Mary woke up next to the table. She had fallen asleep in her chair, waiting for John to come home. For a few moments she felt free, her mind felt light, then everything came rushing back.
Standing up, she stretched, yawned, and stumbled toward their bed. She knew it would be empty, and it was. Sighing, she walked over to the door and opened it. The morning sun streamed in, and a wave of fresh air wafted into the room. She breathed it in deeply, loving the feeling of a new day.
She heard a groan, and turned to see John asleep on the ground, half leaning against the house.
“John …” she said, her voice emotionless. He didn’t respond. She studied his face. He was a stranger to her.
She remembered when she thought that she loved him. Maybe she had only wanted to love him. Maybe he had only ever been just enough that if she squinted she could make believe. But there was no mistaking what he was and wasn’t now. Whatever she had felt for him had turned like meat that had rotted. It was poison. She was glad they could never have kids. They’d never have to grow up with him as a father.
And better yet, they wouldn’t have to grow up at all. They could stay with all her other hopes and happiness – somewhere in her dreams. Protected.
She waited to see John take a breath, and he finally did.
Had she even wanted him too?
Standing up straight, she walked away, feeling sick inside. What did it mean for her to be standing here feeling like this? What was wrong with her? Everyone else could be content with what God allotted them. Her own soul was dead soil – unable to grow anything that it was given.
She went back inside and got ready. She just needed to get out of the house. Away from everything. Picking up her book, she stuffed it in her pack, and headed back out the door.
“Mary?” John said.
She looked down at him. He was rubbing his eyes, leaning forward.
“Yes, John,” she said.
“Where are you going?” John asked.
“To the church. Where I go everyday. Remember?”
“Why didn’t you come get me last night?”
Mary didn’t know what came over her, but she walked up to him then stooped down to meet his eyes.
“Because I didn’t want to,” she said.
They stared at each other, and Mary felt overwhelmed with loathing – loathing for John, but much more loathing for herself. She stood up and marched away.
No matter how bad things got, they both always came back. They had nowhere else to go. That thought made all her emotions sit in her stomach as a cold nausea. For as ugly as today was, it was just another day that would repeat itself for the rest of her life.
She had despised Abigail for telling her that she needed to make the best of her circumstances. Mary had resented all of them for giving up on everything.
Now she struggled to see how her life was any different – except that she had been a bigger fool than any of them for believing her life could be something else.