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"Befores and Afters" -> "Hammers and Canyons"

Is this an examination?  by Grrl7inPleiades
Seven years.

The average American lifespan is about 76 years. So, provided that I don’t contract heart disease, cancer, diabetes or premature old age before that time, then I’ll have spent, what, just short of ten percent of my life with this man? One in each ten years marks three-hundred sixty-five days begun with a morning avoiding eye contact, as I woke up an hour earlier than him to fix his fried eggs and lunch, and just as many nights waiting hours-8 o’clock, 9, 10… to heat up the dinner that’s long gone cold.

I chose this. I knew full well the risks of marrying someone who’d had his eyes on so many other things, even since we were dating. He was always the raving child; his article had been published, he’d spent the day with a leader in world philosophy, he had an opportunity to study in Africa. And I…I was not a person to him, but a place and comfort. Should he ever stumble in his adventures, ever fall a rung on the Ladder of Success, I was the faithful dog, ready to kiss away the pain. While he pursued degrees, I did maid service six days a week. I’m surprised that I managed to keep passion enough to get us through the first six months.

Ten percent of my life. When I was in middle school and still got good grades, that was the cutoff between an A+ and an A-. Yesterday I thought about this when I thumbed through my son’s grade report, though his elementary school doesn’t issue letter grades.
If these seven years are points deducted off a test, a test that concludes with my life, what kind of grade will I get? But the year I was fourteen, when I was molested…the next two years were a downward spiral. I barely spoke and my surroundings were dead to me. I went from star student and bouncy volleyball player to binge drinking, chubby burnout and partier.

But how much of this is my fault?

Should I have looked at him with cynicism as he promised his undying love? Should I have a big “**** you!” while he continued to mingle uselessly with the intelligentsia, expecting me to support a young family on the paycheck of a maid and hairdresser. Perhaps it all goes back to my childhood. In and out of church, where the whore Mary Magdaline became human, worthy of love, only through her undying devotion to her Lord Jesus above herself.

I cooked dinner for my little boy last night. As we sat to eat could already see in his eyes resentment; he cannot understand the complexities of an adult partnership, a romance gone sour, or sour to begin with. All that my little boy knows is that his daddy isn’t here, and who has he to blame but me?

If I keep him safe, if I make sure he gets his good grades and stays drug-free and everything else a good American child is supposed to do, will I save him from that fate? Or rather, will I save the girlfriends, wives and lovers in his future from the carelessness with which I’ve been tossed around?

And my fling, my flame, if I go back to him, will it be the same old cycle? Or can I change, can I stand up for myself and make a romance between equals.

This morning, I made my young son his favorite breakfast and told him again and again how much I love him and how proud I am of his good grades. At least he still giggles and blushes for his mom. But now he’s riding off on the school bus, and I think of my fling with Erik, the man who might be a bit more like me than that little boy’s dad.

Hopefully his phone’s on…I dial the number, each press of my fingers carrying the weight of the world.

It rings…”Hello?”

“Hi Erik, it’s me…can you meet me for an early lunch?”

At least I have to talk to Erik, at least I have to see if anything’s left there. After all, I don’t want to fail this test if I don’t have to.

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  'Is this an examination?' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: July 22, 2008
Date published: July 22, 2008
Comments: 0
Word Count: 806
Times Read: 520
Story Length: 1