A Narrator’s Truth
Conflict is king and calmness is boring. This is an imprint of the “drama code” embedded in many around the world. Those most affected by drama are born into it and remain unaware of its manipulative hold. Often passed from one generation to the next, it remains hidden deep in the subconscious, continuously shaking you at your core.
Melissa “Misty” Waters is just one of the many real-life composite characters in this novel who suffers from this behavioral addiction. Drama is all she’s ever known. Conceived in chaos and birthed from drama’s womb, she was lullabied with its mixtures of affection and disdain, nursed from its turbulent charges, and diapered with repentance to help conceal and soothe its deceptive pain.
Peace is like a calm before a storm, so drama gets stirred as a form of self-protection. A fast learner, Misty can dominate the drama game, answering, “Nothing,” and then pulling away when someone asks what is wrong. Unconsciously encouraging even more questions so the prying becomes an invitation into the game.
True Self Hidden
Misty Waters is stuck in her head. Her nerves are shot and her mind is a mess. After battling Chicago traffic on a long drive home from the advertising agency where she works, all she can think about is an upcoming three-week vacation with her husband, Vann. As she parks the car, she begins to wonder if the timing is right. They’ve been planning this motorcycle trip for years, and as much as she’s looking forward to it, Vann’s recent layoff has caused so much financial stress, she’s getting more worried by the minute.
Vann greets her at the door. Champ, their golden retriever, is by his side. “Hi ya, Sweetpea. Did ya miss me?” her husband asks, planting a smelly beer kiss on her cheek.
Triggered by the aroma, Misty unconsciously pulls away. “Not really. I’ve been too busy.”
Vann is hurt, but hides it well. Yer always busy, he thinks. Misty’s long face says it all: She has had another rough day. Vann watches as she dumps her laptop on the floor. He grabs her lunch containers and tosses them into the sudsy sink, wondering if he needs to turn on his southern boy charm. He clears his throat to ask, “What’s wrong, Sugar Plum? Ya look bummed.”
“Nothing,” his wife fibs and turns her attention to the mail.
Over the course of their fifteen years together, Vann has learned that nothing really means “something.” “Come on, Love Bug, Whaaat’s wrroooong?” he teases, drawling his words in a playful way as he grabs a saucepan for the stove.
Misty pretends not to hear. She removes her summer blazer and plunks down on a chair at the island in the middle of the kitchen. With all the bills laid out on the counter, the last thing she wants is to be sweet-talked. She buys some time by sifting through the junk mail, and then finally forces herself to ask, “How was your day?”
“Finer than a frog hair.” Vann smiles and turns in the hope of meeting her eyes, but it seems Misty’s too preoccupied to listen. He opens the freezer to grab a package of vegetables and continues to talk in a louder voice. “Me ’n’ Peters hit the trail. He took his beamer ’n’ I rode the Wing,” which is the name he has given his motorcycle, “and we headed ta Door County ’n’ found this great little brewery you’d really like.”
Misty winces. Though she’s always been attracted to Vann’s cute accent and southern charm, the last thing she wants to hear now is that he’s spent more money. Why is he talking so loudly? Ahh! How could he go off on a motorcycle ride and buy a tank of fuel knowing full well we’re saving for our anniversary trip?
“ . . . I got back ’round 2:00 ’n’ mowed the lawn.”
Frustrated, Vann steps outside to smoke a cigarette. His azure eyes admire the yard. It’s too bad my wife didn’t notice, he thinks as he flicks the lighter in his hand. I hate when she fixes on her job befor’ everythin’ else. He takes a long drag from his cigarette, and after a couple more puffs, he drops it onto the concrete and stomps on it. He then grabs it and pinches it between his fingers. As he drops the butt into a rusty can, he looks up one last time at the groomed five-acre lawn before retrieving their dinner from the grill.
Inside the house, Misty’s head wants to explode. So many bills. How are we ever going to afford three weeks in Alaska? It’s just two and half days away, and now Vann tells me he took off on a bike ride. Does he really think it’s a good idea to put miles on the Wing right before our long-distance trip? Does he think money grows on trees? Does he not remember we have a ridiculously high mortgage, crazy insurance premiums, and two monthly vehicles to pay for? How can he not see that I’m already working sixty-plus hours a week and still not able to keep up? She’s too caught up in worrying to notice that her husband could really use her help with the door.
He knows better than to ask.
Somehow Vann manages to squeeze his husky body through the patio door while balancing the spices, tongs, and hot platter of barbeque chicken he’s just pulled off the grill. She’s bein’ as handy as a cow on a crutch, he thinks and shakes his head. He sets everything on the table carefully. He then notices a deep knot forming between Misty’s eyes. He watches as her fingers knead her temples.
What if I lose my job? Misty worries. What if we get hurt on our trip? What if we break down on the road and we’re forced to drain all our savings? How will we pay all these bills?
Vann knows that worrying is part of Misty’s nature, and figures she must be getting hungry. She left him a message earlier telling him to start dinner because she would be home late, yet she doesn’t seem to be tempted by the smells. In his most patient voice, he says, “Get ready fer some grub.” He then sets the table.
Misty is annoyed. Is that all he can think about—being hungry? It must be nice not to worry about the bills, but to sleep all day and party all night.
“I’m not hungry,” Misty lies.
She’s got to be kidding, Vann thinks. “Yer not hungry?” he challenges. Figurin’ her out lately is like tryin’ to nail jelly to a tree.
“Nope.” She pretends to study a flyer.
Vann plunks down the silverware in his hand. “Then why, Darlin’, did you call ’n’ tell me to fix ya some supper ’n’ have it ready when ya got home?”
Misty doesn’t respond. She secretly wishes her contact lenses were already out of her eyes so she could hide behind the frames of her glasses.
Vann walks to the stove to stir the carrots. He’s upset. I’ll be dipped in shit, he thinks, I hate when she gits like this. So I went for a bike ride. So what? I’ve been managin’ a bar six nights a week. Can’t a guy go out ’n’ have some fun? He grumbles aloud. “It’s ’bout time ya start actin’ like ya got some proper raisin’.”
Misty stares blankly at the mail. If only this conversation would end. Going to bed sounds really good. “I’m just not hungry,” she whispers to Champ, knowing full well that Vann can hear her, too. “Is that such a crime?”
The dog quickly scoots into another room. He wants no part of what’s to come.
Vann tosses the pan of veggies on the table. “Are yer fingers broke?” he vents aloud, “Ya coulda called to say, ‘Don’t even bother,’ but obviously you weren’t raised to be courteous, were ya Misty? ’Cuz ya could start an argument in an empty house, couldn’t ya?”
Misty hears his sarcasm, and doesn’t care. She just wants to disappear inside her head.
Vann continues to push. He stands behind her with his eyebrows raised. “Answer me, woman. Or do ya have cotton in yer ears?”
Misty turns and shoots him a challenging stare. “No. I’m not courteous at all, Vann. I’m just a whining, inconsiderate bitch who only cares about herself. Right?”
Vann backs off a little. “Misty. Listen. I wasn’t implyin’ . . .”
She just doesn’t care anymore and hikes her hand in the air. “Whatever, Vann. I don’t want to hear it. By all means go ahead and start eating your precious dinner without me, because it doesn’t matter how my day was, does it, Vann? Because you don’t care how I am, Vann, do you? Because my opinion doesn’t matter, does it, Vann?”
She emphasizes his name with such hatred that Vann feels sick.
What should he do? He rakes his hand through his thick, curly hair. She’s always shuttin’ me out, he thinks. Why can’t we share a meal ’n’ talk like two adults? Her tearstained cheeks remind him how sensitive she can be.
Vann wants to make things right. He takes a step closer to this wife. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry fer whatever I did. Now please sit down ’n’ eat. This grub is gettin’ cold.”
Misty barely hears him. She’s slipping back into her head. “Eat? You expect me to sit down and eat a meal right now? That just goes to show how stupid you are!” Hot words spew from her mouth like molten lava. Most of the mail goes flying to the floor. Vann stares at his wife with disbelief. “I can tell your parents were never around to teach you anything,” Misty yells, “because I wouldn’t eat your food if it was the last thing on Earth.”
Vann’s face twists to hold back the pain. “Don’t ya be bringin’ my folks into this,” he defends. “Ya don’t like it when I do it to you, so don’t ya be pullin’ it with me.”
A part of Misty knows she’s really hurt him. Tears fall in streams down her face.
“An’ regardin’ eatin’ my food,” Vann says, “I didn’t go through all this trouble gist to eat it by myself.”
Misty’s stomach growls. She actually is hungry, but she’s too proud to admit it now. All she ate today was a little cereal and some cheese, but the angry part of her really doesn’t care.
Vann watches as his wife’s sobs turn into shoulder heaves. “I’m sorry,” she weeps. “I’m just so tired.” She burrows back further into the rails of the chair.
You’re always tired, he thinks. You’re always workin’ and never around, ’n’ when ya do come home ya pick a fight, ’n’ I don’t wanna fight, I wanna eat.
Vann cautiously approaches his wife, using the back of one hand to gently wipe her salty tears from her damp cheeks and his thumb to clear a wispy hair that’s stuck there.
He really doesn’t like it when she cries.
Their eyes meet briefly.
“Let’s get some food in yer belly,” Vann tells his wife. Misty knows he’s right and allows him to move her by the wrist to the table. When she’s just about seated, he adds, “Besides, being tired is gist an excuse to work yerself into a lather ’n’ ya know it.”
Uh-oh. He shouldn’t have said that. The angry part of Misty is really pissed now. She can feel her wrist snap away from Vann’s grip. “Stop telling me what to do. You’re not my father.”
“Then stop actin’ like a child,” Vann insists. “Enough is enough.”
He reaches again for Misty’s wrist. Her hand jerks back and nails him hard in the chest. “Go screw yourself!” she screams. Her body turns on her heels, and she storms upstairs. Her instincts tell her to run fast. This wouldn’t be the first time they were fighting and she was chased and pulled down by the back of her hair.
As soon as her bare feet hit the top of the landing, Misty breathes a sigh of relief. Thank God. I’m safe. He’s decided not to chase me tonight.
Once she reaches the master bedroom, Misty tosses her shoes into the walk-in closet. Her cat, Tabby, curls her bushy tail around Misty’s legs, but Misty is in no mood for her now and lightly flips her away with her foot. We are so broke. Why can’t he see that? She starts to undress by the mirror. Even though her full reflection shows marbled green eyes and long auburn hair—features inherited from her mother—all Misty can see is her pale, freckled skin, her flat chest, and her poochie stomach.
As she removes her padded bra, she rolls her eyes. What a joke. Even my chest is a lie.
She changes into her pajamas, then moves to the bathroom to take out her contacts and wash her face. The warm, comforting washcloth reminds her of her mother, Sonya, who died when Misty was only eight. Misty loved watching her mother do her makeup in the morning and remove it at the end of the day. Her favorite part was when her mom would dance the steamy cotton across her face while singing a special wash-up song: “Always wash your face twice a day to keep the wrinkles away, oh yeah . . . and never go to sleep with your makeup . . . oh no. And remember, there’s one more thing . . . yeah, remember this important thing . . . Always moisturize your face and move it to your neck so your skin doesn’t sag like a turkey. No, we don’t want a turkey neck . . . No, we don’t want a turkey neck.” She would then playfully tug at the skin under Misty’s chin then fling out her elbows and flap. “Gobble Gobble,” she warbled and waddled with a laugh.
Misty smiles through her tears at the memory, recalling how Sonya would then pull her close and give her a loving, swirly kiss starting with her forehead, her left cheek, and then her chin, and then swirling up to her right cheek and back to her forehead again . . . always ending at her nose before lifting up the hem of her shirt to blow her a raspberry on her belly.
Looking at her swollen eyelids in the mirror, Misty compresses each one again. Oh you stupid girl, she thinks, what would your mother think of you now?
She feels tired, yet she’s really too hungry to sleep. After pushing on her glasses, she finds Tabby in the hall and lifts her high in the air. “Hello, Miss Tabby. I’m sorry for taking my anger out on you. You want to cuddle with me under the covers?” Tabby’s motor purrs.
Vying for equal attention, Champ appears, right on time, with his wagging tail, following her and Tabby back into the bedroom. Misty can’t resist him and folds her legs until she comes to be seated on the plush bedroom carpet. As she attempts to pull both animals onto her lap at once, Tabby leaps onto the bed. That’s okay. It gives her plenty of time to ruffle Champ’s fur, kiss his whiskered cheeks, and playfully rub his belly. Tabby watches, knowing full well it will be her turn next.
“Okay, Champy,” Misty says as she stands and sweeps his fallen fur off her legs with her hands, “that’s it for now.” She gives him one last pat on the head before crawling on top of the bed. Once she settles in, her fingers reach for the remote control device from her nightstand and she flips through the channels on TV. Tabby pushes up against her hand. Misty obediently scratches her purring feline head.
A loud growl from Misty’s stomach makes her appreciate that Vann will be leaving for work soon. Though she knows she should go downstairs and apologize to make things right, she’d much rather be stubborn and isolate herself. She’ll save eating for after he’s left.
As the TV guide scrolls across the screen, Misty can’t figure out what to watch. Reruns of Gun Smoke? (No thanks.) An obnoxious announcer (Next.) A dangling tampon absorbing water? (Grrrross!) Some special with an author talking about God being all-knowing and our highest form of inspiration? “Yeah, right,” Misty blurts out. “It’s more like God is all-punishing.”
She flips back to the TV guide, staring at it absently.
Will Vann really leave for work without saying goodbye? she wonders. A part of her hopes that he does. She’d much rather go to sleep and start out fresh again tomorrow, yet knowing Vann, he’ll probably come upstairs. But not if I’m sleeping, she thinks.
She swings her legs off the bed, walks to the edge of the room, and flips off the light.
“Good night animals,” she says, as she returns to the bed, where she carefully slides her glasses from her face. As the remote falls from her hand, the power switches off.
Then it switches itself back on again.
“What the frick?” she exclaims. Her fingers fumble in the dark. Why is the TV back on?
It’s a sign from her mother who is watching from above, but Misty doesn’t know this yet.
As she reaches again for the remote, Vann appears. So much for pretending she’s asleep. The light switches on. He walks over to the TV and turns it off.
“Hey,” Misty yells. “I was watching that.”
Vann shrugs “too bad,” then uses his hip to nudge his wife into the middle of the mattress.
She turns her back on him, asking, “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
Vann tugs at her shoulders until she faces him. “Listen. I don’t wanta fight.”
“Please,” Misty pleads, “Just leave me alone. I know I shouldn’t have said what I said, but I want to be left alone.”
She wishes he’d just go away and tunnels back into her head . . . her secret hiding place.
He tugs at her arm again. “Stop actin’ like a wet hen in a tote. Let’s gist mend our fences ’n’ get along.”
Misty roars. “I said leave me the frick alone.”
Vann shakes his head. “Is that kinda talk really necessary?”
“Damn right,” she says, storming out of bed and pushing her way past her husband. “Because you’re a good for nothing lowlife . . . ,” her insults are so automatic she can’t stop, “and I can’t believe I still stay with your sorry ass.” She feels her mind splitting in two. It’s as if one part of her is trapped on a ledge in a tower in her head, unable to be authentic and real, and the other is fighting for protection, no matter what the consequences might be. She stands frozen in the doorway, wishing more loving words would come out. I love Vann, she thinks. I don’t mean what I’m saying. He’s doing what he can since he lost his corporate job. Why am I being this way?
Vann jumps up to grab her before she can take off again. “Damn it, Misty, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Misty yells and pulls away.
He hates such disrespect. He lunges to catch her. Her nightgown rips. She twists and retreats and then slams the bedroom door in his face. “You’re such an asshole,” she yells and starts to cry. “I hate you. I wish you were dead.”
Vann feels the sting of her words. He uses his weight to barge in on Misty with such force that the wood on the jamb under the doorknob splinters and splits. “Ahhh,” he yells. “Now look what ya made me do.” He hates these childish games.
Misty bolts toward the bed. “Leave me the hell alone.” The words barely escape her mouth before Vann squeezes her lips shut with his calloused fingers.
“Stop actin’ like such a bitch.” He scowls and holds her tightly around the waist, lifting her feet off the ground.
Misty bucks her body and tries to bite down on his hand to resist his control.
Vann lifts her higher. “Knock it off, Little Miss.”
Her legs dangle and kick. The lamp on the nightstand crashes to the floor. Seeing this, defeat finally overtakes her. Misty allows her body to go limp.
Vann can sense he’s lost her again. She acts like I am a monster, he thinks. Why does she always gotta pull this shit every time we fight? He lowers her feet to the floor and then turns her body toward him. “Misty. Misty. Damn it. Answer me, woman.” He shakes her hard by the shoulders. “I know you can hear me, Melissa. “Now stop playin’ possum ’n’ actin’ comatose.”
Misty doesn’t move. She has gone into a dissociative state that helps her detach from her body as a way to avoid the reality of what’s occurring.
“God, I hate when you git like this,” Vann yells. “Why do ya always hafta go off ’n’ turn yer back on me, huh? You know it gist pisses me off.”
Though a small part of Misty hears his voice, she’s way too afraid to come out. Just like a turtle, she’s stuck in the shell of her head . . . that is, until Vann is far enough away. Then she feels brave enough to come out. “Have a nice fricking life,” she yells, cursing on purpose just to piss him off once she can sense he’s walking away from her down the hall.
Though Vann is running late for work, he is determined not to let her have the last word. This childish behavior has got to stop. He fires himself back toward Misty so hard and so fast that she only has enough time to crouch down with her hands protectively covering her head before he forcefully grabs her by the shoulders and heaves her hard against the hall wall. “Oh, you’re leavin’ me, is that it?” he challenges.
Misty squeezes her tear-filled eyes in hopes she can escape inside her head again.
Vann slowly inhales and exhales, then says, “Woman, you’d better talk ta me right now, ’cuz I’ve just about had it with yer threats. If you’re gonna leave, then leave, but at least have the common decency to tell me before I go ta work.”
Misty’s eyes fly open menacingly. “You call that work?” Her leering face glares at him. “You’ve obviously forgotten what real work is.”
Vann cannot believe her insolence. “Really? Is that so?” he challenges, and pins her even harder with his hands. He squeezes her forearms so hard, in fact, that Misty can feel her skin bruise.
She grits her teeth. “Damn right.”
Vann’s so angry he raises one hand in a fist, and then he stops to look at it. What in the hell is happenin’? he thinks.
Misty sticks her nose in his face and dares him. “What? You’re gonna hit me? Then do it!”
They stare at each other with hatred.
Vann releases her from the wall.
Misty vigorously rubs her arms and then gets cocky again as soon as he starts to walk away. “You’re just a lowlife loser,” she mutters, “a thirty-five-year old bum who can’t find a decent job and now has to mooch off his wife.”
Vann cannot believe it. He knew she was brassy, even potty-mouthed, but now she’s being meaner than a sack full of rattlesnakes. This downright disrespect has got to go. How dare she insult me in this way! His temper takes over as he quickly turns and catches her by the hair. “All of your bitchin’ is hurtin’ my ears,” he yells. He tugs her hard by the scalp to the top of the landing, then pulls her head back and forces her jaw closed with his hand. “So I guess I’m gonna hafta put ya in yer place.”
Misty’s neck is pulled back with such force it reinforces the division in herself. Is this really happening? She can feel herself sprawled on the floor, wishing and hoping this wasn’t real while something stronger in her stays on alert knowing it’s gearing her up for a fight. Adrenaline shoots through her veins.
Vann releases her, thinking it’s over. He’s been fooled. Misty pivots her hips and rolls hard, kicking him right in the groin. It takes them both by surprise. She’s never hit him down there before.
The pain is so fierce Vann quickly and instinctively flips Misty over and pins her to the Berber carpet by cranking her left arm high and back, and shoving her face to the hallway floor. It’s a move he learned in the military, and it happens so fast that Misty cries out from the terrorizing pain. “AHHH!”
Tears seep from her eyes and sting her carpet-burned right cheek. Her twisted right elbow is rubbed raw from the wiry fibers of the floor, and her left wrist is cranked so high that it feels as if her shoulder has come unhinged and is being ripped violently from its socket.
Finally, feeling like his point has been made, Vann releases the grip of his bicep and Misty’s body sinks lifelessly into his arm.
For a moment, Misty does what she always does whenever push comes to shove. She pretends to be helpless, knowing giving in will end it. But as soon as she feels Vann retreat, the scrapper in her comes alive. She forcefully sinks her teeth into the flesh of his forearm.
The bite is blistering. “AHHHHH!” Vann roars. “You bitch, ya bit me.” He grabs her by the hair again and whips her neck back while holding her arm in a half nelson position.
Misty is stunned. She wants to fight back, but cannot. He has the grip of a vice.
“Apologize,” Vann says. He wrenches her head further back with disgust.
Oh dear God. I can’t believe this is happening. The pain’s so severe I want to die. I’ve seen Vann’s temper before, but he’s never abused me like this. Misty’s face is buried so deeply in the rough carpet that she can smell pet dander and musty dirt. She feels so helpless, so out of control, so filled with rage. It somehow powers her second wind. “There is no way in hell I’ll apologize!” she yells. She’ll die if she has to, she doesn’t care. Using her good arm, Misty hoists herself up as far as possible and twists and fights as hard as she can. She yells and screams with all her might. The situation becomes a free-for-all.
She’s tougher than a one-eared alley cat, Vann thinks. He had no idea she could be this strong. God forgive me, he prays. This ain’t how a man should treat his wife. He then uses his extra weight for leverage and cranks Misty’s arm back hard.
Thoughts move like flash cards through Misty’s brain. How will I explain this to my friends? What will I say to my dad? He already thinks Vann is failing his duties as a husband, and how will I ever face Judy, knowing her religious beliefs about divorce? And what will I tell the doctors in the ER? I can’t believe this is happening. Why me? Oh God, why me?
Her mind goes silent. Her muscles are so on fire, she feels like she’s in hell. She prays for God to hear her. Please. Help me. Judy says you create miracles. I need one now. Though I’ve only known you to be punishing, I need your help. Show me your love and your mercy. “God, please help me. Please.” Misty is so out of it that she’s not even aware she has spoken aloud.
“Apologize,” Vann demands, shaking her now-rubbery arm for added emphasis.
Misty can only wheeze. She’s too out of breath to say more.
Release and let go, Misty hears a disembodied voice say. The voice that speaks these words sounds like her mother’s, but she’s too disoriented to know for sure. Her body rolls hard to the right. Vann holds on even tighter. The pain in her arm is excruciating.
Vann knows if he pushes on it anymore her arm will break, and he’s already taken it too far. “Please stop fightin’ with me,” he yells.
“Never,” Misty says, gasping for breath. Nothing will compare to the pain I will feel, she thinks, if I give up weakly in defeat.
Misty’s pain is agonizing. She moves in and out of consciousness, feeling the sting of line burns across her face. Her shoulders are deeply bruised. Her left ear is being pressed so hard against the rough carpet that it’s as if it’s barely hanging there. A part of her cares about nothing. She’s ready to scream from the rooftops that her husband is abusive and her marriage is a sham. Another piece of her wants to retaliate. It wants revenge. She pushes and she pulls and she fights until all her muscles give in and every bit of fight in her is gone.
Release and let go.
Yes, this feels like her mother’s voice, yet Misty has no way of being sure. Her father has warned her about this voice. “It’s just a figment of your imagination,” he used to tell her. Her step-mom, Judy, would agree, “It’s that tricky Satan messing with your head.”
Release and let go.
I must be hallucinating, Misty thinks. All her physical energy is drained. Every muscle has atrophied.
Vann breaks into her thoughts. He sounds a million miles away. “Misty, please,” he begs. “Promise me yer done fightin’ me.”
Misty hates the idea of surrender. Giving up will mean I am weak.
Release and let go.
This type of obedience is very hard, a painful wake-up call. It hurts Misty’s pride most of all. “Yes,” she barely whispers.
“You promise?” Vann asks. He needs to be sure.
“I promise,” she surrenders. She’s out of fight.
Vann finally frees her. At least I can drink at work, he tells himself.
Yet no amount of whiskey will numb him now.
The rev of the Wing causes a small piece of Misty to return. She fights the shooting pain down her right arm and grabs her glasses. Once she can see again, she uses her legs and left hand to lift herself off the floor and then walks to her closet for her suitcases. Angrily, she uses her good arm to jam every piece of clothing from every hanger and every drawer into her luggage. There is no way in hell I can stay. Vann’s violent temper has gone too far. I cannot allow this anymore.
Crying, she crams her cosmetics and shoes into a large duffle bag and pushes herself to move forward so hard and so fast that she actually starts to believe she could leave and would leave, until she looks at Champ and Tabby, who are staring her sadly in the face. What will happen to them? And what about the trip? And how can she possibly face her father and admit that the violence in her marriage has been getting worse through the years?
Mechanically, Misty then moves in reverse, unpacking much of what’s been packed, still totally unsure of why she’s doing what she is.
As she starts to clothe another hanger, she begins to argue with herself. Stop making excuses. He’s a drunk and a lowlife. You were physically abused and you know it. You have got to keep going and move out.
She stares at the nearly empty suitcase. Vann is a good man, her conscience counters. He just lost his temper. He was provoked. You should have never said what you did.
That’s bullshit and you know it, the mad part argues back. You’re being pathetic. There is no excuse for what he did. You forgave him before and bought all of his “I’m sorrys,” yet he still hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions and continues to blame you for everything. Now pack up your things and save yourself before it gets so bad you are killed.
Unhooking the hangers again from the poles, Misty shoves her clothes back into the suitcases, and then once again abruptly halts. She stares through her tears at the boots in her closet. They were a gift from Vann, to be used on their upcoming trip. His final words echo painfully in her head, “None of this woulda happened if ya would have gist paid attention ’n’ talked ta me. Ya may be book smart, Misty Waters, but ya lack common sense. It’s a wonder ya can even function in yer life.”
“Screw you,” she says aloud, and then twists at her wedding band. As she tries to wrench the ring off her finger and over her knuckle, the rubies and the diamonds catch her attention and remind her of her marital vow “for better or for worse.” She tugs at the ring even harder. I will not be an abused wife like my mother, she tells herself. I will not. I cannot. It has to end. Finally, she twists the ring off and walks it over to the dresser. She makes sure to set it on Vann’s side.
Tabby swirls around her feet. Champ is seated and sighs. “I know,” she responds and pats them both in turn with her left hand, “I’ll miss you, too, but I don’t have a choice anymore.”
Seeing all her bags packed makes her feel tired. Holding the handle of one suitcase, she leans on the edge of the bed. Where will I go? It’s so late at night. And we’re already short on money. I really don’t want my friends to know. How humiliating that would be since they think I’m so perfect and strong. Besides, even if I did share what’s going on, they’d just do what they always do and start a bitch fest, telling me how all men are assholes and that I am lucky I’m not stuck with any kids. Ahhh! I really don’t have a choice but to call my dad no matter how much it kills me inside.
Trembling, she picks up the phone and dials her folks. After a few rings, Hal answers. His voice is groggy.
“Hi, Dad. Did I wake you?” she asks.
“Yeah, but that’s okay. It was just a catnap.”
A second line picks up. It’s Judy, “Hello.”