Why am I here?
It’s an age-old question that began with a lie. A deceitful, yet beautifully cunning lie. I put myself in this position. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and I made it my mission in life to have him. A seventeen year old looking for someone to take care of her. I thought he was going somewhere, and that I would never have to work a day in my life. I thought he was going to be brilliant. A guy who would love me to the ends of the earth, a guy who would treat me good. Love me the way no one else ever had. A good father. Man, was I wrong.
He played me just as good because he turned out to be none of these things. His driven passion turned out to be all talk and no game. His brilliance turned conceited. He loved me until it was inconvenient, till he no longer got what he wanted. Until he was sure that I was so torn and so lost, that no one else could ever love me. A good father. That’s the answer to my previous question. He’s a good father, and that’s why I stayed. He was picturesque. He wore a suit to work and sold loans. House loans, car loans, personal loans, you name it. Until the summer of 2008, that’s when the business took a nosedive, and he brought home less and less pay each month. If people weren’t selling houses, people weren’t buying houses. Jobs moved overseas, so people lost their jobs and fell behind in credit card payments, which meant bad credit scores. The stocks plummeted and we lost most of our money in bad business deals. Things became worse from there. In public we cloaked our hate and pretended to be what everyone else wanted to see. Picket fences, happy kids. PTO mom. T-ball coach dad. Nice car, nice things, big house, big vacations. Until we weren’t. Until it was all gone, and the only thing left was a refusal to acknowledge the change in our life. We were so desperately clawing for a way out.
I wake up most days and try and remember a time when we were happy, but it’s all covered by this self-pity. Where did we go wrong? What could I have done differently? Why me?
I guess you’re wondering why I’m boring you with the mundane details of my life. Why am I telling you about another family that lived and lost the American dream? This is the story of how I killed my husband. At least that’s what they tell me. I woke up with the knife in my hand and his blood on my clothes, but with no memory of that entire week. People called me crazy. They called me a liar, took my kids, and threatened my life.
Now I’m locked inside this windowless padded room with no memory of that day, forced to sit here and think about what I’ve done. Or what they say I’ve done. I’m not convinced I did it, but there are three people that could have. My best friend, my mother, or my lover. Do you detect the pattern there? They are all “my” as in people I brought into our lives. People I loved and trusted. They each had a motive, and they each hated my husband for different reasons. Can you figure out who did it? Which one of us are soulless?
One Year Earlier
Today began just like any other. Took the kids to school before meeting Delilah for coffee. De, as I call her, doesn’t drink coffee. Instead, she sits across from me with a glass of water as I indulge in the one drug I’m legally allowed to have. Just the smell of caffeine makes my mouth water like a lion before the big kill. And don’t you tell me that you can’t smell caffeine. I smell it in the air, that promise to help me stay alert. To help me get through my next day. It’s an agreeable addiction and I’m not afraid to admit it.
“Coffee and yogurt.” De tells me.
I pull my nose from the oversized coffee mug and give her a unrested sigh. “What?”
“Coffee and yogurt make the best face mask. It will brighten your complexion and help fight aging.” She’s always giving me natural remedies for everything. Garlic will get rid of infections, coconut oil will whiten your teeth, and now my personal favorite, coffee and yogurt.
“I’ll put coffee on my skin,” I tell her, sticking a finger into the black liquid and swiping it along my arm. “Is this like one of those nicotine patches? Will my skin soak up all the good stuff?”
“No, don’t be stupid. Mix some grinds with the yogurt and leave it on throughout your entire shower. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”
“Is this because we turn thirty this year? Do I look old?” I’m only teasing, but I still turn to look at my reflection in the coffee shop window. I’m still average. Brown hair, gray eyes, and a hell of a sour expression. I smile for myself and turn back towards my friend.
“We need to do something for our birthdays.” We were born only four hours apart. Our moms met in the hospital when they were in labor, and we’ve been best friends since. She’s been there for me through it all. Deaths, marriages, kids. Well, my deaths, marriages, and kids. De is still single as ever, and I doubt she will ever settle down. She doesn’t believe in any type of commitment. Sometimes I’m seriously doubtful that she’s committed to this friendship. She never shows up on time and forgets her promises.
“Can you really get away from the kids?”
She’s right. It’s unlikely that Wes will ever watch them. So I can have a night of fun. Oh lord forbid, it’s not fair. He shouldn’t have to watch our kids while I do something without him. Whine, whine, complain, complain. Somebody just fucking shoot me already!
“Tori?” De waves her hand in front of my face.
“You look like you want to murder someone.”
I do, but I won’t. “Sorry.” I go back to drinking my coffee while De reads her paper. We don’t talk for the rest of our date, and I don’t mention our birthday trip again.