I Just Wanted Him to Be Happy -- My Response to the Pop-Up WeWrite Contest with Sandwich Prompt

The Prompt: The Sandwich by @owasco

"Ugh! The bread is soaking wet! Bread is not supposed to be soaking wet!" he snarled at me as he spit a soggy mouthful of half-chewed peanut butter sandwich into a tissue. I stood at attention next to his bed. He handed the sodden and heavy tissue to me.

He was now vegan, grain free, nightshade free, lectin free, phytic acid free, and deaf to my feeble protestations. He was not free, however, from his acutely tuned palate, which was maddeningly different from mine.

He had requested a peanut butter sandwich. I knew meeting all his new diet criteria would be a bitch, but I rose to the challenge. I had to.

I chose a very small ten dollar loaf of 'bread' and bought it. I bought some raw peanuts. I shelled the peanuts. I soaked, sprouted, and dehydrated the peanuts. After very lightly roasting them, I ground those peanuts into peanut butter. I then very carefully smeared the freshly ground peanut butter onto the somewhat normal looking bread. I made sure to get the peanut butter to the edges just like I had learned in home economics class long, long ago.

I knew how to make a proper tea sandwich.

I now spent my life trying to make this man happy. I signed up for that didn't I? Wasn’t that my reason for being? To make this man happy?

Well, he was not happy with that sandwich.

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I just wanted him to be happy …

And he was not happy with that sandwich.

From bed he raged at me, as he often did … but now, energy was too precious to waste like that.

For months he had ignored his doctor's warnings, even as he had ignored my feeble protestations about his diet.

I had done everything I could to try to make it work for him, consulting several nutritionists and specialists and learning all I could.

As he abused me with his language and failing voice, the thoughts lined themselves up in my mind …

There is a hierarchy to practical nutrition, particularly when someone is half-starved.

Sugars digested the fastest, followed by more complex carbohydrates and starches, proteins, and fats.

Fruits and vegetables were all some mix of sugars, cellulose, starches, insoluble and insoluble fibers, and minerals – the nutrition there depended on how quickly the sugars and vitamins and minerals were accessible to the body.

And speaking of minerals … they were a delicate balancing act. One had to be careful with sodium always, but most especially when extreme physical weakness owing to malnutrition occurred.

Portion size was also very important. Per his nutritionist: “If it takes more energy from the body initially to access the calories than the amount of calories immediately received, that is no good.”

All this had come into my mind before he had finished his favorite selection of curse words.

At last he finished, and I timidly asked a question.

“Would you like a spoonful of the peanut butter?”

“Why not? It's better than starving, which is what I'm beginning to think you want me to do, you –!”

I went back into the kitchen and let him spend his energy alone.

I had made a very large bowl of freshly ground peanut butter, as it is something we both could eat. Since now he was not going to have the “bread,” I touched the peanut butter up … I took down the Himalayan pink salt we had imported directly from Nepal, and ground it up very finely. I mixed enough into the peanut butter so that it had a lovely rose sheen.

I also added some Tasmanian pepperberry, imported from Tasmania – a source of peppery heat that did not violate the terms of his diet, and was reminiscent of Thai basil. Thai food celebrated the peanut in savory preparations, so I knew the combination would work.

No sugars. Salt in abundance. Protein, fat, and a little starch from the peanuts – in that order. I heaped up a tablespoon of peanut butter and took it to him. His bony hand snatched it from me, and he tasted it … and his eyes lit up.

“About time you did something right!” he said. “What is in this?”

“Freshly ground peanut butter, per your instructions, with the Himalayan pink salt from Nepal and the pepperberry from Tasmania.”

“Just those three things?”

“Yes.”

“Finally – after a year, you get something right!”

He had lived a year on the diet he wanted. I had done quite a bit right. Never more so than this day.

“More!”

I brought him a small bowl of the peanut butter.

“Why so little?”

“You haven't eaten much for weeks. I don't want you to get sick.”

He cursed at me, but addressed himself to the bowl. His energy was coming back, and the more he ate, the more he wanted. I noticed his protein-starved muscles, and thus his entire body, waking up and preparing for action with just the little bit he had eaten.

He sat up a little more, and looked through the kitchen door … the full bowl of peanut butter was on the table.

The doorbell rang; it was the in-home support worker. I went to the door and greeted him. He was glad to know of my success in cooking … as we talked and I described how I had finally achieved, I heard the footsteps lurching behind me, from carpet to linoleum, and the creak of the kitchen door.

By the time we got to the kitchen, my husband had gorged himself on the entire bowl of peanut butter. His oily face shined with a look of triumphant happiness.

We called 9-11, but it was too late. He died of a stroke that afternoon.

I just wanted him to be happy, and he was, before the end.

I have been happy, since.

Photo by Tania Melnyczuk on Unsplash

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Yes! I can imagine the relief she must have felt being rid of this man. And it's nice he died happy, so win-win. It's cool that her brilliant preparation killed him. I feel happy for her! She got rid of him without meaning to, and could have felt guilty, but instead knows he really killed himself.

Thanks for your entry!

I loved how thorough you approached the problem. It almost sounds as if you have extensive experience in this line of work. ))) Just kidding. Great Job!

Actually, I have cared for aging members of my family since teen years... I DO have a certain amount of experience, including the fact that you can't leave things out!

That's great! I was just surprised at the thoroughness and knowledge of the entire maneuver that the wife demonstrated. In view of that knowhow, I couldn't help but ask you a question of why did she wait so long?

In other words, it seems that the husband's bed-ridden condition as well as him being so grouchy and selfish lasted already for a while. At least, he deteriorated for quite a while thus accumulating the abuse imposed on the wife.

So, she could have had the thoughts of getting rid of him for a while already. More so, considering how masterfully she conducted the operation of eliminating him, she could have done it a while ago as well. And yet she didn't do it all these years and made a decision to go ahead with the plan only today (meaning at the moment when the story is narrated.)

There must have been some trigger, one last drop that broke the camel's back, that made her go for it. And I failed to see that trigger in your story and in the story of @wakeupkitty.

When I read the prompt, the character didn't impress me as being capable of such a decisive move. The way you read the prompt you've apparently come to a different conclusion. What was your train of thought in regard to that matter? What was the trigger?

Cheers!

You'll have to read just a little more, into today's freewrites, to find out how Captain Ironwood Hamilton figured it out ...

https://steemit.com/writing/@deeanndmathews/weekend-freewrite-2-15-2020-single-prompt-option-continuation-filthy-rich

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Very good sequel! It's amazing how the human mind reacts to override abuse in any way, some directly, some more subtly, but deep down, the abuser generates a visceral repudiation. Therefore, it is not surprising that he is punished, even unconsciously.
Well done, @deeanndmathews!

That was sort of what I had in mind ... that last abuse session pushed her across a threshold that neither of them knew were there ... I know of real men who paid a real price too for pushing that threshold...

Enjoyed your addition to the wewrite. You killed your man with kindness Deeann. 😊

Thank you for reading -- yep, I just let him take the pursuit of happiness to its course ... since the prompt said he was in bed, and since I know malnutrition and starvation would result from that diet if not administered correctly, I figured, instead of leaving him there slowly starving, let him go full and happy !

Great story and very diabolical! I guess he didn't understand that what made him happy in the end would also kill him. Just desserts! :)

No, he didn't understand it at all ... but did she know that he wouldn't? I kept going on this story and you might enjoy the investigation...

https://steemit.com/writing/@deeanndmathews/weekend-freewrite-2-15-2020-single-prompt-option-continuation-filthy-rich

Thank you for reading!

I love the science/medicine involved, the logic, the success, and then the surprise bonus - it appears you consider it a happy ending, as do I. :) Well done!!

Yep, it is sort of a happy ending ... although a messy one ... so I had to add on to it before leaving it alone ...

https://steemit.com/writing/@deeanndmathews/weekend-freewrite-2-15-2020-single-prompt-option-continuation-filthy-rich