Well, technically not late. He said between five and five thirty. It’s 5:25. But in my mind, he’s late.
I want this over with. The last months were hard enough. The drugs. The not noticing me. The expectations of sex. The slipping into a housewife’s duties. I had work. I had university. But still, I cooked, and cleaned, and washed his work overalls. It was what I was taught to do. I am female. It’s my role. I was expected to always say yes. It was easier to say yes.
He walked in.
I used to love this man. He has his ever-present scent of marijuana. He sits.
We share the stilted mandatory greetings. I chose this location because it’s safe. There’s the one entrance. It’s a busy restaurant. There are lots of people in the after-work crowd. He may not have noticed my lookouts upstairs.
I ask for my money. He doesn’t have it. It’s in the car. I need that money. There’s rent to pay. Tuition. School books.
He suggests we go to his car. It’s nearby.
I see one of my lookouts as we leave the restaurant. They look worried. I subtly motion that I’m OK. They are some of my best friends, but I don’t think he’d recognize them. We lived together, but he avoided my friends, and they him.
The car is across the road. He tells me to get in. I hesitate. He tells me again and uses his pet name for me, Bubby. I never did like that name. He’s sitting in the driver’s seat. I don’t want to get in, but he could drive off. I need the money.
The moment I’m in, he starts the ignition and pulls into the traffic.
The Beatles’ Help plays on the car stereo. I know it’s set for me. He’s more Pink Floyd. Stoner music. I pretend not to notice.
He drives to a beach; still in town. I’m not scared. I know this area. I used to walk to this beach when I needed quiet. I could now walk away.
We sit on the grass; he pleads his case. He’s sad. He misses me. He asks me to return home. No. But he misses me. He says everyone thinks I should go back. I make him sad. I tell him I’ve moved on. There’s someone new. He knew this, but he still thinks he can convince me. He played The Beatles. Isn’t that enough?
I ask for the money. Finally, after two years, I have control. He begs again. I’m not returning. I want my money.
He realizes it’s futile when I demand to be driven back to the restaurant. There’s an ATM near the restaurant. I stand while he withdraws the money. He looks broken. He doesn’t realize what he did. Maybe he never will. My lookouts have found us. They are standing at a distance. Worried. Watching. Waiting. I look up to let them know I’m safe.
He hands me the money. It’s goodbye. He hugs me; I stiffen.
He walks away. I did it. It’s over. I survived.
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