Saturday, June 20, 2015

500 Words, Day 28 -- Violated Space

She hadn’t known her son had plans with his dad today.  Around ten a.m. there had been a noise at the window.   She had glimpsed a male figure walking by the half-opened blinds in the living room.  She had assumed that it was her neighbor, walking his dog.  And in fact, her neighbor had walked past the window at that moment, which confused her when she realized that there was a second person there, and that it was her ex.

A dozen thoughts flew threw her mind at once.   The first one, and this screamed inside her head GO AWAY (what are you) GO AWAY (doing here) GO AWAY.   It was primal, not cerebral, a feeling-thought-no-feeling coursing through her reptile brain.  The veep veep veep of the violins in the Psycho shower scene.  The adrenaline shot through her, and her first instinct was to duck and hide.  Don’t see me.  Don’t be here, but if you have to be here, then let’s pretend I’m not.

The screaming fit she threw in her head was followed quickly by self-doubt.  “Dammit I don’t want to be that person, that woman who is so crazy that she won’t let their father of her children into the house he pays for,”  she thought.   She didn’t want that to be his narrative.  She didn’t want to give him any material for the stories he tells about how he is the wronged party in all of this, how she and her craziness drove him away even before she left on a whim.

He had skulked around outside the door.  He might have texted her son, but he was curiously tech-challenged for an engineer.   She concluded he must have rapped on her son’s window, peering in like some kind of fatherly Peeping Tom.  Her son came out, saying over his shoulder, “Just gotta put my shoes on.”  He didn’t look at her.

She sat at the kitchen table, composing her face into a neutral mask that would not betray her.   She would not ask what they were going to do.  She would not ask why she had not been consulted, or even notified about this impromptu outing.   She didn’t follow her usual pre-departure, didn’t ask the usual questions, did you eat, do you need money, when will you be back.  She sat, impassive, resolute.  She sent a silent message to her ex with her mind:  You have no effect on me, even though you want to.   You’re trying to manipulate me, but I am immune.  

She wants to throw open the door and hurl invectives at him, where is the paperwork the lawyers need, why don’t you return their calls, how long are you going to stall on the settlement, why are you such an asshole, costing me so much money, forcing me to go to court to compel you to do the right thing.  But to do that would be to acknowledge that what he does affects her in any way.

Why do you hate me so much, he had asked her one night, his voice thick with bourbon, his stance in the doorway unsteady.  I don’t hate you, I nothing you, she said.  

As her son muttered something in parting and closed the door behind him, the tears that lived permanently at the outskirts of her eyes welled up again.  She sat at the kitchen table, lost in thought.  She wondered if it would be easier to recover from death of a spouse than from the end of a marriage that trails off weakly with no real resolution, just denial and blame and awkward avoidance.     Her chair scraped the floor as she got up wearily and began to inventory the fridge and cupboards to make a list of groceries they would need for the coming week.


  1. It's been over 8 years and the sight of him on "my" territory still invokes those primal cries. I don't know if we ever truly get over it, or if some of us just do a better job of burying things. I'd like to not only put these feelings in a deep, dark grave but then have the luxury of forgetting where I left them.

    I have a friend who became a widow, very suddenly, a few years back. She's watched me do battle with my ex over and over and once remarked how relieved she was to only have to deal with a ghost. It's all hard, I think.

  2. I've been divorced 4 times and the divorces all hurt me very badly. So I wondered the same thing, would it be easier to never have to see them again. Time has healed me and I'm glad they are still around. They are my friends and I love them differently now. I feel blessed.