With a numb heart and blank mind, Amy walked to the kitchen. She stopped in the doorway, and looked around her favourite room in the house.
It had happened again and she needed to think very carefully.
She went to her grocery cupboard and stared into it for a moment, then started taking out ingredients to make a loaf of bread. Flour, yeast, salt, oil, honey, all lined up on the kitchen table. She took out the big enamel bowl that had been her grandmother’s, and filled a jug with warm water from the kettle. She switched on the oven, and made sure the oven racks were at the right height. The everyday normality covered over the swirling emotions inside her.
Jason followed her to the kitchen and stood leaning against the doorway, watching her. Amy glanced at his face, and remembered the first time she had seen her husband drunk, had realised that alcoholism was going to be a part of her marriage. They had been married two months.
“You look terrible, really old. You need to do something with your hair.” Jason said suddenly.
“You said you wanted my hair long, so I’ve left it.” she replied. A few months ago he had said that his all night drinking binge had been caused by her new hairstyle. She had been so thrilled with the short stylish cut that made her look the young woman that she still was; he’d had to drink, he’d said, because the sight of her bare neck had been so ugly.
She measured the three and a half cups of wholewheat flour into the bowl, and sprinkled in the yeast and salt. She mixed it all together, focusing on the silkiness of the flour as it slid through her fingers, and blending the ingredients gently but thoroughly.
She thought about the first time he had told her that he had been unfaithful. She had cried so much, and then forgiven him. Jason had promised it would never happen again, and she had two small children and no way of earning a living. Staying with Jason had seemed the only option. His drinking had become more frequent and the fact that she had forgiven him for being unfaithful to her had made him feel powerful. She had felt that he was cheating regularly, but now he had thrown it in her face. It was decision time.
She measured the honey and oil, and stirred them into the flour, then started to add the water, mixing until a dough started to form. She took a handful of flour, scattered it over the table, and tipped out the sticky mass, then started to work it until it bound together. Slowly, she started kneading the dough, and as it rolled under her fists, and became smooth and elastic, she decided it was time to end her marriage. Ten years of abuse was enough.
She had stayed for the children, but she had seen new signs, had seen Jason shove their son out of his way so that the child had bounced off the wall, had seen Jason’s fist curl when she did something he didn’t like, and knew it was over. She was not going to expose the children to violence.
On impulse, Amy went to her grocery cupboard and took out packets of seeds – linseeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds. The dough was on the table, already mixed, too late to add seeds, but she was going to add them anyway. She pressed the dough out flat, hard, with the heel of her hand and scattered on seeds, then started kneading and rolling the bread-dough again, working in the seeds, until she could see the little specks were becoming part of the bread. ‘See’ she thought, ‘it can be done. It’s never too late to change something’.
“What are you doing?” Jason said, “You know I hate seed bread.”
“”Yes, I know you hate seed bread,” she said, “but the children love it, and so do I.” She smiled at him gently. From now on, life would be about what she and her children liked.
She had discovered that the true opposite of love was not hatred; it was indifference. Inside her a tiny bubble of joy and relief started to grow, as she began to make plans to take her children and escape.
This is .. i have no words.. this is beautiful, wrenching, simple and real.. This is an impressive piece of writing.. It sits simply and tells all, it makes my heart contract.. thank you so much for sending it to me to read! I mean it.. c
Celi – thank you so much for reading! Your thoughts on my story mean a lot to me, as you are such a gifted story-teller. Hugs, Linda.