Her House Now
Maria sat blissfully in the fields behind the house, soaking in the sun and admiring the swaying leaves of the dandelions and the curving blades of grass. She was alone and relaxed and felt a freeing sensation all around her. Gathering up her skirts, she stood from the damp ground, her smile so wide she felt as if her face might crack, and she laughed so loud she was not even aware it was her own voice. It was exhilarating to feel this freedom. It was exciting, peaceful, and almost nerve-racking, but nonetheless, it was a good feeling. Turning around, she marched diligently toward the red brick house and held a look of triumph as she watched her husband’s car drive away with suitcases spilling out the back. As a final goodbye, she decided to flip up her middle finger to him.
It was her house now.
And so, Maria swung open the glossy white front door of her house and waltzed into the kitchen, clicking her heels loudly around on the ceramic tiles. She danced with the reverberating hum of the refrigerator and raised her hands with a shaking clap every time the leaky faucet dripped water onto the dirty dishes below. Popping open the fridge door, swaying her hips and swooshing her skirt about herself, Maria grabbed a beer and let the cap drop and rattle onto the countertop. She took a swig—no, a chug. She grinned, examining the liquid through the transparent glass, swirling it about until, raising it to her lips, she downed each precious gulp with a gleeful fist pump. She basked in the freedom of being alone and not having to attune to the small sips of red wine from ditzy glasses and perfect posture and pinkies-up that she was once amounted to. Maria grabbed another beer.
After all, it was her house now.
After a few more champion bottle chugs, Maria grabbed one more beer, ascended the stairs, and stood in the doorway of her grand bedroom. Oh, how large the bed seemed! The luscious layers of the sea-green comforter were warm and ready to envelop her in a soft cocoon. The pillows were propped, pressed, and fluffed so neatly against the headboard, as if they were begging to be used. Maria pressed the mouth of the bottle to her lips as she admired her sleeping kingdom. Then, as if seduced by its comforting qualities, she set her beer aside and plunged onto the bed.
Maria was embraced by the soft linens, sinking blissfully into the world of sea green and the wafting smell of lavender. She giggled as she squirmed around in the sheets and began waving her arms and legs as if making a snow angel. She flipped herself around and squished her cheek into the mattress with a relieved sigh. Had the bed always been this comfortable? It began to entrance her into a state of sleep, but she protested, as it was barely afternoon. Maria tried to force her eyelids open, but soon let the drowsiness wash over her.
Why not take a nap? It was her house now.
When Maria awoke, the sun had gone down far into the night. She lifted her head from the pillow, wiping drool from her chin and blinking forcefully to unstick her eyelashes. The pound of a headache came upon her, and she cringed, holding her hand to her forehead and slowly attempting to sit in an upright position. Somehow, she had come to cuddle one of the pillows. Once so prim and proper, it was now wrinkled and littered with wet spots from her saliva. The comforter was dangling from the corner of the bed. The second pillow had managed to get tossed onto the floor across the room. Eventually, Maria found it within herself to stand and head downstairs to grab a glass of water.
The kitchen was lit with the light of the refrigerator that Maria had forgotten to close hours before. The meat began to brown, and the milk was room temperature and already getting sour. The salad had started to wilt into soggy leaflets. Maria turned on the lights, winced as she adjusted to the bright overheads, and quickly shut the fridge door, muttering some choice words and reminding herself to throw those things out later. Empty beer bottles sat on the counter, leaving circular marks where they sat, and the caps were scattered all over the floor. Maria stepped on one and yelped, unsticking the cap from the ball of her foot and chucking it back down onto the floor with a grunt. Pick them up, she told herself. But she instead found herself tiptoeing around them to get to the other side of the counter, where she was met with the unwashed dishes. Plates and bowls piled up with mushy food that had turned into a brown-gray goop that seeped oil. A couple of flies buzzed around, landing in the slop and traveling into the pungent land of tableware. The faucet kept dripping. And dripping. And dripping.
Maria let out an exasperated sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose between two fingers. The grocery list pinned to the fridge door haunted her, and the keys to her car that she had driven maybe twice hung on its hook with an intimidating glare. The mail must have been thrown into the mail slot while Maria was asleep, for a stack of envelopes was sprawled across the floor with the water bill laying atop the pile, mocking her.
Maria yearned for the joy she found in her simple pleasures earlier in the day, but she was met only with the dark of night, the annoying whine of the refrigerator, and dust settling onto the necks of the beer bottles. She solemnly wiped the dust with her finger and let it fall to the ground until suddenly, the overhead light made a pop, clank, fizz, and then sputtered out, leaving Maria in the flickering darkness.
She cried. It was her house now.
Jenna Timmerman is a senior studying Mass Communications and Creative Writing. One day, she’d love to run her own coffee shop, but for now she’s just trying to make it to graduation. Jenna would like to thank her parents for always being supportive and encouraging her to step out of her comfort zone.