Tempted to Leave in the Midst of Mixed Emotions
Locked in the basement of their home, she waits. Years of feeling used and unwanted hang at her side. He has a crazy way of showing he loves her. She feels love, though. Is it indeed that? When he caressed her cheek lightly after she cooked his favorite meal . . . When he held her close to him in post-coital bliss . . . When he showed her off at public affairs . . .
This is their life. A back and forth of safety and danger and defeat and peril. She is at the center of a damaging storyline. Can she turn the page? Will she shift the plot?
He doesn’t like his story yet he carries it with him.
He is a burly man. A tall, lumberjack with a thick red beard to match his thick red hair. His voice is a boombox set to the highest volume. He bleeds disruption. Deep inside, there is this gentle boy who spent hundreds of nights trapped in a closet — put there by his drunk father who didn’t like the way he breathed.
At the age of ten, he was tasked with being the man of the household. A paper route and bottle cap hunting became odd jobs with little pay. A breadwinner. A means to an end.
His mother wrapped herself in blind intelligence and sulked her life away in the folds of a Tempur-Pedic mattress while her children played house. She died on his fifteenth birthday.
He makes sure she’s fed. The fattened calf. The precious lamb.
He doesn't like his story yet he carries it with him.
She pulls the small window latch towards her, calls the winter breeze inside to feel something other than the pain stuck to her bones. She knows he'll come downstairs soon to offer a plate a food. Maybe spaghetti tonight. Or stewed beef.
He makes sure she's fed. The fattened calf. The precious lamb. He was a chef in his former life. She fell in love with his alfredo sauce. It was bait.
There are no children. Her mother said to be thankful she did not have the extra baggage. She can leave without tethers. She can bolt upright and out of her life with the right tools. Does she have the right tools?
He weighs the rice before plating it. A cup full. Steamed broccoli. Baked chicken bathed in homemade gravy. Scratch honey cornbread.
He walks the plate down to his wife. His prisoner. His catch. He loved her deeply. He hopes she knows this. This is for her own good. No one else will leave him. No one else can try. She is all he had.
“I made your favorite tonight, babe. Be careful. It’s hot.”
The scent of the food overpowers the fresh breeze outside. She closes the window. She looks at her husband. He stands before her with sad eyes. An even sadder smile. He places the food on a tray five feet away from her.
"I made your favorite tonight, babe. Be careful. It's hot."
Was she careful? Could she be? It isn't love when you start thinking about throwing a hot pot of grits on another human being. It isn't love when you imagine their face melting off right before your eyes.
She tastes a spoonful of rice with gravy. Her body remembers the comfort she was lured to in the beginning.
"Tomorrow, I'll leave," she says under her breath. "Tomorrow."
Does she have the right tools?
©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt