My husband, he has these tirades. Filthy, loud harangues that go on until he passes out. He calls me a harlot. A bitch. He rails against me for a minor fleck of dust in the corner, for baking the bread too crusty, for turning my back on Him in bed.
It’s my fault. Really. Fourteen-year-old girls can’t possibly know their hearts. But, my mama seemed happy to be rid of me, so my lips said ‘I do’ when my mind said I didn’t and set up house with Him.
That was a decade ago.
I’m twenty-four going on forty. Or fifty. Who knows anymore?
Sometimes, I go out to the privy over the creek. In the middle of the night, it’s the only place where I’m not somebody’s beleaguered wife or momma. I sit there and marvel at the slice of moon in the sky. The fluttering of bats in the corners. The powdery arm of the Milky Way.
Can anybody out there hear my tears? Does anybody know my pain?
On the outside, I keep it together. I dress nice. Five kids, stair-stepped in pressed clothes that smell of lavender and musk. I sit up tall on the front row of church every Sunday, and I sing louder. Smile wider. Linger longer than anyone else.
I dropped a load of clean clothes in the creek today. I don’t know why. One minute, I was fine. The next, I was sprawled half in and half out of the water, His work shirts billowing in the current.
I rubbed my temple and waded out to the rocky middle. Must not lose one. Must not lose one. Must not……..
It’s the theater of life that’s wearing me out.
A fiction series to explore a phobia. Read the introductory installment here.