I married young, and unfortunately realised too late that I had married the wrong person. My husband, who had been sweet and kind while we were going out, didn’t seem to want a wife; he wanted a slave! And every day, that’s what I felt I had become.
The more I did for Ray, the more he demanded, until it seemed that, between the hours of housework he insisted I do every day, and the elaborate meals he wanted me to cook, I didn’t have time for anything else. My social life dwindled, and by our first wedding anniversary, I was absolutely miserable.
I was too afraid to leave as I feared the consequences, for Ray was a very angry man. He hadn’t hit me yet, but his cruel threats and financial imprisonment were just as debilitating. And his family were even worse.
Knowing Ray’s parents, it was easy to see where he got his personality traits from. Nothing he did was ever good enough for them, and nothing I did came even close. They seemed to be at our house all the time, checking up on their son’s wife, and Ray would almost have anxiety attacks over his mother’s pending approval of my cooking and cleaning.
He never seemed to care how I might feel about her constant criticism. If she didn’t like what I had cooked, I was sure to get a serving of his most vicious insults once they had gone. If she did approve, he would claim to have prepared most of it himself.
The worst incident in our marriage was the first Christmas lunch, which I had to prepare. I was a nervous wreck as I basted the turkey, roasted the potatoes and glazed the enormous ham, all without any help, and it showed in the cooking. The food was either overcooked or undercooked as I rushed around in a state of panic, trying to make sure everything was perfect. In front of everyone, Ray said Christmas was ruined, and that it was all my fault. Nobody disagreed.
For 12 months, I awaited the next Christmas with a growing sense of dread. I pleaded with Ray to ask one of his sisters to help me, or for him to help me himself, but he refused, and sneeringly told me I’d better do a better job than I had last year. Then he told me that he wasn’t going to buy me a present until after Christmas, all based on how I did preparing the Christmas lunch.
I knew that Ray would find fault with whatever I did, and that this was just his way of getting out of spending any money on me — when he wouldn’t even give me two cents to buy the things I needed for myself. Something inside me snapped. For the first time, I knew I was going to leave my husband. But first, I was going to make his whole wretched family pay!
A few days before Christmas, Ray came home with a bag of fresh prawns.
“Cook these for entrée, and make sure they’re tasty!” Ray snapped. I nodded silently, forming my plan. I would make them tasty alright. So tasty with chilli they wouldn’t be able to taste anything else for a week!
The same day, I snuck out to a local delicatessen and asked for the hottest variety of chillies they had, and I bought a whole bag. I ground them up in blender, seeds and all, to make a fiery red paste. I would marinate the prawns in this concoction until Christmas, setting some chilli paste aside to add after the cooking as well! I couldn’t wait to see the look on Ray ‘s family’s faces as their tongues were set on fire.
Christmas day arrived, and nothing Ray or his parents said could dampen my spirits, which seemed to make them try even harder because they were ruder and more critical than ever. Beaming with joy, I carried out the steaming plate of chilli prawns, and waited with baited breath. But nothing happened.
“These are actually quite good,” Ray father announced, praise that would have thrilled me once, but today only sickened me with disappointment.
“A little on the hot side,” his mother agreed, “But overall better than anything else you’ve ever cooked. Was this your idea, Ray?”
With a sinking heart, I slunk out to the kitchen to prepare the next course. I was still going to leave Ray, but I would never have the revenge I craved for nearly two years of misery. Or so I thought.
For you see, the strong taste of the chillies also masked the fact that the prawns themselves were not quite right. I’d been concentrating so hard on their marinading, I’d forgotten that they wouldn’t keep in the fridge for quite as long as I’d had them there.
Even before they went home, Ray and his family were racing to the bathroom in what would become two full days of food poisoning. And it was while Ray was in the bathroom that I left, never to return again!
Even though Ray took the credit for the prawns, I’m sure I got the blame for the entire family getting sick, but I wasn’t around to find out. However, it still makes me laugh to think that, though unintentional in the end, I got the best revenge of all by ruining their Christmas lunch for real!
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