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The Oddest Couple On Earth
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The Oddest Couple On Earth
Strange, short piece about a dysfunctional couple.
[1,440 words]
Konstantinos Tzikas
[June 2007]
The Oddest Couple On Earth
Konstantinos Tzikas

                           THE ODDEST COUPLE ON EARTH

    The truth was that he was so damn repugnant, in all his isolation and self-pity that she could no longer bear him.

    However, it had started out quite well. They had moved together in a brand-new apartment, so fashionable and cosy. Initially, they were going for renting it; instead, they bought it. It was not originally furnished but they brought with them their own collection of all sorts of lovely items: photo albums, CD-players, books ranging from light novels to political essays, clothes of all styles and brands, even chairs and tables. They had brought it all with them. They were breathing the air of the new apartment with a mixture of impatience and fascination; impatience for all the nice things that were expecting them ahead, in the highway of life; fascination for their being together. This fresh air filled their lungs to the fullest and provoked them to exhale a sigh of exhilaration and newborn hope. Such was the overwhelming happiness in which they found themselves enwrapped: virtually beyond endurance. And so they spent their days together designing and drafting and painting and reading and cooking and copulating feverishly like two little animals in the mating season. And she though it could go nowhere better than this. No, it couldn’t.

  She could not have understood how it had happened; she could not have predicted it. It had simply died out, just like that. The flame, the spark, the glare that signified their relationship had grown cold, extinguished within the span of two months. There could be no communication between them anymore. He, in particular, had become distant, isolated, locked in a private cocoon of thoughts, fears, contemplations. She was looking for the key, the entrance to his ivory tower. She couldn’t find it; the enigmatic foetus sitting next to her in the couch, watching television in apathy, was largely impenetrable. He had somehow grown inhuman – not in terms of cruelty or lack of sentimental values; rather, he was somehow, silently but steadily reduced to nothingness, embracing a stance of absolute numbness. 

    In vain she tried to find out what was his problem. On the brink of hysteria, she decided to take drastic measures. She had to tackle the crisis. She had to be on control of this horrid new situation. She would never lose control, no sir, she just wouldn’t. She grabbed him over to an analyst. She was begging for pills. “Antidepressants”, she howled wolfishly, “he needs antidepressants!” And it was ironically her in her panic that constituted an image of mental illness, sweat dripping from her face, her body shivering violently. She left him alone with the therapist for half an hour. She then asked the expert whether he should be pharmaceutically treated for depression. The doctor was doubtful. “He does not suffer from clinical depression”, he told her. “He does not need drugs or therapy. It is just… you know. He just seems to have become discontent with his life. Unhappy with you by his side. That’s what he told me. He feels miserable. I think it’s best that you saw a couples counsellor rather than myself”.

    She drove her quasi-catatonic partner back home. Not a single word evaded his lips; not even the merest, slightest expression appeared on his face. He kept on wearing the same façade of indifference and stoicism, refusing to exchange words with her, declining to unravel his innermost desires, his secret thoughts, those things that tormented him and kept him quiet and made him feel miserable for their relationship. Those little things that made him asphyxiate; those tiny little things that he felt they were stripped of him: his freedom, his independence, whatever. But he just had to spill them out, for once! She had the right to know! She should know! She was his girlfriend for over a year after all! She was his wife-to-be, she would bear their children one day… at least., that’s what they had been planning some time earlier. 

    He had entirely ceased communicating with her, after their visit to the therapist. No verbal communication, no written communication, either. Nothing. As if a terrible vacuum had interposed, banning any effective contact between the two of them. He just kept going to his low-paid-comic-book-artist job, coming back home, eating, watching TV, sleeping. Same interminable routine for her guy who was behaving as if living alone. For him, she was virtually invisible, non-existent. And for her, this certain type of cohabitation was the equivalent of living with a ghost, a phantasm, an intangible and highly imperceptible sort of being. 

    She screamed… oh, how she screamed. She screamed and she cried and she begged and she protested and she cursed… urging him for a change, urging him to speak again, to tell her what went wrong, to give her some explanations over his behaving so disastrously before exiting her life once and for all. Her pleading vociferations bore no fruit: no matter how hard she fancied herself to be some sort of monster or demon or ravenous predator, she could never terrify him, intimidate him with her increasingly wilder tantrums. He remained seemingly untouched by all her desperate onslaughts. And she kept metamorphosing harder and harder into more formidable beings, abusing him for what he had done to her through his self-inflicted withdrawal from reality, threatening him to change back into what he used to be, into the man she had picked to be her lover, her consort, her friend, her father, her brother.

    Things went that way for terribly long, over seven months. By then, she had started despising his invariably stoic visage, his hunched shoulders, his obvious lack of desire for life and creativity. “Such a sad little man he his”, she thought, “so self-piteous, so incapable of enjoying life and savouring its taste… so unlike me”. Indeed, the Woman had been enjoying life by then in all possible ways: dynamic as she always used to be, assertive in all the aspects of life, most notably her work as sales executive, she had only resigned in relation to him, the soundless fruitcake she shared an apartment with. She did not put up with failure very easily; this Man was the only discipline in her life in which she had ever flopped so dramatically. But there were always readymade recompenses waiting just around the corner: there were a couple of men flirting with her in the office… quite shamelessly, actually. Maybe it was about time she set up a lover for herself. All her thirty-something girlfriends had done it, after all. Besides, it wasn’t like she was taking a second lover: she didn’t even have a first one. Nope, her Man did not definitely qualify as a lover anymore.

    One night, she leaned over her balcony for a puff of smoke and wondered why they had never called it quits. She knew about herself: she was always worried about him and would be probably be so in the very future. Besides, she had somehow grown accustomed to all this madness, despite occasional urges to slice his skull open so as to howl between the cracks of his head “Wake up! Stop living like that, corpselike loser!” But what about him? He suffered with her, it was painfully obvious; yet, he refused to leave, as if somehow enjoying the unpleasantness of living with her, deriving pleasure from their unwanted symbiosis (symbiosis as it was, for they were now entirely alien to each other). Or did he? Perhaps his own – indecipherable yet – perversion was some form of obscure masochism: finding happiness in a decidedly unhappy life. After all, everybody has his or her own little perversion, don’t they?   
    Suddenly alerted, she turned back into the bedroom, anxious to see her suspicion proven false. Strangely, he was awake; staring at her, for the first time in months. A persistent, penetrating stare. All of a sudden, everything was made frightfully clear. He loved it. He just loved it. Performing the role of the silent martyr to a domineering woman, generously playing the part of the oppressed victim. Constantly mourning for himself, constantly grieving himself, the mute, tragic hero he fantasized himself to be all along. He was quite happy, all this time. And as she kept thinking these and her mind was spinning around, she could swear she could see a glint in his eyes, sly and barely discernible, yet there, a glow he could barely keep constrained so as to not spoil the delight of his game. It was a glint of pure, terrific happiness. And a half-grin to match it.



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© 2007 Konstantinos Tzikas
June 2007

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