The door was locked but my fist was not. Nor was my anger. I bloodied my knuckles on the solid door I’d erected to keep out the worst of intruders.
She’d had enough. I got that. Enough of joblessness. Enough of feuding family. Enough of life. And that enough leaked onto me.
I worked long hours but that was just for a time while I paid off the apartment behind the door. Yes, I enjoyed my job and the perks – car, phone, executive parking, executive office, weekends away overseas. I was liked, respected and feted for promotion. However, for her, I made that just for a time.
That time was too long for her, though. My success swam before her like a tasty morsel of human, waving at a shark trapped in an aquarium. My success taunted her, reminded her of her ineptitude.
She screamed at the world, about family, employers, everything. I saw an amazing and beautiful woman. She saw an abject failure.
Like all good addicts, she ran from the challenge and sought solace in the inconsolable. She warned me she was losing it, that we were losing it and I’d said, “Just for a time. It’ll be okay then.”
Not the answer she expected. Not the answer she demanded but I had no other.
She warned that she would leave as every untruth was paraded before my astounded ears – my gambling, not caring, falling libido … events which were nothing more than a conversation with her mirror.
She taunted me with threats to leave with ever more implausible excuses. I was concerned, surprised, angered and, eventually, exhausted. Out of options.
The whipping boy no longer responded and so she paraded names of men she might leave me for. Seeing my pain obliterated hers … for a time. She smiled with derision at my latest (illusory) incursion and her latest flame. I thought her obsession to the game would wear thin … after a time.
This morning, though, her grim smile brightened. She laughed. Laughed that it was over. The play-back song was the same but the brightness was new. I was unnerved but late for work.
Now, this unconcerned slab of wood wouldn’t take my key. I took on her rage, her impotence and slammed my fist into a world that wasn’t listening. Then reason dropped my hands. Dropped my demands. Indignation turned to emptiness and in floated a lost memory. I was knocking on another, more fragile door; a six-year-old enraged while his mother entertained yet another client – someone to pay the rent, food and my school fees.
I was my mother’s world – in all of it except when I wasn’t. Then I was banished, forgotten, for a time.
Today the bones of angels scurried back to haunt me as the sounds of male and female floated piecemeal to my shuttering ears. It felt familiar … for a time.
Then the door opened to her and our son. She apologised. That felt familiar. Way too familiar.
This was for a writing competition for a 500-word story containing the phrases The door was locked, She laughed and It felt familiar.