If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.
Writing Fiction - Chapter 32
Here's where Chapter 31 left you.
Jay looked at me in shock. His eyes widened. He jumped to his feet.
I put my hand over my mouth to hold back another scream.
“Great,” he gritted out, “Just fucking great. You women always side together, don’t you? All the absolute, total and complete bullshit I put up with from her every day and I get mad one frickin’ time and I’m the evil one? Well you know what, Pearl? Fuck you! Fuck you and your little ‘oh, let me help you and listen to you attitude’! You are a big, fat, FAKE nice person!”
And then he stomped off.
That darned cramp had me so hard that I couldn’t even get up to chase after him. I kept bending my toes back toward my shin while I watched him slam into his SUV. I kept trying to flex the cramp out of the muscle while I watched him peel out on the gravel of the narrow driveway.
By the time the cramp finally dissipated, Jay was long gone, and I was left sitting on the damp grass wondering how in the world I was going to get to my feet.
AND NOW WE CONTINUE WITH CHAPTER 32
You know those medical alert things that you see on TV where an old person has fallen on their back like a turtle and it sends notice to some big, burly medical guys who know that you have ‘fallen and you can’t get up’? Yeah. I don’t have one of those. I need to buy one, I think, because that’s pretty much how I felt when I struggled to get up. Finally I rolled onto my side and kind of grunted and groaned into an inverted ‘V’ shape. Back in elementary school they called it ‘doing the bear crawl’. Now I just called it ‘embarrassing’. You kind of have to stick your butt up in the air and…well, never mind. You probably don’t ever have to get up like that anyway.
It felt like hours had elapsed by the time I got up from the ‘bear crawl’ and hobbled to my car. My sweat pants were uncomfortably damp especially because the fabric had seemed to ‘wick’ the moisture in all directions, so I felt cold and miserable and really, really mad at my calf muscle. It still felt tender. I was so disgusted with myself for the horrible timing. Why did I have to scream, “Oh my God, oh my God, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO!” And why did Jay have to be so sensitive and take it that I was screaming at him?
First of all, I’d been actually feeling sorry for him during the conversation AND second of all, I guess he didn’t know me well enough to know that I was a master of restraint in hiding my emotions. Well…mostly. Okay, sometimes…but still.
And what was that last comment anyway? Big, fat, FAKE, nice person? Big, FAT, fake, nice person? So much for the slimming stripe down the side of my sweat pants. So much for trying to help another human being in need.
I figured after my outburst, I would never find out the rest of the story. I wondered if it would be wrong to call Jay up and try to explain about the cramp. In a way, though, I was grateful for that cramp, because it would have been humiliating trying to get up from the ground with my big, FAT butt up in the air while he watched.
I sat in the car for a few moments, trying to decide if I should stop by my husband’s …ummm… ‘place of interment’. I was already feeling miserable, what was a little more sadness on top of an already lousy day? Driving carefully up the little gravel driveway, I turned toward the more familiar area of the cemetery. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I drove up over the small hill where I usually parked. Should I? Shouldn’t I? When I saw three cars pulled over into the parking area, I let ‘shouldn’t I’ win. I wasn’t up to letting strangers gawk at my big, FAT, fake, nice person self.
I looked straight ahead and drove past the cars and my husband.
Pulling out onto the main road I realized I was cold, tired, hungry, and I felt lousy. I was also a big, FAT, fake, nice person. Darn! Darn, darn, darn! Why is it when someone says something lousy to you, it’s all you remember? I tried to chant the bad words away…’sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you’. I repeated it several times and then, recognizing it for the rubbish it was, just decided to wallow in my self-pity.
Of course words can hurt you. Word wounds never heal. You can never, ever un-say things said in anger or out of pettiness. You can never un-hear things that were said to you. ‘I’m sorry’ is not a magic eraser that makes you forget the pain of the poisoned words someone shot into your heart.
Before my husband had taken up residence at ‘Permanent Slumber Acres’, we’d exchanged a few ugly words between us. Okay, technically, I’d exchanged a few ugly words between us. I hadn’t called him fat or anything, but I had accused him, yet again, about not caring about us. I don’t think I was as bad as Jay’s wife…I mean EX-wife, but I had told him he could never retire because he was already driving me crazy. I’d nagged him a lot…I mean sometimes…about the things he didn’t do instead of thanking him for the things he did do. Maybe I had brushed him off and not listened when he wanted to talk. But I was a good wife. I’d never been a big, FAT, fake wife.
I shook my head at myself in disgust. Why was I obsessing over Jay’s words? Why couldn’t I get that ‘big, FAT, fake’ comment out of my head?
Continuing my drive, I rummaged through the inventory of mean words people had said to me over the years. It was good keeping an inventory like that. It helped justify when I wanted to feel sorry for myself. Some of the files in my inventory were thick and filled with heavy black ugliness. I wondered now why I had continued to associate with the people who’d been so cruel. Why had I given them a chance to accumulate such a big pile of nastiness? Why had I let a feeling of obligation to family members and ‘friends’ allow them to talk to me that way? My husband, God rest his soul, had always told me, “Pearl, you don’t have to take that. Stand up for yourself. Walk away. Ask them why they’re saying such horrible things to you.” I think I’d felt that if I had been forceful defending ME, the people saying mean stuff wouldn’t think I was nice. I think I worried that they wouldn’t love me anymore if I said ‘no’ and ‘don’t’ instead of smiling and putting a happy face on the bullying.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how you get into a habit of doing things that are destructive to your sanity and you just allow those things to happen over and over again? After my husband told me for the millionth time to toughen up, I actually started to try. I’m not sure if anybody ever actually noticed but me. I could never, ever bring myself to toughen up against our son. ‘Don’t fix his mistakes, Pearl, let him fail. Don’t bail him out. You have to let him live with the consequences of his actions.’ I remembered all that advice, and now I wondered why I’d so rarely taken it. Okay, I’ll be honest here. I didn’t really wonder. I knew for certain it was because I had let my heart, my imagination, and my fears run my actions.
A lot of the nasty words I directed at my husband had been concerning our son. “He’ll think we don’t love him,” I’d argue, “‘Oh, great father you are, can’t even support your son when he needs your help!” Recalling these words, I felt an odd sense of familiarity. Hadn’t Jay’s wife said something like that? Darn, maybe I was as bad as Jay’s EX-wife.
I thought about stopping at a friend’s house to talk this whole confusing mess over, but I realized I didn’t have any friends left. I’d spent so much time pushing them all away, I think they’d finally given up on me. I thought about calling my daughter, but I’d been pretending that everything was just fine, thank you very much, for so long now I wouldn’t have the faintest idea where to start. Maybe I should go knock on Millie’s door.
I drove into my driveway feeling alone and lonely and miserable from my tender calf muscle, hangover, and damp butt. I was so busy immersing myself in a giant flare-up of ‘oh poor me’, that I almost hit the two people standing in front of the garage.
If I didn’t know it was biologically impossible, I would have thought that Millie and my daughter were related because the “O’s” their mouths made in surprise were totally identical.
To be continued, Tuesday, April 26.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.