November 14th, 2019


LJI, Week 6: "We'll take a walk. It'll help."

It's July in North Carolina.  The room in small, on the second floor.  No AC.  It is stifling, or freezing.  I don't know which.  I don't even know if I remember how to breathe.

It was supposed to be a break away from my miserable existence in New Jersery.  I had moved in with my ex and his parents so I could be with my kids.  When July rolled around, my grandparents came and collected the kids to spend time with them in my hometown.  My former in-laws traveled to Virginia to see their daughter and their other grandkids.

Which left me alone in the Quaker version of the House of Usher.  With my job and my ex and two aggressive Great Danes and a lingering fear of what could happen without the buffer of other people around.

I called my boyfriend.  He'd pay for the ticket.  I'd have a long weekend away.  There was going to be a pig pickin' at his job for the July 4th weekend, and he wanted to show me off.  I could see my friends from college and whom I'd met along the way.  The sky would be that magical Carolina blue that makes everything seem okay.   Maybe I wouldn't be so cold.

Maybe he will forgive me for choosing cold grey Jersey skies.  Even if I can't stay.

(It is raining on that drive to the airport.  Three am to catch the first flight from Allentown to RDU, my ex threatening all the way that if I left, I wouldn't be allowed to come back.)

I'm trying to paint my nails by the dome light and shrug it off.  Yeah, ya threatened to kill me more than once, and all i got was a couple of bad beatings and worse makeup sex.  Whatever.

I get out of the van.  He says I can take my own bag...and that's the last one I'll have.

The room is freezing.  Or I can't breathe.  Am I underwater or is it just that hot in here?  It is July in North Carolina after all, and we are in one room on the second floor.

I call to arrange pickup from the airport.  I try not to sound too giddy, but I am warm and my belly is full and I have suddenly remembered that the sky is blue, not grey.  I am ready to take my penance and head back to the Quaker House of Usher.  I have to.  My children are there.  And, in some odd way, his parents need me.  I'm that little corner of blue in their sky.

He sounds weird, so I try to make a joke.  "What?  Thee sounds like thee's got my stuff packed up under the carport."

"I warned thee."

(Quaker plain speech is second nature to me now.  I always found it a peaceful.  It lulls you. When I was finally told I was allowed to use  it, I felt like it was priivige. But it can also, in the wrong hands, wound to the heart and gut in what sounds like poetry)

It's simple.  He has sole custody.  He warned me.  When my grandparents return the boys, they can collect my things.  I will be arrested for trespassing if I try to return to hug my children goodbye.  That is, if I can get a ride back...and that isn't going to happen.  All of my so called friends and allies, the ones so sympathetic, turn on a dime.  Or a dollar.  A longstanding debt that will be forgiven.

They used to be shoulders to cry on.  To celebrate group meals with the Reps and the kids.  To count on me to fix the broken pieces or the lost buttons on shorts or the grief that is always, always there.

It's hot in here.  My blood has turned to ice.  I can't fucking breathe.  I don't even know if I'm crying.

I'm fairly certain I screamed in pain when I hung up the phone.

His voice is calm, gentle.  He knows better than to touch me, because I will shatter into a thousand pieces.  "Get your shoes.  We'll take a walk.  It'll help."

Shit.  I only packed one pair of shoes.  The one time I pack light, and all I have is a pair of pink ballet flats from Target.

The rocks in the driveway are hot as hell and cut into my soles.  I guess I deserve this.  Right?

I only have one pair of shoes,

LJI Week 6: "Let's take a walk."

i only took one pait of shoes

I never pack that light.

Pink ballet flats

It was supposed to be a long weekend,  Instead, it was my things under a leaky carport.

"I read your diary.  You're with him now.  You can never come back."

My shoes fill with rain.

This is the end.  And the beginning,

And I keep walking.