The Short Walk Home

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

 

Glancing at the clock she sighed deeply. Here comes the inevitable; closing time. The kitchen cleaned, the chairs put up, the floor swept and mopped, the counters wiped down, and the register closed out. Frantically she searched for any other chore that might keep her here a little longer.

“There’s nothing, Claire, everything is good here. Head on home, dear, we’ll see you on Monday. Enjoy your day off.” Roger called from the back where he was dumping the mop bucket.

She called a weak goodbye and then stepped out into the cool night air. She was exhausted after a long shift at the diner and her feet hurt. Taking a deep breath she turned on her heel, away from the bright lights of the still flashing diner sign, and towards her house. Walking always brought a sense of melancholy to Claire, especially this late at night when nobody still active on the streets was up to anything good.

Jason hated that she walked home from work, always told her to take the car, but she always refused. She told him it was because parking cost too much but that wasn’t the reason at all. She walked, even on tired aching feet, because it gave her more time before she had to walk in her front door. She knew she should feel guilty about that but she couldn’t seem to work up the emotional response.

Jason thought she was depressed, worried that she wasn’t chemically balanced but Claire knew that wasn’t true. Ignoring the wolf whistle of a bum huddling in an out cove of a nearby building she continued down the city streets to their apartment. It was efficient, suited them, and though space was tight it kept their bills down. Both being just 23, Jason was making okay money as a mechanic at the same shop he’d been at since high school, and with Claire’s wages and tips they just barely scraped by. Jason longed for the ideal single family home but Claire and he both knew that wouldn’t happen any time soon.

He worked days, and Claire worked nights, barely ever seeing each other. Their big time together was church on Sunday morning. No matter how tired they were everyone went to church on Sunday morning. Claire hated Sundays more than anything else. Too soon Claire reached the door to their building with its pale yellow single bulb lighting the lock. Sliding her key in, pushed the door open, and trudged up the four flights of stairs to their front door.

Standing still for a minute she braced herself, took a deep breath, and plastered on a smile before opening the door. Like always Jason had waited up for her. He beamed at her from the sofa where his face glowed in the televisions light. Claire returned his smile while she dropped her tips in the jar on the counter and slid off her shoes. She listened for a second but heard no other sounds and her shoulders relaxed a little then padded quietly to the sofa to kiss her husband hello.

She groaned in her head when he opened his arms and beckoned her to snuggle in with him. All she wanted was a shower and sleep but she knew she couldn’t, shouldn’t, say no to him. Settling into his arms, breathing in his motor oil scent he could never get rid of, she softly answered his questions about her day. Knowing it was polite she asked him about his own day but before he could answer a small voice interrupted the night.

“Momma?” Haley questioned from the end of the hallway.

“Yes baby, I’m home.” Claire answered turning toward her daughter’s call. Standing there in her oversized pajama shirt she looked so small and at 4 years old she was supposed to.

Haley rushed to her mother’s side and curled up on her lap. “I missed you, Momma.” She said snuggling her head into the crook of Claire’s neck and breathing softly there.

“I missed you too, Monkey.” Claire answered and closed her eyes while her arms wrapped around her daughter.

“Come on, Bug, Momma’s tired. Let’s go back to bed.” Jason said standing and holding out his arms for Haley.

“It’s okay, I got her.” Claire answered and stood to carry their daughter back to her bed. Down the short hall and into the night light lit room Claire tucked the little girl into her princess sheet laden bed and placed a kiss on her forehead.

“Sleep tight, sweetie. Momma will see you in the morning. We’ll make a special pancake breakfast before church. Okay?” Claire whispered softly.

“Okay, Momma. Can Danny have some too?” Haley asked yawning.

“Of course, Monkey. Now go to sleep.” Claire answered.

Waiting until her daughter’s eyes shut she turned in the small room to check on Daniel, sleeping in his crib and quickly outgrowing it at 17 months. His belly moved as he breathed deeply in his sleep and his mouth sucked on his thumb every now and then. Claire smiled down at him and then walked out of the room, closing the door most of the way on the way out.

She waited until she was in the shower to let the tears fall and prayed her soft sobbing wouldn’t be heard by Jason, waiting in their bedroom next door. She knows how much her tears hurt him. How upset he gets that she isn’t happy with their life together. She knows how his face will fall when he sees her red eyes and tried to stop the tears from falling, unsuccessfully.

Every day she wonders how she ended up here, a high school graduate bound for a four year college, pregnant at graduation, and married at 19. How did she end up in this cramped low rent apartment with a man who was probably her starter relationship? Unable to balance the love for her children with the resentment she feels, she suffers as silently as possible in the scalding hot shower.

 
Her usual silent prayers were sent up while she scrubbed herself. Lord, just get me through the day tomorrow with the family; just let me make it through to Monday. Lord, just let me make it out of here again without saying something hurtful to my husband or children. Lord, help me accept my decisions. Lord, please help me let go of what could have been. Lord, help me accept what is. Lord, oh Lord, please help me stop hating them all. Lord, help me stop wanting to run, to leave, to be somebody else.

Turning off the water and stepping from the shower Claire looked at her reflection in the foggy mirror and tried not to hate everything she saw there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glancing at the clock she sighed deeply. Here comes the inevitable; closing time. The kitchen cleaned, the chairs put up, the floor swept and mopped, the counters wiped down, and the register closed out. Frantically she searched for any other chore that might keep her here a little longer.

 

“There’s nothing, Claire, everything is good here. Head on home, dear, we’ll see you on Monday. Enjoy your day off.” Roger called from the back where he was dumping the mop bucket.

 

She called a weak goodbye and then stepped out into the cool night air. She was exhausted after a long shift at the diner and her feet hurt. Taking a deep breath she turned on her heel, away from the bright lights of the still flashing diner sign, and towards her house. Walking always brought a sense of melancholy to Claire, especially this late at night when nobody still active on the streets was up to anything good.

 

Jason hated that she walked home from work, always told her to take the car, but she always refused. She told him it was because parking cost too much but that wasn’t the reason at all. She walked, even on tired aching feet, because it gave her more time before she had to walk in her front door. She knew she should feel guilty about that but she couldn’t seem to work up the emotional response.

 

Jason thought she was depressed, worried that she wasn’t chemically balanced but Claire knew that wasn’t true. Ignoring the wolf whistle of a bum huddling in an out cove of a nearby building she continued down the city streets to their apartment. It was efficient, suited them, and though space was tight it kept their bills down. Both being just 23, Jason was making okay money as a mechanic at the same shop he’d been at since high school, and with Claire’s wages and tips they just barely scraped by. Jason longed for the ideal single family home but Claire and he both knew that wouldn’t happen any time soon.

 

He worked days, and Claire worked nights, barely ever seeing each other. Their big time together was church on Sunday morning. No matter how tired they were everyone went to church on Sunday morning. Claire hated Sundays more than anything else. Too soon Claire reached the door to their building with its pale yellow single bulb lighting the lock. Sliding her key in, pushed the door open, and trudged up the four flights of stairs to their front door.

 

Standing still for a minute she braced herself, took a deep breath, and plastered on a smile before opening the door. Like always Jason had waited up for her. He beamed at her from the sofa where his face glowed in the televisions light. Claire returned his smile while she dropped her tips in the jar on the counter and slid off her shoes. She listened for a second but heard no other sounds and her shoulders relaxed a little then padded quietly to the sofa to kiss her husband hello.

 

She groaned in her head when he opened his arms and beckoned her to snuggle in with him. All she wanted was a shower and sleep but she knew she couldn’t, shouldn’t, say no to him. Settling into his arms, breathing in his motor oil scent he could never get rid of, she softly answered his questions about her day. Knowing it was polite she asked him about his own day but before he could answer a small voice interrupted the night.

 

“Momma?” Haley questioned from the end of the hallway.

 

“Yes baby, I’m home.” Claire answered turning toward her daughter’s call. Standing there in her oversized pajama shirt she looked so small and at 4 years old she was supposed to.

 

Haley rushed to her mother’s side and curled up on her lap. “I missed you, Momma.” She said snuggling her head into the crook of Claire’s neck and breathing softly there.

 

“I missed you too, Monkey.” Claire answered and closed her eyes while her arms wrapped around her daughter.

 

“Come on, Bug, Momma’s tired. Let’s go back to bed.” Jason said standing and holding out his arms for Haley.

 

“It’s okay, I got her.” Claire answered and stood to carry their daughter back to her bed. Down the short hall and into the night light lit room Claire tucked the little girl into her princess sheet laden bed and placed a kiss on her forehead.

 

“Sleep tight, sweetie. Momma will see you in the morning. We’ll make a special pancake breakfast before church. Okay?” Claire whispered softly.

 

“Okay, Momma. Can Danny have some too?” Haley asked yawning.

 

“Of course, Monkey. Now go to sleep.” Claire answered.

 

Waiting until her daughter’s eyes shut she turned in the small room to check on Daniel, sleeping in his crib and quickly outgrowing it at 17 months. His belly moved as he breathed deeply in his sleep and his mouth sucked on his thumb every now and then. Claire smiled down at him and then walked out of the room, closing the door most of the way on the way out.

 

She waited until she was in the shower to let the tears fall and prayed her soft sobbing wouldn’t be heard by Jason, waiting in their bedroom next door. She knows how much her tears hurt him. How upset he gets that she isn’t happy with their life together. She knows how his face will fall when he sees her red eyes and tried to stop the tears from falling, unsuccessfully.

 

Every day she wonders how she ended up here, a high school graduate bound for a four year college, pregnant at graduation, and married at 19. How did she end up in this cramped low rent apartment with a man who was probably her starter relationship? Unable to balance the love for her children with the resentment she feels, she suffers as silently as possible in the scalding hot shower.

 

 
Her usual silent prayers were sent up while she scrubbed herself. Lord, just get me through the day tomorrow with the family; just let me make it through to Monday. Lord, just let me make it out of here again without saying something hurtful to my husband or children. Lord, help me accept my decisions. Lord, please help me let go of what could have been. Lord, help me accept what is. Lord, oh Lord, please help me stop hating them all. Lord, help me stop wanting to run, to leave, to be somebody else.

 

Turning off the water and stepping from the shower Claire looked at her reflection in the foggy mirror and tried not to hate everything she saw there.

According to Jewels

 

 

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