Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Write about avenues of escape.

She squeezed her eyes shut and then squeezed some more until she could see stars. Maybe when she opened her eyes she would be in a different place, in a different time, a different person entirely. Maybe when she opened her eyes...

No. He was still there. Head lolling off to one side, snoring. Feet, dirty and rough, splayed about on the clean bedspread. Dressed in nothing but his dirty underwear, he radiated alcohol and stale smoke from the casino's back room. At least this time, she mused, he hadn't peed the bed. But as soon as she thought this, the yellow water flowered through his underwear and ran between his legs soaking the bedding underneath. She began to cry.

They married young, right out of high school. Her college dream was shoved aside when he moved them to Los Angeles to avoid joining the family construction business. He worked many different odd jobs while she worked days as a waitress in a coffee shop and nights in a local bar. Then he decided to take up an offer by one of his buddies to work in Los Vegas dealing blackjack. It was the same story there. If he wasn't fired from the places he worked, he'd find a reason to quit.

That was thirty-four years ago and he'd been unemployed for most of it. She looked at herself in the mirror and wondered who that old woman that looked back was. Her hands shook as she ran thin fingers through her brittle grey hair. Brown liver spots littered her cheeks. She couldn't tell herself these were freckles any longer.

Suddenly she was angry.  She knew that no one else was to blame but herself. She allowed this to happen. She let things go rather than saying anything because it would end up in a fight and she would end up apologizing for some slight misdeed and then soothe it all away. He'd walk around the house, thin-lipped and demanding, "What if I go out for a drink now and then and what if I do a little gambling here and there? At least I don't take up with any strange women, now do I?"

A snort, a gasp, a growl, and then he rolled over. Silence lingered only seconds before a renewing of the snores. The smell from the alcohol, smoke, and urine pushed with body odor, made her gag.

And it made up her mind. She pulled the curtain covering the closet aside, grabbed a couple of canvas shopping bags and started to fill them with her clothes. Then she stopped. What would she do for money? He took it all last night. Maybe, just maybe he won this time? She went to the tiny living room and picked up the pants he'd shucked off in the middle of the room. She searched the pockets.

Keys. She put them in her pocket. She was taking the car. Coins. Also, in her pocket. A few wadded up bills, mostly singles. In her pocket. The wallet. Credit cards, mostly maxed out. In her pocket. No more money.

The kitchen drawer held the checkbook and address book. They went in her other pocket. The tiny notebook with passwords to the online bill paying sites joined them. What else? She looked around the kitchen, then the living room, scanning, searching for other things she could use. She would leave nothing for him. For a moment she considered taking the groceries, too, but ended up taking a box of granola bars and leaving the rest. He couldn't cook anyway.

Returning to her bags, she paused, pulled everything out and repacked with just her nightgown, some work clothes and underwear. Her cosmetics were few. Dollar store shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and brush, a hair brush and comb. Then she slid her latest romance novel down one side. Looking around she saw the old Bible on the shelf and gave a snort. Fat lot of good that piece of crap did her. All lies.

Slipping the shopping bag handles over one arm, she slung her purse on the other shoulder and selected the car key. Praying to the Universe for a decent amount of gas, she walked out the door and into her new life.