Everything is normal, right? I’m just driving to get the
milk. In the background the car radio is playing soft music, and between songs
there are news flashes, mostly about corruption and murder and terrible things
that other people do. Other people—not me.
I’m a good guy. I’m still wearing my suit; I didn’t even
have the chance to change before I left my house. But it’s okay I say to myself. After all, I am not like all those awful
individuals described on the radio or the evening news.
To leave the house after a full day at work and spend another
hour looking for parking just to get the Goddamn milk is something that proves
I’m a good guy, right?
My wife Lora had all day to do it, but she didn’t. “It’s
the baby—I was busy with the baby,” she told me, when I opened the fridge and
asked, “Where the hell is the milk?” That is her new excuse—the baby. She
wanted this baby, not me.
“It’s going to
help us,” she told me. So I gave her a baby. If that is not proof that I
care about my wife, I don’t know what is.
It’s not only that. I work hard and head home straight after
work. I don’t cheat on my wife.
But she keeps doing the one thing I have asked her not
to do. “Don’t push my buttons,” I have told her over and over again. But Lora
always finds a new reason to do it. Now it’s the baby; before that it was the
“I’m pregnant” bullshit. And before that was her “I work full time” excuse. But
it’s not only Lora’s excuses and stupid reasons—it’s all the show after that. Is
it my fault that she didn’t do what she was supposed to do? Or is it my fault that
she always struggles to get up, or that she fixes her hair with a shaky hand? Like
it’s so important how she looks at that moment.
All of this just pushes my buttons even more. I cannot
stop whatever happens next. If she will stop pushing my buttons, these things
will never happen. It’s her—she just needs to stop doing that.
I’m driving my car close to a crosswalk. An old woman is
standing on the sidewalk waiting for the traffic to stop so she can cross. I
stop the car to let her cross the road. I really want to buy this milk and get
back home, but I’m stopping anyway—it’s a nice thing to do, right? The old
woman smiles at me when she passes in front of my car. But suddenly her smile
disappears, and she gives me an accusing look, her wrinkled lips moving slowly as
she says, “You.” She probably just wants to say thank you. It’s my imagination
playing with me. Everything is fine, right?
I’m almost at the supermarket. A big pickup truck cuts
me off from my right side, and the driver shouts, “Too slow!” But to me it
sounds like he said the name Lora.
It’s my imagination
again, I tell myself. But for some reason I start to sweat. My hands feel
really sticky on the steering wheel. I find a parking spot close to the
supermarket entrance and walk inside. I’ve just got to get the milk and get
“Where can I find the milk?” I ask one of the workers.
He looks at me in disgust, but he points in the direction I need to go. Before
I leave him to get the milk, he says, “Over there,” but I hear “Lora is dead.”
“What?” I say with a choked voice.
But he turns and walks away.
I almost run to the register. Panic is overtaking me. I
tell myself to try to relax—that I am not a bad guy. Everything is normal. Everything
is okay, right?
I pay for the milk, and without waiting for the receipt
or the change, I grab the bag and walk out. Before I go through the exit doors,
I hear somebody saying, “Thank you for shopping with us, you piece of shit.” He didn’t say it, I think. It’s all in my head, right?
I run to my car. My breathing is heavy, and I’m sweating
even though it’s cold outside. Driving back home, the radio features more
stories about other people doing bad things—murder and rape—but it’s other
people, not me.
When I open the front door, I can hear the baby
screaming. His crying pierces my eardrums.
“Lora!” I shout, but I can barely hear myself over the
baby’s crying. There is no answer.
And then I see her. She is lying on the kitchen floor. Lora is dead, you piece of shit, a voice
is rumbling like thunder in my head. It’s the same voice that tells me I’m a
good guy, a nice guy.
I do my best to think clearly and bring the friendly
voice back into my head, but I cannot do it with the baby screaming and
This cannot be happening. I’m a good guy. I really am.
Lora is lying there with her bloody hair wrapped around
her dead fingers. That was the last thing she did before she died—fix her hair.
Like it’s so important how she looks.
“I bought the milk!” I shout at my dead wife. “It was
your job, but I did it!” I shout as loudly as I can, trying to be heard above the
I just need a few minutes to think clearly, but the
baby’s high-pitched screech is making my skull crack.
She wanted that
baby, not me.
“It’s going to help us,” she said.
I’m not a bad guy. I’m a good husband. I come home
straight from work. I don’t cheat on my wife. I’m not like other people you
hear about on the evening news.
But this baby is really pushing my buttons.