Gasping For Air
Lil had just covered the bruises with makeup when she heard her husband park his car. She hurried into the kitchen and busied herself at the sink.
Bob entered the kitchen through the back door. “Hey,” he muttered, taking off his jacket.
“Hey,” replied Lil, washing celery.
Bob looked over her shoulder. “What’s for dinner?”
“I’m going to make some tuna salad for your lunch tomorrow, but I thought we could go out to dinner tonight. I’m tired.” She didn’t want to add that she was stiff and sore.
Bob made a face. “I’m tired too. I don’t want to go out. Let’s take a rain check for this weekend.”
“I really need a break. I’ve watched our grandson all weekend while you played golf. I want to go out.”
Bob shrugged. “I’m staying in and so are you. I want to eat soon.”
Lil’s husband frowned, and, taking the paper, went into the den. He turned on the TV. “Get me a beer,” he called from the den.
Lil grabbed a bottle from the fridge, opened it, and took it into the den. “Bob, I want to talk to you,” she said, handing over the beer.
He took a swig. “I wish you had poured this into one of my special mugs in the freezer. You know I like my beer in a cold mug.”
“Bob, I want to talk to you,” she repeated.
“So go ahead and talk. What’s stopping you?”
“Can you at least look at me?”
“What for? I can hear you fine.”
Lil was silent for a moment, looking at her hands. When did they start looking so old? She tried to rub off some age spots before speaking. “When did you stop being Robert and turn into Bob?”
“Huh.” Bob glanced at Lil and then turned back to a basketball game on TV.
“When did you stop being Robert? I married Robert and then ended up with Bob. When did you become Bob?”
“That’s a stupid question,” responded Bob, taking another swig of his beer.
Bob picked up the remote and flipped the TV channels. “I don’t know what you’re yammering about.”
“Yes, I know. You see, I don’t think we are the same people as when we got married. You’ve turned into another person. You are no longer Robert, the man I married. Robert would never hit me.”
Bob winced. “I said I was sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I just got mad. You were talking too much.”
“I seem to be talking too much lately.”
“Maybe if you shut up, then you wouldn’t aggravate me.”
“I see. It’s my fault.”
“This is silly talk. Take a pill and calm down,” he advised. “While you’re up, get me another beer.”
“I used to be someone. I was Lillian then. I used to march for women’s rights. I protested. I wrote letters to my congressmen. I had opinions. I used to stand up for myself. I used to be Lillian.” She glanced at her faded housedress. “I used to wear high heels and short skirts. Now I wear garbage like this.”
Bob shot Lil an irritated glance. “All this over not going out to dinner. Jeez. I cry uncle. We’ll go out.” He shook his head before returning to the TV.
“You used to love me.”
“Jeez. I still do,” Bob replied, still watching TV. “I’m trying to watch the game.” He yawned.
Lil sat for a long time staring at Bob.
“This is getting creepy,” stated Bob. “Are you going to get me another beer?”
“I think I need a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.”
“I hate traveling.”
“I’ll go alone then.”
“Yeah. Anything,” yawned Bob. “Get the beer now.”
“So it’s okay if I go on that vacation?”
Bob nodded. “Yes, please. Go somewhere. Rest up. You need it. In fact, I think I’ll take a nap myself now, speaking of rest.”
“I’ll get you that beer.”
Lil rose and went into the kitchen. She took a cold beer out of the fridge and opened it. From her pocket she took two Benadryls, crushed them, and then dropped them into the bottle. She gave the bottle a swirl before returning to the den. “Here’s your beer,” she said as she handed Bob the bottle.
“Thanks.” He looked disappointed at the bottle. “It’s not in a mug. You know, the ones in the freezer.” He took a swig.
Lil stood watching him. She hoped she had not put too many pills into his beer, but she needed Bob to fall asleep quickly.
“I feel so sluggish,” murmured Bob, struggling to stay awake to watch TV.
“I’m going on vacation now.”
“Okay,” chuckled Bob. “Whatever floats your boat.”
Lil left the den quietly as Bob shook his head.
“Wo . . . men,” mumbled Bob as he nodded off.
Forty-five minutes later, Lil left the house with a battered suitcase, a huge roll of hundreds, twenties, tens, and fives hidden in her bra and a secret credit card in her purse.
Bob didn’t hear Lil leave, as he was fast asleep in the den with the TV blaring.
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Lillian is a forty-something mother whose life is miserable. Her husband hits her when he drinks and her grown daughter treats her as a servant.
She flees to Key Largo and finds the Last Chance Motel. There she heals from years of abuse. Hoping to begin anew, Lillian works hard to make a place for herself on the island of sun and play. And she finds new friends.
But it is not without cost. Lillian finds herself the victim of a stalker who is bent on making her new life as miserable as her old one. Only this time, Lillian is going to confront her tormenter and she is determined to win.
But it may cost Lillian her life!
Sometimes the heat in the Keys just brings out the meanness in people!