The Enforcer - Kelli Callahan
What a long day; a long year. Who am I kidding? It’s been a long life. Maybe that sounds a little self-pitying, but after all that I’ve gone through. Well, let’s just say I don’t know that I would be here if it weren’t for Holly.
Walking into the large bathroom, I sigh as I reach forward and turn on the hot water. A bath would be nice. It’s one of the few ways that I have found that help me decompress and relax. I spend so much of my time pretending that everything’s okay and trying to save face. Maybe I shouldn’t though. At this point, it feels like a habit. He would never have allowed me to express how I felt or seek the help that I needed. God forbid, I tarnish the name of the great Mayor himself.
A buzzing sound draws my attention, and I turn to face the flashing iPhone. Holly.
“Hey Holly,” I say, picking up the phone.
“Hey Mom, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing great. What about you? Aren’t you home yet?” I asked, pulling my phone away and glancing down at the time.
“That’s actually what I wanted to call you about. Is it okay if I stay at Sam’s house tonight?”
“It’s a school night, Holly,” I say, closing my eyes and bracing myself for the impending arguments. Holly’s had a rough time since the divorce. I can’t blame her. Divorces are hard on everyone, and I do expect her to lash out to some extent. But at the same time, a mom can always use a break.
“Please, mom. I promise I won’t be late, and you know Sam. She’s an excellent student. There’s no way that she would skip school or do anything remotely reckless,” Holly adds.
I smile as I look up to the mirror. “Well, I suppose Sam is an excellent student and her mom is very nice. You know we’re friends… or acquaintances?”
“Yeah, exactly. Her mom is on the PTA and was on one of the approved lists of people I could hang out with,” Holly said, referencing the narrow list and rigid rules that she and I had to adhere to in order to protect Michael’s ego. He had grand plans for our future as a family. That’s how he would say it. Though, in reality, he was only thinking of himself. “Come on mom, please,” she begs.
I roll my eyes to the ceiling. “Alright, fine.”
“Yay!” she yells into the phone and I jump, pulling it from my ear.
“Just be very well behaved. Don’t go out after midnight―”
“Yeah mom, I know,” she said. “Okay, love you so much. Bye.”
Silence fills the room as I look down and see that she’s hung up the phone. Well, I guess I can’t really blame her. Sleepovers were always exciting for me too. That might be one of the things that I miss most about childhood. The freedom, the innocent worldview, where anything is possible and life is full of joy.
“Dammit.” I look at my phone. 3%. I really need to get into the habit of charging it more often. Michael would have called me careless or stupid; words that still sting years later.
Walking across the plush carpet to the side table next to my empty bed, I plug in my phone. It’s probably better this way, I think, plugging in and disconnecting myself. I know Sam Olson and her parents, Patricia and Carter. Holly will be safe tonight and will likely arrive at school on time tomorrow.
Standing tall and raising my arms high above my head, stretching, I soak in the silence of the home. These walls that once held so much fear and pain are slowly being turned into a place of peace, a sanctuary. It’s something that I’ve been working on with my counselor. God, once upon a time, if Michael knew that I had a counselor, he’d have gone ballistic screaming and throwing things. Oh, and the bruises I would have hidden behind oversized sunglasses and layers of concealer. I would likely have needed to miss out on a couple of public functions like the lady’s luncheon at the club this weekend.
Stripping off my robe and laying it neatly on the bed, I pause and turn back to face it. Michael was a stickler for having things in order. My counselor, Becca, told me that I need to take my life back one piece at a time by doing things that make me happy and not worrying myself with thoughts of Michael or