by Tammy Adams
Lacy applied and reapplied her makeup as her son stood on the other side of the bathroom door alternately banging with his tiny fist and yelling at her.
“Mommy, come on!”
She eyed the old scar that traveled from the side of her left ear down to the top of her left breast and the new wound just peaking over the top of her t-shirt near her collar bone. She dabbed the concealer on them one last time, plastered on the biggest goofy face she could master then jerked open the door. She looked at her son and used a silly voice.
“Who’s that bangin’ on my door?”
“It’s me, Brandon!” Brandon, being only six, started to giggle uncontrollably trying to imitate her silly face and voice.
Lacy touched his shoulders and turned him around towards the front door.
“Did you start the car?”
Brandon was still giggling, “I can’t drive, mommy!”
“Oh yeah, I keep forgetting! Okay, did you hire the driver?”
Both continued to laugh and tease all the way to the car and even on the short drive to school. As Lacy pulled into the drop off zone, she sighed. Her dearest friend, Sheila, was doing crossing guard duty and never missed a new wound no matter how hard Lacy tried to camouflage.
Brandon unbuckled the seat belt, grabbed his Thor lunch box and threw himself over the front seat giving Lacy a quick cheek smooch.
“Bye momma, love you!” He was half way out of the car before she could answer.
“Slow down and watch for crazy mom drivers and I love you more.”
Brandon slammed the door as he yelled “K!” and off he bounced toward his friend Conner who was standing by the bike rack.
Brandon and Conner talked to each other with animated six year old body movements then dashed through the front doors of the school.
She looked away bolstering her fake smile just as Sheila strolled over to the car window.
Lacy hit the button and the window slithered down just like the emotions of her heart.
“Hey, Lacy, wanna grab some Dr. Pepper and a donut with me?”
Part of her wanted to say no, go home and hide with her new wound. The other part desperately needed to go and sit with her best friend and escape her reality for a while.
“Hmmm. Your hesitation gave you away and now I see the makeup. Come out with me and I can listen, talk or go to prison for you.” Sheila modelled her favorite Orange is the New Black pose.
Lacy grinned. “You are hilarious. Okay, DP and Donuts. What’s another calorie or 500?”
Sheila chuckled “I thought we had a pact that donuts and Dr. Pepper don’t have calories when we’re together! See you at the donut shop in twenty.”
Lacy saluted Sheila, rolled up the window and blinked back the sudden spring of tears. She didn’t know how she could get through her days without Sheila.
Pulling out of the school parking lot her phone started buzzing and her stomach lurched. She did not want to look to see who it was, but she knew if she saw and didn’t answer she would have hell to pay.
Glancing down she felt cold sweat break out all over her body. She slid the unlock over with her finger, slowly put the cursed phone to her ear and answered.
“Hey, hon, what’s up?”
“I just got a call from the damn car loan people and they said you haven’t paid this month’s payment yet! Mind telling me what you spent my money on instead?” Shane practically hissed through the phone with such a disgusted voice she felt like throwing up.
“Well Shane, I had to pay the phone bill, the gas, the mortgage and you bought that RC car….” Lacy trailed off as she almost stopped breathing from her mistake.
“What do you mean the RC car? My parents gave me money for that car. I bought that so that me and my son could actually do stuff together. How is it that I work my ass off yet we’re always so damn broke every week?”
Lacy continued to drive quietly wanting the phone to accidentally drop the call, but instead she calmly answered him.
“Well, honey, your parents bought your car but you bought Brandon a new one too and that cool battery charger.”
“And I just got paid too, Lacy. You never tell me where we are with the money; I have to get these f’n phone calls.”
Lacy’s mind started going a million miles a second. She thought of the new guitar he bought two months ago that was sitting untouched in the corner. She thought about the 40” screen TV that he bought three weeks before Christmas leaving very little to nothing for the holidays. She thought about the brand new 2016 Toyota Tundra that he bought after she showed him all the monthly credit payments he had accumulated and then she thought about all the empty bottles of rum hiding in the garage in his work bench.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
“Yes, I am.” Lacy took a steadying breath. “I haven’t been spending the money on crap and why would you say something like that? I am trying to cover all the bills and make sure that you and Brandon have fun too.”
“You don’t care about me and you don’t care about Brandon or you wouldn’t have been late on the mortgage last month. If you say you love him then you would make sure there is a roof over his head and pay the house payment, Lacy.”
“I do love Brandon and I worked it out with the mortgage company right away. The new truck payment was a shock last month and then we ate out with friends a couple of times…..”
“You don’t love him and you know it. You always have excuses. You know that I could get a lawyer and make sure you never saw him again.”
Lacy almost choked. “What?!”
“Yes, Lacy. I would make sure that you never see Brandon again. You don’t love him so you wouldn’t care.”
Lacy pulled into the first driveway she could and threw the car into park. Panic crawled its way up her spine and she clutched her chest.
“Got nuthin’ to say, huh? Typical. Tryin’ to think of some excuse? So, you never said, what did you nickel and dime the money away on?” Shane’s voice held such contempt that Lacy began to feel a familiar burning down the side of her neck towards her heart. She reached up to touch it as Shane hissed into his phone.
The pain on her neck and chest was so intense she was having trouble breathing and no words would form.
“I don’t have anything else to say to you. Lacy. Bye.”
Glancing in the rearview mirror she saw it, raw and puckered, the new wound.
A DP and donuts sounded revolting now but being with Sheila was something she knew she needed to do to stay strong, expose Shane and keep her son
Barely remembering to check behind her, she backed out of the driveway and drove towards the donut shop. Her mind played all the words she wanted to say to Shane with no stuttering, no tears and no losing her train of thought. Yes, there was some shouting involved from her imaginary speech but mostly she envisioned a strong accounting of all that was good and right and justified! Why couldn’t she do that when she was standing in front of him?
She shook her head to remove the images. She knew why. Looking into the face of a man who held the weapons to destroy her self-esteem, her heart and her faith was the single most gut-wrenching thing she had ever experienced. One time when she was a teenager she had spoken some fateful words. Lacey blushed and her stomach turned as she remembered them.
“I cannot understand why a woman would ever stay in an abusive relationship! There are family members and friends and organizations that are out there to help woman. I would never stay with someone who was abusive.”
Turning into the donut shop parking lot she shook her head once more but this time the shake of her head didn’t remove the anger that usually came with her mental movies.
Through the shop window she saw Sheila watch her drive up.
A DP and donuts sounded revolting but being with Sheila was something she knew she needed to do to stay strong, expose Shane and keep her son.
Her phone whistled a text message alert. She looked down and read it. Hope fluttered then her eyes narrowed, her teeth clenched and an icy calm soaked into her.
Getting out of the car she was resolved. Today. The manipulation would stop today.