It happened again

Andrea Krawchuk

It happened again. She didn’t see it coming and there really wasn’t any good reason for it to happen at that particular moment, yet it did happen. Nothing that day would indicate that there was trouble ahead. She woke up at the usual hour, with the kids and her husband already up since it was the weekend and they always let her sleep in a bit. Her husband had already made breakfast for the kids and she had the luxury of having a quiet kitchen all to herself with none of the fuss and hassle so common on every other day of the week. She made herself a smoothie and a black coffee, something she couldn’t imagine her day without, and started making mental notes of all the stuff and all the chores she had to do that day.

Weekends are family days, but there are still things she has to do no matter what. Making a trip to the local grocery store is a Saturday morning tradition. She actually enjoys it, as it is time reserved strictly for her. She strolls the aisles slowly behind her cart, mindlessly picking the usual items, enjoying herself by just being alone. There is no need to keep a constant watch over her kids, no need to talk to anybody, explain things, argue over every little detail as her daughter constantly does, no need to think about anything at all. At least that’s what she hopes for. Every thought, even the tiniest, that sometimes creeps into her mind about what her life would have been like had she not got married to him she tries to push away and tuck deep inside; she doesn’t want to go into that dangerous territory. Sometimes, though, and strangely enough when she is pushing her grocery cart, these thoughts come to the surface, and she has to deal with them no matter how hard she tries to ignore them. And that’s exactly what happened that day.

It took her a long time to admit to herself that she was unhappy. And not just unhappy, as happiness usually refers to short and elusive fragments of a person’s life, but actually discontented. The feeling of discontentment arises slowly, usually unnoticed at first. But it is as persistent as it is slow. Like a bedbug crawling at night, looking for a victim to leech on and planning to stay forever, this feeling refuses to leave the body unless something radical happens to change its course.

She did feel a bit uneasy that morning, probably as a consequence of the night before. They had had the talk. There was no argument or fighting, as that’s not their style, but a quiet, calm discussion about her issues and mood swings, as he calls it. The discussion ended as it always does – with him dismissing everything she blamed him for and her shutting down and closing off her emotions even more. All peaceful and very subtle; an outsider wouldn’t sense any trouble. If a starving predator that feeds on unrest and conflict had been present, it would have left the room disappointed and hungry. That sort of unease combined with the routine of shopping to feed her family – a chore pleasant yet dreadful at the same time – resulted in yet another incident. She pulled into her driveway, put the car in neutral and applied the handbrake. She turned off the ignition. And that’s when she suddenly froze. She recognized the feeling immediately, but the warning bell sounded too late. A huge, merciless wave of anxiety swept over her. She remained in the car, unable to move. She could move her legs, hands and everything else, she just couldn’t bring herself to get out of the car and go into the house. From the outside she seemed completely fine. Even the neighbour who happened to walk by her car smiled at her, ignorant of the fact that she was in full panic mode. But inside her head she was screaming.