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Because of Her
A decision can affect everything. Even the smallest. Dropping a penny on the ground would allow somebody to pick it up. They would look at the piece of copper’s manufacturing date and realize that it is the same year as the person’s brother. Reminding them that they haven’t touched base in a while, the person would call their brother up and find out that he got a promotion and could fly them out to visit him. There could be other factors that could go along like the person swerves and just barely misses a dog on the side of the road which a few years later then has puppies and provides a little girl a new puppy. Or, the person is stuck behind a red light letting a pedestrian cross the road resulting him not being late to work that day. Now, this particular thing didn’t happen. But it went along the lines of that.
Sarah stares outside of the car. The window has a web of raindrops racing down. She turns her fair-skinned face to the driver sitting in front of her. “Mommy, when are we going to get there?” She wines letting a piece of her thick chocolate hair cover her right eye.
“You need to learn to be patient,” Her mother answers taking her eyes off of the road for a brief second to the rearview mirror to meet Sarah’s bright blue eyes.
Sara groans. She isn’t old, but she’s old enough to know that this is just the way life is sometimes. You just need to put up with things. She personally does this by chewing her tongue inside of her mouth and looking at her shoes. Her mom says not to do this because it looks like she’s eating an immense piece of steak in her mouth.
“Sometimes, Mommy, we need to go to the park.”
Her father sitting quietly in the passenger seat faces towards Sara and grins, “Not today, sweetie.”
When it seems like hours have gone by, they arrive at the food store. She grabs her father’s black coat at the end of the arm. “Wait, Daddy,” she articulates as she hobbles to be beside his leg.
“Are we going to get apple sauce,” she asks. This is very much a concern to her.
“Of course,” her dad answers.
“But the good kind? Not the one that you got last time. It tasted funny.”
“How about you pick it this time, so we know which one you like?” He purposes.
Besides getting her favorite apple sauce, this isn’t a very fun day from what she can remember from these occasional long trips to the good food store from what her mother calls this place. It takes forever to buy everything resulting in the food cart holding boxes and boxes of food. So much food that towards the end of her mother has to place the milk and teddy grams on the seat on the cart where the babies sit.
As the sliding door opens a man is standing in a brown leather jacket wearing a black shirt and denim jeans clinging to a personal shopping basket. He looks up to Sara’s mom and drops his basket revealing his corn that spills out on to the floor. Sara thinks it’s silly and laughs.
Kevin usually believes in God. He goes to church every day waiting for his miraculous answers that Priest Paul guarantees. But, he doesn’t feel it anymore. There’s no will to go. Because going would mean that he cares.
His phone rings and it’s his mother. It’s a silly thing for a man to have his mother check up on him every week, he knows it. He flips the phone on and all he has to say is a hello and his mother rambles on about a barbeque that his mother’s neighborhood. He doesn’t know if she’s seriously expecting him to go to them. What would a grown man do at a barbeque coordinated by a group of old women? Occasionally nod, as they discuss today’s sermon and how it’s different than “back then.”
“Honey, you’ve just got go,” his mother persuades, “everyone will be there. Edna’s bringing her oatmeal cookies and Jude is going to bake her coconut macaroni.”
“Really, mom, it’s okay.”
“Alright,” she says in a high tone. Kevin can picture her throwing her hands up as always like his decision is just a lost cause and there’s absolutely no solution. As they wrap up their conversation, or it should be said as Kevin’s mother wraps up her conversation, he flips through the channels finding a Chiefs vs. Patriots football game. Finally, the conversation is ended and he gets lost in the trance of the flickering television.
During the commercial he debates what he’s doing. Of course he’s watching a football game in his melancholy home. His living room consists of a dingy brown love seat and a gray television. The walls are paneled in pine with gray, sculpted carpet cradle his forest green slippers. There is also a kitchen, bathroom, and one bedroom. One bedroom; it’s the sheer truth that that’s all he needs. That’s all his life consists of. Himself. But, what is he going to do tomorrow after putting on the same brown leather jacket and doing the same work schedule and the same car ride there? He should have a family, he thought. He feels like a mere body hooked to an IV which drags him to work and the bank and the food store and back on to the couch to watch another football game.
The next day he arrives at work wearing a white long sleeve shirt with a blue argyle tie and brown pants with brown shoes. He sits in his tired, grim chair that has been matted down from the pressure of his sulking bulk for the past eight years. As he waits for his ancient computer to start up he nods to his desk neighbor Todd.
“Okay everybody,” Kevin’s primped boss announces as she balances on her stilt-like heels, “our goal for today is focusing on positive performance. I want everybody to think…”
As she’s setting the “daily goal” for today he realizes that he doesn’t know what that means anymore. Positive performance. When’s the last time he’s seen that happen?
Abruptly, Kevin rises and sees all of his co-workers face turn from boredom to alert as they watch him, “I need to go home,” he explains and walks away before he can let her answer.
He takes his usual path home and decides how to do this. This is the most thinking he’s done in years. When he arrives home he still pounders. Should he leave a note on his kitchen table, or how about on a tape recording, or leave a message on his mother’s voice machine. He finally comes to a conclusion and sits down at his kitchen table.
He writes down, it’s because of her. I died the day of our divorce. I have been nothing but an object. I can’t even apologize to anyone because no one will be lost without me. No one will grieve for the loss of me. So this should be done. What got me up every day was the satisfaction that she might come back. That I might glance to the right of me at a red light and see her face again. Or, that we could both be in line at the corner store waiting to buy a bottle of water after our days. But it wasn’t like that. It was a devastation of watching her pick her daughter up and point at the lobsters in the seafood tank. And her husband putting his hand on her back and smiling. This has to be done because of her…
Hilary picks up her mail and slugs back into her house. “Sara, are you ready for school?” She projects into the house.
From the bathroom she can hear her answer, “In a second, Mommy. Can you do French braids?”
Hilary walks into the yellow bathroom and fingers through her hair. “I thought you wanted your hair to be down and long like Ariel today?”
“No, no, no, Mommy, that’s for Tuesday. Today I want it to look like Cinderella at the ball.”
As she twines her dense hair into two piggy-tail braids, Sara is humming the opening song to the Little Mermaid. Hilary’s heard it about 63 times in Sara’s room from her Disney soundtrack. She shakes her butt back and forth. “Hold on, Honey, let me finish you hair.”
“It’s Johnny’s birthday today. He said his mom is bringing his a huge cake in that’s as big as him. I told him that’s a big, fat lie because we can only bring in cupcakes or cookies. Remember, Mommy, when you brought in Snooky-Cookies?” Sara’s favorite dessert is Snikerdoodles which she calls Snooky-Cookies.
After Hilary drives Sara to kindergarten and Derrik is already at work she skims through the mail. There’s an interesting letter from Kevin Marit. It’s probably something obsolete notice that got lost in the mail from the time of their divorce nine years ago. She opens it and realizes that the address is different. She reads the letter and freezes. “Because of her” rings through her head. She pushes the junk mail out of the way till she finds the newspaper. Fiercely, she turns to the obituary page on A6. She skims it until she finds what she’s looking for.
Kevin Marit 1967-2009
He lived an American life of his loyal office work at the Staples’ cooperate with a close relationship with his mother, Julia Foster, and a passion for the National Football League aired on television and always wanted to go to a Patriot’s game. Kevin was a studious, quiet man that loved to play chess and had a very hilarious and sarcastic humor.
She can’t process this. Kevin wasn’t ever that dramatic about situations. But, he wasn’t the most positive out looker, either. Her stomach starts to tighten. She is acting on more of a selfish-based reaction of how could she have leaded it to this. This is never the answer. It never should have gone to this. Did he have absolutely no one to talk to? A life was lost because of her. And in no way was this ever able to be avoided. It’s not her fault, but it also is.
Her phone shrills its high tone and she answers. It’s Derrik.
“Honey, I just heard. Scott’s wife said. I-”
“I’m okay,” she assures. Whether anyone believes it or not she needs to be okay. What is the point of dwelling on an unchanged pass? What can she do? This is how she deals with things. After being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, her therapist has taught her the technique of repeating the saying, “I cannot choose what happens but only my reactions.” They’re swept under the carpet for a better day.
“I’m okay,” she repeats through the phone.
If Hilary didn’t pick up her check that day she wouldn’t have gone to the food store on the other side of town to do her weekly splurge on necessary food items which wouldn’t allow her to be seen by Kevin with Sara and Derrik. If Kevin didn’t decide to cut out his coupon for a free coffee at a new shop opening up next to the food store he wouldn’t have been reminded to pick up things for dinner tonight. This wouldn’t have had Kevin to see Hilary at the store. And, of course, wouldn’t kill Kevin’s last hope resulting in him ending his life.