Easy on My Grave
Rosemary stands at the kitchen sink in a pale orange terrycloth bathrobe, bruised hands submerged in soapy water that smells of lemons and years of yellowing regrets. She shifts from one tired foot to the other; the comfort that her white slippers once offered is now gone.
There is a radio, on the counter, playing low as if the sound were supposed to be a secret. The radio is small and made of a light colored of wood and it is at least twenty years old. Rosemary had discovered it in the garage, just that morning, and was pleased to find something that reminded her of her life before she was married. Only one station comes in – something on AM – and Rosemary hums along to a classic song by The Andrew Sisters. The song had been popular back when Rosemary was a young girl and had entertained ridiculous dreams of moving to New York City and becoming a professional dancer. A week before her planned escape via a Greyhound bus, she had met John at church and nothing had been the same since.
Rosemary’s back is aching – her lower back, at the bottom of her spine, where two days ago she was kicked with a steel toed boot and told to “Shut your mouth or get the hell out!” She leans a little more forward than usual, biting her lip occasionally when a wave of pain sweeps through her like a mild hurricane. She feels the pain shoot down the back of her legs, ripping around her ankles and searing through her feet. She wiggles her toes a little and recalls a time when she was
seven years old and her mother and father had taken her to Florida. She remembers the cool sand, sifting through her toes as she had danced across the beach, spinning in quick circles, shouting to her mother, “Mommy! Look, I’m a mermaid!” Rosemary remembers the big white sun hat her mother had worn, her father sitting on an olive green blanket, in his favorite white shirt and brown suspenders.
She remembers the three of them laughing, eating bologna and cheese sandwiches on white bread with sweet Miracle Whip and listening to the radio. Almost all of their summers had been like that. Until Rosemary had broken their hearts by marrying a man that her mother and father did not trust. The memory numbs the back pain a little and Rosemary almost manages a faint, half-hearted smile.
Out the window, Rosemary’s eyes are locked in a gaze, up at the diagonal slice of moon and the cookie cutter stars. She sighs with defeat, scrubbing her own raspberry lipstick off of the rim of a water glass. She cleans the glass as if she were trying to wipe away the argument that she has just had with her husband of twenty-two years. His words had been quick, loud and bolstered by his usual vodka induced rage. Rosemary continues with the dishes and she watches her own hands, mesmerized by her robotic motions. The sponge is blue, like her eyes and the water never seems to be hot enough to get the dishes as clean as John likes them to be.
Rosemary suddenly stops. She lets the glass slide into the water and it sinks below the lake of soap and suds. Rosemary reaches for a periwinkle blue kitchen towel and wipes her hands dry with it, noticing that her pale lavender nail polish is chipped and worn and a tiny cluster of age spots are now forming just below her knuckles. The dulling silver glare of her wedding ring catches her eye and a clutch of anger rises in her throat. The bruises on her hands are a week old but are still vibrant in their patches of yellow and purple and blue. Rosemary had covered her face, protecting herself as John had grabbed a piece of wood, from the cardboard box near the fireplace. He had been aiming for her face, not remembering that he had broken Rosemary’s nose last summer when she had forgotten that he didn’t like onions. The wood had cracked and splintered and later Rosemary picked tiny bits and pieces of it from her hair.