A story inspired by the book of Hosea

Jan 27, 2015

Chapter 1b

   Vickie opened the window and stepped onto the fire escape. She lit her cigarette and savored the first drag. The first one was always her favorite. It comforted her as she inhaled, then exhaled. It wasn’t as good as pot but would do in a clinch. How could he take her child to that smelly old church? What had God done for her or him for that matter? I wish he could just loosen up. Why couldn’t he be more like Phil? When it came to Sal, once a boy scout always a boy scout. She looked down the street and watched as neighbor- hood children played stickball. She liked living in Midwood. The neighborhood had both houses and small apartment buildings. Sal wanted to save up for a house one day, but enjoyed the convenience apartment living afforded them. No maintenance was needed—no lawns that needed to be mowed or appliances that needed to be fixed. Granted Brooklyn wasn’t known for its massive lawns but the people of Midwood kept what they had well manicured. It was quiet considering the amount of kids that lived on her block. They looked carefree as they laughed and ran around makeshift bases. Funny how manhole covers were always home base. It’s nice to be a kid—no worries, no one to please but yourself. 
  The apartment started to close in on her again. Being married felt like living in an amusement park without any money for the rides. She knew Sal loved her, yet it wasn’t enough to make her happy. He was a nice guy, maybe too nice. She loved him in her own way, but was not sure she was in love with him. If she was hon- est with herself, he bored her to tears. It didn’t matter how many times she screwed up in the past, he was there to pick up the pieces and take her back. Why would he do that? She took her last drag and flicked the cigarette. She watched as Sal parallel parked across the street. He looked up, waved and smiled. She hated it when he smiled like that. It was hard to stay mad at him when he had that goofy smile on his face. It charmed her in a weird way. 
   She went back through the window into the apartment. Maybe it would just be easier to go away somewhere, anywhere. Before she knew it, the front door to the apartment opened. 

   “Mommy, we’re home!” Joey said as he ran towards her. “How’s my little man doing?”

   “I fell asleep in church,” he said proudly.

    Vickie smiled at him.
Who could blame you? “Well I’m sure it was okay. Why don’t you go play in your room? I need to have grown up talk with Daddy.” 
   “Is Daddy in trouble?"

   “No Buddy,” she chuckled. Joey hugged her leg and skipped away towards his room. 

   Vickie gave Sal a dirty look. She wasn’t happy with him. He walked over to her and attempted to give her a hug, but she jerked her body away. 

   “So... I guess Daddy is in trouble.”

    “That’s not funny Sal. You can’t take my son to that... that place without asking me first. You know how I feel about it.” 

   “Honey, it’s only church. Joey likes going there. He likes the music, and I always take him to breakfast at McDonald’s beforehand. I think that’s his favorite part.” Sal smiled at her again. He placed his hand on the back of her neck and stroked it lightly. “I’m not trying to do things that make you mad, it’s just... this means so much to me. It’s something we both enjoy.” Sal’s eyes twinkled as he placed his other hand around her waist. Her resistance was futile. It appeared to Vickie that he would not be deterred by her anger. He looked lovingly into her hazel eyes. “I love you, even when you’re upset with me.” When he was this close to her, he was hard to resist. His scent caused her mind to drift. It drew her to him. Whether she loved him the way a wife should, didn’t interfere with her desire for him physically. His touch was warm. “You know you can’t stay mad at me for long. I’m too adorable,” he smiled. 

   She sighed, tilted her head to the side. “You’re right. I guess there’s no harm done,” she moved her face closer to his. 

   She knew he smelled the cigarette smoke on her breath by his hesitation as she approached him. He hated the fact that she smoked. He’ll have to learn to live with disappointment. She kissed him passionately. “What’s that for?” he asked. 

   “Are you complaining?” 

   “No... it just surprised me.” 

   Joey came running into the room. “Mommy... Daddy... look what I made!” he said proudly as he held up a picture he just drawn. 

   “That’s great Buddy, I love it.”

    “It’s a beautiful picture little man,” Vickie said.

    “It’s not beautiful Mommy. I’m a boy... it’s handsome.” 

   Vickie looked at Sal, they both tried not to chuckle at his comment. The things that came out of his mouth never ceased to amaze them.

   It was moments like these that made life seem normal. “Well Buddy, let’s find a place of honor on the fridge to hang that hand- some picture.” 

   “Okay, Daddy,” Joey said with excitement. 

   Vickie felt guilty for wanting to leave. Who are you kidding; you’ve never had it so good. She watched Sal as he placed magnets on Joey’s picture to keep it in place. 

   “Daddy, will you play a game with me?”

   “Sure Buddy, whatever you want. Go set it up and I’ll be there in a minute.” Joey skipped out of the room.

   Vickie watched as Sal approached her like he was about to steal a cookie from a jar. He stroked her cheek lightly with the back of his hand and outlined her lips with his finger. “We’re good.” 

  “We’re good. “ He patted her lovingly on her behind. She shook her head. “You know I hate it when you do that.” 

   “You love it,” he replied with that goofy grin again. 

   Vickie smiled as she watched Sal leave. On one hand, she loved her family, and on the other her old life felt like a comfortable pair of old shoes that she didn’t care had holes in it. The thrill she felt from her next fix was hard to resist. The escape was euphoric. Her cell phone interrupted her thoughts. It buzzed on the counter. She picked it up and recognized the number. She thought about answering it, but the sound of Joey’s squeal from the next room jolted her. The buzzing stopped. She placed the phone back on the counter and walked into the other room. 

   She witnessed Sal on all fours as Joey rode on his back. She couldn’t help but smile, yet the tug she was feeling for her old life wouldn’t go away. Six months was the longest stretch she had had without a fix. She pushed the urge aside as she entered into the horseplay with her family.

© Nadine Zawacki 2015