THE PERFECT WIFE • by Michelle Chan

Adam woke up late, putting him an hour behind his usual schedule. He put on his designated work shirt and pants, and noticed a trail of brown splatter on the collar. He shrugged. He was an art lecturer, it came with the territory.

He turned to Sarah, who was sleeping soundly on her side, facing him. Her long, golden hair lay neatly covering her ear down to the side of her arm. “I’m sorry I can’t have breakfast with you today. I’ll see you tonight,” whispered Adam as he blew her a kiss before leaving for work.

The traffic was astonishingly smooth this morning. Adam reached the art academy with ample time to prepare for his first class. As he was gathering his materials, a sense of guilt overcame him. He flumped onto his chair and brooded.

He hated missing breakfast with Sarah. They had just moved here a month ago, and she was still adjusting to the new place. Adam knew that relocating would be unnerving for her, but circumstances made it impossible for them to stay. He had made the mistake of welcoming a student into his home, which triggered an internal investigation at his previous university, putting him at risk of losing Sarah. He could never allow that.

Adam was living in inconsolable loneliness until Sarah came along. She fulfilled his every desire and never once criticised his eccentricity. When she first appeared before him, he knew she was born to love him.

She had a nice cozy corner at their old house, where she could be found reading in her favourite purple chair. Now the chair looked different under a new light. It didn’t blend well with the olive green walls in the living area, nor the saffron walls in the bedroom. He wanted to give her a new chair, but he wasn’t sure if erasing her most familiar possession would be wise. It didn’t help that Sarah was also a homebody. She never wandered out of the house. She feared the sun might dull her skin, and Adam shared her concern. He loved her glowing yellow complexion. It was a hue hard to achieve.

He sensed that she had been restless and nervous lately. Last week, she was a redhead. Yesterday, she became a blonde. Her random changes troubled him. He remembered reading somewhere that women tend to experiment with their hair when they are adapting to or desire change. He didn’t want the new environment to change his wife. Also, a Chinese woman looks ridiculous with blonde hair. Adam sighed. He must take control of the situation. He would make her change her hair back to black.

“Hey, Adam, it’s 9 o’clock. Your students are waiting,” said Connie, another art lecturer on her way to her class.

“Oh God!” exclaimed Adam as he scrambled to his feet.

“Are you okay? You look troubled,” asked Connie.

“I’m just a bit scattered today. I was running late and I missed breakfast with my wife. I’m worried she might be upset,” said Adam with sincere concern on his face.

Connie raised her eyebrows wonderingly. “Why would it upset her? She knows you have a job to go to. I’m sure she’ll understand.”

Adam didn’t respond. His face lined with increasing worry.

“Look, I think you’re over-thinking this. I doubt your wife is as fragile as you painted her to be. She’ll be fine eating one breakfast alone. Now go to class.” Connie turned and left.

Adam remained standing at his desk, pondering what his colleague had just said. Maybe she was right. Maybe he was worrying unnecessarily. But Connie didn’t know his wife. Sarah couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without him. She was totally dependent on him. He decided that he would make it up to her with a romantic dinner tonight. He would pick up a bottle of red wine and a tube of black hair dye on the way home. Feeling satisfied, he collected his things and headed to his class.

That evening, Sarah, in her favourite blue sundress and her hair tied up in a pony tail, sat perched on her usual barstool, smiling as she watched him cook. He told her about his day at work and expressed his concern for her. He apologised again for the relocation; for erasing everything she was and had at the old place, and expecting her to start anew inside these unfamiliar walls without complaint. As he continued the conversation, Sarah offered no response. She stayed in the same position as when he first entered the kitchen, never wandered away from the barstool, and her expression remained unchanged. Adam accepted her smile as her forgiveness and winked at her as he went to set the table, after removing some unfinished canvases from the dining chairs.

As Adam approached the dining area, Sarah, adorned in her finest white dress and her hair elegantly coiffed, was already there, rooted to her chair. He filled his plate with his favourite meatball pasta and poured his wine glass to the brim. The table wobbled when he sat down, so he pushed it forward, making sure the opposite end was firmly pressed against the wall, placing Sarah’s empty plate just an inch from it. He raised his glass to her and said, “To you, my perfect wife.”

Sarah’s glass was empty and remained unmoved on the table. She didn’t reply. She never replied. She couldn’t reply. She had lived a life of silence since conception. Her lips always curled into a perfect smile, made to please his eyes, not his ears. She never shed a tear. Her eyes never blinked. Not a wrinkle creased her face. She never aged. She was an immaculate beauty. She was his greatest creation, the face of the murals that graced the walls in every room of his house.


Malaysian-born Michelle Chan has tried her hand at journalism, and is now exploring the realm of fiction as an outlet for her overactive imagination. Her short stories have been published on Many Stories Matter, and Flash Fiction Magazine. She is currently writing her first novel, which she hopes will one day see the light of your bedside table.


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 average 4.5 stars • 13 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Frances Hogg Lochow

    Wow! What a fabulous and unexpected ending! I enjoyed this very much! Thank you!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for taking the time to read the story.

  • Frances Hogg Lochow

    Wow! What a fabulous and unexpected ending! I enjoyed this very much! Thank you!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for taking the time to read the story.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Interesting though this story was, I felt it was in need of a major edit.

    • Joseph Kaufman

      Paul, just curious: what sort of issues did you see in terms of requiring “major” modifications? I am sure the author (as well as other readers) would appreciate a clearer view from your perspective, if you have the time to elucidate…

      • Paul A. Freeman

        Just in para 1, a ‘schedule’ is by definition ‘usual’, so ‘usual’ is redundant. Then how a work shirt can be ‘designated’, I’m not sure.
        In para 2, try whispering and blowing a kiss at the same time.
        In para six we have a ‘nice cozy corner’. That word ‘nice’, apart from being meaningless, encompasses ‘cozy’.
        Overall, I thought there were far too many adjectives, many of which could have been culled to make the story flow better.

        • Joseph Kaufman

          Thanks for taking the time to provide this detailed con-crit, Paul. I am sure the author will appreciate it!

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you for requesting Mr Freeman to explain more.

          • Joseph Kaufman

            No problem, Michelle — I always want to know what works (or doesn’t work) for readers…

        • Carl Steiger

          “Usual schedule” doesn’t bother me (I have several schedules for different circumstances), but overall I see your point. Still, for me, the sheer imagination of the story overwhelmed any technical quibbles I might have had.

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you.

        • Michelle Chan

          Thank you for taking the time to further elaborate your point. I appreciate it.

          • You know if you teach art you would probably designate one shirt for work and not one you wanted to get paint on 🙂

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you for understanding what I was pointing out. Some people think it’s an OCD thing, but I think it’s just practical.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Interesting though this story was, I felt it was in need of a major edit.

    • Joseph Kaufman

      Paul, just curious: what sort of issues did you see in terms of requiring “major” modifications? I am sure the author (as well as other readers) would appreciate a clearer view from your perspective, if you have the time to elucidate…

      • Paul A. Freeman

        Just in para 1, a ‘schedule’ is by definition ‘usual’, so ‘usual’ is redundant. Then how a work shirt can be ‘designated’, I’m not sure.
        In para 2, try whispering and blowing a kiss at the same time.
        In para six we have a ‘nice cozy corner’. That word ‘nice’, apart from being meaningless, encompasses ‘cozy’.
        Overall, I thought there were far too many adjectives, many of which could have been culled to make the story flow better.

        • Joseph Kaufman

          Thanks for taking the time to provide this detailed con-crit, Paul. I am sure the author will appreciate it!

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you for requesting Mr Freeman to explain more.

          • Joseph Kaufman

            No problem, Michelle — I always want to know what works (or doesn’t work) for readers…

        • Carl Steiger

          “Usual schedule” doesn’t bother me (I have several schedules for different circumstances), but overall I see your point. Still, for me, the sheer imagination of the story overwhelmed any technical quibbles I might have had.

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you.

        • Michelle Chan

          Thank you for taking the time to further elaborate your point. I appreciate it.

          • You know if you teach art you would probably designate one shirt for work and not one you wanted to get paint on 🙂

          • Michelle Chan

            Thank you for understanding what I was pointing out.

  • S Conroy

    I got quite early on that Sarah wasn’t a ‘normal’ woman, but was still pleased that she didn’t turn out to be a golden labradour or a murder victim of the artist turned taxidermist.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks for taking the time to read the story.

  • S Conroy

    I got quite early on that Sarah wasn’t a ‘normal’ woman, but was still pleased that she didn’t turn out to be a golden labradour or a murder victim of the artist turned taxidermist.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks for taking the time to read the story.

  • spirit

    Since we live in the fourth dimension (3-d plus time), it’s amusing and easy to consider the two dimensional world that Adam lived in and what it might be like to have a two dimensional wife, plastered on every wall of the apartment! When one is from a higher dimension, how easy it is to manipulate a lower one. But even there, if you have no problems, you might invent them…just to create a more believable illusion! We create our own reality.
    Thanks Michelle!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks Spirit.

  • spirit

    Since we live in the fourth dimension (3-d plus time), it’s amusing and easy to consider the two dimensional world that Adam lived in and what it might be like to have a two dimensional wife, plastered on every wall of the apartment! When one is from a higher dimension, how easy it is to manipulate a lower one. But even there, if you have no problems, you might invent them…just to create a more believable illusion! We create our own reality.
    Thanks Michelle!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks Spirit.

  • S Conroy

    Reread and giggled at the line “I doubt your wife is as fragile as you painted her to be”.

    • Katy

      That line is when I figured out what she was.

      • Michelle Chan

        Thank you for reading the story.

  • S Conroy

    Reread and giggled at the line “I doubt your wife is as fragile as you painted her to be”.

    • Katy

      That line is when I figured out what she was.

      • Michelle Chan

        Thank you for reading the story.

  • Scott Harker

    I really enjoyed this story, but I’m a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t get it. But when I feel stupid about something, I ask questions.

    So his “wife” was just murals he painted on his walls? If that’s the case, I’m not sure how the rest of the story makes a lot of sense. Unless he’s just a bit loony. Or perhaps I’m the loon. 🙂

    I’m more of a literal writer, so content such as this is often lost on me. Perhaps I’m trying to be too logical.

    Anyway, I thought the story flowed very well. The extra adjectives that others have mentioned, while they could be trimmed, didn’t really bother me at all. I thought the imagery was spot-on.

    • Scott, I assumed from the words “his greatest creation,” that he had sculpted or shaped the image of the perfect woman. The murals were repitions of an obsessed mind.

      • Scott Harker

        Yeah, that makes more sense. I see it now.

    • Michelle Chan

      Adam is the loon. Thank you for reading.

      • Scott Harker

        Thank you for writing, Michelle. I look forward to more.

  • Scott Harker

    I really enjoyed this story, but I’m a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t get it. But when I feel stupid about something, I ask questions.

    So his “wife” was just murals he painted on his walls? If that’s the case, I’m not sure how the rest of the story makes a lot of sense. Unless he’s just a bit loony. Or perhaps I’m the loon. 🙂

    I’m more of a literal writer, so content such as this is often lost on me. Perhaps I’m trying to be too logical.

    Anyway, I thought the story flowed very well. The extra adjectives that others have mentioned, while they could be trimmed, didn’t really bother me at all. I thought the imagery was spot-on.

    • Scott, I assumed from the words “his greatest creation,” that he had sculpted or shaped the image of the perfect woman. The murals were repitions of an obsessed mind.

      • Scott Harker

        Yeah, that makes more sense. I see it now.

    • Michelle Chan

      Adam is the loon. Thank you for reading.

      • Scott Harker

        Thank you for writing, Michelle. I look forward to more.

  • Yeah, making sense of this, kind of brought me to my knees. The writing’s okay. Could use a twenty percent rake, but nonetheless I felt tricked. The wife is not reading, the wife is not coloring her hair, I get this guy is looney tunes (what was the brown splatter?). A no surprise ending didn’t help. I’m sorry, I see something better, and wished it was so.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for reading the story.

    • S Conroy

      I thought the wife was reading in one of the murals. In another at bed-level she lies looking at him, in another she sits on a barstool etc. And having moved house the repainted version of her had a new hair colour, so technically you’re right, but he’s managed to suppress that bit I think.

      • It would be terrific if Michelle tuned in one more time to lift the curtain. The murals exsist, I’m sure of that, and your perspective is well taken. But, again, the way she writes “his greatest creation” turns my mind toward a different direction.

  • Yeah, making sense of this, kind of brought me to my knees. The writing’s okay. Could use a twenty percent rake, but nonetheless I felt tricked. The wife is not reading, the wife is not coloring her hair, I get this guy is looney tunes (what was the brown splatter?). A no surprise ending didn’t help. I’m sorry, I see something better, and wished it was so.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for your honest comment.

    • S Conroy

      I thought the wife was reading in one of the murals. In another at bed-level she lies looking at him, in another she sits on a barstool etc. And having moved house the repainted version of her had a new hair colour, so technically you’re right, but he’s managed to suppress that bit I think.

      • It would be terrific if Michelle tuned in one more time to lift the curtain. The murals exsist, I’m sure of that, and your perspective is well taken. But, again, the way she writes “his greatest creation” turns my mind toward a different direction.

  • Karen Kimbler

    cool… better than the stuffed dead wife I was expecting… 😉 Great as usual Michelle!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you Karen.

  • Karen Kimbler

    cool… better than the stuffed dead wife I was expecting… 😉 Great as usual Michelle!

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you Karen.

  • Great stuff. You paint with words 🙂

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for your kind words.

  • Great stuff. You paint with words 🙂

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for your kind words.

  • Dorothyanne Brown

    Interesting…I was confused about her changing her hair colour, and him picking up the hair dye, though the tube gave it away. Interesting concept, and like the others, I’m glad she wasn’t a robot or corpse.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks for reading.

  • Dorothyanne Brown

    Interesting…I was confused about her changing her hair colour, and him picking up the hair dye, though the tube gave it away. Interesting concept, and like the others, I’m glad she wasn’t a robot or corpse.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks for reading.

  • Irene

    Michelle I liked it very much can’t wait to read your novel when you finish.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks. I’m glad you like it.

  • Irene

    Michelle I liked it very much can’t wait to read your novel when you finish.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thanks. I’m glad you like it.

  • E Dunn

    Your choice for Adam’s affection, or obsession might be a better word, is new for me. I’ve heard of people falling for blow-up dolls, plush toys and paintings, but never this. I like it. So I searched for your other stories online. I enjoyed both of them. You are good with the unexpected ending.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for your interest in my work.

  • E Dunn

    Your choice for Adam’s affection, or obsession might be a better word, is new for me. I’ve heard of people falling for blow-up dolls, plush toys and paintings, but never this. I like it. So I searched for your other stories online. I enjoyed both of them. You are good with the unexpected ending.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for your interest in my work.

  • Diane Cresswell

    Having been around artists all my life was able to pick up right away that his ‘creation’ was not real. Yet it made for a very interesting telling of an obsession when the heart is lonely and unable to be in a real relationship. Well written.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for reading.

  • Diane Cresswell

    Having been around artists all my life was able to pick up right away that his ‘creation’ was not real. Yet it made for a very interesting telling of an obsession when the heart is lonely and unable to be in a real relationship. Well written.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for reading.

  • Ife Olujuyigbe

    Oh my!
    I enjoyed this so much. Didn’t see that coming at all. Looking forward to having your novel on my bedside table, Michelle.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for reading. So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Ife Olujuyigbe

    Oh my!
    I enjoyed this so much. Didn’t see that coming at all. Looking forward to having your novel on my bedside table, Michelle.

    • Michelle Chan

      Thank you for reading. So glad you enjoyed it.