Frustration at their financial hardship had caused her to lash out at her husband. In a fit of anger she had stormed out of their apartment. She needed to take a walk, anyway. She trudged down the street, recoiling, initially from the frigid cold.She was so tired of modifying her grocery lists. She was so tired of covering her hair with a woolen cap, not because it was cold but because she couldn’t afford to go to a salon. She was sick and tired of managing, of understanding. She hissed under her breath.
Managing a household of four on a single income was becoming stressful. They had both decided she stay home with the children. Day care for the two little ones would have cost more than an arm and a leg. At two and four years respectively, they were too young to be enrolled in a full time program school. She had lofty dreams when they moved to the north west from the south, that, his income would suffice. Though the increment in his salary was substantial, the spike in their rent and general living expenses had swallowed whatever gain they had both anticipated. She knew he was doing the best he could but she was still frustrated and tired.
Being the primary care givers of two very active toddlers was exhausting to say the least. By the time she was done with their breakfast and doing her chores, it was time for their nap. By the time they awoke from their naps, she would be putting together their lunch. Her days were full of cleaning, laundry, cooking. It was a grind. She was at her wits end. Her husband started to worry about her state of mind. He encouraged her to take walks in the evenings while he watched the children.
Leaving their apartment alone, while exhilarating for her due to the unfamiliar terrain, was a little scary. The years of violence-sex ridden American movies intake had begun to take their toll on her senses. Her vulnerable mind seemed to unravel at the seams, playing back the movies to torment her. Her mind made vulnerable by the change in weather…one extreme to the other. Texas climate was definitely the oven, in comparison to the cold of Montana.
Her chest constricted with sudden fear as she passed a man in a black slick. She started to bind imagined demons has she quickened her pace and starts to chastise herself. “What possessed her to listen to that man?” she thinks to herself. “If someone attacks and kills me, I am sure he won’t mourn me longer than a month before he finds a younger woman to cuddle with”.
She glanced furtively over her shoulder and notice the man in the raincoat had doubled up his pace into a jog and was fast approaching.
Images of torn body parts assail her thoughts. Her poor husband and children. She imagined…”Breaking News: African Immigrant found stabbed, gagged, God forbid…defiled, thrown from a car…..! She tripped over a nuisance stone and fell into a crumpled heap on the side walk. She lay there momentarily stunned and for a few seconds forgot why she was running in the first place.
“Ma’am…are you okay” A surprisingly soft faced young man bent over her.She grit her teeth expecting to be hit, and then cautiously opened her eyes.
Ma’am? He repeated as he helped her to her feet. It’s the young man in the black slick she had been running away from.
Feeling slightly peevish she mumbled “I’m fine”
He flashed her a warm smile as he trudged off. She wondered how he would have felt if he knew he was the one she had been running away from, the result of an imagined sense of danger. Not everyone is a serial killer or mugger…or both she reasoned with herself.
She hunched her shoulders against the cold winter wind and approached her building. She stifled a smile as she fished for her keys and what seemed like a couple arguing some doors away.