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The Washer’s Unbalanced

The washer started making an awful clunking noise. “Oh Lord,” Joellen said, “the washer’s unbalanced.”

She pulled away from Brent, running for the laundry room.

She yanked the dial to shut off the washer and opened the lid. Leaning down into the washer tub she pulled the water-laden rug and tried to get it to wrap around the inside so the spinning weight would be evenly distributed.

“Damn thing,” she muttered, struggling to lift the rug, heavy with excess water.

She had no idea Brent had followed her. But when she got the rug repositioned and closed the lid, she turned to find him standing just in front of her. The washer began to spin again, going ’round and ’round, slightly unbalanced but even enough on its pivotal point to spin and spin.

Brent had an odd look on his face and she thought for a moment that he looked handsome standing there in his suit, as if he was just ready to take off for work. For a second she was sorry about the whole thing and thought maybe she should just make some minimal demands and let it go and get back to their life together. Then Brent moved forward and in a moment he was kissing her and caressing her and she did not pull away. Even as she gave in, she thought this was not the way to get what she wanted, but then his caresses made her feel a little weak and she thought somewhere, in a dim way, that he had never made love to her like this before, had never been really attentive to what she needed, had never seemed involved, never demanded that she respond – not like this.

“Stop,” she whispered at last and tried to break away, even as he lifted her top and placed his lips on her breast. “We can’t do this.”

Not knowing if she really meant it or not, he brought his head up to look into her eyes. He saw confusion and something else that allowed him to continue.

“We’re married,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with this.” His hand fondled her breast as he spoke and he smiled a little smug smile before he kissed her neck and began to pull up her top to remove it altogether.

He bit her neck a little and said something, but her heart was pounding by then and she didn’t hear him clearly and besides her head was spinning now and she couldn’t think about anything until finally she did manage to push herself back against the washer, separating their bodies.

She raised a hand and, shaking her head as if to clear it of a cloud, she said, “Just a minute. You don’t seem to understand. I don’t want this. I don’t want our old marriage. I don’t want to wonder who you’re fucking on the road and who’s waiting for you in hotel rooms in Miami. I’ve got the goods on you and nothing you’ve done here has changed that. I’m not the floor mat you married and I’m not going to be ever again. So get out of this house and leave me alone.”

He stepped toward her and the wan smile had turned to something else, something determined and a little cold.

“Jo,” he said quietly, “you can have your new marriage. I’ll adjust. I’ll be what you want. Just let me show you. Just this once. That I can make you happy.”

She had never realized it, had never even thought about it, but Brent had a kind of resilience in the face of an obstacle. He wouldn’t force her to accept him, but neither would he back away. They stood in the laundry room like that, not saying anything, until finally he broke the silence.

“Tell me what you want,” he said. “And I’ll do it. I can. Just give me the chance.”

Joellen Part 3, Episode Thirty-Two

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