Ever After. Short Story.

Margaret took a sip of her wine, her second glass today and it was only three P.M. Around her were scattered photo albums and pictures, some were torn in half, others had splotches on them, from where she had been crying over them. The tears were gone now, replaced with emptiness. She picked up a photo of their wedding day, she traced her finger over her mouth, everyone was smiling. Too bad it was all a lie. She put the photo down and picked up another. This one was from the afters, when Johns best man tried to pick him up and failed, miserably. They were in a pile on the floor, tears of laughing running down their red faces. Had Tony known? She shook her head. Of course Tony knew, he and John were best friends. It had struck her how few of her friends had come to the wedding when she was looking through the photos. How many years had it been since she had seen most of them? At least two or three years before the wedding. John didn’t like most of her friends. Said they were too catty, too gossipy, that they were a negative influence on her. She hadn’t noticed as they were whittled away one by one until eventually there were none left. At some point his friends had become her friends too. But even that was a lie. When was the last time she had met any of them one on one for a coffee? She was a couple friend, always a pair and never alone. Not John though. John went out with them all the time. She knew the wives of his friends met up for drinks, it had never really bothered her before. Now, more than anything else she wanted someone to talk to, someone she could bounce ideas off. Sure, she could go to family, but no one wanted that. She wasn’t close enough with any of them to just show up and dump this on them. That was another thing John was responsible for. Moving her out here, into this big house with its ocean view and absolutely no one else to share it with. Her family had visited once in the seven years they had lived here. John didn’t like having people stay over, said it made him uncomfortable, like he couldn’t relax in his own house. Margaret took another drink of wine.

The photos had come a week before, grainy shots of him and some woman, doing things with her that he never did with Margaret. That stung, more than she had thought it would. She had to pry a second glance from him, sex itself was a rare occurrence, once every three or four months if she was lucky. And he had always made her feel slutty if she tried to come onto him. Yet here he was with this woman, who she was Margaret had no idea, doing all sorts of things to her, with her. The photos were hidden away upstairs, she hadn’t looked at them since. She couldn’t bring herself to do it. She needed to do something, she wanted to divorce him, but she was afraid. He had everything and she had nothing. When they first married he insisted she quit her job, that he was making enough to provide for them both and he was. Besides, it came with promises of children, and her being a stay at home mother. Whenever Margaret had brought it up John would always push the subject down the road. They had plenty of time to think and plan, there was no rush, they were still young. But still, Margaret could feel that clock counting down. Sure she still had time, but at some point she had realised children just wouldn’t be happening. Not with John. Maybe if he had been upfront about it she would have been fine with it. Her hand smoothed over her top, caressing her stomach. She had always wanted children though, a big family, but not too big, three children, maybe four.

Margaret poured herself another glass of wine. Was this her life now? Sitting around drinking wine until she managed to repress all this darkness into a tiny little part of her. Would she continue with the lie, pretend that everything was ok. Did she have any other choice? She couldn’t afford a lawyer and the last time she had suggested counselling John had been mad. He hadn’t yelled, but he used that voice, the one that made her jittery, that made her heart race and her hands tremble. How she hated that voice. Stern and patronising all at once, promising punishment that never came.

She glanced at the clock, it was only six, it would be a while before John would get home. He was always late these days. She thought it was because of work, but she knew the truth now. She took another sip. It was her second bottle and she was steadily working towards her third. She stood from the table and started gathering up the photos. It wouldn’t do to have John see the table all messy like that. He wouldn’t like it. Besides she didn’t want to make him suspicious. She knew what she’d do now, she’d divorce him and take him for everything she could. She had wasted her life with him and what did she have to show for it? Nothing in this house belonged to her, not really. Everything was bought by him, chosen by him. It was like a museum and she was the star attraction. The only living, breathing thing he had been able to buy and seal away in this house.

She made herself a sandwich and ate it in a few bites. Tomorrow she would have to make another trip to the bottle bank, and to the store to pick up some more wine, she needed strength to get through this and wine was a good substitute. Once she had finished her sandwich she grabbed her glass and her drink and went into the sitting room. When John arrived home he’d find her watching TV, sipping a glass of wine and a glass would be waiting for him, everything was normal. Nothing was suspicious.

The next morning Margaret woke to a pounding head, her mouth was dry and her tongue felt thick. As she manoeuvred her way out of bed the nausea struck. She took a few minutes to try and compose herself. After a shower and some coffee she started to feel human, though her stomach was still too sensitive for food. She thought back over yesterday, how full of fire she had been, the drive to do something. She shook her head, in the sober light of day she could see how ridiculous she was being. John would never let her escape. She was stuck here, forever.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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