Frozen and unmoving as the last of the important boxes and bins were crammed into the car, she watched as her mother and sister pulled away, glancing over at the old man waiting for her to get in the truck to be off. Here stood a man who wasn't her father, not even her own father in law, but a part of her family nonetheless. He stood waiting, the gray green puffy vest zippered halfway up, the red plaid shirt peeking out from underneath. He said nothing, not smiling or frowning, just standing there waiting. She felt her feet were dragging as she pulled away from the house that was never her home, her dog at her heels.
The truck pulled away, she closed her dark eyes and leaned her head into the window, what happened, when did it come to this? This cold January morning, with nothing left but to look ahead on the highway. The silence in the truck was deafening, but needed. No words could fix what had happened or explain what might be ahead. She attempted to clear her mind, what did it matter anyway, she couldn't go back and fix what had already changed. And she had to keep going because she was all her sons had right now.
She knew she couldn't only blame her husband for the separation, yet at the moment she hated him so. She was not ready to be a wife, he wasn't ready to be a husband. They had discovered that a little too late, 5 years and 2 children later. Sinking down into the uncomfortable leather of her seat she tried to look back. So many variables, all culminating into that final severing. It was really only a matter of time and it wasn't until the end that she had clawed and clung to what was already over. He was gone and he took a part of her with him. How could she ever begin again, start over, a new life? Separating is exactly as it sounds, a part of you must die, fall off, change everything about yourself. And now that it was real, since he had gone as far away as he could possibly go, she knew it was time to accept the missing part of her. Learn to live with what was now missing.
A long sigh echoed through the silence, the the radio tuned to some country song. Her eyes opened, music not even having a soothing effect where it once was her only therapy. She glared at the digital clock on the dashboard as if willing it to shut up, her hands playing with the gently folded ears of the dog with his head on her lap. "Fuck him." The soft, masculine voice of her driving companion spoke and she glanced sideways at his rough profile. He said nothing else as the vocals ended on the first song, if she hadn't known his voice so well, she would have thought she imagined it. Then he spoke again, this time it was about the mountain ridges they traveled through. Random conversation for the long ride, his hope in getting a spark of life out of her. Good old Tom, bringing up actual history to make her forget what should be ancient history in her own life. She smiled softly, thinking that it was nice to just listen, putting in a comment here and there. His voice had a soothing quality.
Suddenly, silence descended once more. "You don't need anyone but yourself, you know?" He said softly. "It's not the end of the world, you'll bounce back. You're young, beautiful. Learn from this."
She stared straight ahead. Learn from this? What was there to learn, she was a horrible wife and house mother, wasn't that the reason he left? She was lazy and messy and couldn't be perfect. It was true, yet the reasons behind it all, the depression before the madness, the wanting to just do for her boys and her husband were also a major factor. She was nobody's slave, yet he had seemed she should have been slaving away all day. Cooking and cleaning and caring for everything so he could come home and do nothing.
Dammit, they were both at fault, yet all her faults were so vivid in her mind, being screamed at her till she raged inside. Beautiful? She wasn't beautiful. She was hideous and fat and no one else would ever want her. Isn't that what he told her? All those times they joined together, isn't that what he said? Young? Yes, maybe by age, but her body felt broken and used. Her mind was tired, bent and spent long ago.
She learned that she shouldn't have fallen for the first guy who promised marriage and babies. She learned that she shouldn't just follow along, head bowed, submissive in what was wanted by others- yet she knew what she had always been. The follower, the quiet, sensitive one. She may have fought to break free long ago, but now she was a shell of her younger self and she didn't even know who she was.
Bitterness crept in to join the sadness, what is there to learn, I don't want to ever be hurt like this again! She thought, angry at the idea that she could so quickly be made the victim. So easily wishing for her life back that was really no life at all. It started with a message, two teenage hearts beating for freedom, it ended with a message, two growing hearts beating for freedom. Both not really knowing what kind of freedom they wanted. Well, he got his freedom, yet there was no freedom for her. She had good memories, bad ones, bitter, angry tears welling in her eyes. She had the responsibility of their experimental happily ever after, that didn't end with her running away in the sunset with him. Oh no! She had to keep trudging along, being the parent, starting over again, not knowing if she would succeed or fail.
The terrifying knowledge that the last four years she had spent a virtual prisoner. A robot going through the motions and then shutting down and giving up completely. When did it all change and end, was it ever really good to begin with? Or were they always just pretending because it was too late to turn back? Just like right this moment, in this truck, with whatever was necessary to take with her. She headed out not being able to turn back.
Bitter and angry because he moved her to that house just so he could leave her. Left her at the mercy of people who didn't give a damn about her and waiting barely a week to tell her she needed to get out of the house she hadn't had time to make into a home. His parents. Emotions filled her body and her mind and all she could think about was his selfishness. It didn't matter what had happened, how could he just run away from it all? Not just from her, but from their children. Not knowing they would be alright!?
They drove through the gray day, round mountains on curving roads. She didn't notice the beauty around her, she didn't see it as a new beginning, because she was heading back. To the tin can of a trailer her mother owned, she would shove her three piece family and her dog in. Barely fitting since it was just them, there would be both her brothers and her oldest brothers wife and two kids. She had no choice, because she had no where else to go, yet she wasn't supposed to be bitter about it. No, she was supposed to see the door closing on her last life as a start to the new.
Well, the grayness of the day was fitting, the bitter cold was was a reminder to close up her heart and her mind, as she savagely wiped away the tears that were forming. Any moment now she would be slamming shut the door and willing it to stay closed, but she wouldn't find adventure in the new trail she set out on. It would be just enough to will herself to keep moving. It wasn't like it was even about her anymore, she had two little blue eyed boys who needed her to just give all she had left too.
The thought paralyzed her, weakening to the fact she was unsure if she even knew how anymore. She needed to feed them, clothed them, care for and love them, yet she felt no love at the moment. Not that she didn't love those round chubby faces. She did, but there was a hole in her heart, filled with so much darkness, she knew if she thought too much about it she would falter. She would be crushed under the extreme weight of the task before her.
Breath and just keep going. That is all you can do. She told herself.
One door closes. Stay closed. Please stay closed door.
There was no turning back- she knew as they made their way around several more twists and turns, riding towards the next chapter, she knew. There was no turning back.