Where to?

Flash fiction (1262 words)

UlyssesButterfly2_PublicDomain

Diane threw the keys at him and barely missed his head. They put quite a dent in the wall though. Probably a good thing she didn’t hit him. She might have taken out an eye or cut his head open.

He was drunk again and she’d had enough. He came home and tried to take control again. Fix my supper! Why wasn’t the carpet vacuumed? Looks like you’ve put on a few pounds again, huh!

She’d never been mad enough to throw something at him. He had raised his hand to her several times over the past few years, but he’d never actually hit her—yet. She was convinced it was just a matter of time.

She had worked all day and was tired. This garbage had to stop. He was getting worse again. He worked all day too, but when he finished work, he went out to get shit-faced with his buddies and watch naked women prance around a pole. He even had the gall to drive home. She kind of wished he’d been stopped and thrown in the drunk tank. At least she’d have one night of peace and quiet. But, then, knowing her, she would have gone down town and bailed his sorry ass out. What a fool!

She snatched up the keys up and went upstairs. She pulled a small suitcase from the closet and tossed in some underclothes, some jeans, t-shirts, and a couple of sweatshirts. She stopped at the bathroom and threw in a few toiletries and other necessities. She put her sneakers on and went back down to the front door.

“I’m leaving.”

“Where the hell do you think you’re going to go?”

“I don’t know, just out of here.”

“No one will take you in. You have no friends, you know. You’re just going to embarrass yourself.”

“Too bad,” was all she said.

She slammed the door hard behind her. She probably woke up the people in the next condo. She didn’t give a rat’s ass though. She was going and that was that.

She threw her suitcase into the trunk and climbed into the driver’s seat of his car. She sat there for a few minutes and tears started streaming down her face. How did she get to this place? She always thought she was stronger than this. Apparently, she was still just a child—maybe he was right.

She would have been gone this time last year, if it hadn’t been for her parents making her feel guilty about leaving him. She never did tell them the whole story, about how he emotionally abused her and how he controlled everything about her life. They thought he was such a charming young man. He was to the outside world; that’s why she was attracted to him in the first place. But Diane knew differently, now. She lived with him; they didn’t. Somehow, though, she didn’t want to talk about what kind of person he really was. What was the point?

When she left last year, she stayed for a month with her parents. One evening when they were watching TV, she went to the living room to sit with them and watch Papillon—it was one of her favorite movies.

After about five minutes of silence, her father looked her in the eye and asked, “What are you doing to him?”

Diane was stunned. So that’s how they saw this. It was all her fault that the marriage wasn’t working out. How dare they? She couldn’t even speak. She was appalled at their attitude. She got up and went to her bedroom. She was fuming mad.

A few minutes later, her mother came in and sat on the edge of the bed.

“What’s going on, anyway? Are you sure you can’t work this out? Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses, you know.”

“No. It’s not worth working on anymore.”

“Jesus, I wish there was no such thing as divorce.”

“What! You want me to be miserable for the rest of my life. Why should I stay if I’m not happy?”

Her mother sighed. She obviously felt that Diane should stay. Well, damn her too!

“People these days leave at the first sign of trouble.”

“You’ve had your own troubles. Why did you stay if you weren’t happy?”

“Because I had to. I had kids. I had no job and no money. What would I have done? I had nowhere to go. In those days, you just didn’t leave, and now it’s too late.”

“I don’t know what you could have done. There’s always something. I can leave. I have a job and no kids. Thank God, I don’t have kids. What kind of life would this be?”

“Well, dear. I think you should go back. You can’t leave him. He provides for you and he doesn’t hit you.”

He doesn’t hit me. Well, isn’t that just going to make things all better!

Her mother got up and left the room, closing the door silently behind her. She heard whispers from the living room. She was tempted to sneak to the door to hear what they were saying. Why bother. It was obvious they thought he was great and she was the one to blame. Well, weren’t they supportive! All her life, she sought their approval. She never felt as though she could do anything right in their eyes.

After a few days of thinking about things, she thought maybe she was to blame to some extent. Maybe she could have done things differently. She really didn’t know what she’d do or where she’d go, so she went back. She certainly couldn’t stay here; this was toxic.

Things were good—for a while. He’d even stopped drinking as much. He apologized, and did all the right things—for a while.

Soon after she went back, she got a promotion and a substantial raise. She never told him about the raise and she started to put money away in her own account. She had quite a little nest egg piled away. She just had a feeling that as hard as she tried, she would probably end up leaving again. He couldn’t change. He had too much of his own baggage and he wasn’t willing to work on it. He didn’t see as he had any problems, except her nagging about it.

She wiped away the tears, started the car, and backed out of the parking lot. She drove around town for a while just watching the lights and thinking. She stopped outside of her best friends place and watched the building for a while. I can’t go in there, she thought. Why should I put all this mess on her? She doesn’t deserve this.

She finally started the car again and drove to the nearest ATM. She cleaned out her account. She stood under the street light looking at his car for a few minutes and decided she’d take it back. She wanted nothing from him anymore. She parked his car just where she’d found it, dug her cell phone out of her purse and called a cab. She panicked a little. Where would she go?

The lights of the cab glared into her rear-view mirror. She put her suitcase in the trunk and climbed into the back seat.

“Where to?”

Spontaneously, she said, “The airport, please.”

She sighed deeply and sat back into the seat. Suddenly she felt calmer than she had in years.

When she got to the check-in counter, the attendant asked, “Where to?”

“Naples, please.”

And she smiled. Yes, Naples. Why not?

***

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