tagExhibitionist & VoyeurAgainst the Wind

Against the Wind

byMaggieSparrow©

This was my submission for the 2018 Nude Day Contest. Unfortunately, I missed it. I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Huge thanks to my guest editor: Trevanion Row, any mistakes are mine and mine alone.


*****

It was after three when I finally pulled up in front of the cabin, and instead of getting of the car, I sat and stared at it in sadness. It had been over ten years since I had been there, and a lot had changed in that time.

The sun, still high in the sky, made clear the ramshackle state of the place. The once honey gold logs had faded because the lack of upkeep and it made me sick at heart. My grandfather had built the log cabin with his own two hands in 1948, right after he came home from the war, and my grandmother had given birth to my mother in the large back bedroom with only a local woman and my grandfather to help her.

That a place once so full of life and love should come to this made tears rise to my eyes, but I blinked repeatedly to clear them away. I was afraid that if I started crying I wouldn't be able to stop.

I sighed and reached over the center console and grabbed my purse. As I opened the door the car dinged at me to let me know I hadn't taken the keys out and for a moment I was tempted to grab the keys and throw them into the woods as far as I could, but I resisted.

I got out, not easy in four-inch heels, and walked around the car to the trunk. It refused to open and once again I felt rage build up inside me. With it riding just under the surface of my skin, I walked back to the front of the car, grabbed the keys and then went back to the trunk.

It took four tries to get my shaking fingers to hit the right button so that the trunk would release, and as it finally swung up I tried to calm down by taking deep breaths but managed to only make myself dizzy.

I reached in, grabbed my bags and pulled them out of the trunk before slamming the lid. Had Rob been there to see how carelessly I treated the birthday present he had given me I would have had to endure a lecture, but since he wasn't, I couldn't help but to kick out at the driver's side door as I passed it.

It was childish I knew, but I wanted my Manolo to leave a mark on the metallic red paint of the Mercedes. I hated that car almost as much as I hated the fucking shoes on my feet, neither of which I had picked out for myself.

As I made my way to the house, pulling my suitcase behind me, I looked down at the hated shoes on my feet. The pointed-toed, black calf leather heels looked like shoes an old lady would wear. In fact, every time I looked at them I thought of my mother-in-law. She had the exact same shoes in multiple colors, so Rob had bought me a pair for Christmas. In my mind the shoes on my feet represented everything about my current life that I hated.

Stopping, I leaned against my suitcase and reached down to take first the left off and then the right. I raised my arm high and then with all of the strength I had I threw them towards the woods.

They didn't go far but that was okay. It had been more of a symbolic gesture than anything and it made me laugh which was the most important thing. As I stood there grinning like a fool and giggling, I realized that it had been a long time since I had smiled or laughed. Too long.

The front door of the cabin didn't want to open. The wood had expanded once the varnish had worn off, but I had anger on my side so I finally managed to get it open. The inside of the cabin was just as I remembered it, only a layer of dust coated every available surface including the gray sheets that covered the furniture.

I went around the room taking the sheets off and waves of sadness rolled over me as I uncovered each piece of furniture.

Some of my happiest memories had happened in that cabin, and as each dusty sheet was pulled away the memories ran through my head like a film. As I lifted the sheet off the old record cabinet I remembered dancing with my grandfather, my small feet on top of his, as his beloved Benny Goodman transported us back to wartime.

And as I ran my hand across the dining table that my Great-Grandparents had given them for their wedding present I remembered all the meals eaten there and how the conversation and laughter had flowed like wine.

It made me think of my own dining table back in Atlanta. It was a huge mahogany monstrosity that seated twelve and it had cost over ten thousand dollars. I hated it. Like the Mercedes SL, the Manolo Blahniks and my clothes, it had been purchased by my husband on the advice of his mother.

I'd had no say in anything-not our house, the furniture in it, or even the underwear that I wore. Everything in my tightly controlled and structured world was dictated by my mother-in-law's taste and wishes.

At the thought of her, rage, never far under the surface any more, bubbled up inside me again. She had been the reason for my sudden trip back to the North Carolina mountains. She and her visit the night before.

*

My husband Rob had been out at one of his many networking dinners and when the doorbell rang I almost ignored it, but knowing the fight that would cause later, I went and opened it.

When I did my first instinct was to slam it in the old bitch's face, but I was too polite for that. So, I plastered a smile on my face and said, "Mrs. Montgomery, what a surprise. What are you doing here?"

She smiled back, and it was the same smile she always gave me when Rob wasn't around. It was the smile of a woman who hated me with every fiber of her being but put up with me for her son's sake. "Good evening Genevieve. May I come in?"

I nodded and pulled the door open wider. I felt like crying. I'd had a nice night planned of reading, a bubble bath and a bar of Godiva chocolate.

"Of course. Come in."

She hadn't waited for the invitation though. She was already at the end of the hallway before I could get the front door shut. I rolled my eyes, stood up a little taller and followed behind her.

"May I get you something to drink?" I asked.

She sat and turned to look at me. "No. Come and sit down. I want to talk to you before Robert gets home."

I felt sick to my stomach at that. It was an ambush pure and simple then. She was here to berate me for something that she thought I'd done wrong.

I sat down across from her, in a silk brocade chair that she had picked out, and looked at her, willing my face into an impassive mask.

"Genevieve my dear..."

Oh God, it was really bad if she was calling me dear. I bit my lower lip to stop it from trembling and waited her out.

"I want to talk to you about the problem you seem to be having."

"Problem?" I asked.

"Yes, your recent illness."

At that I felt pain, cold and sharp pierce my heart. "Illness?"

She nodded. "Yes-"

I cut her off, "It wasn't an illness. I lost a baby."

The look on her face told me that she thought my saying it out loud was in poor taste. I knew that to my mother-in-law I was just an uncouth piece of trash that had somehow latched on to her darling son.

"Yes..." she started again, "Well I've been talking to some of my friends."

I raised an eyebrow at that. "You talked about my miscarriage with your friends?"

Her mouth wrinkled like a prune at that word, but she didn't say anything.

"Why would you do that?" I asked. "Why would you talk about my private business, Rob's private business with your friends?"

I wasn't the only one angry then. The disgust and dislike for me were written clear on her face. "Because I wanted advice."

I shook my head, not understanding. "Advice?"

"Yes, and just as I thought, one of my friends, Marjorie Hutchins actually, had some. It seems that her daughter went through this years ago and there is a doctor in New York who specializes in this type of thing."

"What type of thing?"

She waved at me. "You know..."

"Miscarriages?" I asked, feeling a small measure of happiness when she flinched at that word.

"Yes, well this is not your first. I think it's past time that you look into it."

I shook my head at her. I hated her, and she hated me, but I couldn't believe the gall of the woman. She had some nerve coming into my house and talking about this.

I didn't bother to hide my anger from her then. "No, this wasn't my first. It was my third miscarriage in four years."

She nodded. "It's past time that you see what the problem is so that it can be corrected, and if it can't then..."

She trailed off again.

"If it can't?" I asked.

She smiled and had the nerve to reach out and pat my hand. "Well dear if you love Robert then I know you want what's best for him. He wants children and if you can't have them then maybe it would be best for the two of you to go your separate ways."

I couldn't help it, I laughed.

She stared at me in horror and honestly, I was shocked too. But the fucking cojones this old bitch had to come into my home, the home that my husband and I shared, to tell me that if I couldn't give him babies then it was time to give him a divorce.

I shook my head. "Mother," I said, just to piss her off. "I have been to the best doctors in Atlanta and they all say the same thing. There is nothing wrong with me. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to carry a baby to full-term. The doctors think it may be a chromosomal abnormality, but they don't see it in me and we don't know if it's Rob because he won't let them test him."

She snorted at that, ruining her perfect lady-like image, "I am sure it is not Robert. He comes from a long and distinguished family."

I could hear her unspoken words, 'unlike you'.

I smiled and stood up. "Well thank you for stopping by Mother, but I suggest you get Rob to go to New York for the tests instead of me."

She didn't stand. Instead she looked up at me and I was the one who gave in. With a sigh I sat down again. "Was there something else?" I asked.

She nodded. "I was told that you cried last week at the Woman's Institute Tea."

That was it. I was done. I stood up again and looked down at her. "Yes, I did. As you yourself just mentioned, I lost a baby four weeks ago. I'm still very tired, emotional and hormonal. I did not want to go to the tea, but Rob insisted."

She finally stood up. "You are a Montgomery now Genevieve. You need to control your emotions. What you do and how you act in public has repercussions. Not just on yourself, but on this family and on our name. Remember that in the future."

With that she turned and walked out of the room. I didn't bother to follow after her. I was too afraid that if I did she would see me break down in tears and that was the last thing in the world I wanted.

I had cried myself to sleep by the time Rob got home, but that didn't stop the lecture. The next morning before he went to work he woke me up and said, "I understand that my mother came to check on you and you were rude to her."

Still half-asleep I had stared at him. Finally, I replied "I wasn't rude to her. She wanted me to go to New York for tests and I told her that I'd already had tests done."

Rob was putting on his tie and he stopped and looked at me. "Genevieve, she's just trying to help. You know how much Mother cares for you."

I looked at him in shock. Was he serious? How much she cared? She hated me! But before I could say anything he continued, "Besides, it wouldn't hurt. After all, this was the third baby in just four years that you've lost. Something is obviously wrong. What would it hurt to find out what it is?"

That hurt. It was always that I lost the babies. Never us.

"Rob, I've had every test that they can do. I told you that. The doctor thinks you need to have a test."

He laughed and shook his head.

"Why?" I asked. "Why won't you take a test?"

He shook his head again. "Genevieve I'm sure I'm fine."

I stared at him. When he got that look on his face he looked just like his mother. "How can you be sure? Have you ever gotten a woman pregnant?"

He sat down on the chair in the corner to put on his loafers. He shook his head. "No. Not that I know of."

I sat up and pulled the covers up to my neck. "Have you ever had unprotected sex with anyone but me?"

He laughed at that, but he didn't look at me.

"Well, have you?" I asked again.

He stood up then and straightened his tie. "Genevieve I'm forty-six, I had a lot of sex before I met you."

I leaned forward. "Then don't you think it's odd that in the forty-two years before you met me you never got a woman pregnant?"

He shook his head and disappeared into his closet. When he came back he was putting on his suit jacket. "Not really. Girls in my circle knew better than to get pregnant outside of marriage. They're all on birth control by the time they're in high school."

We didn't talk after that. I didn't know what to say, and I knew nothing would make a difference.

He kissed me on the head, said he would be home late and left.

I stayed in bed replaying the conversation over and over again in my head. Rob's condescension was what hurt the most. In the beginning of our relationship he'd said that he didn't care where I came from, but as our marriage wore on it came up more and more and not just from his mother.

The week before I had, according to Rob, worn the wrong dress to a dinner given by his best friend. As we drove home I made the comment that I didn't see what it mattered, and Rob had replied, "You just don't get it because you're not one of us. The other women were laughing at you."

I knew they were laughing at me and although it hurt, it didn't hurt nearly as much as my husband siding with them.

*

An hour later I got up from bed, pulled off my clothes and got into the shower. As I stood washing myself I cried. Again.

In the four weeks since losing the baby it seemed that I had lost the ability to control my emotions. My only saving grace was that I waited until Rob went to work and I was alone. I knew he would get mad if he saw me cry.

I cried for my lost babies, I cried for the hurtful things that had been said, but most of all I cried with sheer unhappiness. The marriage that I had gone into with love and hope was turning out to be a nightmare.

When I got out of the shower I got dressed in another one of the outfits picked out by Rob's mom and sat down to stare at the wall. I had nowhere I needed to be and no one to talk to. I had no friends, no family, no one.

It was then that I thought of my own family, now lost to me, and made the sudden decision to drive to North Carolina. Rob wouldn't be home until late. No one would even know I was gone.

I walked out of my bedroom and was at the front door, keys in my hand, when I realized that I should pack a suitcase. Maybe, I thought, it would be good for Rob and I to spend some days apart. Maybe all we needed was a break from each other.

I ran back upstairs and packed the most casual clothes I owned, and as I shoved random things in my suitcase I felt energized.

*

The drive which should have taken almost four hours, had taken under three. And now I was at the place where I'd spent the happiest moments of my life.

I finished uncovering the furniture, threw the gray dusty sheets on the back porch and then walked towards the bedrooms. There were only two. The one that my grandparents had shared for the fifty-five years of their marriage and my mom's.

When I opened her bedroom door a wave of her perfume hit me, and I had to hold on to the door to keep standing. The tears, which were never far under the surface anymore, rose in me and I didn't try to stop them. As they rolled down my face I made my way over to the bed and sat down.

I looked around at the room at my mom's things. They weren't the things of her childhood, they were her adult items.

Three years before, when my mom found out that the cancer she had been battling was winning, she had come back here to her childhood home to spend some time. I'd planned on joining her, but then I'd had the first of my three miscarriages and because of complications I'd been hospitalized for a month. My mom had driven to Atlanta to see me and then spent the last two weeks of her life here at the cabin alone. I lay down on the bed and let the emotions take over.

I sobbed for my beloved mother, who I hadn't been able to say goodbye to and for my lost babies.

When the tears dried up I sat up and looked around me again. When I saw one of my mom's tie-dyed t-shirts, a favorite of hers, on the back of the desk chair I smiled. I realized then how hot and uncomfortable I was, and I stood up and took off my red jack and the ivory camisole underneath. I looked at them in disgust. I hated every piece of clothing that I owned.

My ivory lace bra, which had cost over four hundred dollars, and had been another gift from Rob, came off next along with my red pencil skirt. I hesitated a second, but then said, "Fuck it," and took off my ivory lace underwear too.

Throwing them on the floor in disgust I pulled on my mom's t-shirt, which thankfully still smelled of her, and then searched through the drawers. There wasn't any underwear, but there was a pair of cut-off jean shorts. I had never not worn underwear under my clothes in my life, but I didn't want to put back on panties that I hated, so I pulled the shorts up. At first it felt weird, but I shrugged it off. There was no one to see me anyway.

I went into the connecting bathroom and ran the water for a few minutes to clear it before wetting a washcloth and wiping away my make-up. When I was done, and my fresh scrubbed face was looking back at me in the mirror, I realized that despite my twenty-six years, I still looked sixteen.

I grabbed a pony tail holder from beside the sink and pulled my long brown hair back. It was only then that I noticed the little glass bottle sitting on the sink.

My hand shook as I reached out to pick it up. I pulled it towards me to see the tiny label and when I did, I felt sick to my stomach. Morphine.

I looked behind me at the old dresser that served as a vanity and I saw more tiny bottles and unopened packs of syringes. It was the pain medication that Hospice had given my mother.

Confused I opened the top drawer and saw that it was filled with my mom's personal items. Her hairbrush, her glasses and bottles of pain pills.

I turned and ran back into the bedroom. Pulling open the closet door I saw my mom's clothes, her adult clothes, hanging in the closet and her shoes on the floor. I spun around and went back over to the bed. On the bedside table were her reading glasses and a book that she must have been reading with a bookmark still in place.

"What the fuck?" I screamed out to the room.

I turned my head to look back at the room and that was when something caught my eye. I turned back around and, in the corner, sitting neatly, covered in a fine layer of dust, was my mom's purse.

I looked at it in horror and felt my stomach rise to my throat. Slowly I walked towards it and picked it up. The black alligator bag was as familiar to me as my own face.

I went back over to the bed and hugged the purse to me and began to cry again.

With tears pouring down my face I carefully opened it and the smell almost made me scream in agony. It was a mix of my mom's perfume and the peppermints that she had always carried around.

Her purse contained her empty reading glass case, a pack of tissues, her cellphone, dead now after three years, sunglasses, about twenty individual red and white hard peppermints, a tube of lotion and her wallet.

With shaking hands, I sat the purse down on the bed and opened her wallet. My mom's face staring back at me from her driver's license made me cry even harder. Her credit cards, debit card and insurance cards were all there. As was a picture of me as a child. In the money compartment was over a hundred dollars in cash.

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byMaggieSparrow© 7 comments/ 18500 views/ 25 favorites

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