Seven minutes and eighteen seconds. The best seven minutes and eighteen seconds of her day consisted of the drive home from work. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy her life and her kids, but in those seven minutes and eighteen seconds, she got to drive in silence. On a normal day, her first stop would be to the daycare center to get her spunky 3 year old. Her tired eyes would brighten when that pony-tailed, blue eyed, ball of energy would run towards her.
Her days were long. Working in special education, meant being on point every second of everyday waiting for the next meltdown. No matter how much it drained her, she finally felt like she found the place she belonged in her career. The years she spent trying to find her calling while following her husband around the country all paid off. She found a job she loved despite how much it tired her.
Just after she would pull in the drive and get the car seat unbuckled the rusty bus would screech to a halt. The other two would dart across the street.
“I’m hungry”, “I’m bored”, “Guess what Tommy little shit said on the bus today”. . .
It was homework and refereeing right up until she would manage to get dinner on the table. She would attempt to ask her children about their day. On the good days, she would be able to weasel out just a little more than “fine”.
Clearing the table, she would send the kids off to play before bedtime. She would stick his dish in the microwave. A dish he often didn’t eat, but still she’d set it aside. Closing the microwave door, staring at the bland food, she thought to earlier days when she would cook more lavish meals. Now she just can't find the time. His hours were getting later and later. On the most stressful of days she would snap at him about not helping enough- even though she knew she shouldn’t. She would ask him to jump right in and take care of the kids- even though her mind told her to let him relax. She debated with herself constantly over this. She was stressed and desperately wanted help, but she wanted to have it all together to keep him happy. Some days she would just burst and he huffed off in anger. Giving him another check to mark her as the “bitch”. She was always over stressing, overreacting, “it was his job”, “what did she want from him?”.
They would get their kids into bed and finally settle in themselves. They always kissed good night. He would give her bit of attention by trying to convince her to have sex. Not the passionate love-making they used to partake in, often it was just enough to satisfy his needs while she just laid there. She'd roll over, “I’m tired”. He’d roll his eyes so hard she swore she could hear them hit the back of his sockets and then he'd get out of bed or roll over and ignore her in frustration. She would drift off to sleep beating herself up for not being in the mood. “Tomorrow, I will be a better wife” she would think as she silently cried herself to sleep.
She knew he was growing distant. He never seemed to be present. She rationalized that it was this job transfer. Even as her suspicions grew when he would suddenly guard his cell phone, she would say he was just in a funk that day or he was expecting a work call. When his headlights started coming home later and later, she would say “this is what the army does”. Never mind the fact that she knew his office closed at five. She felt it when she looked at him. She felt it the most though when he looked at her. That’s why she allowed the weight to pile on. To justify that he had a right to be disgusted with her.
Today though, he was off today! These days were rare. This meant she would come home and feel a little less pressured. She would have help with the kids. They’d get them off the bus together. He would take them outside or play a game with them so she could relax a little bit. They would look like the family they used to be before he transferred jobs. They would be the couple they used to be- the one all their friends and family envied.
She got to drive a little slower that day. Seven minutes and eighteen seconds could easily be stretched out to fifteen minutes. She welcomed the red lights today. As she drove, she let her mind drift and wonder if he had done the daycare pick up yet. Maybe he was waiting for her at home so they could take advantage of the quiet, kid-free house and make love. She grew in excitement as the butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She longed for the times they used to have when he worked just up the road and would meet her at home before the kids got home for a quickie. She enjoyed a cigarette and just got to breathe a bit today.
If only she knew what awaited her when she got home- she might have smoked two.