When did I become such a coward? When did I lose control? When did love turn to regret and my dull, predictable life become status quo? How had I let it happen, or was that I didn’t have any choice at all?
Frankly, I didn’t realize what a rut I was in or how I was being manipulated, until I met Kate. In a manner of speaking I met Kate; we’d never spoken face to face, but I daresay she was the best friend I’d ever had, the person I was closest too and that included my husband.
I don’t know how it is, but Patton has always stifled me. I vaguely remember being young and ambitious and energetic. And I’d met the man I was sure was my soul mate and he married me before I graduated college and it was all to be happily ever after. Except he didn’t want to mate my soul, he wanted to control and manipulate it.
I’d had this out with him so many times! But this time he’d gone too far.
“I’m a grown woman, I’m not your child. Quit treating me like one!”
“It’s a dog eat dog world, Min, you’ve not got the experience to handle it. I’m just doing what my daddy did and his daddy, all the way back to the first Hudson. Protecting my woman.”
“You haven’t allowed me the experience! You handle the money, every time I try to find a job you carp and complain until it’s just not worth it. You control everything and I’m sick and tired of it. I’m not a piece of property. It would serve you right if I left you.”
“You’d get nothing if you did, you’d have no grounds.”
“Oh, wouldn’t I!” My voice was grim. “Wouldn’t I just! I’ve turned a blind eye but I’m not stupid. I’m a coward, that’s what I am, because I should have walked out years ago. Being an unpaid housekeeper with occasional ungenerous bouts of sex is not exactly what I went to college for! I should just leave.”
“You’ll leave with nothing.” His color was high, his voice was harsh. He wasn’t used to opposition, usually I pretended not to see what he was doing. I hated conflict, but enough was enough. He’d crossed the line.
He’d cut me off from Kate. He’d blocked her number, he’d changed the password on the computer. Other than snail mail, I had no way to contact her and I’d written, but I was beginning to wonder if she’d answered or even gotten my letters. I wouldn’t put it past my husband to steal the US mail.
It’s strange how some people change over the years. The man I lived with now was not the man I thought I’d married. I didn’t much like this man and I refused to live with him anymore.
“I’m not so old and I’m strong and healthy. I can work, I can support myself. And I will. I’m doing it for you, Pat.” Years of bitterness rose up and spewed out of me. “I just hate for you to be sneaking around. Just think, with me gone you can bring your women home, fuck them in your very own bed. Maybe you can even talk them into cooking for you . But I think you’ll have to hire a cleaning service, you don’t fuck well enough for that.”
He was pale with anger. “How the hell would you know!”
“I don’t need a buffet to know when the food’s bad.”
I turned away, clasping my trembling hands together, and went to the bedroom. I’d pack a small bag and leave. I’d go to Leeann, she was the closest I had to a friend here. I’d met her through church, Patton insisted we attend regular. I’d sit through the interminable sermons and think how ironic it was that my husband was such a church goer, and wonder how many other men in the congregation were such hypocrites. It was all for show, of course. It was the accepted thing to do and Pat gave lip service to all the cultural mores.
I looked up from folding my favorite red shirt as he came into the room.
“You’re not going anywhere,” he said, and closed the door.
It was not the best way to handle it, I should never have challenged him, I should have just sneaked off while he was away from the house. And I should have kept my mouth shut, nevermind how good it felt to insult his swordsmanship. Sometimes I can be stupid. Very, very stupid.
I didn’t try again until Kate finally got in touch with me.