The last item to go onto the pile was the mop she used to clean the kitchen floor. With more vehemence than necessary, she shoved the tines of the For Sale sign in the ground beside the debris.
“Still not going to tell him before you leave?“ Aileen had refused to help her sister, Maureen, eradicate herself from the home she shared with her Significant Other, Palmer.
“Nope,” Maureen wiped her hands off on her pants. “He isn’t due back from his business trip for another two days, and by then I’ll be long gone.”
“Palmer deserves better than that,” Aileen stood cross-armed glaring at her twin.
“Does he?” Maureen returned the scowl. “Why?”
“You made promises, and that should mean something,” Aileen pursed her lips in disapproval.
“Do you mean promises like, ‘love and cherish,’ or like, ‘comfort and ‘honor,?” Maureen counted off the pledges on her fingers. “Because I haven’t seen those for a very long time.”
“Do you give those things to him, or do you just argue with him over everything?” Aileen tapped her foot, an irritating habit she had when agitated.
“No, I don’t argue with Palmer, to argue with someone, he has to actually talk back.” Maureen kicked at the mattress teetering on top of the pile. “He goes days, even weeks without talking to me.”
“I’m sure you give him the silent treatment too,” Aileen shook a well-manicured finger for emphasis.
“At first, I did, then I one day decided that I would talk even if he wouldn’t.” Maureen picked up small pieces of trash and threw it on the growing pile. “I pretend Palmer and I are carrying on a normal conversation. I ask him about his day, tell him about mine. I ask him what he would like for dinner, I tell him I like what he was wearing, I tell him to have a good day at work. His response? He doesn’t even look at me, doesn’t bat an eye in my direction until he feels he has punished me enough.”
“You had to have done something, you are always pushing his buttons,” Aileen shook her head in that knowing way she had. “Have you simply tried telling Palmer you’re sorry?”
Maureen stood facing her sister, armed crossed, leaning back on one leg.
“Tell him, ‘I’m sorry’?” Maureen shook her head in disbelief. “Really? I never thought of that. Seriously, Aileen, I have no idea what Palmer is ever upset about. I rack my brain, I lose sleep trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong. You know what? I finally sussed it out. Nothing. I’ve done nothing, he is just exerting his ‘authority’ over me.”
“He is your husband, he does have authority over you,” Aileen acted shocked.
“I’m through talking about this, I want to be in Birmingham by dark,” Maureen strode past Aileen.
“Oh, I like that,” Aileen said. “Having a plan, and giving a specific destination is good. Then you can just leave.”
“Should I be more lachrymose?” Maureen turned back to Aileen. “Do you think some tears or a catch in my voice would help?”
“No, tears never worked on Papa,” Aileen, paced around the pile, tapping her lower lip, deep in thought. “No, I think you have the right amount of defiance and determination.”
“You don’t know how much I appreciate you helping me with this,” Maureen hugged Aileen. “Practicing will definitely make it easier.”
Aileen held tightly to her sister, fighting back tears.
“What are big sisters for?” Aileen joked when she found her voice.
“You’re only five minutes older,” Maureen wiped a salty droplet from her sister’s cheek. “I better get on the road, Mom and Dad are expecting me by lunch.”
“Let me know when you leave Mom and Dad’s,” Aileen called after Maureen’s car as it pulled out of the driveway. “Stay strong, you’ve got this.”
Aileen watched Maureen’s car until it turned right at the end of the street, praying she’d escape this time.