Having already taken care of the twins and ensuring that no one else would bother them, Sami sits at the kitchen table drinking her coffee in the late morning. Upon EJ’s entrance into the room, she greets him with a smile, ready and waiting for the understanding and reassurance that she would surely have to give. Seeing the still warm breakfast she had thoughtfully prepared for him, EJ sits down at the table across from Sami.
EJ (easily returning her smile): “Your turn.”
Sami looks at EJ uncomprehendingly.
EJ (eyes lighting up): “Regale me with the horrific tale of how Marlena and Roman chained you in their basement and forced you to survive on a diet of cupcakes.”
Dumfounded at the remark, Sami nearly chokes on her drink. The events of several hours ago fresh in her mind, she stares back at her smirking husband.
Sami (tentatively): “EJ…you…you remember what happened last night, right?”
EJ (drinking his orange juice): “Indeed, darling. Not much of an allusion otherwise.”
Sami (immediately): “That’s not funny, EJ.”
EJ (mock innocently): “Really?”
Sami (admonishingly): “Yes, really. You shouldn’t think so either.”
EJ (offhandedly): “Along with so many other things I should not think or do…I suppose I could grant you it’s also mildly disturbing, but what do you expect at this time in the morning? High quality material is a bit hard to come by on an empty stomach, eh?”
Blindsided by his flippant demeanor, Sami takes a moment to think as she watches EJ eat. This was the same man she had to hold in her arms until he was able to fall asleep?
Sami (stunned): “How can you possibly joke about this?”
EJ (pretending to think): “Let’s see…because I actually got the best rest I’ve had all week due to you letting me sleep in. Also, I bet that was a lot of work for my father, more so than if he had simply bothered to help me study. Finally, now that I told you, you can stop nagging me about it.”
Sami just stares at EJ incredulously.
Sami (knowing she’s asking a stupid question): “That’s not everything about the flashcards, is it?”
EJ (shrugging): “Of course not.”
Sami waits for EJ to elaborate, and when he doesn’t, speaks again.
Sami (sympathetically): “How did you deal with that?”
EJ (raising his eyebrow): “It’s not as if I had much of a choice, sweetheart. And life with my father wasn’t really like that. Not really. Most of the time was not that involved.”
Sami (noticing the qualifier): “Most?”
EJ (correcting himself): “Almost all.”
Sami (leaning forward): “EJ, don’t try to tell me that was some isolated incident.”
EJ (out of his hands): “I admit sometimes Father was…difficult.”
Sami (not buying it): “Difficult? Try insane.”
EJ (giving in): “All right, insane. Should he have done that to me? No, I suppose not.”
Sami (taken aback): “You suppose?”
EJ (explaining as he points): “Samantha, we both know he’s not a man who takes no for an answer. He wanted me to be strong. How else was I supposed to learn? I needed to be able to recall all of that information instantly, and I needed to be able to withstand anything that my enemies would throw at me.”
Sami (frowning): “Us.”
EJ (nodding): “Exactly.”
Sami (imploring): “That was anything but all right, EJ. He never should have done that to you.”
EJ (mostly agreeing): “No, but I know why he did it. And in any case it is in the past where it belongs along with everything else about my upbringing. I didn’t want to talk about any of it, but I relinquished when you insisted. I shared. And now that I have, unless there’s anything you’d like to tell me about your childhood, I’m not really in the mood to dwell on it, if you don’t mind.”
Sami considers EJ as he happily eats his breakfast.
Sami (backing off): “Okay. You’re right. We don’t need to talk about this anymore.”
EJ (smiling as he bites into a piece of toast): “Excellent.”
Several moments pass before EJ’s expression changes as he realizes what Sami meant but didn’t say.
EJ (annoyed): “You mean not now, don’t you. As in we will discuss this later.”
Unsure of both how to proceed and even whether she should, Sami speaks directly.
Sami (concerned): “I’m worried about you, EJ.”
EJ (dismissive): “You needn’t be. I’m fine.”
Sami (pleading): “You weren’t fine last night.”
EJ (irritated): “Only because you insisted we talk about the ancient past.”
Sami (uncomfortably): “You were reliving it. As if you were there.”
EJ (different interpretation): “No, I was confused because I was exhausted from sleeping on this sorry excuse for a table. I was…asleep and awake at the same time. You were very sweet to me, and I thank you for that. I’m sorry I frightened you.”
Sami (honestly): “I know you are.”
EJ (insistent): “But there’s no need to talk about this any longer. I’m fine, so there’s no reason for you to worry. Can we please just drop this?”
Sami (very reluctantly): “Okay.”
EJ (nodding slightly): “Thank you. I appreciate it. I know you mean well, darling.”
Sami (narrowing her eyes): “Don’t condescend to me, EJ.”
EJ (firing back): “Then don’t patronize me, Samantha. I’m not some little child who needs to be comforted.”
Sami (more harshly than she intended): “Oh, really? You were last night.”
EJ (defensive as his eyes blaze) “I was tired.”
EJ (insinuating): “You don’t think you ever not made any sense to me? You’re a complete mess without your morning coffee there, fumbling around and stumbling into walls like some sort of plant zombie tripping on her own vines.”
Sami (insulted): “That’s not the same thing, and you know it. You’re having nightmares, and-”
EJ (interrupting as he gestures): “Which I only have because you keep pushing the inane idea that this is somehow a fruitful endeavor.”
Sami (challenging): “Quit hiding from me.”
EJ (adamant): “I’m right here.”
EJ and Sami glare at each other across the kitchen table. Drawn to the intensity in his gaze, Sami is surprised when EJ is the one to back down first.
EJ (looking down at his almost empty plate): “I refuse to argue about this. There’s nothing else to say.”
Quicker than she expected, EJ gets up and puts his plate, glass, and silverware into the sink before he moves to enter the hallway off of the kitchen.
EJ (civilly): “Thank you for breakfast. Enjoy your day, my dear.”
Sami (softening): “EJ? EJ, wait-”
EJ doesn’t look back at her as he leaves. Once her husband is gone, Sami leans back in her chair and sighs.
Sami (torn): “A stubborn little child.”
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8 years ago