"The Women" is the forthcoming work of fiction which depicts the relationships of four women within the Oliphant family.
Marjorie is the eldest sibling whose sudden life change creates a chain of events that she may never be able to rectify
This is the beginning of her story....
Marjorie wrapped her slender fingers around the honey brown dreadlock and absently played with the thick strand as she thoughtfully looked out her office window into the hotel’s kitchen. A faint sigh escaped her loosely parted lips as her mind replayed the conversation between her mother and herself; Madear was in a melancholy mood, a sudden departure from the exuberant attitude she’d had earlier in the day and she was closed mouthed about what had happened to make her so sullen so quickly but Marjorie knew from many years of contentious family arguments between her mother and her sister, Dominique, how to still a pending storm. She just had to figure out the sequence of events so she could figure out where to move next and what words not to use that would set her normally unflappable mother into a tirade that left even the most unaffected, indifferent being still from fear.
It had long been decided in the Oliphant family that Marjorie was the one the siblings went to in order to air their grievances. Though she was midway down in the sibling line, Marjorie cut through all the pretense and blustering while sitting patiently, listening, allowing them to expel all their kinetic energy before she responded and when she did, she methodically went through their speech and dissected where the blame lie, the speakers intent, whether or not the argument or event were their fault and how to proceed once everything had been said.
She truly became judge, jury and executioner in some cases. It had surprised even her that she hadn’t pursued a legal career with her innate analytical skills, but the thought of listening to strangers drone on about their drama day in and day out drove Marjorie nuts. Her pre-law courses were so boring that she withdrew from them the very first day and began taking culinary classes because they were the only courses open that she could get into without having to withdraw from the semester and there was no way she were going back to Bishop to explain to her father, Lake, who only had a fifth grade education, that she had wasted his tuition money because she didn’t find the law exciting enough to see it through. From the very beginning, Marjorie found the art of cooking enthralling; practically “blissful” she’d called it but when she informed her parents that she’d changed her major. Her father had nearly taking her out into the backyard and laid her out when he found that it cost nearly twice as much for the program than most of the other degree programs. But Madear had stepped in and reasoned with her husband, pointing out that there was a year’s paid tuition in France and Italy during her sophomore and senior years and all the materials she needed could be found in their own restaurant so they could defray the cost of supplying their middle daughter with her dream. Marjorie chimed in that she found that if she were aggravated or depressed, cooking soothed her immensely and she was able to concentrate and eventually work through the problem to a solution.
Lake Oliphant wasn’t convinced and let it be known he thought it was a waste of time, money and energy but if she wanted to continue she’d have to work in the hotel’s kitchen during her breaks and put his hard earned many to work. Though her brothers and sisters had given her a hard time about her career choice she was elated and felt it was worth every snide comment that passed their lips and sideways glances her father threw in her direction. Even now, whenever she could, Marjorie secluded herself in the hotel kitchen for hours on end and created the most marvelous foods and not be the least bit tired. Figuring out what blend of herbs were just right for a new recipe sent shivers through her like a little girl. she loved mixing and piddling around the kitchen exploring new things, growing her own vegetables and herbs. The thought of creating a new entrée or dessert was exhilarating to her and nothing she’d come across had ever come close to the feeling she still got when she worked in the kitchen.
By the end of the spring break, the hotel’s head chef, Kevin Tolliver, had taken her on as an apprentice and schooled her on every aspect of cooking and running a kitchen. The kitchen staff had long, hard laughs at Kevin’s expense because of his hapless expression when his prized pupil decided to stay an extra year in Europe to study at Le’ Cordon Bleu. With Kevin’s recommendation and a very highly praised letter of introduction to the head of admissions that happened to be a former school mate. Marjorie was perfectly willing to endure thousands of raw onions and potatoes with a sharp knife and a windowless kitchen. With her entrance assured, there came a scholarship for a full year’s paid tuition, Kevin’s sobbing over the long distance phone call reminding her that he wanted to be the first to taste her new skills when she graduated and returned home and her father’s tearful goodbye and apology when he took her to the airport. It was worth every choked moment.
Marjorie murmured happily as she remembered her mentor. Kevin had retired to Vermont several years ago and she missed him terribly now that he and his wife travelled Europe and the Netherlands at least twice a year. He had become a willing gastric guinea pig and no one she knew had a palette as cultured as his, she missed whipping up new dishes for him to gush over and praise her efforts. Now that she was running the kitchen on her own, her time to sire a new entrée or dessert was limited during the renovations, but her heart went gleeful as she thought about the expansive new kitchen she and her brother had brokered over a year ago. She’d conceived the design just for such moments where she could squirrel herself away and go wild with its huge insulated herb and vegetable garden, brick oven and numerous culinary appliances. It was all she could do to keep from jumping up and down from sheer delight at all the new gadgets she could play with. She’d hoped to dig into a new dessert this afternoon but her eldest brother, Herbert, the hotel’s general manager, called her in snit after Madear had questioned the plans for the kitchen during the remodeling. It had taken nearly forty five minutes to get him calmed down enough to let her handle it. Herbert wasn’t used to Madear questioning him, he was her favorite and everybody knew it, so whatever had Madear all riled up must be pretty damn big.She leaned back in the supple leather executive chair and closed her eyes, she wanted her mind to drift and relieve some of the tension that had settled in her neck and shoulders. Whatever was going to happen Marjorie knew she needed a cool head, steady nerves and a firm tongue and she needed to be ready whenever it happened. A tired heavy groan escaped her lips as she tried to picture the French countryside with its field of lilac and wild sage, her shoulders sagged as the mental picture became clearer, she could hear the street sounds of the small village and after a few moments a soft snore slipped from her lips.
Marjorie tugged at the suitcase as she struggled to the gate, she couldn’t miss her flight she had already spent her last fifty francs and couldn’t afford to pay for the flight change. She’d purposely mailed her credit cards back to the states the night before, because she’d spent way too much during her shopping trip several days earlier, Richard was already moaning about the most recent bank statement and she didn’t feel like having to defend herself against another large set of charges. Marjorie hissed loudly as the security guard checked her luggage, handbag, duffel bag, and she still had to run the length of a football field in order to make her plane. Finally the disheveled guard waived her through and motioned to the passenger behind her. Marjorie half dragged, half carried the heavy luggage while making her way through the crush of passengers, finally standing before the ticket counter she nearly collapsed as she threw the bags onto scale. Marjorie glared at her reflection in the airline’s logo on the back wall, her carefully coiffed hair was now a mess of curls that hung limply on her shoulders and her bright yellow silk blouse bore the signs of perspiration from having rushed through the morning. She and Paris were definitely two lovers who shouldn’t be caught together…ever! She had no self control when it came to the city of lights and she didn’t really think she wanted to give up her guilty pleasure.She slept through most of the nearly eight hour flight to Chicago; her position as Director of International Programming for the Culinary Academy in Philadelphia required her to spend three weeks a year in Europe going to meetings and garnering curriculum changes. she normally got very little time to actually see the City of Lights while she was there, it was by happenstance that during a three night stay in Paris several curriculum specialists were ill with a virus and she had time to herself for the first time in over a week. Marjorie loved Paris ever since she’d studied at the Culinary Academy and Le Cordon Bleu years ago, it was one of her most favorite places with its cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes and hidden gardens, the city’s pulsing traffic, out of the way jazz clubs, bistros, street vendors and year round festivals made her feel alive and vibrant. The early summer morning was clear with a slight crispness in the air and she decided to take advantage of its out of the way shops and parks, stroll aimlessly around The Louver just watching the tourist, sipping sparkling water and munching a baguette . After a late lunch at an out of the way bistro she grudgingly called her younger sister, Dominique, to see if she wanted to have a late supper but her secretary said she was in Brussels for a conference until the end of the week. Marjorie just smiled; somehow she figured no matter when she called, Dominique would be busy. Over the past fifteen years the two sisters rarely suffered through the others company after a very heated phone argument when Dominique ran back to Paris leaving her pre-teen daughter to be cared for by her parents without so much as note of explanation. That first year had been one of tumultuous change and upheaval for everyone including Tangie’s father who jetted back and forth across the Atlantic to reassure his daughter that unlike her mother he hadn’t thrown her away. It still bothered Marjorie to think that the two came from the same womb, Dominique in Marjorie’s opinion was narcissistic, callous and self gratifying at any cost. To Dominique, Marjorie was prudish, outspoken and generally interfering. The two women rarely saw eye to eye on anything other the time of day. But Marjorie knew her father would ask if she’d paid her sister a visit while in the city and he would have a fit if she’d said no, to her father family came before anything else no matter what, no excuses.
The soothing voice of the plane’s captain tugged Marjorie from her nap, her body reluctantly awoke and prepared to get up and make the long trek from the airport to her home in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. She’d tried to call her husband, Richard, nearly a dozen times before leaving the hotel but she kept getting the answering machine. It had begun to bother her but she was so busy rushing around that she shook it off. It wasn’t like him but with a toddler and five other kids to worry about she figured he had his hands full anyway, she could just take a cab instead of him piling them all into the minivan and circling the airport for several hours while she went through customs and baggage claim.
Marjorie peeked out the window, it was mid afternoon in Chi-town, and the blazingly bright sun was high in the sky but there were several dark clouds hovering nearby. She giggled lightly as she remembered her great-grandmother, Rebecca, old wives tale of how storm clouds passing over the sun meant there was trouble ahead. Her great-grandmother had been one nobody in the family crossed, not even her headstrong baby sister, Dominique. Ree Ree could smell bullshit from miles away and at close to ninety she said whatever was on her mind and didn’t care if you didn’t like it.
She stood just under five foot nine inches tall and loved to wear her paisley housedresses and pink fuzzy slippers, her soft pearl white hair was pulled back in a chignon and held tight by an antique gold and pearl hair pin that sat at the nape of her long slender neck. Ree Ree had lived in the big house with Madear and Daddy and it had always smelled of basil, cinnamon and rosemary. She said it kept the bad spirits from settling down inside, Marjorie had always thought it was a bunch of hooey until she found Ree Ree skulking around one cold February morning sprinkling a mixture of ammonia, salt, lemon and sage throughout the huge house. It had been just after midnight and the hallways were pitch black, all the family had gone to bed but Marjorie had gotten up to use the new bathroom that Daddy had put in place of the old water closet near the third floor stairs at the end of the hallway. Ree Ree was coming down the steps backwards, mumbling to herself furiously, her thin hands dipping into a pail of water and then flinging through the air, touching the walls. Marjorie was so mesmerized by the way her grandmother moved; as though she were gliding over the steps never really touching them. Without looking up Ree Ree called out for her to move aside and be quiet. The elder woman spryly passed by and continued to talk to herself without missing a beat. Marjorie followed her trying to figure out what she was doing and how she could see with barely any light breaking the dark corridors. When they’d reached the first floor, Ree Ree told her to stand by the door she had to go down to the cellar by herself and for Marjorie not open the door for anything no matter what unless she told her to. Marjorie could only hear her grandmother’s raspy voice but she could feel the old woman’s grey eyes boring into her through the darkness. After several moments Marjorie felt foolish, her superstitious old grandmother’s stories about spirits and spells had finally worked on her and now she was too scared to move from the spot Ree Ree had placed her in. suddenly a loud thud broke the silence and Marjorie nearly shot up the stairs and back to her bed next to her sister, Claudette. Then the sound of heavy footsteps and a whoosh of air passed her face, a weighty knock on the oak front door made Marjorie turn around, the floor seemed to shake as if some presence had moved the earth. Marjorie gingerly turned to the door and stared wide mouthed, her small hands gripping the candle and bible her grandmother had thrust into her chest and wrapped her arms around. The Lords’ Prayer came to her mind as she remembered her grandmothers instructions not to open the door, the floor seemed to shake again and the feeling of cool air once again passed her face but this time there was no knock as she silently said the psalm. “Gal, move away from that there door” her grandmother said her voice full and thick. “You go over there by that step and don’t you move unless I tell you to, you hear me Jorie”, Marjorie could only nod; she hadn’t been able to conjure up her voice above a small weak whisper. Slowly Marjorie moved out of the way, her thin legs felt like cinderblocks and she found it hard to move, and she abruptly forgot the words to the psalm she’d been saying before she could speak. She stumbled slightly as her foot hit the bottom step causing her to nearly fall but she gathered herself quickly as she clutched the candle and the bible closer. “Gal, say the Lord’s Prayer out loud I need to hear it, that ole bastard don’t want no powerful notions stirring up his mess… read louder gal I can’t hardly hear you” Ree Ree snapped as Marjorie cleared her dry throat and spoke up, her mouth seemed to be filled with cotton as she tried hard to pronounce each word distinctly so her grandmother could hear. Suddenly her eyes went wide and she stopped in mid sentence as a large foreboding man stood at the threshold of the centuries old house. “Talk gal, don’t stop now he done got weak… Our father…” Ree Ree demanded Marjorie hurriedly started the prayer again, the large man in what seemed to be a heavy coat and hat seemed to become translucent as Ree Ree dipped a small broom in the pail and swept the water mixture out the door, then her hands dipped into the pail and wiped the front and back of the door as she joined her granddaughters fervent chant. Then as quickly as the sounds of an approaching storm had come they were gone. It had taken several moments for either of them to realize that all was calm. Ree Ree walked over and lit the candle Marjorie had been holding, she placed it in a tiny candle holder and set it in the middle of the floor, she took the bible, placed her hands on either side and said the lords prayer, she then opened it up and read a passage out loud “Praise him upon the loud cymbals; praise him upon the high sounding cymbals, let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord”. Ree Ree quickly closed the book and let out a sigh of relief from somewhere deep in her body Marjorie didn’t think she’d ever heard before.The two of them sat together without speaking for what seemed to Marjorie like years, the elder woman leaned limply against the wall while her now frightened granddaughter tried to figure out what had just happened. Marjorie slid close to her grandmother, the foyer was now flooded with light from the window along the staircase, the full moon hung high over the house and seemed to brighten the cloudless, starless sky. Ree Ree gently stroked the girls braids as her mind drifted, “come sun up you gone feel mighty tired but don’t you worry none, a little licorice tea will make you feel right good”. Marjorie smiled weakly and looked up at her grandmother with an inquisitive eye, “what happened… why were you doing all that”. Ree Ree smiled furtively and looked over toward the door , her mouth turned down and her face became indignant, her voice was full of vigor that defied her diminutive size “Sometimes folks get real mean when they think you getting to be more than what they want you to be. Lotsa folk on this here island ain’t liken your granddaddy cause he done built up our property on the other side of the sound. I been on this island all my life, your great great great granddaddy cleared this whole place with his bare hands after the white folks went off and left it here. I know every inch of this here property and knows when something’s on it that ain’t supposed to be there. I can feel when folks don left something they thinks is gonna….” Her voice trailed off as she looked down at the empty pail on the floor. She patted her granddaughters knee and smiled softly. “They don let you see what’s they all about so you can be ready for’em when they come” Marjorie’s head snapped back quickly at the sound of her grandmothers words, she couldn’t think of anything she had seen other than the man in the doorway who disappeared and she wasn’t even sure she saw him but she kept her mouth quiet and listened to the old woman and snuggled closer to hide from the chill that had begun to make its way up her spine. “don’t you worry none though” Ree Ree laughed “I ain’t get to be this old being dumb, I gots plenty fire power all over this here land my daddy left me. When you get up in the morning I’ll show you whats they for but you don’t tell no body less you knows they can take care of it” She winked her eye at the child and straightened herself, Marjorie followed and helped her grandmother to her feet. “Come’on chile I gots to get me some sleep fore the sun come up… that ole peacock out back gon make a mighty fine stew come tomorrow evening. ‘Sides I gots to show you where my herbs is so you knows what you looking for” she said wearily as they climbed the staircase together. “don’t go bothering yo Mama with none of this here stuff… she been closing her eyes but she’ll come around soon enough. Her mama was a powerful seer and scared the poor thing half to death with all her teas and concoctions but I can tell you ain’t nearly as scared as you pretending to be… nope you just like your grandma, Norlene, she was just as curious as a old alley cat but she knew to keep her mouth shut and pay close attention. Ain’t much getting pass them there pretty brown eyes of yours, but you gotta stop lying to yourself that you don’t see what you see… don’t do yous no good. Besides you ain’t stupid like that damn gal Nikki” Ree Ree shook her head violently as she held on to the wall when they reached the top step, her eyes bore into Marjorie with a fierceness that seemed to radiate through the little girl. “Don’t let that one put nothing over on you, she ain’t no good right down to her feet. She’ll talk the devil outta his pitchfork if she thank she can get something from it, you let her be. She’ll have a hard enough time soon enough so don’t even bother trying to fix her. She gon come back to this house one day and blow herself right up being so trifling but you… you speak the truth, she can’t beat you if you tell the truth you hear me Jorie” her grandmother said adamantly, Marjorie nodded, her voice was dry and soft as she spoke “yes ma’am” Ree Ree laughed lightly “go on Claudette don probably fell off the bed by now trying to curl up next to you and pull that winda down, I don’t feel like trying to fix no cold right now” she said nonchalantly “Yes ma’am” Marjorie said quietly as she made her way down the hall, she heard the door to her grandmothers bedroom close but she stood there in the hallway for a moment listening to the quiet, it felt electric to her like it were alive. Marjorie smiled to herself “I said go to bed little gal… don’t be calling nothing you don’t know bout” her grandmother said through the closed door. “Yes ma’am I’m going I’m sorry” Marjorie hurriedly stumbled into the chilly bedroom rushing toward the window and pulling it closed. Claudette was curled up on the edge of the bedroom with the blankets wrapped around her lanky frame. Marjorie shook her head and climbed in next to her. “move over T you ain’t leave me no room” she whined, Claudette slowly uncurled her body to let her sister back in the bed “Where you been, daddy gon be mad if you made a mess downstairs” Claudette fussed “oh hush I ain’t make no mess, go to sleep…. Get offa my pillow you drooling all over it T dang!” Marjorie kicked her legs at her older sister forcing her to move swiftly to the other side of the queen sized bed.
The gently nudging of her shoulder only made Marjorie curl her body tighter, “Dette, its early go to sleep” but still the nudging in her shoulder persisted. “Miss we’re landing you’ll have to buckle your seat belt” the strawberry blond flight attendant said insistently. Marjorie slowly unfurled from her position and stretched; she smiled softly to the attendant and nodded. She was home… finallyMarjorie felt herself being dragged down the darkened hallway, she could feel thick heavy hands wrap themselves around her ankles as they effortlessly pulled her along the wooden floor. She tried to scream but her mouth felt as if it were stuffed with cotton and no sound forced its way through the thickness that left her mouth dry and her throat raw. She tried to reach out, to hold on to something anything but there was nothing for her to hold onto, she felt the panic rising quickly from her stomach, making her heart beat faster. Her eyes tried to break through the darkness but all she could see was the window at the far end of the hallway, its red and white checkered curtains blowing gently from the night air. She tried to turn her head to see who was pulling her but her body felt heavy, like lead. Then suddenly the hands released their grip and she could get up. She hurriedly scrambled to her feet but she couldn’t move away from the spot she were standing in. She heard the footsteps behind her, then she felt his breath on the back of her neck, she swung her head around to face who’d terrified her so.Marjorie’s eyes sprung open, she felt the tears stinging her eyes as she they adjusted to the dim light of her bedroom. Slowly she raised herself from the damp sheets, got up from the bed and sat at the window, she stared at nothing in particular as the moon shone brightly through the sheer curtains and soft summer breeze drifted across her sending a chill through her tired body, then her eyes looked over at the clock. “10:45” she said with exasperation. She felt as if she’d been living a whole other life in the thirty minutes she’d been in bed. Absently, her hand reached out and picked up the pack of cigarettes that lay on the night stand nearby. It was a nasty habit she’d picked up over the past seven months, she’d turned to them after having gotten in her car and nearly wrapped it around a pole one night after downing a half bottle of scotch at a nearby bar. Fortunately, she’d hit the brake just in time but she’d sat frozen with fear for nearly an hour afterwards, she unsteadily parked the car near the pole and walked the four blocks to her house sobbing uncontrollably and chiding herself for being so stupid.It had been a rough eleven months, fourteen days, eight hours and… she looked at the clock, fifty three minutes. That was how long it had been since her husband, Richard, calmly announced on a message left on the answering machine that he would not be returning to their marriage. Marjorie had been stunned into silence and replayed the short message numerous times to make sure she’d heard him correctly. She had just let herself in the backdoor of their home from the airport, daydreaming of a much needed bubble bath when the phone rang, as usual the cordless phone needed charging and she had to run into the living room, as she did she tripped over Joy’s books and fell shoulder first onto the couch but she was too late and Richard’s smooth baritone voice wafted through the air. She reached out to pick up the line but something in his voice made her stop, she couldn’t put her finger on it but it sent a wide shiver up her spine and she sat riveted to the edge of the couch. As she listened to his declaration of love and devotion she couldn’t help but feel as if she were drowning, her throat closed and she began gasping for air as she heard him say that he wouldn’t be returning from a spontaneous in Europe. That he’d had enough and was walking away from her, their children and their marriage for no apparent reason. Almost immediately her ears scanned the house to make sure the kids hadn’t heard the pathetic plea for understanding and forgiveness. She breathed a small sigh of relief as she as she remembered the note on the refrigerator that they were staying with her sister, Leslie, and her husband, Cal, in Virginia for the week. The faint strings of Yo-Yo Ma’s cello under the harp as they played the sad Japanese love song eased the panic that was slowly working its way through her body.
Marjorie had never suffered from bouts of anxiety or panic before now, ever since she’d heard the odd strain in Richards voice almost daily she would have to find a quiet space, usually the doorway of a closet where she could grasp the sides of the door and quell the feeling of nausea that came along with it. The panic attacks had lessened with soothing music or midnight walks with the dog around the neighborhood but they had been replaced by nightmares and battles with insomnia. Over the past three months Marjorie had loss nearly twenty pounds because she couldn’t eat, she worried constantly. In the beginning she had hidden the problems from her children, explaining Richard’s desertion by saying he was working but when the weeks became months, she faked a phone call from her husband and announced their separation. For weeks each of the children lashed out at her with their fear and frustration but slowly the outbursts lessened and they began a routine that loudly acknowledged the silent pangs of resentment they felt about their fathers not being there. Joy and Alistair were the most affected asking at least once or twice a week if they could call their father or why didn’t he call them. Joy had taken to eating everything that wasn’t nailed down, crying herself to sleep nearly every night for the first several months. Alistair had taken to bullying his little brother, Brantley, slamming doors and sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. Marjorie had to take him to a psychiatrist because he refused to talk to anyone about what was going on, finally the therapist got him to open up and told her that Ali was going out at night looking for his father, he had taken to sitting at the corner of their street…. Waiting for him to come home even though he knew it wasn’t going to happen he felt a compulsion to do it anyway. Junius and Olivia were the hardest hit to her somehow but they refused to open up to her and it only magnified the guilt and shame Marjorie felt increasing with the knowledge that her children suffered in so many different ways and each of them felt compelled not to share it with her, protecting her when she should have been protecting them.It was then that Marjorie sat all five of them down and explained the truth that Richard had left them and she didn’t know where he was or how to get in touch with him. For weeks the house was like a mausoleum; silent, still and sad. Marjorie couldn’t help but feel as though she were the blame for their misery so she did whatever she could to turn things around, picnics, spontaneous day trips to the beach or some out of the way museum.
Slowly the family began to meld together without Richard but still Marjorie suffered in silence with the fear of raising her children alone and being deserted by the only man she’d ever loved. Marjorie took a long drag of the menthol cigarette she’d been holding. With Richard gone it was up to her to maintain the household, he had taken care of most of the bills and she the children’s needs. In the first months after he’d gone she hadn’t realized how much their monthly budget was because Richard’s income had more than covered their expenses, now without it, her salary took a hard hit, the only saving grace had been that their beautiful Victorian home had been paid for so there was no mortgage but her feeling of wellbeing had been short lived as Richard had even managed to take the one security she could count on and turn it to dust. It had come only two short months ago and now her brown eyes stared blankly at the wall as she replayed the conversation in her head. “Mrs. Everheart, we’ve been sending notices to you and your husband for months now. There hasn’t been a single response in nearly a month. The last time we contacted Mr. Everheart he insisted that he was making arrangements for sale for repayment.” Marjorie scratched her loose curly head and took another puff, she’d spent the better part of an hour negotiating payment of a loan Richard had taken out just before he left for Europe, so she and her children wouldn’t be forced out into the street. She leaned over and opened the nightstand drawer; her hand felt around for the weighty envelope and pulled it out. Her eyes sadly looked over the address as she began to open fold to look inside; she took a sharp intake of breath as she realized the amount written on the front of the cashier’s check. One hundred forty three thousand seven hundred and ninety eight dollars and seventy six cents, it was every dime she’d had in the world plus a few thousand from Elayne, her best friend since childhood. Marjorie had cashed in her 401k, stock options and she’d cleaned out the kids college funds in order to scrape together enough to satisfy the mortgage company and as of right now she had sixty dollars in her checking account and not enough money to buy groceries for a family her size.
A sharp pain stabbed at Marjorie’s chest as she placed the check back in the envelope, her body felt like it was on fire and it was all she could do to keep from screaming at the top of her lungs. She’d been sitting in the window of her bedroom all night watching the neighborhood come to life, a small smile crept across her lips as she whispered aloud “Good thing I paid the damn tuition for the year… sonofbitch probably would have spent that too” she laughed sardonically as Brantley burst through the door and ran into her arms.“Mama… its six o’clock, I can tell cause I saw it on the clock downstairs and nobody helped me neither” he said happily as he hugged her, his small arms encircling her neck as he nuzzled his mop of curly black hair beneath her chin. She took a deep whiff of his scent, he smelled of baby powder and raisins, Marjorie smiled sadly as she turned to put him down on the floor. “the word is either not neither” Marjorie smiled brightly at her youngest child. “Okay Mr. Brantley what is so all fire important about six o’clock” she joked “Mommy! You know” he said with mock admonishment tugging on her arm. “Brantley wait a minute, I’m not fully awake yet give me a minute… now what is so important about today” she said with bewilderment, Marjorie tried unsuccessfully to remember what day it was but she couldn’t, all she could think about was making her way to the mortgage company by 9 so she could get to work on time. “Mommy!” Brantley said with exasperation “its my birthday and you said that I was born at six fourteen in the morning and that you would make me breakfast at six fourteen so that I could sing happy birthday! He said happily Marjorie felt the tears begin to well up behind her eyes, she’d forgotten her baby boy’s birthday “what kind of mother forgets her child’s birthday” she chided herself silently then she bent down next to the little boy’s ear and kissed him lightly. Her face quickly erasing the pain of another sleepless night she’d had as she took his small hand and lifted him into her arms and made her way down the steps.The house was a mess she thought to herself, there were moving boxes everywhere; her eyes scanned the rooms as they passed by mentally checking to see if anything else needed to be packed before the movers arrived. Marjorie caught her sad reflection in the antique living room mirror that sat over the fire place, her eyes looked hollow and lost as the placid smile worked its way across her face, it did nothing to change her sallow expression if anything it made her even more angry as she eyed the stack of boxes that stood at the bottom of the steps behind her.Brantley sang happy birthday to himself as he and his mother made his favorite blueberry pancakes with the walnut smile and cherry eyes. The two happily moved around the nearly bare kitchen singing and dancing to the offbeat Stevie Wonder version they noisily sang. When they’d finally finished the twenty sixth chorus a raucous applause greeted them and the two were stunned to see the rest of the family in the doorway laughing hysterically at their rendition of the popular song. Marjorie stared in awe as her children rushed in an hugged their younger brother, the scene quickly grew into a family fest as the six of them laughed, danced and sang together releasing the tensions of the past’s months. They loudly talked and laughed as they ate pancakes and waffles, made fanciful predictions of their journey back to Bishop’s Island, even Junius, who’d been so quiet and sullen over the last several weeks when Marjorie announced her decision to move back to the family house, seemed excited and in high spirits. He was nearly a full head taller than his mother with doe brown eyes like her own, a broad nose that nicely drifted into his angular face and thick brown lips. Junius was definitely the spitting image of his father but with a deep amber complexion that seemed to glisten in the early morning sun that shone through the bare windows of the kitchen. His smile seemed genuine for the first time in weeks to Marjorie and for a moment all the questions about moving back to Bishop didn’t matter. Marjorie looked around the circular wooden table at her children, each of them appeared happy and content for the first time in months as they joked and teased one another and remembering family vacations with their cousins and friends. Joy giggled as she recalled a drive over the islands ten mile bridge that led into the center of town, she recalled how her big sister ogled at the young men waving in her direction from passing boats and how their father had quickly ushered her into the car and sped off.
The room became quiet and Marjorie could sense the children’s hesitance to continue. Marjorie cleared her throat and stood up, picking up her plate. She refused to let Richard’s selfishness build a wall with them and as she pushed through the stabbing pain in her chest and the dry lump in her throat. “Do you remember how your daddy floored it trying to hurry over that bridge” Marjorie laughed heartily as she began to rinse the yellow and green plate under the warm water. The children looked at one another in astonishment “chile, I bout peed my pants he was going so fast, poor Mr. Biggles was glued to the back window trying to hang on for dear life… you remember how he looked when we got to your grandparents house” she continued praying they’d join in, she refused to look up for fear the tears that hid behind her eyes would spill over and the bravado she’d mustered would fall. She breathed a sigh of relief as Alistair laughed aloud “yeah ma he looked like he’d just been in the clothes dryers again, his hair was all spiky and he wouldn’t let go of the backseat” he chimed. The others laughed hesitantly at first allowing the uncomfortable silence to be lifted as they laughed about the family dog, Harvey J. Biggles, a shitsu with anxiety and separation issues whose misadventures with the household appliances was a series of family jokes.Saturday morning found Marjorie standing near the doorway of her home office shredding paper she picked up from a huge stack on her desk. She’d taken the kids to various friends house while she gathered the last of her life and packed it away. The ringing of the phone broke her melancholy moment of silence in the empty house. “hello” she said inattentively as she fed another piece of paper into the noisy machine. “Mr. Everheart?!” the jovial female voice said Marjorie sighed and rolled her eyes as she began her normal spiel whenever someone called for Richard. “No I’m sorry… Mr. Ever...” Marjorie stopped mid sentence, something nagged at the back of her brain to follow through with whoever it was on the other end.” you know what how can I help you” she said quickly. No one had called for Richard in months and she was curious why they started again. “oh I’m sorry I was looking for Mr. Richard Everheart, my name is June Wideman I’m with Marcham Realty here in Philadelphia” Marjorie’s heart sank with the realization that her realtor probably had another offer for the house. “Hi June, I’m sorry Richard isn’t here did you have someone to look at the house today?” there was silence on the other end and Marjorie began to get slightly agitated that the woman hadn’t remembered her after the numerous meetings she’d had over the last couple of weeks, she wasn’t naïve enough to think that the woman truly cared that she was packing her life away and moving back to her parents house because she couldn’t take care of her children alone, and that she had failed at the only real relationship she’d ever had with a human being of the opposite sex but damn she could at least pretend Marjorie thought. “Margie?! Is that you?” June said with surprise “Of course but why are you looking for Richard?” there was break in the conversation and Marjorie could hear June shuffling papers in the background. “Margie, I’m so sorry I must have dialed the wrong number, I’m so used to calling you that its just habit I’m sorry.” Marjorie stared at the phone as the older woman tried to cover her mistake, she took a deep breath and tried not to let her annoyance seep through her voice “June what’s going on…” she said with a rush of impatience, June hesitantly tried to end the conversation with her pleasant sounding voice “Oh its nothing to worry about, I was really just calling to see if you were satisfied with offer we got on the house” Marjorie didn’t believe the woman for a second and the dull pang that had settled in the pit of her stomach was now sharp and resonating outward. “June… you and I both know that’s a lie, where is he, is he back in town?” she could hear the woman trying desperately to come up with some other lie to extricate herself from the domestic situation but couldn’t. “Margie, honest to god until I heard your voice I didn’t put two and two together, I’m so sorry” the woman said sorrowfully her discomfort clear “but Richard bought a house a little less than a month ago in the Park Hills development and you know I do a courtesy call just before the final papers go in. I’m so embarrassed Margie I really am” June said apologetically. Marjorie smiled into the phone “June it’s okay I hate to ask but could you give me his address” it took a few minutes of coaxing but finally the realtor gave in and told Marjorie what she needed to know, at first the discomfited realtor refused but Margie had promised to reject the offer she’d submitted on the house and place the listing with another agency if she didn’t, the thought of losing nearly sixty thousand dollars in commission between her and the buyer had loosened her lips enough to get Marjorie wanted.Birch Drive was a quiet, tree lined street with neatly groomed lawns and gas lantern lamp post along sidewalk in front of the cream colored two story modern houses with their brightly colored stained glass windows that seemed to glow against the late afternoon sun.
The neatly kept block reminded Marjorie of a scene from an old movie that featured the misty streets of an elegant London neighborhood. A park sat at each end the street with its wrought iron gates, benches and game tables that sat beneath willow and cherry blossom trees, the sound of children playing, riding bicycles and skateboards up and down the smoothly paved street made her wish her own children could be more joyful now that they were moving away. Marjorie’s dusty forest green Volvo station wagon seemed out of place as it sat just far enough away from 11545 Birch Drive, Richard’s new address. She sat behind the wheel peering out of the rearview mirror, biting on her once well manicured nails and sipping the tepid tea she’d picked up from one of the local café’s in the upscale neighborhood. The lights were off inside the tidy property Richard now called home, she’d casually rang the doorbell when she saw there was no car in the driveway, the small yelping of a dog was her only answer behind the ornate blond wood door with its heavy brass knocker and tiny brass and wooden flute wind chimes hanging just over the porch steps. She lit another cigarette and took a deep drag of smoke into her lungs as she quietly settled back into the seat, a small burst of impatience played with her spine as she fought off the urge to turn the car around and go back home where her own stained glass and bell wind chimes were now packed away, waiting to be shipped down to South Carolina without so much as a whisper of goodbye for all the pain and anger that had filled the corners of the old Victorian house she’d made a home. Marjorie shook her head as if denying the feeling any weight in the matter, she didn’t care how long it took for him to come home, she’d be there waiting for him so she could see the expression on his face when he opened the door to find her on the other side. Marjorie smiled to herself at the thought of utter surprise in store for the man who’d managed to torture her time and time again over= the last eleven months. Who’d thrown her and her children away like garbage on a street corner and hadn’t bothered to call, write or even send a single dollar to help with groceries or doctors visits. She wanted him ]to know that their children had suffered agonizing bouts of depression and anxiety at his desertion, that for months she couldn’t leave the house without finding at least one of them sitting on the steps waiting for her to come home or that she had barely kept the lights on and food in the refrigerator more times than she cared to count. No she would be here waiting to expel upon him the fury and the insecurity of having loss her very soul with a single taped message that replayed itself over and over again in her head in stereo for months just before she fell into a dreamless sleep. She needed to see him even if she stood there soundless in her faded jeans and tank top and her newly cut her and freshly done make up. He had to see he hadn’t broken her, that although she’d come close to losing her mind as she walked the floors in the middle of the night she had survived the ache that stayed with her as if it were a part of her body’s own natural rhythm. Her smile took on a bitterness as she thought of how her monthly pay check barely covered the basics of running the house and maintaining the lifestyle they’d become accustomed to but could no longer afford. It hadn’t taken long before Marjorie was sitting up late at night trying to figure out how to budget even the most minute items in order to make sure everything got paid, by the time the mortgage company called she was already on the verge on bankruptcy with no visible means of turning it around. Madear had called more than once in the middle of the night and chewed her out because she’d dreamed that things weren’t going well for Marjorie and the children.
How mortified Marjorie had been when Madear, who rarely ever left the state of South Carolina let alone Bishop’s Island had shown up on their doorstep, with a huge pot of gumbo and proceeded to school her daughter on the interworkings of surviving when all you wanted was to lay down and die. How for the next two weeks, Madear had the children clean, dust, wash, and iron, cook everything she could find, while Marjorie listlessly walked the lush brown and tangerine carpet of her bedroom until the wee hours of the morning. Madear had to convince her to lay down her worries, that there was nothing she could do. One Sunday morning for no apparent reason Marjorie sat down on the edge of the huge bed and let go of the tears she’d hung onto for weeks. She lay in the bed with its hand embroidered Egyptian cotton linen, Italian lace insets and hand painted silk pillows; it was one of the few things Marjorie were extravagant about, she relished the feeling of fine linen, she wanted it to feel as though they were waking in a five star hotel every morning but they only served as the back drop for the twinges of sadness, pain, guilt and even shame that reverberated soon subsided long enough to drift off and begin snoring softly bundled in her favorite champagne and gold cashmere comforter. And there she stayed, the heavy gold and brown drapes closing out the world allowing Marjorie to push the sadness and the endless flood of memories and unanswered questions just far enough to the back of her mind so she could sleep. Madear had tried to rouse her but she refused, sequestering herself beneath the covers not talking to anyone, eating only if Madear forcibly made her do so. The loud knock at the door had only served to drive her further beneath the comforter, Marjorie looked at the clock, it was 12:43 but she couldn’t tell if it were am or pm because the drapes were tightly closed. The banging on the door managed to send shockwaves throughout her entire body as though someone were scraping their nails over a chalkboard. “Stop it dammit, I’m not dead and I’m not hungry!” she screamed from the bed. “Marjorie if you don’t get your ass up and unlock this door I will take it off the hinges and personally whip your ass for making me come all the way up here in the middle of the night! I mean it!” Madear said boastfully as she kicked and pounded on the door. Marjorie slowly moved from the bed and glared at the closed door, she knew that everything her strong willed mother had threatened to do was in fact everything she would do and more. Marjorie pushed herself off the side of the bed and leaned against the wall as she turned the tiny lock on the knob twisted around and went back to bed. “Its open Madear” she spat through her clenched teeth “you happy now!” she screamed to no one particular. Although she were grown and had lived well on her own for years, her mother could still put the fear of God in her with just a look and Marjorie wasn’t so far down or so disillusioned that she’d forgotten herself in her mother’s presence. Madear pushed the door open and it loudly hit against the wall, shaking the mirror and other knick knacks that sat on the dresser along the wall. Madear stood in the doorway suspiciously eyeing her child, her dark brown hair tousled and curled all over her head, her brown eyes peering down as her walnut brown skin glistened from the tiny beads of sweat that began to form from expending so much energy. Madear was a powerful looking woman standing over her at her full height of 5’11”, her full figure neatly tucked beneath dark blue tailored pant suit and pink silk peek a boo blouse, she tossed the black trench coat onto the chaise and sat down on the edge of the bed. There was obvious concern in her raspy voice for her child as a small smile crossed her lips as she attempted to soften the tone in her voice while she patted the lump of covers.“Jorie, you are scaring the hell out of me, now there are many things I would expect to hear or see from Livia but being so worried about her mama to the point of hysterics is not one of them. That chile called me up in the middle of the night and cried her heart out because she thought you might do something to yourself.” Marjorie merely shifted her weight beneath the thick comforter and stared at the wall in front of her. Madear shook her head in disgust as her daughter lay unmoved by her daughter's fretting.“ Do you hear me Marjorie Ann!” Madear said with such anger, pain and inflection in her voice that she choked back the urge to cry. “I know you are feeling so low and you can’t seem to figure a way out of this but baby girl you have got to start trying. Richard left you, but you ain’t got no right to let things go this far down that your children can’t see nothing better”. Madear said furiously as she ran her hand along the soft fold of covers trying to reach out as best she could without smacking some sense into her. Marjorie stirred slightly as her mother stroked her “Richard was not the end of your world, you’ve got five kids downstairs that need to see you pick up the pieces so they know what to do with themselves” Madear stroked the covers gently as she tried to find the words that would get some sort of rise out of Marjorie but she couldn’t think of anything. She sat there quiet for sometime just listening to the faint sounds of the children talking or laughing downstairs, she turned to Marjorie’s outline and found herself choked with emotion. “Jorie, those kids are a mirror of you,They watch every move you make, repeat every phrase that comes out of your mouth they’re looking for you to make it alright and right now sistergirl you failed. if you don’t recover from being kicked and pushed down then they won’t. Joy has been curled up on the sofa eating potato chips and ice cream since I walked in the door, Livi hell that gal is so worried and confused she can’t talk without stuttering for the first three sentences and poor little Brantley, Marjorie that child is so flustered he's downstairs right now trying to clean up so good you won’t be mad at him for spilling the dogs food. How are they supposed to find peace with Richard gone if you don’t!” Madear said with such exasperation that her whole body seemed to deflate as the words fell from her mouth. Her eyes were mournful but behind the sorrow she felt for her daughter there was a fire in Marjorie that burned brighter than any of the others, she was a fighter with all her soul. But for some reason she couldn't seem to find that part of her and it was up to Madear to bring it back and make her face the truth even if it meant she'd be mad at her forever.From somewhere deep within Madear willed her daughter to fight against the sadness that took over the house and left empty, drained and void of hope. She'd never seen Marjorie that way, helpless and pitiful. She'd known women who's lives were vanquished because their man had left with little or nothing for them to hold on to but sour memories,lonely nights and a house full of babies to care for. Bishop's Island had been full of them over the years, sad and bitter women whose only purpose had been to find something or somebody to blame. She could not, would not allow Marjorie to end up the way those women had, spending nights mournfully telling stories with acid laced tongues twisting the ending to stories they'd told a million times before. Madear stood over her daughter filled with an anger that she'd never known before, it laid on the edge of repugnance for her own child, and she was ashamed but she couldn't believe that she had birthed and raised this pitiful corpse of a woman. She'd always been proud of Marjorie, so were so much like herself; strong, willful and creative, Marjorie was the one she'd thought could move through any fire unscathed, and to see her now, disheveled and bent like some discarded rag doll beneath the fine linen covers like the privileged white women her own mother had worked for and nursed because they were too fragile and pampered to live in reality, it made her ill. A fleeting urge to vomit waved its way throughout her body, it sickened her to think her own child had been so ill prepared and spoiled that she could not retreat from the fear of being alone and raising her family without the help of a man. Sophia fought the compulsion to hurl insults and smack some sense into her daughter. Make her understand that unlike those women ReeRee had been forced to coddle and soothe, she didn't have such benefits, her lineage required her to move and protect her own even when all she wanted to do was lay down and die. That's how she had been raised, it was how her mother had been raised, the Collier women were strong and they were resilient even when there was nothing in front of them but pain and hard times. They had been bred and raised to know the “African” who'd sacrificed and bled so they could live, live better than some of those fine, upstanding, white folks her mother and grandmothers had taken care of and for that they owned nearly half of Bishop's Island outright. Madear found it almost repulsive to know her child was so removed from her own legacy that she had the gall to lay beneath the luxurious and lavish bedding and wallow in pity for somebody else's sins, while her children deteriorated silently without her.
Marjorie slowly lifted her head from beneath the covers, her eyes filled with tears and her face crumbling as if she were a child denied affection. Her voice was small and cracked as she choked on the tears that ran down her face. “Mama I’m scared” she said with such sadness that Madear found herself looking away in order to maintain her composure. When she turned back to her daughter her words were soft but firm asnd she reached out and pulled her close.”Chile, being scared is what makes you strong, you gotta use it to make the changes you know you gotta make but baby girl you ain’t gotta make them by yourself. You gots too many people holding your back so you don’t have to do it by yourself” Madear said soothingly. “but Madear I was so…” Marjorie choked and cried harder against the older woman’s chest. “you were embarrassed and you didn’t want nobody to see you weak but that’s what family is for… they see you when you high up but they also give you their strength when down low, I’m your mama I know you better than you know yourself and I know how strong and stubborn you can be. Don’t let no man walking on this earth make you less than what you are…you don't give nobody that much power over you baby girl they don't deserve it” Madear pushed Marjorie away and stared at her with fire in her eyes.”You don’t let nobody make you less than who you are” she said with such vigor in her voice as she wiped away the tears from her daughters eyes and smiled softly. “Now go get you a shower, you look and smell like some ole low tide fisherman” Madear said jokingly then kissed her daughters forehead and hugged her tightly before pushing her off the bed.Marjorie sat behind the wheel of the late model volvo station wagon, she'd purchased it after selling her mercedes, watching the house, allowing the tears to flow freely as she remembered her mother’s words. It had taken nearly a full week for her to pull herself together enough to send Madear home. Marjorie adopted a new stance.,She began to openly talked of Richard, recalling family moments that the children needed to hear, reassuring them that no matter what she was right there and they would be just fine. Only Marjorie knew the truth of what was going on., she could only tell her troubles and her fears to her mother or her best friend, Elayne., Madear had offered to pay everything off but Marjorie wouldn’t let her, she needed to figure it out on her own and she had. She had screamed into pillows as the last of her savings was drained to pay off the gas, water and electric bills, she had taken the clothes Richard left in their closet and set them on fire one night in the backyard when she realized he hadn’t paid any of their car notes or their medical insurance. She'd sat down on the lounge chair in the backyard, lit a cigarette and sipped on a snifter of the 45 year old scotch, he'd been saving for “just” the right occasion and watched as the designer fabrics glowed in the brick oven he'd had built a few summers before. Several neighbors peeked over their hedges and quietly asked if she were okay, she simply nodded and smiled politely before turning back to the glowing orange and blue flames. The next evening after she dropped the kids off at the movies she'd dumped everything he left behind that meant anything to him and smashed it to pieces by running it over several times with her car, she'd gotten a lot of pleasure out of that one because he'd spent well over ten thousand dollars for a signed shirt from Stevie Wonderwith As she sat waiting for him to come home she realized all of the innocence that she’d lost over the past year had led her to this moment. She wasn’t hurt anymore, the pain that seared through her body when she woke in the morning had subsided, the feeling of utter disbelief and panic had been taken over by fear and anxiety but at least she could move through it, not like before where she sat frozen to one moment that continuously played in her mind. She needed to see Richard so that she could see he didn’t have that hold over her any more, she needed to be able to see him and not break down while she told him that even though he’d bent the hell out of her she hadn’t broken. She needed to do this more for herself than for anyone else.The sight of the sleek, gleaming black jaguar making its way down the street caught her eye first, the knot in the middle of her stomach told her that the time had come. The familiar silhouette of the car’s driver made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. As the car came to a complete stop in the driveway, Marjorie took a deep breath to regain her composure as she pushed away the anxiety that crept into her brain and threatened to tear apart the courage she had built up but all at once her nerve sank to the pit of her stomach as a dark four door Lincoln glided to a stop in the driveway unnoticed by the previous driver or Marjorie. The quick burst of the horn made them both turn, Richard stood next to his car looking as handsome as ever, he was dressed in a dark grey suit with a pale blue shirt and tie, he looked as good as she had ever seen her. She watched in disbelief as he sauntered to the driver’s side of the coffee colored luxury sedan, bent down and kissed the driver and stood up to hold the door open for her. Marjorie felt the jealousy rising in her throat as she saw the warm smile Richard wore for his new love, but Marjorie was astonished as she realized the woman Richard so passionately kissed was actually man.
The siren like sound that pierced the quiet of the house forced Marjorie to cover her ears, but the sound was so loud and growing louder as she tried to block it out. It took a few moments, as she stood in the center of the empty dining room, to understand that the sound she was trying to block out was actually coming from her own body. She quickly closed her mouth to cut off the mournful moan that escaped her throat, she felt as if she were going to throw up; the bitter taste of bile settled in the back of her throat as she ran to the kitchen and turned on the faucet. She cupped the cold water with both hands and hungrily slurped it down trying to get rid of the foul taste and harsh reality that was burned into her brain. She’d barely been able to make it to the toilet before she’d emptied the contents of her stomach into it; she kneeled next to the cool bowl struggling to come to grips with what she’d done.
The slamming of the heavy car door had alerted the lovers to her arrival, their eyes glued to the tall, curvy woman with eyes ablaze approaching quickly. Subconsciously, Richard stood between Marjorie and his companion as she swiftly appeared at his side, her mouth twisted in an ugly sneer that made him jerk and step back quickly nearly losing his footing and stumbling against the car. Marjorie’s rapid panther like motions caught the two of them off guard as she slapped Richard hard across the face, raking her nails down his cheek and leaving a vivid impression along his jaw line. Yet before he could recover from her quick attack she reached out and yanked him by his clothing, pulling him close to her and kneeing him hard in the groin. Richard doubled over in pain and fell limp in the walkway of the house. The man dressed in designer jeans and stripped shirt jumped in horror as he watched as Marjorie kicked and stomped on Richard with her stiletto heel. “you lousy sonofabitch, you sorry piece of shit!” Marjorie screamed loudly, ignoring Richard’s cries of pain as she kicked him in his chest and stomach. “I cried for months thinking I had done something wrong… trying to figure out what I did to make you leave and so I could fix it and make you come back! Marjorie paused momentarily, her eyes gleamed with a fiery glow as she acknowledged the wails of the man behind her had suddenly become louder. He begged her to stop as he watched Richards clothing turn dark with blood, but Marjorie simply looked down at the lump of flesh at her feet and sniffed in disgust, she spat at him and then kicked him hard once again in the back as he writhed in pain. “I hope you die you faggot bastard, I hope you die alone, penniless without so much as passing thought to anyone”. She spat again and kicked him hard in the head. “You made my children cry, my children!” she screamed “you took everything they have ever known away from them you selfish piece of garbage!” I hope your ass rots in hell you! You worthless piece of shit! You wanted us out of your life bitch!” she screamed ignoring the hands that suddenly began to pull at her and move her away from the Richards crumpled body “Consider yourself dead… you low life filthy pig!... If I ever so much as hear you tried to call your mother for her birthday I will come back here and blow your fucking brains out ” she screamed, her words filled with venom she’d never known she had. “get off of me” she said to Richard’s lover as he pulled and tugged at her in vain. “You don’t know him!” she said “He left five children with no money, he stole every dime we had that’s the kind of man...no... bitch motherfucker he is” she said spinning around and kicking Richard once more, hard in the chest and then the mouth. The man’s voice was surprisingly calm as he spoke, drawing Marjorie’s attention, she eyed the stranger with intense inquisitiveness. She noticed the soft tone of his voice and then the sadness in his eyes as he looked at her with such compassion. He was tall and slender with streaks of blond running through his short curly hair, his features were fine and small, delicate even but well maintained. He looked passed her, down at Richard and shook his head. “go on honey, you better leave now… I’ll take care of this he can’t do you no harm right now” he said sympathetically as he gently pushed her down the driveway, past curious neighbors who’d stopped along the sidewalk to see the unfamiliar dramatic scene play out on their quaint little street. “hurry up, I’m sure somebody’s already called the cops Marjorie, so you better get going before they get here” he said in her ear as the fog lifted from her brain and she realized what she’d done. She stared in astonishment at the man Richard now cared for, who was sensitive to her outburst of rage and tried desperately to move her back to her car. Marjorie looked back at Richard, realizing the damage that she obviously had caused, she ran to waiting Volvo and sped off down the street unaware of where she were going.
It was the faint ringing of the telephone that stirred Marjorie from the deep sleep that she’d happily drifted into, in her dream she was standing in a phone booth in the middle of nowhere when the phone began to ring but when she picked it up the ringing continued. She stirred beneath the quilted covers and reluctantly opened her eyes, the clock read four thirty seven in the morning, and Marjorie sprang up in the bed and groped for the phone. “Hello” her voice gruff and heavy with sleep, she cleared her throat “Hello” she said again this time with an edge of concern. “Its Richard Marjorie” his was voice and remorseful, suddenly Marjorie was fully awake and remembering the past week’s events but she wasn’t sorry in fact she was half expecting to hear from him, just not so soon. “Do you realize what time it is Richard?” she said with annoyance. A heavy sigh was his only response for the moment but she remained quiet, her eyes searching the dark room for her cigarettes on the night stand beside her, she let go of the bated breath she’d been holding as she reached over, pulled a cigarette out of the pack and slid it between her lips, with the flame of her lighter still at the end she inhaled deeply and leaned back against the headboard and waited. Finally after nearly two soundless minutes Richard cleared his throat and began to speak in an apologetic tone Marjorie didn’t recall ever hearing from him. for the next fifteen minutes Richard told her of his feelings for other men but assured her he hadn’t engaged in sex until after he’d left her, she said nothing while he apologized for being so selfish but that he’d felt trapped for some time in their marriage and he hadn’t the nerve to face her and tell her what was going on. Still she said nothing, simply lighting one cigarette after the other as she listened to his pathetic voice ramble on about how he’d always done the right thing but that he’d blown it when he left her stranded. Richard begged Marjorie to at least think about what he’d said, that he would settle the bill with the mortgage company himself if she hadn’t already and that he’d deserved everything she’d unleashed on him but although he was still in a lot of pain it was nothing like what he’d put her through.
Marjorie stared at the phone and listened to the wheezing of her husband and for a split second she felt sorry for him but it was gone quickly as she remembered the long drive to Bishop in a few days. Richard’s voice pleaded with her to say something anything at all to let him know that she would at least think about what he’d told her, she could hear the tears in his voice as he apologized over and over for not being the man she’d married. Slowly Marjorie removed the receiver from her ear and placed it back on the hook, she wasn’t ready and she knew it. His calling in the middle of the night she knew wasn’t for her but for himself, that he had once again thought of his need to gain her favor even though he hadn’t done anything to earn it.
She sat there in the dark, replaying his words in her head and then she put out the cigarette in the ashtray, slid down under the covers, turned over and went back to sleep. She was through with Richard and nothing he said or did would make any difference to her what so ever, she knew that if he wanted to see the children she would let him, if they wanted to see him, but his apologies and his cries for understanding were of no concern to her, not anymore, she knew that now, she’d said what she had to, relinquished the anger, hurt and pain by kicking the crap out of him that day in the driveway.
There was nothing left of their marriage and she was actually thankful just to be able to sleep once again.
Causes Monique Annan Supports
The Leeway Foundation