Fiction · 02/08/2017

On Behalf of Women

On behalf of women, don’t share the story your friend just emailed you about her fight with her husband. There is nothing to gain by it; any half-intelligent person would realize that any discussion of this matter with another husband, yours, is going to fall into gender divisions. Men stick up for each other. Besides, your husband is eating his meal. Consider instead, phoning your girlfriend to commiserate, once your husband has gone off to do something with his idle time. Don’t make another mistake. The frown on his face is because grilled cheese sandwiches are your favorite and not his and you forgot that again.

You feed him; you don’t have to provide light conversation. In fact, if you think about it, he doesn’t want conversation of any kind. If you have to discuss your friend’s fight with your husband, consider offering the whole thing as a logic puzzle, a method of inquiry about how he would have responded in the same situation. Consider too, about keeping your thoughts to yourself, especially if you have become emotionally involved along gender lines. Or as another course of action, let it all go, it’s your friend’s problem, not yours.

On behalf of women, if you have shared the story and your husband has responded with a typical response of how that is just like a woman, don’t rise to the precarious accusation of how women would act better if they were treated better by men. This will only raise the temperature in the borrowed argument. Realize that this could have been avoided had you processed your anger without bringing up the past. For now, you are bound to be asked for specifics. How are you treated that is so awful? Consider, perhaps, stopping it there. Respond perhaps with a gentle compliment of how you are treated really well, and that your friend’s husband is a special case or that their situation simply was one of those things. Try mentioning that the evening meal will include a special dessert. Do not answer his question with details of similar incidents within your marriage.

On behalf of women, if you have responded with details of one such ill-treatment, because there have been many, consider to mention something positive as well, perhaps even something that if you’d remembered would have put it all in perspective. Do not bring his upbringing into it. Do not use the current situation as an example of irrational behavior. Do not remain in the room while he yells. Do not listen to the list of your flaws and transgressions, especially if they are delivered with threats. Certainly do not let yourself be reminded of how much his behavior reminds you of Donald Duck, because that will mean you have to suppress a giggle.

On behalf of women, if you have giggled, do not expect him to join in. Consider the possibility that he is extremely sensitive to laughter. Explain as quickly as possible that you would never consider him a laughing matter. Assure him that you have no reason to complain, what so ever. Yes, you believe him when he says that he didn’t mean to shove you, he actually tripped in your direction. Isn’t it partly your fault that your face banged into the corner of the table, when you lost your balance? Just pick yourself up and go into the kitchen and make a pot of chamomile tea to calm the nerves. Do not think that you need to have X-rays or medical attention. Do not think about what else could happen.

On behalf of women, when you have gone to the walk-in clinic, because your head feels like it has split apart, say no when your husband wants to go in with you to see the doctor. Let the nurse bar his way while you wait for the doctor. Notice how her eyes search yours and how you want to tell her everything although you’ve never met her before in your life. Notice how she touches your hand but then the attending physician enters and it’s all business again. When the doctor asks what have you done, remember only what you were coached to say and how he nods satisfied by your answer. See how happy your husband is that you’ve explained this well. Think of how it would have been to respond in the positive when you are asked if domestic abuse is your problem, something that the nurse tells you is part of the examination, but with a shake of the doctor’s head, she too is dismissed.

On behalf of women, nod your head. Women trip all the time, but if they are mad they will say it is abuse and then change their mind after and you think that the doctor’s probably right and what exactly can you do about it? Don’t meet the nurse’s eyes and don’t try to say anything more. After the doctor has requisitioned X-rays the nurse might hand you a brochure about abuse. Don’t take it.

On behalf of women, if you have tucked the brochure into your purse and later your husband searches until he finds it, tell him you took it because you thought it was part of the nurse’s job and that it might as well go into the garbage. Whatever else, the nurse seems to have told you, pressing her hands around yours as if she’s administrating a transfusion of hope, don’t let your husband know what is on your mind.

Don’t think of your soul as dying.

Don’t think.



Liz Betz enjoys her retirement hobby of writing short stories and is always delighted to have them published. Recent publications can be found at Summerset Review, Prairie Journal, Danforth Review, and Halfway Down the Stairs. Follow her fiction writing journey at or read her essays at