In my dreams, divorce is better

I can feel no hatred in my heart as my eyesight slowly starts to fade in.

My body is telling me that there is simply no more room for it. No more room in my heart, no more room in my thoughts, no more room in my life.

Only relief and gratitude.

I sit up and realize there is nobody in my face looking for answers or waiting on my excuses.

It’s just me.

And even though I can't see them right then and there, I know they're here with me. I can feel them.

We’re in a different place. A new one. One with fewer bedrooms, but that’s okay because I’m perfectly at ease sleeping on the couch. More than perfectly at ease actually. Sleeping in a central location gives me a sense of security. And I don't know how I know this, but my oldest has acquired the back bedroom. Every angle of our new place is covered. We’re good. We're safe.

And don’t talk to me about privacy because I don’t need it. Not now anyway. Maybe in a few years when one of the bedrooms becomes available, but for now, it's perfect the way it is in our new place. trivial. I’m okay with everything being out in the open because there is nobody forcing their way inside of it. Tonight I think we’ll do something different and project a movie on the big screen instead of my work emails and Facebook messages.

The floor is cold when my feet are introduced but that’s to be expected in a basement apartment. I can’t tell if it’s too early or really late but there is a light peeking through the kitchen window that helps me collect clues.

I don’t remember walking into their room, but I find myself trying to remove the headphones from her ears without waking her. Because it's just us now, she will grow up to be a stronger person. Because I left she now knows she can leave too. And she'll leave sooner because she's stronger than I could ever imagine. I must be dreaming because the headphones are back on her ears. I, again, slowly take one out of her ear, but this time I put it up to mine. I like that song too.

The top bunk is a little harder for me to reach so I spread my wings and hover beside her. She sleeps with her eyes cracked open which is a perfect opportunity for me to take a peek inside. I’m not as angry as I once was so her dreams are filled with patience and acceptance. She spots me sneaking around and our eyes meet. She smiles and waves. I notice a piece of paper falling from the sky and before I can grab ahold of it, she reaches her hand out and catches it. She holds it to her heart and whispers, “I drew it for you, mama.” I blow her a kiss and whisper that I’ll see her soon.

As I leave their room I notice I'm back in our old house. I'm in my old bedroom and the muscles in my neck start to tense up so tightly a sharp pain paralyzes me in place. It’s pitch black now and all I can hear is footsteps. They’re coming up the stairs slowly. Every step ends with a tear falling from my eyes. There are words accompanying the footsteps now. The closer the steps the louder the words. So loud that they become ringing in my ears. And I have no choice but to jump and fall. My wings are no more.

“I’m not like that!”
“There is nobody else!”
“How can you ask me that?”
“Stop talking to me that way!”
“Leave me alone already!”
"Why are you doing this?"

Defensive screams the entire way down.

Until he catches me.

“I heard you two again. Why doesn’t he ever believe you?” He looks more mature than I remember. His hair is tucked away under his maroon cap and his tie is peering out from underneath his gown. He looks so handsome. I’m the only one in the auditorium when they call his name. My seat is positioned so perfectly that I can see the expression on his face clear as day as he accepts his future. “Can I please take a picture of you and your friends?” I ask. “I only need one, I promise.” But I don’t have a camera. How can I forget my camera on such a special day? And then he says, “It’s okay, mama. As you grow older, God will slowly remove your memories but leave you with some pictures. You'll have it for later. Now go get some rest.”

The floor is still cold but that’s to be expected in a basement apartment. I put my hand to my chest to feel my beating heart, and even though it’s racing, I have an incredible sense of relief and gratitude radiating throughout my body. “I’m not crying, mama.” The voice startles me at first but I turn my head to see that it’s only him. Relief. “I’m not mad, mama.” He has taken my spot on the couch, still in his Iron Man pajamas and werewolf gloves. “I’m not afraid, mama.” He’s kicked off the covers, something he’s notorious for, but I cover up his feet, just in case. “I’m not worried, mama.” Relief. In his dreams, divorce is better too.

I can feel no hatred in my heart as my eyesight slowly starts to fade in.

“You feel asleep on me last night.”

“I was tired.”

“Why can’t you just be honest with me already?”

“But I’m not lying to you.”

The floor is warm and I realize that I’m no longer dreaming.

I head downstairs to turn on the morning news. Listening to it in the background helps me appreciate more. But then I hear footsteps.

“Are you going to answer me?”

“Not today, please. Just leave me alone.”

“So, it’s okay for you to mess around, right?”

“I don't mess around. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

They’ve all made their way downstairs now. Getting ready to start the new day. And they all hear. Each one of them is listening.

And I’m watching them.

One puts his hands over his ears and closes his eyes. I imagine those werewolf gloves are doing a good job at keeping his ears securely sealed. One grabs her things and goes back up to her room. First I hear her door slam and then the music blaring as loud as it can go. One is looking down at the ground while biting her nails. She steals an opportunity to peek over at me and our eyes meet. I know she's looking for tears. And one utters “Leave her alone already” right before he walks out the front door. I didn't even have a chance to give him a hug or for us to say our goodbyes.

“Are you going to answer me? Why is it okay for you to mess around?”

Ignoring the questions, I walk towards the refrigerator to grab lunches. Before I can pry the door open I see a newly added piece of paper hanging by one of our many magnets. It’s a picture of a bird. A beautiful white bird.

“I drew it for you, mama.”

I look down into the unknown and all I can feel is gratitude and relief.

Now all I need to do is jump.


Thank you for reading.

October is Domestic Violence Month.  Just because you don't see the scars, doesn't mean they're not there.
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