The Five Worst Words

My husband tormented me with these words for years

Audrey Zetta

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“As far as you know.”

It’s such a simple phrase. It doesn’t even seem toxic upon first looking at it.

I crawled into bed with my husband one summer night, and I realized I didn’t do the rounds of locking the doors and windows. “Hey Eric, did you happen to lock the doors and shut the windows?”

“As far as you know,” he said and rolled over to sleep.

This was not an unusual answer. Sighing, I got out of bed and checked the windows and doors. Some nights I found the doors locked, and other nights they weren’t. Once I found the basement door open to the snow, left that way after we had contractors coming in and out.

That was the “somewhat benign” way he used the phrase. It was worse when I was traveling for work. Each night we would have a phone call to catch up on our lives. After talking about our day, I would ask about our pets and chickens, and the answer depended on his mood. Sometimes I would get funny detailed descriptions of the chickens chasing bugs around the yard and the barn cat trying to befriend the chickens. Other times he would vaguely say, “Oh, I’m sure they are fine.” Then things would get painful as I tried to get more information.

I would ask specific detailed questions in order to get answers.

“Did you check on the chickens tonight?”

“Oh, I let them out when I went to work this morning; I assume they are in the barn now.”

“Will you go check on them and feed them?”

“As far as you know.”

I would sit on the phone, my stomach clenched, worrying. If the chickens were left outside they would be eaten by a fox, raccoon, or even a neighbor’s dog. They needed to be locked up safely each night. Our house cats also needed to be inside and safe at night. But, no matter how I asked, the answer would be the same. Everything was fine, “as far as you know”. I felt sick and helpless.

Why? What was the goal?

I never understood the end goal of this conversation. Sometimes I felt Eric was trying to be funny. Other times I wondered if he thought I traveled too much…

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Audrey Zetta

Feminist, dirty liberal, thoughtful absurdist. I store miracles in words.