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Living In Fear

23 Apr

I’m on edge. He’s late again and I wonder what mood he’ll be in. Will he be drunk or sober? Happy or mad? Did he get fired again? I have no idea. I give the kids a bath and put them to bed. They sense my anxiety and cling to me while I try to settle them down. I know if they’re still up when he comes home he’ll be angry, so I’m short and impatient with them and quickly say goodnight.

I walk to the kitchen and make sure his supper is still warm. The dishes have all been washed. The laundry has all been folded. I notice that I should have vacuumed but the baby was sick and my time was limited. I’m satisfied that the house is just the way he likes it so I sit down and wait. I grab a magazine and jump when the phone rings. I check the caller ID and see it’s my brother-in-law, John. No, not now. If he walks in and I’m on the phone with John he’ll be angry. He’ll accuse me again of sleeping with him. I choose to let the answering machine get it.

Several minutes pass and I hear the car pull in the driveway. I take one last look around at the condition of the house and figure it really doesn’t matter at this point. It’s too late anyway. I peek through the curtain to watch him as he gets out of the car. I’m looking for tell-tale signs that he’s been drinking – staggering, dropping his keys, rumpled clothing. These things will let me know. He seems sober. I relax a little. But just as I hear the door open I suddenly turn to notice the blinking light on the answering machine. I forgot to delete John’s call…

© Susan Barton 2013

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