This prompt at Sunday Scribblings this week is "big". Here's my story...
"Why are you making such a scene about this?" he yelled back at her in a condescending voice. "I'm telling you it's no big deal, so just drop it!"
She didn't respond at that moment, she knew better than to risk angering him even more. But deep down she had a gut feeling that despite his denial it was serious business... symptomatic of a bigger problem... yes, a very big deal. "Me thinks you doth protest too much", she thought to herself, but said nothing.
Lately it seemed it had been one thing after another, like a row of standing dominoes, one toppling over the next. Half-baked excuses for coming home late, money they didn't have didn't have flowing thru his hands like water. He seemed restless and distant and even more-short tempered than usual. But this was going one step too far.
She felt she deserved, and had demanded an explanation. Who was this woman in the snapshot clamped to the visor of his truck along with a handful of gas receipts, tattered pictures of nieces and nephews and such? Not someone she'd ever seen before, that was for sure.
He'd told her it was "no one", just a picture he found laying around somewhere. Like the kind that comes in a new billfold, he'd said. But if it really meant nothing to him, why would he keep it there to look at, as if it was someone he cared about?
"Ok" she tested him, "then I'm going to go clean out your truck and toss the photo into the trash while I'm at it, because it bothers me".
"The hell you will!" he bellowed. "You keep your damn hands off my truck. It's none of your business." "There you go again, trying to make something out of nothing," he said, using his age-old ploy of turning things around to put her on the defensive.
"What do you think?" she asked her best friend the next day, desperately wanting someone to reassure her there was no reason to worry. But her friend only looked at her sadly and said "I think he's full of shit." Enough said.
Realizing this was yet another battle with him that she wasn't going to win, she tried to ignore the brazen insult of the other woman's picture hanging there for all his friends to see, tried to pretend it didn't matter. But it did, it ate at her. Who was this woman, and what was she to her husband? She didn't really want to know the answer, but then again she did.
The more she thought about it she came to the realization that this was just one more slap in the face, one more bit of evidence of his turning against her, of him shutting her out of his life piece by piece - replacing her with people and activities she knew nothing about about and would never agree with.
From deep within came the awareness that this photograph, this small piece of paper, was indeed a big deal... it was like the final inch of snow falling on the mountainside that would soon trigger an avalanche, wiping out the last shred of hope, and destroying everything in it's path.