The Road

August 7, 2008
By catherine Doyle, Tulsa, OK

The road stretched in front of her. It was all she could see for miles and miles, each passing white line marked an inch of an accomplishment she never thought possible. The ironic thing was this so called accomplishment would make her a failure to those who truly knew her. She thought of their reactions when they found out what she had done. They would be shocked, maybe even speechless. This was not her, they would claim. At least it wasn’t the her that they had known all these years. But that was part of the problem no one knew who she really was. She didn’t even know who she really was any more. She was a modern day Mona Lisa; she smiled back at the world, but in an enigmatic way, no one knew what she was smiling about, or if she meant it, or what was really going on inside her head. She was tired of smiling, tired of pretending. So she had done it. She had left.

As she drove she thought about that fateful day that sent her in a downward spiral on this path. How is it that the happiest day of your life can lead to the most miserable of fates? Her dress had been long, with a fitted bodice and a v-neck, with long, white, lace sleeves. The skirt of the dress flew away from her slim figure so she appeared to glide down the aisle. He had looked so handsome that day. His hair was combed to the usual side, and although he had done nothing particularly special that day, he looked different. They both looked different, or maybe they just felt different, or maybe they were just seeing the world differently. It’s amazing how the world can appear in a rose-colored shade. This was her happily ever. They both believed with all their hearts that this was it; this was life, love, happiness, the whole package. They were both naïve and arrogant she realized now. How pompous could they have been to presume that they were the chosen ones; the ones who had mastered the secret to love? Did they really believe that they, two innocent, unknowing 25 years olds, could really figure out how to live happily ever after, after all the billions of years that humans have been trying to come close to such an ending. What made them believe they had perfected the formula to everlasting love? There was a reason people read fairy tales, because stories provided hope and because in stories the ending is happy, it is different then reality. People don’t want to read about what really happens. Would Cinderella have been popular if the shoe hadn’t fit her, or he had run off with an evil sister the night before the honeymoon? No. People are busy living that version of the story; they don’t want to read about it too.

When had she become this cynical? She clearly hadn’t always been this way, obviously at one point she had been the complete opposite. This was another problem, not only did she not know who she was anymore, but she wasn’t sure when she had turned into somebody else. She used to be fun, spontaneous, daring, and popular. She was happy and talkative. She still saw herself as this character, but no one knew or rememebered this version of her. They thought her uptight, neurotic, psychotic, even. She wasn’t sure why it was the people she loved the most that brought out the worst in her. It was the people who were supposed to be there for it all, that weren’t really there even if they were in the same room. He was the worst. She wasn’t sure what was more tragic, the fact that they were unhappy now, or the fact that they had once been happy, and she knew what happiness felt like. Their past, happy selves, mocked them from the photographs, looking down with smiles that looked torturous and gleams in their eye that just seemed unbearable. That was the fact of the matter; they had once been happy, more than happy. Now they couldn’t stand each other, they either tolerated eachother’s presence in silence and confusion, or by yelling merely to drown out the inevitable, which was slowly catching up with them. It didn’t matter what they were yelling about because they were always having the same fight. The beginning, middle, and end had been written years ago, their roles well rehearsed and perfected.

At first they convinced themselves it was just your typical relationship; it was bound to have rough patches. They were always making excuses such as, when he’s done with school, when there will be more money, when the kids are at an easier age. They had played the blame game for so many years they knew all the ways to deflect fault from the very core of the problem: themselves. But the rough patches turned into dry spells of happiness. Soon they were fighting because it was the only was they knew to have a conversation, and they still each yearned for interaction, if for no other reason than to prove that they hadn’t completely failed. But she was done. No more excuses. She couldn’t even stay in it for the kids anymore. They hid behind children and religion to fend off their joint failure. She finally realized using the children as an excuse to stay was no longer enough. Even that was taking an adverse effect on them. They were turning into him. Or at least she was. That was the hardest of all defeats; to lose her daughter to him. And even though she hadn’t physically lost her yet, mentally she was him. She couldn’t tolerate her anymore because she was the mirror image of her wretchedness. It had become a sick habit, to take her anger out on her daughter when her husband wasn’t around because she was just like him. She could count on her responses, they were familiar. This caused all sorts of new rifts because she started to hate her because she hated him and it was becoming one in the same. Then there was the boy. Their fights would last for hours, in a merry-go-round of insults. She fought him when she needed to fight herself. He was like her, which she didn’t like because it was through him she could recognize her own faults. At the same time she could yell more easily at him than she could herself, which provided a twisted form of self beratement in an outside source. The whole system was dysfunctional. She had stayed for them. She had stayed because that was the better life she thought they would have because they were all together. It backfired. The mere problems and issues that would have stemmed from her leaving instead festered and seeped into all relationships of the family.

So she had left. She left her husband. She left her kids. She left her worries. She left her unhappiness. She left her life. She had committed social suicide in a sense, and through this she was reborn into whoever she wanted to be. The only problem was she had to figure out who she already was first.

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