A micro-fiction piece anonymously submitted by one of our staff writers.

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I follow a strict schedule. 7 o’clock sharp the kids are fed. Dressed and ready for school. Clean cut hair, pressed shirts and trousers. Coffee on the table, room temperature. Silence. He leaves. The children leave. Wash the sheets, press the clothes, sweep and mop. Sit with the children while they do their homework. Make dinner, on the table by seven. Perfect plating, nothing touching. Ever. He smiles tightly, his eyes crinkle to the click of my heels on the floor as I rush around him straightening up. The perfect woman. He works there. In the den. We stay quiet out of respect. He paints me while they sleep. I am portrayed in shades of blacks, blues, and purples. He stands in front of the canvas for hours, each stroke more precise than the last. Facing his completed work, he sighs with exhaustion. He glances toward me with indifference. That is how I know he is finished with his piece. I creep to our room, careful not to disturb him. I stare into the painting, into the woman’s face. Her smooth pale skin tarnished. He wont like that tomorrow. I paint over her face in secret.

The next morning it’s back to the routine. Children up and off to school. Hair and clothes pristine. Coffee, room temperature of course. Everyone leaves. Clean the house. Pick up the children. Help with homework. On to dinner. She interrupts me. “Mommy, what happened to your eye?”. I stare at her. So many answers come rushing forward. “I fell honey”. He looks over, eyes like his fathers. I look to the painting, above the mantle. That woman he paints. Her smile never ceasing. Then back to my son. Our son. Distaste in his eyes. “Mom, what did you forget to do this time?”