She didn’t know what to do.
As she looked over towards her little boy sleeping soundly in his bed, she closed her eyes as the exhaustion ran down her body.
How did she get here?
When did her life take this turn?
How did this happen?
She calculated finances in her head and trembled at the mounting debt rising in the back of her mind. She could pay basic bills and legally defer debts… but that was it.
No savings account.
No outings to Chuck E Cheese.
No ice cream splurges.
She watched her little one shift in bed as she held her breath. How beautifully he slept, wrapped up in his warm blankets and holding his stuffed monkey close.
She hadn’t slept that soundly in years.
So… many… years…
She heard a knock at the door but chose to ignore it. Her body felt heavy, and for the first time in many months, she felt as if she might cry and drown herself in her own home.
When was the last time she had left home?
The knock happened again, and she knew what was happening. They were seeing her silently updated social media and putting together why she took time off work. They were having her one true friend dig around in her records and her past, and he had probably pulled up the paperwork.
The paperwork that took her over two months to file correctly.
She heard a familiar voice waft through her doorway, but she was rooted to the side of her son’s bed.
Rooted to the peace that wafted over her every time she witnessed his chest expand.
God, how she wished they would go away.
Knock knock knock.
The knocks were becoming harder… more forceful than usual.
He wasn’t alone.
“We know you’re in there,” another voice wafted through.
“You’re gonna wake her son,” one of them but.
“But, if she’s in there alone during something like this…” the other trailed off.
They didn’t understand why she would hide during something like this, but she knew the questions flying through their heads: when did she and her husband decide to divorce? What was going on? Was she hurt? Was her son alright? What was the custody agreement? Did she need money? Could they help?
“If she doesn’t open this door…” she heard one of them murmur.
So she sighed and grunted as she rose from the corner of her son’s bed.
When she opened the door, they gasped at her sight: sunken in eyes from no sleep; hollowed out cheeks from stress; hair that hadn’t been washed in days; and clothes that wreaked of womanly smells that should never exist. She had a swollen, aching jaw from grinding her teeth at night and a bald spot on the side of her head from pulling at her hair in anxiousness as she dreamed.
Her stress was starting to manifest in ways she couldn’t control, and her deadpan stare frightened her friends before one of them took the initiative to walk in.
They walked into her home before she sighed and turned her back. She didn’t care if the door was shut and she didn’t care if the door was locked.
All she wanted to do was get back to her son’s room.
“Thanks for askin’ us to come in,” one of them quipped.
“I’m not the one who asked you to come over,” she fired back.
But, the other one just stood with tears in his eyes.
“Let us in,” he whispered desperately.
And as she stood there, rooted to the ground in a home she hoped was cheap enough for her bank account to afford, she sighed before she closed her eyes and teetered on her feet in utter exhaustion.
“I wish I could,” she whispered to herself.
Then when she opened her eyes, she found herself alone, with no sound surrounding her except for the clamoring of the neighbors above.
No one who cared to see.
She was surrounded by her memories, she was surrounded by her reality, and she was surrounded by her uncertainties.
And the tears she imagined dripping down his face ricocheted down her own.
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