1
min

Mary’s Choices

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The phone is ringing again. I’m sure it’s Alice calling for the third time. I won’t answer. I’m not listening to her or any other sister tell me what to do. They think it’s their right because I wasn’t living at home while they were growing up. Well, it was 1920. I was 15; working during the day, then when I got home, Mama was telling me to do housework.
I was tired and only wanted to get away. I would’ve married anyone but only Nate asked me. If Nate had stopped drinking and running around, we’d have our own house with extra money to spend. Maybe, I’d drive a big black car with white wall tires. Or, by now, I’d be with a nice man who didn’t hit me. There’d be no scars. Instead of concealing clothes, I’d wear pretty dresses with low neck lines, showing off my shape. My guy would give me expensive gifts: jewelry and silky fabrics.
But, there were the babies. Nate was so angry with me. Maybe, the babies would have lived if we’d gone to the hospital instead of having the midwife at home. But that was the 30 years ago; we didn’t have the money. By now, I’d have four grown children: a girl and three boys, all with good paying jobs. They’d help me with my bills. I’d live alone and not have Lily and Frank living with me in this two bedroom house.
I should’ve gone to school, been a secretary and not worked on the assembly line. Then, no man would’ve taken my job. I’d have saved more money. Maybe, I’d pay someone to clean and cook for me.
Now, we pinch pennies. Lily half cleans when she wants to. We eat tough stringy cuts of pork and mushy canned vegetables with no taste. If only Lily could marry someone. She’d be happy and wouldn’t treat me so mean.
What if I could get Frank to stop complaining about living with us? Every time he starts talking about moving out, my pressure goes up and I wind up in the hospital. Doesn’t he know I can’t afford to live without his help?
If only I could change everything. My sisters would call me and ask for help. They wouldn’t keep telling me what to do.

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Patricia Bender · ago
Marilyn - Congratulations on a well-written story.
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