzling her ear. And then she's begin to wonder what type of words he would whisper in her ear. Would they be romantic and sweet, or would the kind of dirty words that passed out of her husbands mouth in the heat of passion also cross the good pastor's honorable lips, now so hot on her flesh. His kisses, in her mind, burned like a crucifix pressed to the skin of a vampire. His whispers scorched her soul in the same way.

Images of God and the devil, the sacred and the profane danced through her mind, tempting her, convicting her. She felt like an adulterous of the worst kind, a sinner of the highest order. The innermost circles of hell were reserved for her. Yet the flames licked at her, burning a desire right through the center of her being. It wasn't right to want this, and yet she did. She wanted this forbidden desire to overtake her, to overtake him; for her to feel young and beautiful and wanted again in the arms of a man. A man who would risk his job, his family, his very soul just to have her. She wanted, she realized, to be irresistible. As she once felt that she had been.

A door slammed, and a child entered with voice loud and steps hurried. "Mo-om! I'm starving, what have we got?"

Hannah blinked and brought herself back to her kitchen; back to her senses. Her hands had not been moving, had forgotten to continue in there chores without her attention. Her auto-pilot had failed and now they rested in cold gray water. Cold and gray and lifeless, how depressing she thought as she pulled the plug and let the used up water swirl away and out of existence. She dried off with a hand towel, neglecting the skin cream she always means to apply to go straight to the business of snack making. Her beautiful child smiled up at her with round eyes, expectantly, and she kissed him on the forehead.

Soon the others would be coming in, asking for snacks wondering what was for dinner. There was no more time for daydreams, no room for the body and soul searing thoughts that she had let overwhelm her. She had obligations to fulfill, duties calling out for completion.

Tonight's dinner would be a guilt offering, her husband's favorites with a desert that everybody loved. She would have no time to relieve the pressure of her yearnings in private; God willing (did she dare bring God into this?) the children would go to bed before Hannah and Sam collapsed from there own exhaustion. Her husband would reap the benefit of her sin. He might wonder at the reason for her unexpected enthusiasm, but he wouldn't complain. He would think she was a very good wife.

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