Mary woke up, still a little groggy from the Ambien and wine from last night! She looked outside, the sun was already beginning its daily route around the world and looked like it had got a head start on her.
“Headed to the office honey…I thought I’d let you sleep. Coffee’s fresh and I picked you up a Danish at the corner store. Enjoy! Good luck writing today.”
“Thanks Baby.” She croaked with her still sleep choked voice.
The bed felt so warm, and yet the sheets were cool and refreshing, utterly inviting, no need to get out of bed just yet, Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations be damned…those fuckers were slave drivers. If you only have one trip on this crazy wet rock, Mary was damn sure going to enjoy it. That was her New Year’s Resolution and had been for quite a few years now. She was trying to be happy…not through gluttony or laziness, but simply through giving herself the lee-way to enjoy life the way she really wanted to and not the way she felt like she was supposed to based on all of the commercials and sit coms and now thanks to Facebook and Instagram her “friends” living their best lives…fuck those bitches.
Mary pulled the duvet, soft light, smelling of fresh linen, heaven, over her head and fell blissfully back to sleep for another two hours.
She awoke refreshed, feeling alive…she’d heard people talk about it, on podcasts and health magazines, but a good night’s sleep really was the best medicine, much better than any Tylenol or even alcohol. She felt great and the warm butter colored sunlight drifting across the hard wood floors of her bungalow was so inviting, so wonderful. Mary was glad to be alive. She closed her eyes and said a little prayer of gratitude…today was the day.
She loved Peter, she really did, but being married to him for the past five years was a big mistake…
“Marriage isn’t for everyone.” she remembered hearing her aunt say to her mother over the phone in 2012, when Peter had first proposed to her…
“Mary is sooo independent, and I’ve always thought Peter was a little bit of a push-over.”
’He loves her” Mary’s Mom had responded…” And Mary needs someone like that, someone to balance her out, and Peter is responsible, his accounting firm is large, well respected and growing, and Peter is poised to take a management position in the next three years. But really I just don’t want her to be alone. “
“Being alone isn’t so bad.” Her sister Patty had replied.
Patty was married to an international business man, he was gone three to four months at a time, so to Patty she had the best of both worlds, the freedom and autonomy of a modern single woman and the comfort and the security of knowing she had a husband she could count on. Patty and Saul had three beautiful girls, all Bat-Mitzvah’d at the local synagogue with parties at the poshest hotels Uptown… Patty had won, and that was all Sandy wanted for her sweet Mary…but Mary wasn’t so sure that’s what she wanted.
The panic attacks started just after Peter popped the question on a hike up Crowders Mountain on a beautiful Spring day. Mary had been so surprised, had been thrilled, or at least that’s what she told herself. Deep down she knew she didn’t want to marry Peter or anyone for that matter. It felt like someone was sitting on her chest. Mary was 23 when Peter proposed, she was coming up on thirty now, the come to Jesus moment for any relationship, especially any relationship involving someone totally on board and someone lingering on the edges.
Mary plopped down on her couch with the Danish, she would need to find time to work out today if she was going to indulge in this little treat…Peter had been trying to plump her up, but Mary had assiduously avoided any such attempts by doubling down on her workout regimen, running an additional thirty minutes a day was an incredible way to keep the excess pounds at bay. Mmmm, what a great way to start the day, and today was the day, the first day of Spring 2020. The first day of the rest of her life. Cliché…she knew, but she had to do it. Today was the day she would leave Peter.
She had thought about leaving Peter literally since the day he proposed, not good, she knew, but if she was being honest with herself she had simply been postponing it, hiding the feeling, allowing herself to get caught up in the excitement of marriage. Planning a wedding is a great way to hide the fact that you don’t have a great relationship, so is having a kid, Mary thought. How many people hop from one distraction to the next, avoiding the truth of their situation, buying homes, raising kids, going on vacations. Was this life? Was this all there was? One big lie hidden under the distractions of modern day comforts. Maybe she was wrong though? Maybe she was delusional…did you need to be in love to reproduce, to bring new life into the world, she muted the TV and stared outside at the Mockingbird trilling on the dogwood branch just outside their window…maybe love was the lie….think about all of the pre-arranged marriages in the world…they seemed to work out fine, and statistically speaking they worked out better than “marriages of love”…maybe we were just spoiled self-involved narcissistic princesses here in the West. Maybe Mary should just put on her big girl pants and have a baby with Peter…that would make Peter happy…Oh Peter.
Mary took a deep breath, as deep as she could breathe with this 500-pound gorilla sitting on her chest. She thought that was probably the biggest sign, her Aunt Patty had always told her to “listen to her body” not just her “heart” as the pop songs would have you believe…you have to listen to your body when you’re working out, listen to your body when you’re getting sick, listen to your body when you’re getting tired, and above all else listen to your body when your falling in love…does he make you feel light as a feather when you think of him, mixed with a sickening twist of the stomach and a stab to the heart…pleasure spiked with pain, adoration with a shot of madness…
“How is the sex, does he make you…you know?…If not...then sugar…keep it moving…listen to your heart sure, but listen to your whole body too… from the tips of your toes to the tips of your pretty crinkly curly blonde hair…” Aunt Patty had said.
Mary took another deep breath and tried to listen to her body….Peter had never made her cum…she didn’t even know it was possible until she experimented with a dildo she bought on a whim, with this little vibrator thing, when she and her friend Amelia were in Seattle for the weekend for their friends bachelorette party, all of the girls were buying them, creams, lotions, all sorts of kinky toys…and Mary didn’t want to seem like a prude, so she got a reasonable sized purple one and that night in her hotel room she made her toes curl in a way they never had with peter, she didn’t know if it was the dildo with vibrator accessory or if it was her illicit thoughts about the hot bell hop downstairs, working in tandem with the waiter from the oyster restaurant that brought about the mentally eclipsing orgasm, but something had done the trick, something which she had not been able to replicate with Peter unfortunately. But it just felt like cheating, and so she didn’t even use the dildo that much anymore afterward as well…she knew that men jerked off all the time, or at least that’s what she inferred from pop culture, but she had the feeling that her Peter may not have done it as much as other husbands, she did what she could to keep him satisfied, but it wasn’t something she necessarily looked forward to, and she certainly didn’t need to do it for herself, so there was that…
Mary took another deep breath, the gorilla morphing into a baby elephant sitting on her chest. She followed this train of thought still in her PJ’s moderately full from her 11:00am Danish and dreamy in the afterglow of a glorious night’s sleep. She didn’t want to rush into anything but it wouldn’t be morning much longer, Peter would be home in less than six hours, and that thought alone pinched her stomach and tightened her chest where the elephant was joined by a giant hand squeezing firmly with adjustable pressure all around her chest and back, she wriggled her shoulders and rolled her head…
She had to leave. There was no easy way to do it, and she knew that Peter would try to convince her to stay…after all to him everything probably seemed fine. He certainly appeared plenty happy to her, and he did everything a woman could want from her husband; flowers at least once a week, sometimes twice, he willingly helped with the chores, he was active with his work and had a decent social life. He was the perfect guy… for someone else. She knew Peter loved her, and she loved Peter too. But bottom line, she just wasn’t the marrying type. She should have had the courage to tell Peter that five years ago, but here they were. She would turn 30 in three months and Peter would be 32. It wasn’t too late for Peter to start again. He had plenty of time to find someone knew. She had promised herself. Today was the day.
And with the firmness of that decision, the invisible hand around her chest loosened its grip, the gorilla and elephant taking turns sitting on her chest evaporated and Mary felt more alive than she had in a long time. Listen to your body, Mary thought…and she got up, washed her dishes, went to her room and packed a small bag, grabbing only the essentials. How many people go through life living a lie, without even knowing it. They’re lying to themselves at the same time too…life lies. Lies built on ideas of some idyllic dream life, planted there by an amalgamation of family, friends, society and of course themselves… Mary was momentarily awestruck by the idea that she didn’t really know who she was. Thirty years in this skin suit and she didn’t have any idea of who she was or what she wanted…well that’s not true. Now she did, ever since she had been listening to her body. Today is the day…and just the simple act of knowing that helped her to realize the answer to another question that had been fomenting at the front of her mind. should she wait for Peter to come home to leave? On the one hand she didn’t want to just leave him…she felt that he deserved more than a note…she owed him that much…but she thought writing him a letter could also be helpful, because it could help her to formalize the logic behind the feelings that were muddling around in her chest and her gut, in her brain and her heart…she tried to think of how the conversation would go, playing out every hypothetical in her head as she laid her clothes out on their bed. This was a damn good life, the air was the perfect temperature as she opened the windows and let a cool spring breeze float through, the birds were out in force and they were singing away. Now would be a good time to write her “letter” to Peter as practice if nothing else. She could take whatever in her bag, she didn’t really want to take too much from here anyway, it would all remind her of here and her time with Peter. She knew it was nothing to be sad about, nothing to be too nostalgic for, although she knew she would be. She might be thinking clear now with the bright blue sky and fresh spring air but as soon as the sun went down, and that weird post day funk set in. Man she was liable to be a wreck. There was something about the confluence of dusk, the sad, sleepy coolness of the darkening day, and the impending loneliness that made her want to curl up in Peter’s arms, take a deep breath and know that she was safe.
No. She said firmly to herself and because she didn’t scream it frantically because she spoke the word out loud and with authority, her inner self, the self she was just getting to know, listened, just like she listened to her body, her body now listened to her, because she knew she was right…she could not let her fear of the dark or love for the secure, the comfort the soft snuggly warmness of home keep her from living her true life…if she did she would regret it, and just the thought of the evening light and being held by Peter with that snuggly warmth brought back the full weight of the gorilla and the elephant returning to her chest and that is how she knew, she had to go. She knew that going was the right thing but did she have enough courage to stay and explain it all to Peter? She knew that once he understood he would let her go, if only for the hope that she would return to him…but should she even let him have that hope? Did she really want him waiting for her? No…she had to let him know. I love you, but this love is something that has to grow apart with no intention of coming back together…So she sat down and wrote herself these notes, played out the conversation in her head…paced the house…worked out, crushed not one but two workouts on the Peloton and then it was 4:30pm. The sun was still high in the sky, so Mary grabbed a glass of water and the latest New Yorker and walked outside to read in the sun. She waved to her neighbor, and sat down in one of the two Adirondack chairs in the sloping green grass of their front yard. She tried to read her magazine but her mind was restless, Peter would be home in less than an hour…Where would she be this time tomorrow. If she got in her Honda and just drove, leaving tonight, she could probably make it to Atlanta by 10:00pm depending on how long the talk with Peter took, she didn’t want to rush it…she thought about how the conversation would go…Peter would come home. Maybe today would be one of his flower days… if so she would look at him like a cute, loveable puppy, tear up a little, she was starting to tear up now just thinking about it…and say
“We need to talk, baby.” he would say “What’s wrong…Have you been crying?
She was playing out these scenarios in her head as Peter’s BMW came screaming down the street. He hit the curb and fishtailed into the driveway.
“I was hoping you would be out her babe get in!”
“Peter what’s going on?”
“Get in…we gotta go”
Sirens in the distance grew louder as they drew closer, closer to some impending truth, some hidden truth…Mary’s heart jumped into her throat as adrenaline flooded her system.
She listened to her body which was telling her the same thing as Peter for a change…and speaking of Peter and change something had come over the man, he was flushed and handsome in the golden light, He looked over at her and smiled, grabbing her head and kissing her with a ferocity she didn’t know he had.
“Strap in.” said Peter as he whipped the BMW around accelerating at a frightening pace…running the first three stop signs and turning down the nearest alley just as sirens appeared in the rear view.
“Peter? What’s going on?”
“Oh. Not much, I just promised myself for a while now that I would do a little something, and guess what?” he said as he leaned over and kissed her again. A strange, dangerous twinkle in his eyes.
“Today was the day!”
“Where are we going?!?”
Anywhere you want shug! We just can’t stay here!
He accelerated down the backroads pushing the engine as they topped 100mph. The sirens growing faint in the distance.
“I was just thinking the same thing” Mary said looking in the backseat where two stuffed duffel bags full of cash sat firmly strapped in …good old dependable Peter…
Mary breathed in deep her mind was screaming nooooo.
But her body was saying yesssss! And Mary listened to her body as they raced into the setting sun.