Last day of the month.
Last Wednesday in March.
We sit in the living room.
We face each other.
He looks at the bowl.
I stare at his hand.
He reaches into the slivers of paper.
I see the white strips shift.
He unfolds the paper.
I shift towards the keyboard.
He raises his head.
I wait for the word.
Her feet pad across the hard slats of pale golden wood. A step towards the hall and her hand braces against the door frame. She does not need another reason to showcase marks of black and blue.
Gerald must have waxed recently.
Pausing, she observes the false rays of moonlight creating slotted designs on the white walls. Prison bars. It looks like prison bars. A tight grin flits across her face before she moves on.
Her toes adjust to the coarse tile in the foyer and she no longer worries about slipping. The texture keeps her steady and the cool touch of the stone keeps her aware. Beside her shelves are stacked with photos. She stops as one catches her eye.
A young blonde haired boy showcases a lopsided grin. In right hand is a long fishing pole and in his left is a large mouth Bass. His feet are bare, his clothes are soaking wet and his eyes are shining. She never knew him like that. The boy is a stranger, a ghost that haunts the stairwells and slithers down the halls. Her fingers lightly roam the photo before she lays it face down on the shelf.
Shaking her head she bends down to pull her shoes from the basket beside the door. The soft leather is worn and the soles are beginning to breakdown. She doesn't care. They are the one comfort she allows herself these days.
Her keys lay on the bottom shelf and her purse is hanging on the wall hook. She knows opening the door will cause attention but she has to risk it.
A creak above her stops her heart. She jerks upright and waits, counting the breaths she takes with slow precise calculation. Above her footsteps are heard and panic creeps into her chest. Carefully she moves towards the purse. Slipping it over her shoulder while grabbing the keys. Her house key collides with her car key and a jingle echoes on the bottom floor. She inhales. Upstairs the footsteps stop.
She counts to ten. The footsteps move towards the bathroom and she exhales. He is awake. She knows how disoriented he is this time of night. He may not notice she is gone now but he will when he gets back into the room. One more glance at the shelves has her catching site of the one picture that causes her conflict.
It was taken five years prior. Her hair was swept back in a soft updo and her arms were wrapped around the neck of a handsome young man. She was leaning over his shoulder laughing. He was laughing too. They stood in front of a simple two story building. White wooden panels peeled along the corners. The door was painted a bright hunter green to match the shutters. She loved those old shutters.
For a moment she remembered.
The warm sunshine on her back, the ripple of his muscles as he laughed, the strength in his hands - she had been too young to notice the signs. If only she could have discovered his secrets earlier, if only he would have let her in rather than push her out.
Resigned she shook her head and reached for the doorknob.
Trickling water filled her ears and she knew he was headed back to bed. She was wasting time.
Shaky fingers curl around the knob and she pulled it towards her. Cold night air washed over her face. Her body froze for a second, adjusting to the cold. Thirty feet later she opened the door of the SUV. As she climbed in she heard him yell.
Her fingers fumbled with the keys as she hastily jabbed them towards the ignition switch. In her purse is a small round key fob the size of a half dollar. In the center is a green button. The memory of the door swamps over her and she hesitates. Glancing up she sees the lights on the second floor turn on. He will be downstairs soon.
A deep throated yell pierces the night and she realizes the door is still open. Closing her eyes she wipes the memory away. She starts the car and throws it into reverse.
Her hands shake and the keyfob now dangles from her finger. She remembers the last time he was angry. The way his eyes grew wide, the strength and its betrayal. Squeezing her eyes she presses the button.
In her rear-view she sees the orange brilliance against the night sky; white panels no longer encase her prison and for a second she sees the dark deep green door as it splinters.
Public Service Announcement: I do not condone this type of behavior in either men or women. If anyone or anyone you know deals with any sort of abuse - verbal, physical, mental. Please talk to someone. Vengeance isn't the answer, no matter how badly you want to hurt the other person.
Here are some links that will help:
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
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