I slip into the black dress; smooth it over my hips.
“What Mommy doing?”
I glance in the mirror. “Getting ready for work.”
“Why Mommy work now?”
Because my friends tell me I’m wasting my life, I think, applying eyeliner. “To help Daddy pay for college.”
“What that?” Lauren points to the mascara.
“It makes Mommy look pretty.”
She wrinkles her nose. “Mommy pretty already.”
I smile. “Thanks, Lovey. But my boss won’t think so.” I tie the apron on and kiss my children goodbye. My mother-in-law tells me I’m making a mistake as I hand her the baby, blinking back tears.
* * *
At the hotel, I vacuum and dust and change sheets; I scrub toilets and empty trashcans.
A woman emerges from room 232. She presses a pamphlet into my hand. “Reject Satan,” she whispers before padding down the hallway to summon the elevator. I knock at her door; call out “maid service” before using my passkey and wheeling the vacuum into the room.
The door slams shut. I whirl around to face her husband.
“It was your fault,” he tells me later, dragging me down the back stairs and out the hotel’s emergency exit. He shoves me into the back of his car and drives to the river.
He binds my arms; fills my apron pockets with stones. “I’m sorry to do this,” he says “but I can’t afford the scandal.”
He pushes me in. “I’ll write a suicide note and leave it on your cart. I’ll tell your children you love them.”
Like Ophelia I float on a river of expectations.
Unlike Ophelia, I am not mad.
I slip my arms from their bindings; remove the stones from my pockets; swim to shore. The water drips from my hair, smears makeup into my eyes.
I return to the hotel and use my passkey to enter his room.
He is sleeping.
I make it eternal.
I will plead insanity.
He, of course, will receive a Christian burial.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kameko Murakami challenged me with “Like Ophelia, I float on a river of…” and I challenged Grace O’Malley with “No one knew where it began and where it ended.”
I also used this piece for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was scandal.