This morning, while sitting on this bench with Roxy, I pondered a situation that is affecting someone I care about. This in turn, gave rise to this humble attempt at flash fiction. Enjoy! Honest critique most welcome!
She looked at the mountain of dishes sitting in the sink.
They seemed like a sorry bunch; sitting helpless; waiting for someone to take care of them.
A wry smile crossed her face as she realized how much she had in common with the dirty plates.
Her current situation had her feeling powerless, desperate, and confused.
What exactly had landed her in this predicament?
How had she come to be the protagonist of this sorry state of affairs?
Was it something she’d done? Hadn’t done? Should’ve done?
One minute she’d been the wife of an influential man, and the next, she’d heard the four words most married women hate to hear.
She nervously picked at her fingernails, as she struggled to make sense of what had happened.
She could still hear the finality of his words; four simple words that formed the equally simple sentence of, “I want a divorce.”
“A what?” she’d replied.
“Don’t act like you didn’t see this coming. I want a divorce.”
And then he’d gotten up, added his plate to the pile, and softly closed the door behind him.
No screaming. No dramatic exit. No cursing.
It was this attitude that clued her in to the metamorphosis her husband had undergone.
Who was this person, who until three days ago had said, “Lets make this work?”
She took her apron out of the kitchen drawer and tied it behind her back.
She felt hysterical laughter bubble up in her throat as she thought of the old adage, “Time to cut the apron strings.”
Only the strings weren’t her children.
The strings were her husband and their twenty-one years of marriage.
She carelessly removed the dishes from the sink; acting on automatic pilot.
The four words were beginning to sink in.
“I want a divorce.”
The bright red stream brought her back from her reverie.
She’d cut herself with the paring knife she’d meant to throw away yesterday.
There was rust on the bottom of the blade and she’d been afraid someone would cut themselves and require a tetanus shot.
Now she’d been the one to slice her finger.
She laughed out loud as she thought, better to lose a finger than your heart.
Her laughter turned into tears.
Large drops of salty tears fell in the sink, happily joining the soap suds resting on the remaining dirty dishes.
Had she not cleaned enough? Cooked enough? Screwed enough?
What had she done wrong?
Her yard was the envy of the neighborhood. Her children were bright, diligent, and well behaved. Her pets were well groomed and fully vaccinated. Her cars were washed and polished.
Again she felt hysterical laughter coming on.
She tried to stifle it; to squelch it; to stop it in its tracks.
She took a deep breath but found herself choking on her saliva.
So she stopped.
She stopped trying to control her laughter and instead, laughed.
A small chuckle at first, followed by a full-blown, robust belly laugh, a second later.
She laughed at the times she’d dutifully picked up his dirty socks.
She laughed at the three course meals she’d cooked for the past twenty-one years.
She laughed at her perfectly manicured, fully fertilized lawn, and the framing magnolia bushes which had taken her three days to plant.
She laughed at the times she’d believed him when he’d said he had to go out of town for this, that, and the other.
She laughed at the PTA meetings, dance recitals, and graduations she’d attended by herself.
It seemed like she’d been a single mother since forever, yet it wasn’t until now that she’d realized it.
She’d been the woman behind the man; the brains of the operation; the army of one.
Single handedly she’d raised her kids, her dogs, and anything else that needed raising.
She’d been alone even when she thought she was part of a set.
“I want a divorce.”
The words menacingly echoed in her ears.
She felt the corners of her mouth turn up at the realization that she had four words of her own.
“It’s about damn time.”
Sister, this one’s for you. You know who you are. Keep the faith. You’ve got this.
And now, a little Roxy love to get you through the week.