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Elaine was a elementary school teacher, obsessed with lists and words. Sometimes, she’d sneak one or two SAT words onto spelling quizzes or definition quizzes, just as a bonus. The kids, bless their pure little hearts, never got the bonuses right. Maybe that’s what earned Elaine the reputation as an iron willed lady who dangled snack time and nap time over misbehaving heads. While the kids were scratching on their test papers with fat fingers curled around shaky pencils, she was busy. Busy being in love, busy making up definitions to describe exactly how she felt about Tony. Her dear, beloved Tony.

Terrific Tony, trying Tony, troublesome yet true Tony.

[Trisanthem - two people nestled in each others’ hearts; a veritable yin yang symbol, comfortable in the others skin because their bond is an intangible aura that clings to their skin and warms them up.]

She left the word on the table when she came home, tired from a day of activity. The kids spilled grape juice on her silk shirt. But the word was written in her finest fountain pen, ink smudged slightly. She had written it on the bus, which jolted her hand with every movement.

Tony laughed. He leaned down to kiss her purpled cheek, which turned darker as she blushed.

“Kids were rough on you today?”

“You have no idea.”

[Ontier - a secret kept in the marrow of bones that click together in the night, creating a tune known only to the secret keeper who throws her hands over her mouth, to keep it trapped inside so no one else can hear the melody - haunting and vicious.]

He came home much later than usual. She had already watched half of Letterman’s show and laughed at perhaps one joke. Either he was becoming less funny, or she was becoming less easy going.

Tony swung open the refrigerator door for a beer, but found none. She watched him out of the corner of his eye. “Elaine? I thought I told you to stock up.”

“Forgot to run by the grocery story. How about you go tomorrow?”

“I told you to get me beer today.” His voice was petulant, like a whining child. Like a sports car engine, ready to race around the track.

Elaine quickly shut the TV and went to bed.

[Nermer - feeling trapped, like screams are bubbling inside oneself, but being unable to get rid of them, they implode in quiet, heartbreaking quivers against the chest cavity and generates that feeling that it will all be over soon.]

The kids asked Elaine, with wide eyes and cherubic voices, if she had a boo boo. A big boo boo. She shook her head and smiled weakly, slapping on a Scooby Doo band-aid to placate their worries. It was sweet really, the way they gathered around for story time and poked for details about her personal life.

“How’s Tony? Is he big? Is he strong? Is he pretty?”

“Boys can’t be pretty. Only girls!”

“Is he pretty?”

Elaine shrugged. “He’s ginormous!” Elaine smiled, then flung her arms open. “That big. And yes Tommy, very strong.”

The boys immediately flexed their puny muscles, trying to one up an invisible Tony.

“But is he pretty?”

“No Molly. I suppose he’s not very pretty at all.”

[Yornful - feeling separated, floating through yourself as a ghost because you cannot make a life altering decision in a split second and instead obsess over doing what is right and what is easy.]

Elaine packed. Quickly. Quietly. Just like clean up time, except without the singing. The singing wouldn’t help with the overbearing sound of Tony’s snoring anyway. Very, very quietly with just the essentials thrown haphazardly into a duffel bag.

Underwear. Bra. Blouse. Pants. Lesson plan. Pencils. Laptop. A single photo. Wallet in one pocket, phone in the other.

Her sister was waiting for her at the corner, sitting in an orange car that always got pulled over.

“Babe? Where are you going?”

“Going to the gym. Be back soon,” Elaine lied, clutching the duffel bag to her chest.

“It’s five in the morning. Gym doesn’t open ‘til nine. Where are you going?”

“Away Tony. Away.”

His fist came quicker this time, but she had become quicker as well. Drop, stomp. For once, it was Tony who was shocked. It was Tony that felt the impact of a fist slamming into the side of a face. It was Tony who fell onto the bed.

Elaine hurried, slinging the bag over her shoulder and ran out of the house. Thank God that they had never gotten engaged. It was like an action movie, along with breathless “go, go, go“‘s to her sister, who gunned the engine and took off through the streets, with sleepy figures who just woke up, oblivious to the drama.

Terrible Tony, torrential Tony. Tony, teeming with anger.

[Escape - for when imagination won’t do and the danger becomes real, so the protagonist leaves her old life abruptly and carries the few things she needs to face her demon and run to an unknown future.]




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