It was a pleasing ritual for Vivienne to cook a meal for her love Marco; especially during one of their most romantic nights of the year. 

Another monthly anniversary.

Vivienne would light a candle, put the player on and play some soft Sade. She would stare into each of Marco’s beautiful eyes. Remind herself of how she fell so completely in love with this man. The love of her life. She loved him with every inch of her breath, but maybe… she loved him just a little bit too much. 


Tonight was steak night. With a side of home cut chips and a homemade garlic sauce that was ground and creamed all from scratch. 

A meal fit for a king, a meal perfect for a devoted-husband. Marco was her king.

Marco was a solitary figure. 

Sure; when he was younger he was like any other young man. Marco was once impulsive. He was once ambitious. He was once rambunctious, fast living, with a devil may give a shit kind of attitude. But now – he was a quiet, gentle and wise man of solitary inclination. 

I knocked the spirit right out of him. Vivienne would tell her father.

It pleased Vivienne greatly to know that as Marco aged and responsibilities caught up with him, he had become more docile – content to spend time alone and less restless – this relationship would have died long ago had Marco always been elsewhere, like the early years.  

Elsewhere is a bar in London. A business meeting in Europe and another woman’s arms for all Vivienne knew.


She had Marco as a homebody. And Marco was still only twenty-six. But the slippers and fireplace weren’t far off.

Had he been the go-getting man he once was, then “this” just wouldn’t have worked. 

And it was great to have a relationship where the woman really worked her bum off.

Babies were off the table indefinitely; so Vivienne had her career.

That was her baby. And Marco was her king…  


The dinner ritual was important for them. A chance to communicate and lay down a foundation of trust and dialogue akin to any marriage.

 It also was a chance for Marco to be regular and not the hermetic creep he’d become. And while Vivienne enjoyed the solitary figure she had seen mellow through the years. He still needed human company from time to time.

”Human" company - like his wife… 

Marco entered the kitchen like a skittish fox enters a carpark at midnight. Eyes ablaze and looking anywhere but here, in a state of eager fright. But then the sight of a familiar face, cooking a beautiful meal soon calmed him. The smells hitting right at the back of the hippocampus and creating soothing memories of early courtship. 

He sat down and placed a napkin on his lap. 

“So how was your day?” Vivienne asked; the way a good wife asks a good husband.

Ask about his day – like a normal, good wife. That’s good Vivienne. You’re a picture of bliss. 

“It was good thank you, dear,” Marco replied in a drilled recital.

“What did you do?” Vivienne said. 

“I was in the room,” Marco replied.

“Just the room?” Vivienne probed further.

“Just the room.” Marco said and smiled a broad superficial smile.

Marco felt despondent. His earlier bliss at dinner quickly gone and evaporated. 

She was in one of those kinds of moods. Fuck! She was always in one of those kinds of moods. 

It was now coming up to five years and Marco was sure that during the entirety of the five years there wasn’t one day where they did have a cross word for one another. Vivienne having the majority of the crossed words – every single day.


Marco ate in a rush, terrified to remain there too long – but Vivienne knew that if Marco finished quickly he would still have to wait for her and the time spent at dinner would have been the same regardless (Vivienne being a slow eater of course). Marco was eating in a pointless rush. Nonetheless, Marco still ate mouthfuls in a pointless sprint, despite the wasted time and energy it cost him.

Now that Marco had assessed the mood of Vivienne, it became like every second at that dinner table spent was a step closer to the impending doom that he always dreaded with this bipolar woman.

And Vivienne sensed Marco feeling that and slipped deeper and deeper into her own fragile state of unsteady love, unreciprocated love, forced love. This made Vivienne feel a cold and painful imbalance that one only feels in the depths of their heart and their stomach. 


As dessert was brought out, Vivienne resumed her questioning, in a cold, stern tone which she upped a level because Marco’s speedy eating pissed her off.

“I hear you, Marco. I hear you with that pen I gave you, trying to scrape away at the walls and force the window open. And I heard you today, plotting your little escapes. Don’t tell me that today you were just in the room – don’t lie to me, Marco.” Vivienne said.


Marco nodded like the guilty little boy he was or the pathetic “man” he’d become. 

Vivienne swiped at the table and knocked over the jug of wine in a fury. The wine spread quickly and swallowed the table cloth. The wine was dripping melodically onto the floor:

Drip, drip, drip.

“You lost the left hand Marco; do not make me take the right,” Vivienne said. 

Vivienne reached across and pulled back Marco’s sleeve to reveal a stump where the left-hand once was. The stump had a rough terrain. It was pockmarked and bumpy. The amputation was carried out with a butter knife and the aftermath was disgustingly craggy. The arm was hideous. 

“I love you too much to do that again,” Vivienne said, “don’t make me.”

She began deep breathing and calming herself.

Marco could see the scar on Vivienne’s face illuminate in the candlelight as she leaned across the table. The burn mark on Vivienne’s face was a purple streak of violent trauma. 


After dinner, Marco trotted back to his room. Vivienne followed with the keys and slammed the basement door in his face. 

The locks made a clunking sound, a repressive but familiar sound for Marco. 

And with that – Marco was back in the basement. The large door bolted. Marco was staring into the dim lamplight, the shackles bound to the radiator. They made another familiar clunk as he pulled the shackles forward and they rattled like metal on metal.

Marco was now the kind of man that was always alone with his thoughts. Marco once didn’t have time to think. 

You picked the wrong woman. 

One day – on one of these monthly “romantic” dinners, he might work up the courage to ram the candlelight into Vivienne’s face and break for the front door.

Marco only had one problem with that specific plan, he had grown to love Vivienne far too much to try that again.

Marco picked up the spoon and went back to carving into the walls, quietly this time.

The carving had a feint chalky outline that needed going over again – it read: 



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