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hope

Sitting in my car at 10:13pm on a Wednesday night with dripping wet hair, I am shaking. I am shaking violently; not from the cold, or from extreme exhaustion, not from the wet hair clinging to the back of my neck, but from searing rage. I am sitting in my car in the Kroger parking lot with a bag full of frozen pizza and ranch, frozen pizza and ranch that are the only groceries I have been able to buy in over two weeks, the groceries that I have purchased so that the man who has caused me to see red can eat when he gets home from work.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that after years of complacency, the anger brewing inside of me would begin to boil over and give off an overwhelming festering stench that consumed my entire being. It is all I can do to drive home and place the pizza in the oven so it is ready when he gets home. Even in my righteous rage, I am optimistic; I hope and pray for things to just be ok. If they could just be ok. Perhaps it is that way of thinking that is the problem to begin with. I am optimistic and hopeful, but I am cringing at what I know is coming.

It was earlier today that I got a phone call from his dad–his dad whom had recently had his home broken into–needing the grocery gift cards back that he had given to us to aide in the investigation of his stolen property. It was my only way I was going to be able to pay for food this week and the next, but the desperation in his voice made my heart weep and I agreed to drop it off to him at my earliest convenience. Speaking with me, seemingly overwhelmed by it all, he broke down over the phone and again my heart wept for him. Desperation and depression was something I knew well.

With permission to leave work a little early, I headed over to his home with the card and a cup of coffee. I was welcomed in and given permission to stay and chat for a while, and I did. I returned the card, and to my surprise, he gave me cash in exchange for it. I made plans to see him again soon, to attend church with him as I had not been in awhile and greatly needed that comfort once more. I mentioned us both coming on Sunday with him if he was not tired, but I said I would have to ask.

It was such a proud thing being able to get something to make dinner.

I left and felt relieved if only for a moment. We were going to have food. Then, checking my phone, I saw the missed calls and angry text messages. Why was I at his dads? Didn’t I think that was inappropriate? Why didn’t I tell him I was going over there? Defensively I respond to say the reason for my visit, and to assure him I had planned on informing him of the visit but had stayed to chat. I respond to say “I love you” and to inform him that I was making dinner. It was such a proud thing being able to get something to make dinner.

I go home and tidy up the house, do the dishes and take out the trash. I shower and make the bed. I start to blow dry my hair, then, run out of time since I still had to run to the store to get the food so it was ready by the time he got home. In a rush I leave, get to the store and get the items I need, then before I can start the engine, I am over taken with a rage that leaves me shaking. I am shaking violently; not from the cold, or from extreme exhaustion, not from the wet hair clinging to the back of my neck, but from searing rage. I am sitting in my car in the Kroger parking lot with a bag full of frozen pizza and ranch, frozen pizza and ranch that are the only groceries I have been able to buy in over two weeks, the groceries that I have purchased so that the man who has caused me to see red can eat when he gets home from work.

At home, once the pizza is done, I sit and wait. I cannot lay down even though my eyes are burning because he does not like when I am asleep when he gets home. He wants to see me when he gets home. So I sit up and watch the news, waiting optimistically, hopefully, with a cringing feeling at what I know is coming. I lock my rage away in my chest.

I hear the tires of his truck in the gravel driveway and go to the kitchen to cut the pizza and get him a drink so it’s ready when he comes in. I unlock the door and as I do, he opens it and walks into the kitchen. I greet him and he walks by me. I pause a minute, then go looking for him. I find him changing in the bedroom. I tell him dinner is ready and that I’ve been looking forward to seeing him all day. He says nothing. With a sinking feeling, I ask “what’s wrong?” He responds with “nothing”, then briskly walks into the living room.

I am optimistically hopeful. I lock my rage away in my chest and I follow him and ask if he wants a plate of pizza. I smile and tell him I’ve already gotten him a drink. He does not want any pizza. He’s not hungry. Cautiously, I again ask what’s wrong and tell him that I got the pizza just for him and that I’ve been waiting all day to see him. I do not understand why he is upset. He tells me that he does not have to work this weekend. He asks me if I have any plans for the weekend. Thinking he meant if I was going to see my family this weekend, and since I had not planned on it, I tell him no. He looks at me then, for the first time since he’s been home, and says that this is all just b***sh*t.

Confused, I ask him what he is talking about. He says that he does not understand why I went to his dads today, does not understand why I didn’t tell him about it, does not understand why I made plans with his dad and then lied to him about it. Taken aback, I apologize and say I thought he was asking if I was going out of town to see my family (since that is what I did last weekend), that I of course was going to tell him that I had stopped by his dads but that I had gotten caught up chatting with him, that I had already explained my reasons for being there, and that I had wanted for him to come to church with us.

He looks at me then with disgust and says “Oh I can tag along?” He says he does not want to go with us, that I can just go and have a good time. He says that it’s messed up that I made plans with his dad without including him, says that it’s messed up that I went over without asking him first. Raising his voice now, with me whimpering from the stress of it all, he says that it was f***ed up that I did that, then out of pity for doing something for someone else and not for him, got him food. He says that he is so hurt that I would do that, that I would make plans with his family without asking him about it. I try to explain to him, he doesn’t understand, it’s just a misunderstanding…..

I lock my rage away in my chest.

He waits a moment, then he asks me if I’m f***ing his dad.

He leaves the room now yelling at me. I begin to weep, my eyes stinging from exhaustion, my body and my heart heavy. I try to calm myself down. I am trying to be hopeful. I just need for everything to be ok. I find him in the bedroom sitting on the bed. Still crying and trying to speak, I apologize for unintentionally hurting him and try to explain again. I do not understand why he is upset. He makes a noise and smirks and looks at me with disgust again. He says that I do not understand how f***ed up that was. He is yelling again. The rage in me is now rising up my throat. I, in a burst of adrenaline, scream. I scream that I have not done anything to deserve this, have not done anything to deserve being treated like this. I scream that the thing that is f***ed is up that I was doing something nice for him, something nice for his family because I cared about him! I screamed and I cried. I told him that I loved him and that I did not understand why he was being this way to me. I tell him that he is tearing me apart and that he needs to stop. To please just stop. I sob the words over and over again until I choke on them.

He waits a moment, then he asks me if I’m f***ing his dad.

I stare at him, mouth open. Crying even harder now, I leave the room and go to the bathroom. I shut the door and look in the mirror. My sobbing has made my reflection blurry. I look down and wipe away the tears with my sleeves and focus on breathing, but it hurts. With every breath it feels like shards of glass are stabbing me in the heart. I look back up and stare at myself for a moment. I did not recognize the woman looking back at me. My hair was thin and lifeless, my skin was broken out from stress, tears streaming down my cheeks, and my eyes were swollen with dark bags cloaked under them, mimicking the darkness I felt hovering over me; my body ached; my nails were painted to cover how raw they were from biting them, and my weight was so up and down, I felt sick at almost all times– either from the lack of food or from eating too much too quickly.

He was still saying things to me, but I was no longer listening. I was quietly putting my bathroom items in a bag, focusing on laying each item down tenderly so he could not hear what I was doing. I left the bathroom, still crying, and moved quickly to the second bedroom where I began gathering the items I needed for work for the next few days. He was quiet now, making my efforts of not being noticed more difficult. As I finished putting everything in a bag, I heard the jingling of car keys. I went out to the living room and watched as he opened the door to leave. I asked him where he was going, he said “to church”, then slammed the door.

I stood there, in the middle of the living room, and stared at the door. I did not know if I should leave or stay. Not knowing if he was coming back or not, and needing my family, I went back to the bedroom to get my things. Just then I hear him come back in and thump his way to the bedroom I was not occupying. Having already made up my mind, I put on my boots and left the room. As I walked into the hallway, he saw my bag I was carrying. I was careful to not make eye contact as I tried to wipe away the tears that were making my vision blurry.

As I am walking out the door I hear him holler out that I can go be with my ex now. I shut the door behind me.

With my house in my rear view window, I call my grandparents who live an hour away. They are the closest people to me and I do not have any friends here. No one answers. I try my dad. No one answers. At one o’clock in the morning, I cannot blame them for not having their phones on, but I have nowhere else to go. Fifteen minutes down the road I am crying so hard I cannot see where I am going. I pull over and weep. I was leaving my house, the house I was paying the rent and all the bills for by myself, to go nowhere. And worse, I didn’t want to lose him. I sat on the side of the road crying until I couldn’t cry anymore, torn at which direction to go.

Feeling lost, I call him and turn my car around. I take my overwhelming, festering rage, and bury it deep inside, the weight of it pulling me down, the heat of it burning me from the inside out. I drive back towards my house in the dark of the night shivering.

I am painfully hopeful.

Olivia Red

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