Monday, February 1, 2010

She Looked Up at the Sky (2009)

The breeze cooled the perspiration on her skin, and she took a deep breath of the cool morning air to let the feeling calm her. Times like these, following angry words and voices like canons, were times she sought the peace of nature in her hammock. Her aunt had helped her weave it, years ago, sitting under the same two trees that now supported her. Why did people come and go so quickly? Words are so easily exchanged, the bad always carrying more weight than the good, and when you think you have all the time you don’t try to mend it... that’s what she was afraid of. She still held the guilt, could probe it and feel the sorrow, knowing the last impression her aunt had of her was the tantrum she threw when her aunt tried to protect her from her own stupidity. She’d thought, surely, with her parents thoroughly disapproving the match, that her aunt would welcome her and her soon-to-be husband. Eloping sounded so romantic, daring. Well, her aunt had been right. She tried to make it work, but Lawrence and she were not cut-out for each other. Arguing was stupid, futile, she knew, and she hated it. Hated to wonder if he might fall dead suddenly, like her aunt, with her unkind words burning in his mind. It was always that which made her go inside and apologize, hear his ruff grunt of acknowledgment, leaving her more guilty and the problem unsolved. Not this time. She wouldn’t back down about this. Rubbing the rope between her fingers, like she used to do with her hair when it was longer to ease her aggravation, she raised her head to the vast expanse of the sky. Part of why she hung on was knowing that, if they separated, she couldn’t keep this house. And she loved this house, the view of the valley, how in the day she could see clouds over the whole sky not blocked by trees or buildings, and at night the city below sparkled like the clear starry sky above. She could lay in her hammock, or sit in the upstairs room gazing out the gigantic windows with stained-glass borders, and it felt like she could see the world. The furniture, the way the corners smoothed to draw her on to each room — every part of this house was precious to her. One thing she could say about her marriage was that it wasn’t poor. Lawrence had done well for himself, drawing her out of the workforce early to be a content housewife. Content to cook and clean when needed, spending the rest of the days doing various activities of her own choosing. The more successful he grew, the more time he spent at home, the more unhappy she became. They just didn’t get on. She kept coming to him, trying to have conversations and spend time with him, but he would rather act like she wasn’t there. He was content to eat her food and take advantage of the housework, like all he needed was a maid rather than a wife. He was allergic to cats, she was afraid of dogs, he hated birds, she thought fish were boring. With no pets and no children, she was finding it harder to accept and occupy herself in her exile. She was tired of it. Hadn’t it been just as much his fault as hers that they tied themselves to each other so young? Why should she be the one to suffer? Her fingers moved along the weave, her other hand coming to rest on her eyes. She couldn’t stand it, not anymore. No more yelling over small disagreements, no more being ignored, no more crawling back in to apologize — and it was always she who apologized — no more. No more.

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