Old Baggage

“What is this?  Stupid bitch, you know I hate pickles.”

“Then don’t eat them.” And we are off; it takes so little to start an argument in this house of lies.  He crawled in well after sunrise and even after all of these years, I still worry. Never am I able to completely rest not sure if he has found a better bed or if the road and alcohol has claimed him. The real fuel to his fire is this time I know where he was. 

 Why this day, is it enough? I am finally through with the degradation and his volatile anger.  I know it was not the kosher dills, he is guilty and his best defense is to divert attention and attack.  Of all the people on this earth, I know how he operates. “The dills aren’t for you, I buy the groceries, and I deserve a freaking pickle.” He also knows how I work to avoid these arguments and the shock is visible when I respond.  The single hamburger patty continues to sizzle in the pan and the bun sits on a small plate prepared with my favorite condiments.  “This is my lunch, why don’t you go back to bed or is to empty for you?”  

The slap to my face stings and I feel his angry fingers around my throat.  His only response is a string of swear words and name-calling.  I know where this ends.  Soon I will be on the floor, broken and apologizing; or maybe this time he may kill me. He pushes me back against the counter and I touch the cool heft of the pickle jar.  I have no conscious thought about my next action, and for the rest of my life I won’t remember hitting him. I hear the jar break and the juice christen his head and the acrid liquid slowly splashes over both of us in our struggle.  I watch the hateful look on his face change to surprise and finally sleep as he crumbles to the floor.  

I turn and run to our room, and pull out my suitcase.  I dump in my underwear, toothbrush, all of the toothpaste, screw him he can buy his own, and my makeup bag.  As a second thought, I throw his toothbrush into the toilet.  As I zip my suitcase closed, the smoke detector begins to wail.  Seeing his wallet sitting on the dresser, I take an overdue allowance before running back into the kitchen. 

 I reach over his lifeless body to turn off the stove and to my horror; he stirs. With an answer to an unspoken prayer, his eyes don’t open and he remains unconsciousness. 

There is an all-consuming desire to kick him, but instead I dial 911. Calmly I request an ambulance, provide the address and leave the door open as I look at the road ahead.