Sad and well written.
|Red and thick and sweet. The wine coated the sides of the glass as she rolled the stem slowly between her fingers. Just for a moment did the wine-gloss hesitate behind the current of the liquid as it rocked downward each time she turned the glass. She set it down and stared as the colors darkened back into one deep, solid red, settling into the bowl. She had hated wine as a teenager. Hated the smell of the stuff—like rancid grape juice. Hated the sour vinegary smell when she opened the pantry to get the cereal out for breakfast and there was a bottle in the bottom of the trashcan from the night before. She reached for the wineglass, lifting it up to her nose. Her nostrils widened slightly and she breathed deeply and wondered why it smelled so differently to her, now. Then, it had been the smell of her mother's unhappiness, discontent, regret. Regret over a life wasted on motherhood and the mundane details of marriage and housekeeping—a life that could have been put to use as a physician, or a psychiatrist, or anything but what she endured every day. Five kids. A workaholic husband. Two degrees and an unfinished doctoral degree. But she stayed. For a while. She eventually divorced her husband and fought furiously in court for custody of the very children whose lives placed such restraints on her own. She had wanted to be free. But she'd also wanted to be in control.
Edan took a gulp of her wine. It warmed her mouth, throat, stomach. She smiled ironically and took another unladylike draught. Her step-mother would have smiled her fake, unapproving smile and said in her high-pitched plastic tone "Edan! All things in moderation, dear. Wine is made to be sipped, enjoyed." She didn't want to enjoy it. She wanted to enjoy its after-effects. The only draw-back to drinking wine was the silent picture show of childhood memories that flashed and crackled across her mind in black and white and technicolor. The days spent traveling between parents with one sibling, then another. The others would argue and whine and beg to stay with one or the other parent and end up a semi-permanent fixture whereever they were at the moment. But not Edan. She grimaced, remembering how placating, pacifying she had always tried to be with her parents. She was always afraid of hurting one of them by wanting to stay somewhere exclusively. So she was shuttled back and forth, fending off pointed comments and questions and hints designed to get as much damaging information from her as possible while also shedding the most unflattering light on the other parent. She had said some horrible things about each parent to the other. She had ended up the least favorite because she didn't pick a side. Well, at least she hadn't done that to her own kids.
She uncurled her legs, pulling them slowly and painfully out from under her body, stood up and walked to the kitchen. She tugged on the cork, rocking it gently back and forth until it popped back out of the bottle. Carefully, she tipped it with one hand down towards her glass in the other hand staring blindly at the red liquid as it tumbled eagerly into the glass. She took a sip and set the glass on the counter. Reaching for the cork, she tooked a long drink out of the bottle before she replaced it in the ornate pewter wine rack beside the papertowels. She stood at the counter, marveling at how tight her muscles had become in the few moments of sitting. Seemed like she couldn't even relax these days without aching. She was aging. She shuddered. Taking another gulp of wine, she walked back to the sofa and stood in front of it, staring. Did she want to sit there? Maybe the oversized chair that had been her mother's would be more comfortable. She glanced from one to the other and settled on the chair. It was hideous. A putrid mustardy green-yellow that made her think of an infant's bowel movement. Lord knows she'd seen enough of those. It was funny, really, how she could be so attached to furniture that had belonged to someone she had felt so alienated from. Someone who resented her for even existing. It would be easier to pretend it was the furniture she loved if it weren't so god-awful ugly.
Today had been one of those days. Thank god it had been Friday. Tomorrow would be her only day off, since she started a new part-time job Sunday. Nausea set in as she remembered the new job. Clock in at five a.m. six mornings a week, stock shelves as soon as crates were unloaded and opened for three and a half hours, then on to her full-time job at nine a.m. as an assistant to the executive assistant for a corporate CEO. She'd rather unload trucks and stock shelves full-time, but the other offered good benefits and a decent retirement package. Surely she could deal with it for a few more years. At fourty-four, she figured she could retire at sixty-five, sixty-six. She tried not to remember that was twenty more years. Benefits. Great benefits. Good insurance, paid vacation, bonuses at Christmas if the company was doing well. She was lucky to have found the job. Maybe this summer she'd be able to afford a plane ticket back home to see the kids. Last time she'd gotten a picture of them all, she could hardly believe how tall the boys were, much less her baby. They were half grown, now. She shifted her weight and rearranged her legs, stretching first one then the other out straight before tucking them back under her. Setting the glass down on the little table beside her, she leaned over to the sofa and pulled the throw off the arm. She shook it out and slung it around her shoulders, knocking over the glass of wine in the process. Cursing, she jumped up and ran into the kitchen for a rag and cleaner. She knelt on the floor and dabbed at the stain a few times after each spay of cleaner. Hadn't she read something in some magazine the other day about getting wine stains out of carpet? Damn it! What was it? She scrubbed furiously for another minute, sat back on her heels and sighed. Well, what was one more stain? Hoisting herself back up, she left the cleaner and rag on the floor and sat back down. There was a sip or two left in the glass. She turned it up, letting the remaining drops run down her throat, and contemplated a refill. She'd had enough, anyway. Her eyes were beginning to feel heavy and she thought she might could go to sleep now, if she tried. Besides, much longer and she'd start thinking about the past. This she avoided at all costs. She had enough to worry about these days without worrying about something she couldn't change. They'd understand one day. She hoped. She hoped they'd at least forgive her one day, even if they didn't understand. She stood up and, hugging the blanket around her shoulders, walked to the bed room.
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