This story is by Telyse Bee and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Make sure you don’t let my grits get cold… you know how much I hate cold food!” Paul hollered from the bedroom as he finished getting dressed.
In their 25 years of marriage, Macy had never once let Paul’s grits or any of his food get cold. Yet, he still felt the need to constantly remind her of this.
“‘A good morning, beautiful, let’s go out to breakfast’ would have been nice, especially since today is our 25th anniversary. Instead all I get is, ‘don’t let my grits get cold.’” Macy muttered to herself as she meticulously stirred his grits, watching the butter melt down within them creating a beautiful streaked canvas within the saucepan.
As she turned the heat down on the grits, a quarter sized amount popped onto the front of her crisp, knee length khaki shorts. She began rubbing out the stain as Paul took his usual seat at the small breakfast table by the front window.
“You don’t have my plate fixed yet?” asked Paul impatiently. “I’m going golfing and I don’t want to be late. You know how crowded that place gets on Saturdays.”
“Good morning honey. I didn’t want to make it until you sat down so they wouldn’t get cold,” Macy replied calmly as she fixed his plate.
Paul sighed with exasperation. “And what do you have on? You know I don’t like women wearing shorts.”
“Since it’s our anniversary, I wanted to wear something different. I was hoping we’d maybe go out to eat today…” She hoped he would speak up and say that he had something… anything planned.
Paul looked up from his grits and said, “You know eating out is not in our budget. We have to save for our future. I plan to retire at 55 and that’s only 4 years away. I mean, you’re not contributing financially, so the least you can do is understand and respect our budget. Thankfully the boys got full scholarships or else early retirement wouldn’t even be an option.”
Hearing mention of her twin boys happily reminded Macy that she would be receiving her weekly call from them soon. Her pleasant thoughts were interrupted abruptly by Paul’s gruff voice, “Besides, you’ve got a busy day already. I need all my dress shirts washed and ironed. I’m currently the best dressed architect in the office and I’d like to keep it that way. And call my mother and tell her we’ll be visiting next weekend. And one more thing, make your homemade chili for dinner tonight. I should be back around 8pm. Make sure you have everything hot and ready. You know how much I hate cold food,” Paul finished his list of demands, wiped his mouth satisfied, quickly grabbed his keys and left.
Macy stood frozen by the sink. She felt like she was cloaked in invisible chains. Chains inherited from her strict upbringing that had grown bigger and tighter each year of her marriage to Paul. He micromanaged every aspect of their life. Whether it was her hair, clothes, friends, or even how she spent her day, Paul solidly fixed the rules and she obediently abided by them. Their marriage wasn’t easy, but, since they lasted 25 years, she reasoned maybe there was hope yet.
So she resolved to make the best of the day. She would start with cooking the chili. She pulled 2 onions out of the refrigerator and got to work. About 2 hours later, her chili was simmering and she was in the middle of washing Paul’s shirts when she was startled by the shrill ring of her phone.
“Hello!” She said cheerfully, eager to hear the deep voices of her sons.
“Macy! This is Rebecca Eves,” said the voice.
“Oh hi Rebecca, I thought you were my sons calling, how are you?” Macy thought it odd that Rebecca would be calling her. They occasionally played tennis together but were not particularly close.
“Paul has been in a car accident.” Rebecca worked as an ER receptionist at Liberty Hope Memorial.
“What?” Macy stammered. “What happened? Is he okay?”
“Yes, but he’s going to need a few stitches. The girl who was with him only got a minor injury.” Rebecca stated hurriedly.
“Girl? What girl? Who was with him?” stuttered Macy.
“Her name was Taylor something. She’s about 22, pretty girl. Dark long hair. They were rear ended as they were leaving brunch at Garrett’s Bistro. Oh, Macy, I’m being paged,” said Rebecca.
“Go ahead and go. Thanks for letting me know.” With that, Rebecca was gone.
Macy stood frozen for the second time that day. She felt like she was being choked, the air seemingly no longer able to pass through her lungs freely. ‘I’ve given my best all these years, for what?’ she pondered.
Taylor Thornhill. The name pushed its way into Macy’s mind with such repulsive boldness it made her want to vomit. She had met her a couple months back at Paul’s company picnic where she remembered her wearing a pair of revealing cutoff shorts and being very chatty with Paul. She was pretty, lively, and free… with big bright green eyes that appeared innocent and brazen all at the same time.
‘Taylor was everything Paul never allowed me to be,’ she thought scornfully.
Macy jumped, startled by the bell notifying her that Paul’s shirts had finished washing. She walked slowly to the laundry room, opened the washer, and peered in. She was met with a beautiful array of colored J. Crew dress shirts that looked bright and happy. Macy did not feel bright or happy. She had a fix for that. She picked up a new bottle of bleach and emptied it into the washing machine directly onto the shirts. She pushed start and backed away as the washer began to fill and spin.
Somehow she felt better than she had in years.
She made her way to her laptop, logged into Paul’s savings account, and sent $10,000 to her sister in South Florida. As she was shutting down, her phone rang. It was her sister.
“Macy, did you know Paul just sent me $10,000?” asked her sister Mariel.
“That was me, Mariel. I sent it. It’s for me. I’m coming to visit you and stay for awhile. I’m not sure how long but that will be my spending money until I find a job down there,” stated Macy resolutely.
“Okay… I’ll get your room ready. And Macy?”
“It’s about time. I’m proud of you. See you soon.”
“Thanks,” replied Macy as she quickly hung up the phone. She had another call to make.
She dialed Paul’s mother, but the call went to her voicemail. Macy decided to leave a message as this quite possibly could be the last time she may ever have to deal with the old witch again.
“Hi Dottie, this is Macy. I was calling to inform you that Paul has a new woman in his life. So you can now drop all of your intolerable demands on her. There is absolutely no reason for you to ever contact me again. I hope you can find some peace amongst all of the evil that exists in you.”
Macy hung up the phone and smiled wide and bright. She didn’t feel sad at all – she felt boundless, unstoppable. She finally felt free to be the woman she always wanted to be.
She walked quickly to her closet and threw her small capsule wardrobe into her suitcases. Once everything was packed, she dragged her bags out to the garage and put them in the back of her minivan.
Drenched in sweat, she returned to her bathroom and quickly showered. She looked at the pair of dark denim jeans she had laid out and walked into her bedroom and grabbed her scissors. With bold defiance, she attacked the pair of jeans, cutting the legs off each side. She was left with a pair of shorts that were much shorter than anything she had ever worn in her 44 years of living. She slid them on and looked at herself in the mirror. She saw a woman whose thighs had never seen that much light and whose eyes had never looked quite so bright. She loved what she saw.
Macy finished dressing and headed to the kitchen to eat a bowl of chili before leaving their house of 25 years for good. ‘I should put some laxative powder in his chili just because,’ Macy chuckled to herself, as she ate her meal. “No… that wouldn’t be quite enough for Paul,” she stated softly.
She knew what to do. She finished her chili, left her dirty bowl on the table and got up. Grabbing her purse, she tucked her last few items under her arm and headed towards the garage door.
Before she left the kitchen, though, she picked up the pot of chili and set it in the freezer.
Because we all know how much Paul hates cold food.