I have a real-life muse over on Facebook who hits me up with ideas every so often. Well, today he suggested that I write stories based on songs. I likey. Imagine Dragons “Demons” is one of my favorites, at the moment. So, I wrote a little story based loosely on the song. Here ya go. Warning, slightly depressing.
I stand at the kitchen sink, the water running so hot that the steam blurs my vision as the fog covers the window. I pour too much liquid soap into the pans, the suds rapidly grow into mountains of bubbles. The sponge I’m using smells strongly of mildew, but I use it anyway because I don’t care.
At the kitchen table, the twins sit with their dad. They are arguing over math homework, it’s a language none of us are fluent in. Their protests escalate and my husband starts yelling in frustration.
The dogs sit on the back of the couch, barking at passing neighbors who are out walking their own dogs, post dinner-time fullness. Perhaps my dogs, two small, mixed-breeds, are actually reminding us of their need to be let out. My husband stops yelling at the kids and turns his annoyance onto the dogs. They become silent, afraid of their owners wrath.
I scrub the baked fish off the broiler pan, putting my full concentration into making it look like new. The burnt on crud doesn’t budge, even with my elbow grease. I let it soak longer and set to work on the rest of the dirty dishes,scraping off un-eaten food into the garbage can and then placing them into the dishwasher, taking care to organize it in the way that’s expected of me.
The twins are crying as their father belittles them, insisting that even ‘retards’ can figure out this third grade math homework. I sigh and think that he is must be dumber than a “retard” because he hasn’t been able to help them with their work yet. The name calling worsens, tempers tantrum. I cringe and open my mouth, quickly shutting it again. I am weak. My battle has rendered me useless.
I mind my own business, knowing full well that any involvement I could offer would end up being met with insults of belittlement. Showing respect isn’t my husbands strong point,it’s just another demon I’ve tucked into the bed I’ve made for myself.
After the dishes were done and the twins were sent to their room to read for an hour before bed, I set to work on folding the laundry. My husband pours himself a drink and sits on the couch, the football calling for his undivided attention and he must comply.
As I fold the laundry, I try to push my demons back into the recesses of my mind. Those thoughts that I never allow to make it past my lips, they beg to be heard. They plead to be answered. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, I want to cry but I’ve run dry. The lump that is always in my throat is the only reaction to feelings I’ve, for so long, kept at bay.
I know so many women, my friends, take all the bad with the good and swear they’d do it over again. They are grateful for their lot in life, some lives bigger than others, but all happily content with the choices they have made.
I never share the truth, my facade so reinforced that I even fool myself. Until, I remember. Small cracks open wider and reality whispers in my ear. I pair socks and think back a few hours to the conversation today at Coffee Club when the women, my friends, were discussing whether or not they’d do it all over again. When it was my turn to answer, I avoid eye-contact by fussing over my coffee.
No words, I simply nod while crossing my legs. I will never let anyone in, I will never speak the truth. I don’t want to spoil the only friendships I have by sharing. I am rewarded by approving smiles, still part of the group while my demons remain silent.
I never let on how easy I think it would be to just turn the steering wheel, ever so slightly, into oncoming traffic. I don’t utter a peep of the dark thoughts that come forward when I am alone and there is nothing to distract me from their words. I have become a professional at keeping up the guard, it doesn’t take much effort anymore. I’m am the keeper of my own secrets, the weight of my burden will never be noticed.
I head to the twins room, they still share one even though there is another empty bedroom available. Together, forever, as it has been since the beginning. They insisted, we allowed. One thing we actually agreed on. Together.
I tell them that it’s time for bed. I shoo them into the bathroom and watch over them as they destroy the sugar bugs with a single brush. I follow them, playfully swatting their behinds, and tuck them into their beds. Leaning over each one, they wrap their arms around my neck and express love. I do the same. I love my children, despite the protesting of my demons.
Heading back downstairs, my husband demands a beer which I produce for him. I tell him that I’m headed to bed. He mutters something along the lines that he’ll be up soon. But he won’t. Not for hours. I always wait for him yet, when he finally comes to bed, I close my eyes and slow my breath.
Our marriage is held together by duct tape. Soon, more will need to be applied as new cracks emerge. I wonder if there is enough duct tape in the world.
I go through my own bedtime routine. Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Apply moisturizer. I answer the Coffee Clubs question as I meet my reflection. My eyes demanding an answer.
I wouldn’t do this all over again.
I remember my mother’s words from many years ago when I asked her if she’d marry my daddy all over again. I was about the same age as my own children. She told me no. I cried because that would mean she would not have me. She lovingly stroked my hair and told me that none of us would ever know the difference.
The words that hurt me so long ago now made complete sense.
If I had followed my dreams, my reality would have been completely different. And no one would have been the wiser.
Instead, I ignored the signs. I ignored that inner voice and all its brilliance. Until, it too, turned into one of my demons.
I turn back the sheets and climb into my side of the bed. I turn off my lamp and pull the sheets over myself. I lay still, in the darkness, listening for his footsteps yet knowing it won’t be until much later. I turn onto my side, balancing on the very edge of the bed. The only spot left in the bed for me.
I leave room for my hidden demons.