I barely remember doing so much damage to the normally immaculate condo. Taking up a corner on the thirteenth floor, the place my husband and I had called home for the past three years consisted of little more than glass and steel. The minimalist design had been his idea, and in the beginning I’d actually liked the spotless white walls, crème colored carpet, and the sharp angles of the deep burgundy furniture, accented with gleaming black surfaces throughout the oversized space that was big enough to hold at least three children, though friends of ours frequently said how the idea of children running amok within our perfect condo somehow didn’t seem to fit the picture.
Now as I stood motionless in the middle of the massive living room, my eyes sweeping over the broken glass, the overturned furniture, and the spilled stuffing from the black throw pillows, I couldn’t help but grin. Our tidy space wasn’t so perfect anymore. I realized then how these very walls had trapped nothing more than a lie.
“What did you do, Cara?” The sound of his voice didn’t startle me. I’d been waiting for him, rehearsing in my mind what I’d say to him when he finally came home from work.
“Oh, nothing much,” I replied, “I just did a little redecorating. Do you like it?” I looked toward the open doorway, where he stood in obvious stunned-disbelief, and stifled the laughter that threatened to erupt from my throat. I’d never seen his normally cool and calm face look so silly before.
“Do I like it?” he asked, his voice raising an octave. “Have you lost your mind?”
“No, my mind is intact, I assure you. It was just time for a change.” I moved around the destroyed room, taking my time and enjoying the moment. An overwhelming sense of satisfaction hit me when the heels of my shoes ground the broken glass into the carpet. I craved more of that feeling, needed it with my entire being.
Carefully, I picked up his prized sculpture—the one he’d picked up in Milan while on business last month. The trip that had nothing to do with business after all.
“Something’s missing though…”
He yelped when I hurtled the sculpture in the vicinity of his head. It shattered against the wall, just an inch from his perfectly symmetrical face of which he was so proud. Luckily for him, I had poor aim.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he shouted. He covered the distance separating us in three long strides. His hands clamped over my shoulders, and his eyes narrowed as he searched my face. “Why are you doing this, Cara?”
“Isn’t it obvious? She said she was going to tell you I knew.”
“Who, Cara? What are you talking about?”
“Stop lying to me!” I didn’t recognize the shrieking sound of my voice. I had always told myself I would never be that woman—the woman who was so naïve she’d believe anything. Lies…nothing but lies. “Everything that comes out of your mouth is black!”
I moved away from him, needing to distance myself from his probing stare. They say the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul. I’m not sure who “they” are, but there might be something to the saying. My husband’s deceit was as black as our marriage. It permeated everything I touched, contaminated the air like a dead rat.
A black vase—home to lonely white tulips—caught my attention on his coffee table. His, because I suddenly felt like nothing in this room was mine. I grabbed it, and as my fingers caressed the ceramic, I heard her voice in my head whispering all of the vile, nasty things she’d done to my husband while he’d been in Milan. Her voice rang hollow, uncaring of my feelings; it bounced off the vacant walls of his gigantic room, off the windows taking up too much space. All that glass left me vulnerable to the prying eyes in the clouds. I hurled the vase.
His panicked scream mixed with the voice of the woman. Glass rained down, and I stared at the broken ceramic laying at my feet. The lonely tulips weren’t alone anymore; they had my blood to keep them company. Shame, as they provided the only speck of purity in this dark hellhole that had become a prison.
I closed my eyes and raised my face to the breeze, welcomed the icy rain pelting in through the shattered window. Some foreign sound pierced my momentary solitude. Was the woman crying? Why should she have cause to shed tears? I felt the rain on my face and wondered if, perhaps, I was the one crying. I opened my eyes and looked at the beleaguered face of my husband. The rain had found him as well. Large drops trickled from his eyes, squiggling down his face in misery. My mouth curved up.
“Dear, you need your medication,” he told me in his calm doctor’s voice he reserved for his most troubled patients. But I wasn’t crazy. Regardless of his expert opinion, I knew what was true. The landscape of my mind was blurred, and though I hadn’t been able to find my way back to stable ground in months, I knew I was not insane. The whispers—voices of sanity—assured me I wasn’t.
The musical voice in the wind grabbed my attention again, and I looked through the broken window. It’s all been a lie, Cara. He’s going to kill you.
“Everything that comes out of your mouth is black,” I mumbled, stepping toward the jagged ledge. Blackness was all that remained in my world; a gigantic void had taken over, sucking me into the depths of its nothingness. My soul was as colorless as his condo.
I took one last step and peered down at the people thirteen stories below. They moved around like ants, herded along by the demands of life, oblivious to the futility of each new day. Oh, how easily they could be squashed.
I didn’t cry out when he shoved me from behind. Instead, I embraced freedom and closed my eyes, spreading my arms as if they were wings.
© Copyright 2011 Gemma James