Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Voices of the Day
By Cindy White
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John was long gone to work. These days he leaves for work very early and comes home so late. I’m not going to complain. At least he has a job. Money has been almost nonexistent since losing his job last spring. Now he is forced to commute 75 miles a day for just two-thirds the pay. I miss him all day but when he comes home he’s usually cranky and unpleasant. I’ve tried to be sympathetic but my loneliness keeps building and the problems around the house are becoming more of a burden than I can bear alone.
The morning went as usual, with Travis waking up Jenny, Jenny screaming at Travis, doors slamming, a little whining, and spilled milk.
“Hurry up, you’re going to be late,” I screeched. I hate my own voice.
With Jenny at school, I craved quality time with Travis but there were things to do. A little TV won’t hurt him, I lied to myself, feeling a bit guilty. But with a few chores done I snuggled in on the couch with my sweet boy and enjoyed all that the toddler world of television had to offer. This is the best, loving this life.
“Mommy, the phone’s ringing,” Travis said.
“That’s alright, baby. We’ll let the machine answer it,” I kissed him on the head. I didn’t want to hear the voice on the phone. Only bill collectors call that number anymore. Why do we even keep that phone on? Lunch was spoiled with a text from John listing the errands and calls he needed me to make. “Leave me alone!” I growled at my cell phone.
“I’m going out to get the mail, Trav.” Ugh, bills. Most were past due and included ridiculous late fees. A wave of hopelessness overwhelmed me. Thoughts of suicide momentarily came to mind, but as always, I pushed those away along with the tears that threatened to smudge my makeup. As tough as life is, it’s always better than the alternative. I had to laugh at myself.
I spent the next two hours finishing chores and paying bills. I relaxed in my sense of accomplishment and decided to treat myself to ice cream with the kids after school. I hadn’t made the calls or run the errands John asked me to. Guilt tugged at me. John would be frustrated with me tonight and I would feel like a failure—again. As I played that scenario in my head I became more angry and resentful from the burden of duty he’s been placing on me, and in a wave of despair I considered leaving him. Stupid! I want more of him, not less. I know life would not be better without him. Still, something has to give. I can’t go on like this much longer.
John came home late, as usual. “Did you get that stuff done?” He asked after checking on the sleeping kids.
I was prepared to do battle, but who was I really angry with? “I tried but…I just…John, it’s too…,” I fought the tears. “I can’t do it.” My eyes overflowed and his arms wrapped around me in a way that told me he understood. We’re going to be okay.
“I love you.” I melted into his embrace. “I miss you, you know?”
“I miss you, too,” he said.
We were able to talk about some things before he fell asleep. Nothing was really resolved but the bed will be warmer tonight. I still hear the voice in my head listing all that I didn’t accomplish today, this week, and know I‘m not all I should be. And then, from a deeper place—“I love you just the way you are.” Ahhh…a different voice, the Kind Voice. I will listen to that voice…for now.
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