Today’s piece is inspired both by this quote and by the pain so many of us have felt from loving people who don’t treat us well. I tend to write these Tuesday pieces in about an hour so it is unpolished, but very much from the heart. The challenge for me was to work the line in somewhere and to write about the pain without making it melodramatic, and to Show not Tell.
The vice was back around her heart. Tight and unforgiving. This time though it had spread through her chest so that every breath pushed against a reminder of how little she meant.
Her hands gripped the steering wheel. This was ridiculous. She’d been sitting here for at least 20 minutes. She gazed down the street towards the house. The early evening sunshine made a pretty dappled pattern on the path outside her gate.
If I had a car crash, I could go to hospital and be out of it for a while. Just a while.
She shook her head and took the keys from the ignition. People thought anxiety was a flighty nervous thing, but to her it was a heaviness. It settled on her like a coat as she opened the door, stifling in its weight. She had a sudden intense wish that the breeze could lift it away. But the air danced around her, oblivious.
She fixed a smile on her face.
Maybe today would be better.
Silence greeted her as she went in. Her heart began racing and she stopped for a second, taking her time putting her bag and keys down.
He didn’t look up when she entered the room and the mental reflex as she pushed away the hurtful memories of when he used to leap up to hug her, his smile a beam of joy, was one of habit, barely making a dent.
She fidgeted. Sat down. She should say something.
“Hi, darling. How was your day?”
His voice. That was more cutting than the refusal to look at her. It was so cold. Worse than impersonal. Contemptuous. Dismissive. The sick feeling came back into her stomach.
Still she sat there, not sure why.
“What do you want for dinner?”
She’d tried to make her voice light, but at the flash of irritation on his face she knew she hadn’t succeeded. The smile was aching but she left it up there. This pain was her secret.
“I don’t care.” He huffed out a sigh. God she hated that sound. “I might even have made something, but the kitchen’s a mess.”
Part of her wanted to ask him why the hell he hadn’t cleaned it then, why it was her fault, but the rest of her rushed to apologise, to placate. If he was unhappy he’d leave her and then she would be destroyed.
The kitchen wasn’t that bad. She opened the fridge and stared unseeing at the shelves. It had to get better. Things were just difficult now, and you had to keep pushing through the hard times.
You can’t give up on people.
A quiet voice that she’d nearly forgotten whispered “what if they’ve given up on you?”, but she’d grown adept at ignoring that voice.
Pasta. Store bought pasta and sauce. That was all she could manage.
The pot was on to boil and she hesitated before going back to the living room. Maybe she should stay, make sure it didn’t boil over.
Facebook didn’t make her feel any better. So much love. But then, people thought the two of them were happy too. They didn’t know her secret, even if they wondered at her increasing frowns. She was good at smiling.
She nearly scrolled past it. It wasn’t a flashy quote, there were no kittens or inspiring mountains behind it, but something about it caught her attention.
“loving someone doesn’t make them deserve you”.
Her eyes fixed on the screen.
The little voice that whispered to her when she sat on the side of the bed and cried every day, the voice that said ‘look, see how he treats his wife’ of their friends, the voice that cried out to her in the night that she deserved more, deserved love, the voice that wept with her at the ruins of what was once beautiful, that little voice stood up and began shouting.