The newest volley of insults flew at Patrick like tiny, sharp darts that pricked his pride while others missed; but most he caught and flung back. Alice’s voice was now so shrill that Patrick’s ears rang. She stood in the middle of the living room, screeching her discontent. Amid the stinging jabs and disrespectful back-and-forth, one question slithered through Patrick’s mind: is this love?
They were fighting again. The last few years had become a long-drawn war. Exhausted and battle-weary, Alice’s needling remarks only spurred him deeper into the fight. He caught this second wind and wrestled to free himself from her entangling web of scorn while seeking to inflict lasting and debilitating damage on her as well. Deflecting the barrage of Alice’s disparaging remarks, his gaze landed on the wallpaper. Two lions stood on their hind legs and faced each other with gnashing teeth and flashing claws.
The world slowed down, and Alice’s shrill voice became low and muffled. He stared at those painted lions who began to move, while the real world stood still. In slow motion, they fought. Growls shook the walls and teeth gnashed. Claws slashed the flesh and blood spurted from the gashes.
Patrick watched the wallpaper lions rip each other to pieces until both lay dead in a bloody mess. Tears sprung to Patrick’s eyes as the world sped up, and the lions returned to their painted form.
Alice’s voice reached its highest pitch, reproaching him for not listening, while Patrick glared at her with her bared teeth and clawing fingers pointed at him. A low growl rose to his throat as hurtful words formed on his lips, but his eyes shone with the sparkle of realization and the vivid vision of the future: together, Patrick and Alice would slash one another into rags.