“Happy Anniversary!” Marsha greeted her as soon as she stepped into the bar. Joanne grinned, accepting the cocktail being held out to her. A ‘Slow Comfortable Screw’ according to Marsha. Just what she needed.
“It would have been three years today.” she sighed taking a big gulp. Only two and a half of which had been spent actually together. Thank goodness she had seen sense when she actually had. It made her feel physically ill just to imagine what her life would be like today had she not. No doubt a never-ending cycle of clearing up after him, arguments, more clearing up, more arguments and enduring his drunken ramblings – or worse- on a Saturday night.
One thing was for sure, she wouldn’t be sitting here enjoying a girly night out with her best friends. Wouldn’t be enjoying anything come to think if it.
She finished her drink in one mouthful as Marsha plonked another before her. This was the life. Seriously she had never been happier; she was actually living for the first time in years.
Never again would she have to feign a headache as he drunkenly pawed at her. Never again would she apologise for things which she hadn‘t done, whilst he simply glossed over things he had. Never again would she find herself artistically camouflaging black eyes or wearing long sleeves in the sweltering Summer heat. Never again would she feel trapped, bullied, afraid.
This time twelve months ago she was already tucked up in bed as he snored in front of the football, surrounded by empty lager cans and crisp packets. No romantic candle-lit dinners or thoughtful gifts for them. Oh no. Nothing but the same old, same old. Year after dreadful year.
She never thought in a million years that it would end. She loved him didn’t she? Things would get better. Every relationship was hard work. Ask anyone. Besides, wasn’t it her fault? Wasn’t it she who caused the arguments in the first place? That’s what he would have her believe anyway.
In the end it wasn’t one of the big things which helped her to make the final decision. It wasn’t him lunging at her with clenched fists and angry eyes. It wasn’t another smashed phone or even a particularly cruel comment or death threat. It was a pair of shoes.
He had come home from the pub, drunk as usual, vomiting his way upstairs. At 4am as she scrubbed the carpet, she tripped over his shoes which had been carelessly left in the middle of the hall. Deep inside her something had snapped. Enough was enough. She couldn’t take any more. Quietly she tiptoed back upstairs and watched him sleeping himself sober. This was it, she thought, it’s over.
Marsha pushed a shot glass into her empty hand.
“A toast: to Joanne!”
“To Joanne.” glasses clinked.
Joanne grinned, downing the bitter tasting liquid. “To being a widow.”