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From Short Stories About Us
By Carine Fabius

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A bitter, elderly Haitian woman must deal with her growing crisis: At 82 she’s come to the realization that she can’t stand her husband. What should she do?

Related Essay: “MissCommunication”

The author ponders concerns which, left unattended, could threaten her marriage. She decides to practice—before a mirror—the way she will present the case to her husband.

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Back when Arab men evoked exotic and heroic brown sultans charging through the desert in flowing white robes, her Haitian husband used to arouse in Hélene images of triple-caramel ice cream treats. Multiple years and thousands of frowns later she just wanted to rip that satisfied smile and fake modesty off his face. Maybe she could, just once, tell him what she really thought of him. She had just attended a one-woman show with her friend Louise, and been wowed by the spunky performance. Maybe she could try telling him the bit was a monologue for a theatrical audition!

What? At 82? He would say. You’re going to take up acting? Then he would put on his supportive act: “Well chérie, you can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it. But you’ll take the money for that out of your savings, right?”

Of course Mr. Millionaire Banker would back her, as long as it didn’t cost him anything. In any case, she’d always paid her own way. Over the years she had occasionally expressed a desire to leave her job at the health insurance company in order to work on creative projects—like bottling her infamous pikliz. Most people used Scotch Bonnet peppers, pickled carrots, cabbage, lime juice, and vinegar to make the spicy Haitian condiment, but they didn’t know about her secret ingredient! People raved about her recipe.…

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Next Story: The Invitation →