Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Third Life – Liquid Lunch.

I pull off my mirrored sunglasses and pink Harley jacket and sit down at the bar for lunch. It’s only Tuesday but I need a break.

The effeminate bartender in front of me stomps his foot and declares across the bar, “I hate women!” Looking over just a second too late at his new patron.

“Oh, sorry…” he smiles sheepishly.

“It’s o.k., I hate women too.” I flash him a grin and a wink and order my beer.

I shouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Though ‘this’ isn’t really a bad place to be. It’s the two year anniversary of the split from my husband and honestly, I don’t need solace or even a shoulder to sniffle on. This makes me smile.

I take a glance around the bar and wonder why everyone in this town has to look like my ex mother in law. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me looking over my shoulder for the past two years. In truth it was mostly unfounded, but old habits die hard. Every trip out in public starts with a scan of the crowd. Every venture in to the mall veers me far away from her favorite stores and the family’s known haunts. And I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I absolutely have to. It really doesn’t inconvenience me much, and at this point it’s become a matter of habit. Most days I hardly even notice.

I’ve never seen her. And nowadays I’m not quite sure what I would do if I did. Visions of hair pulling and assault charges danced in my head for the longest time; initiated from either side of the fence. Some days I wake up and hear her being quoted on the local radio. Yeah, that’s a lovely start to the day. She practically runs this town, and I do my best to live under radar.

I take a deep breath and remind myself that all of that unpleasantness was twenty four months and thirty five pounds ago. A bold cropped haircut, some new clothes, and a revived inner confidence that has brought the sparkle back to my smile and I’ve practically put myself into witness protection right before my very eyes.

It was unintentional, I swear. Mostly.

I’ve carved out a nice little life for myself really, despite the odds.  Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. Other times I probably give myself too much. I practically have the American dream. A nice house, built in the twenties, with built ins and beveled glass as far as the eye can see. A spunky, not so little, lab pup waiting at home for me that likes to keep me on my toes by chasing her down for my favorite shoes. Or socks. Or deodorant. My two cats, who at this point have become my longest standing adult relationship, lurk on the radiator boxes at the window sills waiting to watch movies with me or get a belly rub if I feel so generous. When I walk into the kitchen they twist themselves around my ankles and pretend it’s an option for me to walk away.

There’s even a nice little vegetable garden in the back yard that out produces anything I could possibly eat by myself without turning orange from tomato overload. On the weekends I mow my lawn, do my laundry and head to the local butcher shop for a little bit of meat and a lot of gossip.  What more could a girl ask for?

And what am I thinking as I sit here? I. Want. Out.

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