By: Laurie Oien
My reaction was quick and spontaneous. I hustled to the closet; clutched handfuls of my clothes and stacked them high with disarray in my trembling arms. My mind raged with uncertainty and anguish. Rather than sitting and crying or throwing everything he owned into the street, I began the chaotic grabbing. Trapping the crumpled heap, I quick-stepped down the two flights of stairs and heaved it all into the backseat of my car.
Each trip up and down the stairs came with a breathless dizziness and a pounding heart. Slipping into the midnight darkness, my fury in the moment knew that redemption wasn’t a timekeeper and following through with my plan would take concentration.
From the bathroom, I stockpiled in a frayed box my make-up bag, brushes, hair dryer, lavender lotion, necklaces transformed to knots and the perfume with citrus scented memories of our last Christmas together. I pulled from dresser drawers, shirts, socks, underwear and random belongings that should’ve been thrown when we first moved in together. All of it frantically packed into tote bags and storage containers. The shoes, boots and even the brown strappy sandals that had given blisters from our Chicago trip were dropped into a tattered grocery bag. I planned to have it all moved out by dawn. My hopes were to have him return, open the door and feel the cold vacant ghost I left behind.
The forceful shoving of clothes and bags into the car didn’t help me to forget the torn feeling in my gut; the look in his muddled eyes as they met mine at the top of the stairs. Detecting a shadow at the bottom of the stairs, I looked to see hesitance and confusion in her eyes that were framed by her long blonde strands; the ignorance barely showing in the dim light.
Rum reeked on his breath and his wavering posture boldly told me to step aside, so his friend could stay the night. That friend, only moments earlier, he had been kissing and embracing in the driveway. There was no mistake. I had been reluctantly spying from the bedroom window. My eyes couldn’t peel away from the glaring reality.
The home we had painted, decorated, furnished and made plans for our future. Sure, there had been some strife in our relationship, but I never saw this coming and smelling the bitterness of rum wouldn’t cover the stench of his disloyalty.
Maybe I had deserved it. After all, I had made my own mistakes in years past and this could be my fallout. To have the rug ripped from under me. That’s ridiculous. My thoughts were working in overdrive. Whatever the reasons, it was blatantly staring at me and I couldn’t be fooled that this situation was alright nor did I deserve it.
Fear and strength were wrestling when I faced him, “No, you won’t be staying here tonight!”
“She’ll sleep on the couch,” he slurred his words.
My tone drained, “Take your friend and leave.”
Scoffing and turning to find balance against the wall he lumbered down the stairs to take her arm then push out the door. As she swept the blonde strands from her face, her gaze locked with mine and somehow I believed she had fallen for the manipulation that had brought her to this juncture. A juncture I could presently relate.
I suddenly found myself in a time between midnight and a moment of clarity. Without pausing, I called a friend to make arrangements for a place to stay. I called a close neighbor to store my furniture. With their help, I moved out every piece I owned swiftly and methodically with each ticking minute past midnight. Everything had to be removed by daybreak. It was the only way to take back my dignity and replace my hurting heart with the reward of him walking through that door and feeling the grip of his own senseless hangover.
Exhausted, yet invigorated at the same time, I stood outside the car and surveyed the mound of clothes, bags and boxes that were wedged with simple beginnings. It seemed life was a mangled mess. But surprisingly, as I positioned myself behind the wheel, I had a much clearer outlook through the windshield.
I saw a reflection of a person that may have missed the pieces and clues to the puzzle, but as the pieces fell together it formed a new picture. It was a picture of someone with an unwavering understanding of self-respect.
Backing into the dawn’s hazy sunlight, I drove away with this night’s final act tucked in my mind.
The feeling of triumph had draped like a security blanket. I came to the realization that redemption satisfied in the moment, but the empowerment would last a lifetime.
Now, looking back over the last 25 years, it’s apparent that packed in each tattered bag and frayed box were life lessons, insight and knowledge.
Every unsettled step taken during that midnight move was in preparation for the next act. Because, as it turns out, life occasionally can be a heap of crumpled clothes that rarely fold up perfectly.
Bio: Laurie Oien
Laurie is a blogger, writer and contributing author in the anthology, Feisty After 45, released by Mills Park Publishing.
Laurie resides in Minnesota and enjoys finding creative ways to write on her blog about every day experiences with a dash of wit, inspiration and a pinch of dramatics. You can find her enjoying the theater, collaborating with other writers in a writing group and delighting in a daily dose of dark chocolate.
In addition, she writes short fiction stories, essays and creative non-fiction with a style of intrigue, encouragement or humor. Her writing has been published on Two Drops of Ink, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Midlife Boulevard.
Laurie blogs at A Square of Chocolate.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/asquareofchocolate/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurie_oien/email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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