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Statue of a Woman
It's always the same. Every time you step out of your car and into the dim lights of your own house: you're not really there; it's just a figment of a dream that no one dares to dream anymore. A mere piece of scenery to create a seemingly-perfect play.
You say hello to a dark house, lock the dead bolt behind you, and then head for the refrigerator. Finding nothing that intrigues, you head to the wine cellar. It's clear that someone else has seriously depleted the stock, but you ignore it to find your own solace from what your family has become.
"Mama!" They have tear-filled eyes as they embrace you after your walk up the stairs and back into the kitchen. Two beautiful little girls, twins down to the very last freckle. A third, older one stands atop the stairs, her expression grave but the twinkle in her eyes giving her joy away. You might have been her last hope, but you won't ever know.
"Mama, we missed you." One of them says as you set down the bottle on the counter. "Please Mama, don't go again." The other one pleads. "We don't want you to!" They are both persistent in keeping you, but you know that by the morning you'll be on the road again. You can't tell them that, though. The reality would only hurt them more.
Slowly, the third one descends the stairs. She's silent, but she winces every time she takes a step. As she reaches the bottom of the stairs, he suddenly appears, his eyes glazed over and a half-drunken bottle of whiskey in his hand. He slaps an arm around the girl and quickly leads her into the kitchen.
"Well hello, sunshine," he says loudly, placing his sweating bottle on the counter next to yours. "I see you finally made it back.’Bout time, I'd say."
"Not now," you briskly reply. There's no warmth in your voice, and there hasn't been for a long time. He tries to start again, but you instead turn to the oldest. "How’re you, sweetie? Are you liking being in high school?"
"Actually, mom, I've got something to conf-"
"Oh, you silly little girl." He interrupts her quickly, his fists beginning to clench in anger. "You haven't told your own mother about your escapades?" He turns to you. "Your daughter over here has found herself a little b****** of a boy to tote her around."
"Emily, you know the rules. No dating until college." You don't even look at her when you speak because you're too enthralled with taking the cork out of the wine bottle in your hands.
"Mom, I know but-"
"No buts." The cork comes out with a loud pop. You reach up into the cabinet and take out a wine glass and steady it on the counter next to the bottle.
"I told you she shouldn't have gone to one of them public schools." He slurs out, getting even angrier.
You know where this is going. You'd say something like "Well I told you that she had to learn about the world." Then he would throw things around, there would be yelling and glass shattering, and sooner or later you would end up in separate rooms, enjoying different brands that made the same kind of alcoholic haven.
There's a moment of silence where you pour wine into the glass and remain quiet. Your eyes meet for a moment, and then he grabs her wrist and begins pulling her away, toting his bottle along with him.
Her eyes grow wide and she knows what's happening. Before your eyes she turns into a little, pleading child. "Mama, please, no, don't let him-"
"We have rules in this house." Your reply is harsh and swift, but tears are gathering in your eyes. "Your father will not be disobeyed."
"D*** straight," he replies to no one as they ascend the stairs.
You try with all your strength not to hear the crack of the belt or the shrieks from the girl. There are plenty of excuses. "If you don't discipline a child, you don't love it," you whisper to yourself.
You're just another player in a show, one that will be gone by morning. It doesn't matter to you what happens behind closed doors. The stage is set, the lights are shining, and the artist is ready. You can even see the painting now: you, sitting on a stool at the counter, smiling like you never saw them. You stare into space and you're a frozen piece of art: Statue of a Woman with Chardonnay.