Flames Without Regrets
She stood still at the kitchen counter feeling completely numb. “Why the hell are you like this,” he had screamed at her for what seemed the millionth time over. Each day everything went wrong like acid trickling upon their life.
The stench of his three-day-old clothes saturated the kitchen as he walked down heading to work. When she recommended changing them, his eyes only bored hatefully into hers. Then he asked sweetly for her to make him something to eat. “Really? Jeckel and Hyde, here we go!” she thought.
“No, you can do it.” she replied, pondering why she should ever do anything for him when he treated her like the fuzz you threw away from a drying machine.
“Fine,” he replied in a huff throwing something from the freezer onto a plate in the microwave. As it heated, he hollered at her to help him find his coat. This happened constantly because he always dropped it onto the floor wherever he took it off. Of course, his shoes were no different. She sat there drinking her tea ignoring his demands as they bounced off the walls of their once happy home. Finally finding his shoes and coat, “with no thanks to you,” he bellowed as he stormed to the garage door grabbing his food and keys off the counter. Then turning around he had screamed those same words she heard day after day, “Why are you always like this???” She knew exactly why and although others were starting to clue in, he remained completely oblivious.
When they first met their connection had been instantaneous followed soon by unconditional love with shared intimate smiles, joyous times, and laughter filling their moments together. She had always loved him but over time her feelings had shifted as he transformed into someone she couldn’t recognize.
First, he started growing distant insisting he needed his space away from her. That’s when he started sitting in the living room after work always turning his attention to the tv screen instead of towards her. Mealtimes were the only exception but even those he seemed anxious to finish the meal and flee from her proximity. Each day grew worse when she tried to talk to him, his only response was complaints filled with bitterness. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she sat there mute. With each meal, the silence between them growing until oceans couldn’t compare to the distance between them. Then he started refusing to eat with her now taking his meals to the living room treating her a repulsive creature.
She really had tried, pouring everything she was into finding the support he insisted they didn’t need as their struggles continued. As he rejected her efforts each time, his anger grew increasingly alarming toward her. The purity of her love for him started to decay as he began to treat her as a regretful purchase with no return policy. This was unacceptable but still she tried, holding tightly onto hope as a child holding a balloon at a carnival.
Sometimes there were moments where she would give anything to go back to the beginning. How she longed for him to cherish her once again instead the disdain he now felt for her. Even loving memories of their beginning tasted bittersweet now. They haunted her dreams, shining bits of hope that things would miraculously change. She knew that would never happen so what good were any of those to her now? Recalling them only brought fresh heartache for what she had lost.
Of course, there were rare moments where he would be kind or helpful clearly superficial only because he sought something from her. Followed by her refusal, a child’s temper tantrum would ensue minus the laying on the floor kicking. She had long lost count of the number of objects thrown near the wall around her during those terrifying times. His anger always seemed to throw him into a craze of insanity until he would finally retreat to the living room which he claimed as his own.
Truly he was only here still because she hadn’t thrown him out yet. Why not, she thought? He was a selfish son-of-a-bitch who thought about nothing but himself. His feelings for her were ancient history like the tombs inside pyramids. Dirty dishes forgotten everywhere, food left out to rot, no care for hygiene, clothes that smelled that hadn’t been washed in weeks…this was what her home had become because of him. The body odor attached to him came over her in nauseous waves whenever he passed her since he rejected showering as if it were against his beliefs. The lingering scent he left in each room he passed, disgusted her so that even in winter months, she would open every window just to air out the house.
He had always despised any kind of work refusing to help or be helped. Tonight, he had refused to lend a hand (no surprise there) retreating to the living room where he resumed wasting his life away in front of a screen. She walked to the living room staring at him where he sat oblivious to her presence. Another day, same situation.
Her fear was that he would end up homeless, just another lost soul unseen on city streets as people walked by; this was the only reason that she continued to let him stay. She could already imagine his cardboard home covered with blankets; the inside littered with trash amongst only a sleeping bag with no pillow. Although she felt that no one should ever have to live that way, she could no longer continue this facade.
Could she finally have the courage to do what she needed to do? This had been her life for so long and she knew that she could change it all. Days passed by her like a countdown waiting for ticking bomb to blow. Everything inside her said that this would all explode in her face one day. Maybe today was that day. Looking deep in her soul, she saw happiness in her future if only she found the courage to move on without him. Yes, she resolved to send him packing, whether he knew it or not, so she could move on with her life. She recognized that she was worthy of more.
It was at that instant the bomb exploded in her as rage filled every cell in her body. No one would know by looking at her as she remained still only her lips lifting upward for the first time in a long time. The plan formulating in her mind was a simple one really, one that would take little time at all to put into action. Now that she knew happiness was within her reach, the remainder of the evening was bearable as she only gave him polite smiles and answered with civility, regardless of how he talked to her.
The next day when he went to his job if you could call it that. He called off so often because he was tired that she wondered why they kept him on. The locksmith came right on time, leaving her with shiny new keys for the front and back door. His negative energy would never be polluting her home again. Thoughtfully, she had grabbed his garage door opener the night before. Since he parked outside the garage anyway without taking the time to close the garage door anyway, he wouldn’t even have noticed. Next, she made a call patiently waiting on hold for twenty minutes. The wait really didn’t bother her as it normally did. This was simply another step to her happiness. Once a representative was online, she removed him from the account cancelling his phone service two weeks from now, graciously giving him time to set up a new account. The car and it’s insurance had always been under his name proving just one less thing to do to remove him from her life. Blocking him on all her social media and his phone number were her final task.
He always said he wanted to leave and start a new life wanting nothing to do with her, so she was more than happy to give him that push. Now he could start fresh without nothing. Grabbing a few cardboard boxes from the garage, she carried them upstairs to the bedroom. Calmly she opened his top dresser drawer and picked up a pile of shirts, haphazardly thrown in. She paused for a moment recognizing one she had given him for a birthday, her mind replaying how he had opened the gift only to toss it recklessly aside with a mumbled thanks. Thinking back, she wondered why she had wasted precious time since he continued to show a lack of gratitude.
Hardening her heart, she dropped the shirts onto the bed proceeding to fold each one and place it inside one of the boxes. As minutes passed, she repeated the process with each drawer. One by one, the boxes filled until the dresser was empty. Using the last box, she gathered the last of his belongings, including any pictures of them. Using the tape gun, she sealed inside any leftover feelings for him away forever along with his belongings.
Within a few hours, she completed the task feeling relieved as if the weight of the world had lifted off her shoulders. She sat on the bed surrounded by boxes. It wasn’t much really but leftover pieces of him that meant nothing to her.
At lunchtime, she prepared a tuna sandwich relishing every bite. Once again, it was another thing she did that he criticized. He always taunted her about how she could enjoy something that appeared similar cat food, created a wretched lingering smell, and left an aftertaste in your mouth making you long for a beverage to wash it away? Now his rants would no longer echo in her ears about what she ate.
Lugging the boxes downstairs and into the backyard, she left them in the center of a large sandbox left by previous owners that would only now prove useful. She squeezed the life out of several bottles of lighter fluid retrieved from the garage, tossing each one atop the the accumulation of old history. The heap of saturated boxes started to leak onto the sand as if saying their own goodbye. Then with a flick of her wrist, she threw the lit match into the past. The fire roared to life taking away all her anger with it. Turning around, she walked confidently into her new future dreaming of happily ever after, forgetting the trauma of her past.