[img_assist|nid=831|title=Fern by BJ Burton © 2008|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=150|height=201]Todd steals things. He takes tips off wet diner tables, jerks the bills from underneath the water glass you purposefully placed over them.
You say, “Don’t do that,” but your voice is passive and no match for his muscles. He has worked jobs that scare you, jobs where he has shoved people out of nightclubs and menaced trees with axes. He is the only wayward art school lumberjack you have ever met, and it is your life’s mission to concoct his pancake piles.
He went by “Toad” during his cover band years. Seventeen reinterpretations of the same Quiet Riot song later, here you are. Toad’s band was The John Goodman Arachnophobia Experience. Toad likes movies where insects best humans.
“Molly,” he says, “you relax.” Your name is not Molly, but that is Todd’s definition of a little baby girl name. Molly wants an ice cream cone, don’t she? Go ahead, Molly, tell the big badass manager that our man stole an orange. You are convinced he refers to himself as “our man” to let you know there are other morons like you, who let him sleep in your bed after watching him go through your purse. You are convinced that he belongs mostly to himself, while you have the submissive misfortune of being his. What happened to your feminist theory textbooks? Todd sold them. What did he do with the money? Todd bought pills. Why did he-? Don’t question our man!
So you make do:
- -You stop keeping a diary after Todd sells it on EBay.
- -Now at restaurants you get up to go to the bathroom before he makes a scene.
- -On the occasion you find another woman in your shower, you say, “Hey there.”
- -Your friends pity you and this makes you cry; that people think you are worthy of pity.
- -You remember that you are alive, so you work with this fact.
You are making a plan to hit yourself out of the park, like a home run, but first you need money. He keeps taking yours, and you are afraid of him. Not just because he talks to himself in the kitchen when he thinks you’re sleeping, but also because he talks to himself while hovering over your bed when he thinks you’re sleeping.
He won’t see a doctor, any kind of doctor. The only way you’ll see a doctor is if you get pregnant with Todd Junior. Yes, you are on the pill, but what if? You keep your legs closed so tightly at night your muscles ache.
Our man is a bully. Our man is a punk. You have nowhere to go. There is a part of you that finds comfort in this: Living in the present means you have nowhere else to go. Once in a while your mind clears and you feel like a Buddhist, which is way cooler than feeling like a victim.
[img_assist|nid=844|title=Along the Canal, Manayunk by Marita McVeigh © 2008|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=150|height=122]You are not fighting back, because you are a planner. Little outbursts will have him suspecting. You don’t want to awaken his inner Toad. You pack bras and panties in small, yellow supermarket bags and toss them in the trunk of your car. Soon you will have the balls, no the breasts to pack the big-ticket items: sweaters, a pair of dress slacks.
Now he wants to get on your medical insurance. The two of you should get married. Molly, there’s nothing I wouldn’t steal for you, he says.
You thank him for his proposal, and take a deep breath. Somewhere beneath the curves of your female form, probably above the hips, is a star. It’s kind of like a soul, but a little less passive. It’s a Holy Spirit divine inner compass, and it’s telling you, get the hell out into the universe, darling! Make something of this flesh gift, this life.
[img_assist|nid=845|title=Dance With Me by Kristen Solecki © 2008|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=150|height=155]
Christina Delia received her BFA in Writing for Film and Television
from The University of The Arts in Philadelphia. Her work can be found in the
anthologies In One Year and Out The Other (Pocket books) and Random Acts of
Malice: The Best of Happy Woman Magazine. She also writes the satirical wedding advice column “Bride Dish with Mags & Dags” for Happy Woman Magazine. Christina currently resides in central New Jersey with her husband, Robert.