"Who Wears the Pants in the Family?" - A Short Story
It had been a long day for Travis and Madeline. Their wedding day was all they had expected it to be with family and friends who had gathered to witness their "I do's" at the altar.
Even though it rained early in the day, the sun was shining brightly by the time the bride, groom, and their guests arrived at the country church in Lankford, Mississipi. It was a good thing that the wedding was earlier during the day because the newlyweds wanted to get to La Cindo, the only hotel in town before they left the next day for their honeymoon in Barcelona, Spain.
Red Flag Number One
Neither Travis nor Madeline had eaten much at their wedding reception because they had been too excited to do so. They both agreed they were hungry so when they arrived at the hotel, they stayed downstairs to eat before they went to their room. Even though both of them were hungry, they still didn't eat very much.
Madeline saw crab cakes on the menu, and she wanted to order them. However, Travis talked her out of that selection, and he ordered for both of them when the waiter came to the table. He ordered what he wanted and suggested that they share the dish of lasagna. Madeline thought it was cute at the time, but red flags were beginning to appear after only a few hours of being married.
Red Flag Number Two
After the quick dinner, the newlyweds went to their room and expected to engage in what newlyweds do on the first night they are married.
When they arrived in the room, Travis took off his pants and told Madeline to take off what she was wearing. What happened next is not what Madeline expected.
Travis handed her his pants and told her to put them on. After she did so, they fell to the floor because they were too big for her. Soon, she got the message, but she hoped she was wrong.
Travis removed all doubts by saying, "You see the pants fell to the floor when you put them on. You have never seen mine fall to the floor after I put them on. That's because I wear the pants in the family. And don't you ever forget it."
Again, Madeline thought the whole thing was cute and dismissed the object lesson then, but it was a red flag that would return again and again over the next seven years.
Other Red Flags
There were red flags throughout the duration of the marriage. Every time there was a disagreement or an argument, Madeline would find the wedding night pants hanging in her closet. Without saying a word, she knew what that meant.
Travis was controlling, but Madeline never mentioned it to anyone because she thought if she said the words, it would make it true.
Madeline and Travis disagreed on almost everything. Madeline wondered why she didn't notice it before they were married. Even though Travis was ten years older, Madeline thought he was wiser so she went along with whatever he said. He had a way of justifying what he said and what he did because of the age difference.
As hard as she tried, Madeline couldn't forget the pants because Travis was always bringing them up and reminding her that he wore the pants in the family. Madeline thought about putting them in the cleaner and never going back to get them, but she thought against it because it would have just made matter worse.
Madeline's friends and co-workers asked her one day why she never wore pants to work. She always dressed in a skirt and blouse or a dress. Travis never told her not to wear pants, but she couldn't get it out of her mind what he told her on their wedding night. She talked herself into thinking if he wore the pants in the family, surely she couldn't wear them as well. She took what he had said literally even though Travis was using the falling pants as a metaphor for him being a ruler and controller.
One night Travis didn't come home at all. When he arrived the next morning, he said he didn't need to give an explanation and if Madeline questioned him or nagged him about it, he would leave and stay away as long as he wanted to.
"By the way, I'm leaving again right now," Travis announced. He grabbed a set of keys from the bowl that contained all the keys and stormed out of the house. Since both of their car keys looked alike, Travis hadn't noticed he had picked up the wrong keys until he was downstairs. He didn't want to go back upstairs to face Madeline so he took her car and careened out of the driveway with tires screeching as he sped off.
It was hours before Madeline heard a knock at the door. She thought it was Travis, but it was a police officer asking if she was Mrs. Thornton. The wheels were turning in her mind as she nervously said, "Yes."
Officer Benson said there had been a terrible accident and Travis was still alive but was in the hospital. The officer offered to take Madeline to the hospital. When she arrived she saw her husband hooked up to all sorts of contraptions.
Travis would live, but his legs had to be amputated to get him out of the wrecked car. For the next several years, Madeline waited on him hand and foot while he still controlled her and bossed her around.
He called her if she wasn't home from work when he thought she should have been. He was incapacitated physically while she was incapacitated mentally.
After Seven Years
After seven years, Madeline couldn't take it any longer. She consulted an attorney about a divorce. Apparently, Travis heard her on the telephone because before she could file, he filed first. He accused Madeline of a lot of things that she never did.
They stayed in the same house during the divorce proceeding which lasted 18 months. Madeline felt obligated to still help Travis who was confined to a wheel chair. After all, she had vowed to be with him in sickness and in health.
Travis had called his three sisters and two brothers to take him to the courthouse while Madeline went alone. Madeline got there first and was sitting in a chair when she saw one of the brothers pushing the wheelchair with Travis in it. Because he had no legs, his pants were pinned up and he was probably sitting on the pants legs.
There was nothing wrong with his hands because Travis was holding two briefcases in his lap. One was black and the other one was brown. Madeline asked her lawyer why Tarvis had two briefcases, and it was obvious that they were different colors for a reason.
Attorney Walker said, "Probably one is for negotiation and the other one is for litigation." Madeline didn't know whether he was joking to get her to lighten up or not. Neither briefcase needed to be opened during the hearing. It was revealed that Travis has tampered with Madeline's car the day before the accident that he was in.
The accident was meant for Madeline. Travis was not arrested then, but the judge said there would be a thorough investigation and he would schedule another hearing. For now, Travis was free to go.
Judge Pernell Morton dissolved the marriage that day, and Madeline was free from her controlling husband. Dressed in a black stylish pants suit with a freshly laundered white blouse, she went to the wheelchair where Travis was. She did not saw one word. She just handed him a gift-wrapped box.
Madeline walked out of the courtroom that day with her head hung high. She didn't look back to see Travis' reaction when he opened the box and found the note on top of his wedding pants. The note said, "Try these on and see who wears the pants in the family."