|[This picture was staged.]|
A small collection of (my!) nail polish bottles and manicure tools smattered the coffee table, along with an old magazine, some flyers, and an issue of the local free tabloid. An assortment of bowls, plates, glasses, and cups perched precariously among the debris. I dreaded going into the kitchen, where I could be sure there was even more mess - and no signs of dinner being prepared (let alone planned).
"Oh! You're home!" She sounded surprised, as if this hadn't happened every ... single ... day. I keep to a very regular schedule, leaving and returning at roughly the same time every day, Monday to Friday. She was the roommate from hell.
Michael leapt off the couch and hugged me around my thighs and started to regale me with the details of Thomas the Tank Engine, to which I distractedly attended while trying not to pick up a dish and throw it in anger.
"Michael, would you draw me a picture of Thomas and Boco?" I settled him at the kitchen table and then rejoined Bettany who still sat watching TV. She gave me a look when I turned it off.
|[Full disclosure: this picture was not staged.]|
"Bettany, this has to change. I care about you and Michael, and I want to give you a chance, but I feel really used when I come home after a full day's work and find the place looking like this. You had agreed that you would keep up with the dishes and cook dinner on days that I work, at least until you find a job."
"I was just about to do it," she retorted. "I just lost track of time. Has anyone told you how uptight you are? Gees." She stood up and gathered an armload of dishes. "And, in case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty depressed right now. Plus I have to look after Michael, so it's not like I'm just sleeping all day."
I was pretty sure that she did sleep most of the day, since I suspected she watched TV until the wee hours (I'd heard it on when I got up to go to the bathroom, and she was never up before I left for work).
"I'm not saying that you aren't trying. I'm just saying that we had discussed this, and you had promised to keep the dishes under control and get dinner started."
She ignored me and walked away. I followed her into the kitchen. Just as I entered, she spun and flung a glass at me. Then a bowl. Each projectile came in quick succession as I crouched over Michael so that he wouldn't get hurt by anything.
The profanity coming from her mouth was unbelievable. I grabbed Michael and retreated to the living room. She chased us, throwing a bottle of nail polish past me, which dripped like thick blood down the wall.
I ran upstairs and locked us into the bathroom.
Silence. She had evidently run out of steam.
"Dinner will be ready in an hour," she huffed from the bottom of the stairs.
Michael was crying silently on my lap and sucking his thumb.
"Are you going to kick us out?" he asked, as if he'd been through this before.
I just hugged him tighter. What options did I have? I couldn't keep him without her, and I couldn't continue living with her. But I couldn't just leave him to her either. Suddenly, dishes on the coffee table didn't really seem like such a big deal.
I took Michael into the room he shared with his mother and watched him play with his cars. The lyrics to Kate & Anna McGarrigle's song rang through my head. I didn't dare breathe them out loud.
You say that it's hard, I'm sayin' it's easily doneFor previous entries, visit my Fiction Friday page.
Buddy, won't you make up your mind
I'm sayin' that it's easy that i'll have no regrets
Get your things together, and get yourself out of my home
You're a dead weight
And I can't wait
To see the back of you