Maxine struggled through the door with her heavy bags. 6 teenagers were painted onto her couches. She smiled warmly as 2 got up to help her, her children.
‘Hiya mum?’ her daughter Marie asked with a smile. ‘Anything for me? Did you get chips?’ Taking the bag containing the chips, she put it down, pulled the chips out and headed back to the couch. Her brother Alex did the same with the biscuits.
‘How about a hand?’
‘Sure mom, just leave it there I’ll take it in a bit’ Alex said. All 6 teenagers turned back to the TV and forgot she existed.
Feeling empty Maxine picked up the bags herself and headed to the kitchen. Irritation crossed their faces as she walked slowly past the TV. She bit her tongue, not wanting to embarrass her children in front of their friends.
Maxine poured herself a glass of water and turned to put the kettle on. It was empty of course! And so was the jug. Alex and Marie had made their own breakfast, the evidence was messed all over the table. Her blood boiled then quickly turned into a sigh. If she complained they would complain to their father. Not once in 22 years had he ever taken her side in anything, especially not against the kids.
Maxine washed the dishes, wiped everything down, unpacked the groceries and sat down to her tea. She opened the tin of biscuits, they were finished.
‘Alex bring me a biscuit will you?’
‘Sorry mom, too late.’ He had finished them. Resentment trickled coolly through her veins. She drank her tea in silence.
Bill travelled for his work thank goodness, she wouldn’t have to make a full dinner. Maxine fried onions and sausage, listening to some random comedy show on the radio. She never smiled. Food ready and keeping warm in the oven she washed up again and went upstairs for a rest. She didn’t need one but couldn’t stay in the kitchen all day and didn’t feel welcome in her own lounge. She had wondered in to see what the kids were watching but they never even acknowledged her and each seat had a person in it.
Maxine tried to read but found herself staring out the window. The book described a well-paid executive bitch. Why are the women always bitches? If a man’s tough he’s a man! Not so with women.
‘We must know our place’ Maxine whispered to the empty room. In the distance an aeroplane flew past her line of sight. With a start she realised that she no longer gazed at aeroplanes. As a young girl she loved lying on fresh grass staring up at the sky. For hours she would wonder where they were going and longed to be on the flight. The Caribbean, Monte Carlo or Greece. Anywhere with a warm sun and blue waves. The sea ran in her blood and she knew one day she would live on the beach…
But it never happened. Maxine and Billy got pregnant early, very early. It interrupted her childhood and dreams. They got married and 7 months later and struggled. Billy didn’t get to study after school because of her and Alex and she knew he blamed her. But what were her options? You can’t send a baby back! And before they knew it Marie made an appearance.
Maxine watched her dreams leave on flights she could never be on. She stopped watching. Stopped wishing. Stopped dreaming. Her life now an endless cycle of cooking, cleaning, washing. There was no pleasure. Even Tuesday sex night became a chore. Maxine made all the right noises at the right times and it was over quickly.
Standing she walked to the mirror. Closeup she could see the lines that framed her once beautiful eyes. There was no depth or sparkle anymore, only a lingering sadness. Under her clothes stretch mark fingers traced a pattern on her stomach. Everything sagged but she wasn’t gross. Was she?
Stripping, she turned and twisted examined every inch of her once fit and toned dancer’s body. She had done it all ballroom, modern, tap. It caught Billy’s eye. But of course, with two little ones and trying to build a life, she couldn’t continue to dance. Dressing with a heavy heart, Maxine’s stomach complained. She hoped that the friends had left and that maybe her and her kids could have dinner together. It had been such a long time.
No teenagers in the lounge. Yes!
‘Marie, Alex? You guys hungry? Let’s eat together?’ Maxine shouted up the stairs. No answer.
‘You guys here?’ She realised she was alone, again.
‘Oh well, I’ll eat in front of the TV. And have a glass of that Chardonnay I’ve been chilling.’ That sounded better than trying to force a conversation with her offspring anyway.
She stopped in shock! Not only was the kitchen a complete pigsty, the table littered with empty bowls. They had eaten everything. Nothing left. Maxine stood still as tears rushed down her cheeks, she realized that they didn’t give a dam. Not about her. At all. With a sigh she reached for the dishes then lifted them above her head and threw them against the wall. She never felt the chips scratch across her cheek or the tiny blood bubbles that popped out.
Maxine was livid. It’s a tough as hell lesson to learn that no one cares about you. As far as her lazy-ass kids were concerned, she could starve. How did she get here? Opening the back door she walked out leaving everything, her purse, her jacket and the pigsty. She also left her marriage, children and hopeless life behind.
She’d been walking for hours now exhausted and chilly. Her bones were tired, her mind. Maxine smelled the sea before she came upon it. It moved in a grey, green and white ballet of beauty. She had been heading this way all along. Her shoes sunk into the sand so she removed them, tossing them away from her. The sand was cool and soft on her feet. Wiggling her toes and smiling she headed towards the waves. She was grateful the beach was mostly empty, it was getting dark.
Sitting just outside of the waves reach, Maxine breathed deeply and wondered. Who would miss her? Would they even notice she had left? Certainly once all the dishes were dirty and the food was finished. Sighing and crying she stood, unconsciously wiping the sand off her hands and butt. Cold water licked at her feet, her legs, her waist and face. Her hair streamed out behind her in the water as she swam.
It was the last day of the rest of her life.