In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Your Days are Numbered.” What’s the date today? Write it down, remove all dashes and slashes, and write a post that mentions that number.
“Fucker could at least buy gas. God I’m sick of this.”
“What’s the matter, sweet cheeks?”
“Whenever we stop for gas, you vanish. I buy, and I pump the gas, you come back with some story about…”
“I got us a lottery ticket.”
“Yeah, that one. So that’s a buck, right? A buck you DON’T pay for rent or put toward food or gas or anything. I’m tired of this. It’s not fair. It’s wrong.” She thinks. She does not say.
“This could win us enough money so we never have to think about money again. I’m going to make it big. You want to go to the casino later? Two for one steak dinners.”
“Not really.” If he won? He’d keep all the money even though it was — ultimately — her dollar. She hated herself. All she’d gotten out of this relationship was fat. She knew it had to end but how would it end? She felt guilty — he had no job, no place to go, could she just THROW him out? What had he done other than LIVE OFF HER? Wasn’t that ENOUGH?
He drove her car everywhere — and when he got a short-term job (they were all short term, but well paid. None of that ever went toward their “joint” life) it was always in another city and it was HER car he took. “My tags are expired,” he’d say, but that wasn’t half of it. Three quarters of it was that he’d moved in with her because she lived in the country where the repo man would NEVER look for a Lexus. She’d had to RENT a car to get to her own job, the one that supported them. Finally, she’d bought a second car and gone into debt for it.
On the way home that afternoon, the decision made NOT to go to the casino, he said, “So we’re getting cable this fall, right? I mean, so I can watch the games.”
“No we’re not. Where did you get that idea?” She couldn’t possibly handle another bill. She was hard-pressed to handle the ones she had already.
“You said. We talked about it.”
“In your dreams. I need to pick up a prescription.” Anti-depressants but it suddenly occurred to her that the cure for her depression was an empty driver’s seat in THIS car. Or the car and driver could go away together. That would work, too. Yes. She’d GIVE him a paid for two year old car just to get RID of him.
“I’ll go get it for you,” he said.
“OK,” she replied, fighting the urge to drive away without him the minute she saw him walk in the door. But she didn’t. It seemed wrong. She puzzled over her absurd sense of justice. She would NOT violate it no matter what he did, not yet… “It’s coming,” she thought. “I wish it were now, but it isn’t. His days are numbered.”
Two weeks later, as she held the flashlight over the toilet tank so he could repair a disengaged part, he yelled at her. “Hold that goddamned thing where it’ll do some good.” A switch flipped in her brain and she set the flashlight down.
“Get out of here,” she said. “Get the fuck out of my house. I hate you. I wish you were dead.”
“You don’t mean that.”
She turned and walked outside to the patio, climbed up the stone retaining wall and went to her flower bed. There she occupied herself in trimming dead heads from tiny petunias. She felt a cool rush of peace, one of those Zennish moments.
The day went on and he didn’t leave. She let in the man who was going to hook up the new stove (more debt and the old stove worked fine). She did more work in the yard. She took a nap. He came to her and said, “I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done. I’ll make it up to you.”
She thought, “You’re going to make up three years of disintegrating finances and psychological abuse? How?” She said, “Get out of my house.”
Before she left that afternoon to see her therapist, she said, “You’d better be gone when I get back.”
He was, but he came back. She was ready. Her therapist had advised her, “If he leaves, he’ll come back. If he comes back, you leave. Give him a time limit and tell him if he’s still there when you get back, you’re calling the cops.” This she did. It pleased her.
The next day she found herself faced with a house filled with his stuff. He called. She said, “Your stuff will be in the yard. You have an hour to get it out of here. You must come between 10 and 10:30. If you don’t, I’m taking all of it to the Goodwill.”
She sold the semi-stolen Lexus for $500. It was something, some help, that the guy she sold it to would have to deal with the car’s very marginal status. That night, on her way to the toilet, she stepped on a scorpion. She found its dead little carapace the next morning. She reflected on the irony that the most recent ex’s astrological sign was Scorpio.
A week later, as she scrubbed out his room from top to bottom, she found a lottery ticket. A scratcher. So far only four of the numbers had been scratched off — 11 08 20 15. One left. “What if?” she wondered feeling around in her jeans pocket for a coin, then she looked at the date.
The ticket was four months old. “He never finished anything,” she thought. “Fucker.”