Michael woke up that crisp October morning knowing it was going to happen, he just didn't know when. It would be soon though, he could feel it in the air. His wife had mentioned it just a couple days before, but you think he'd be used to it by now. It had been several years after all.
As he went through his work-day, thoughts of impending doom lessened as the anxieties of the financial world consumed his thoughts. The stress of the stock market crash usually over shadowed everything else, including that deep seeded fear of what was to come.
That evening as he walked in the door everything at home seemed normal. The aroma of cooking meat filled the kitchen and made his stomach rumble in anticipation. He didn't see any of his family, but the sound of the baby grand piano filled his ears as his wife toiled away, the odd note occasionally disrupting the tune she was learning. It seemed likely it wouldn't be today after all. As Michael sat down on the sofa with his laptop to check his fantasy football stats, he thought life was good.
As the timer on the oven shrilly announced that dinner was ready, the activity in the kitchen in increased exponentially. His beautiful wife raced in and planted a kiss on top of his head before getting the Le Creuset brazier out of the oven. His youngest daughter, now taller than her elder sisters, strode into the room with the grace of a ballerina. He thought perhaps there was a dark look in her eyes, but she turned away before he could be sure. Maybe he was getting worked up over nothing. His middle child, also a daughter, crashed through the back door with her total lack of grace, papers fluttering in her wake. He looked up and smiled, but she went right passed and up to her room, slamming the door behind her. This was not totally unexpected, of course, they were teenagers. As his eldest daughter came in the room he could feel the increased tension, although no one said a word. Apparently she was upset about something, but not the type to say anything. She went about getting herself a drink without acknowledging the rest of the family.
Finally his wife spoke, "Sweetie, could you please make the salad?" she asked the youngest. Although not happy about it, she nodded her assent. "Oh, and can you heat up the bread as well?" That was it. Those simple words and all hell broke loose.
"Why do I have to do everything?!" she bellowed. "Janie never has to do anything! I have to make the salad and heat the bread, what else do you want me to do, Mother?!"
In an effort to lighten the mood, his wife replied, "Well, you could feed the dogs for me as well." Then she went over to her daughter and poked her in the stomach. She knew she hated it, but it was a little game they all played, just to be annoying. It usually ended with laughter. Tonight, however, was a different story.
"Stop touching me! Why do you always do that? I hate it! I hate you!" She abruptly turned and ran out of the room. He could hear her bedroom door slam a few seconds later.
His wife took a deep breath and went to finish making the salad. No one spoke. His eldest daughter gathered her dinner plate and drink and stomped heavily up the stairs. The slamming of the door rattled the window panes.
Michael looked at his wife with a twinkle in his eye and a twitch at the corners of his mouth that could have been a smile. It happened. He'd been dreading it, but it always happened.
"It's that time of month again, isn't it?"
Ahhhh, the joy of daughters...