Chapter 1: Come home dear
“Wait for me to come home,”
He used to say that every time he left for work. Every time his lips would hum those words as he leaned forward to kiss her. She did, always did and still did wait for him even though he no longer asked her to do so.
With white lavender perfume rubbed into her tresses, tired eyes of honey suckles would wait. Metilda whirled away in the kitchen, the hem of her light, cotton nightgown flourishing behind her like ocean tides. Her skin was pale and her heart was tired and sad.
Little Louis of five watched his mother heating the kettle of chamomile tea. It was his father’s favorite, little Louis knew that. His mother always made his father’s favorites because his mother loved his father very much. Though, he knew his father didn’t love his mummy. He didn’t kiss her like James’s dad would kiss James’s mom. He was always angry and shouted at mummy for no reason and sometimes mummy would yell back too. It made Louis very scared.
"Louis, why don’t you go to bed? I’ll tuck you in a minute.” Metilda eyes were busy on the boiling pot of milk.
“Wait for daddy I want,” Louis smiled at his mother, tugging the hem of her skirt. “Wait together,”
“It’s not wait for daddy I want it’s I want to wait for daddy together,” Metilda had a rule of not answering Louis until he spoke correctly. Half the time, she used this rule to avoid his inquisition like why dad didn’t come for dinner? Why dad didn’t come to his school? Why didn’t dad do this or that? Why does his mom cry? It gave Metilda a headache.
“I want to wait for daddy together,” He repeated.
“No, he’s going to be late again,” In reality, Metilda didn’t even know if he was going to return let alone be late. “There is some work left at office,” She didn’t even know why she was explaining all this to her son. “You know how hard daddy works for us,”
“Please mummy, Louis eat dinner with daddy,”
“My baby,” Moments like these broken her heart. “If you go to sleep, I’ll make you-”
“No!” He thrashed his fists in the air. Metilda noted how similar to his father he looked when he was angry. Their wild grass green eyes glowed red while their cheeks were tinted into the brightest shade of peach. “Louis eat with daddy! Louis eat with daddy!”
She sighed. There was no way to end his fit. Once he had begun throwing a tantrum, Louis won’t calm down until he’s gotten what he desires.
“Louis, you’re a good boy. Good boys listen to mummy,”
“Louis bad boy! Louis bad boy! Louis eat with daddy! Mummy lies! Daddy, mummy fight! Daddy don’t love mummy no more!”
She lost all self-control. Before even realizing it, she had slapped her boy. A moment later, red fingerprints appeared on his cheek. Tears crept out of her eyes, not Louis who had shushed up now.
She sunk onto the cold tiles, a blubbering mess of tears and sobs.
“Mummy, don’t cry. Mummy, Louis be good boy now. Mummy, Louis go to sleep. Don’t cry, mummy. Louis don’t eat with daddy. Louis don’t wait for daddy. I go to sleep. I don’t make mummy cry like daddy. I love my mummy,”
Eyes drowned in tears, a heart burdened with sorrow, lungs breaking every moment, she hugged the small boy. Metilda knew in that moment she had make her son see that his daddy did love mummy. She would do whatever it takes.
Three in the morning, a fumble of keys resounded in the porch. A drunk, once handsome man stumbled into the one-story Houston house. Metilda rushed to her husband’s aid. He laid a big, sloppy kiss on her mouth.
“May, June, July...” John slurred. “May, June, July... I can’t never seem to remember their names.”
There was a long strand of hair on his shoulder. It clearly didn’t belong to him, Metilda noted, a bitter taste entering her mouth. Her young self would have been horror-struck. Her younger self wouldn’t have let him in, she would have let him rot outside in the porch while she cried inside, right beside the door.
The smell of cheap perfume lingered from his coat as she placed it on the worn, maple dining table. John slumped onto the chair, a goofy smile on his lips. “May, June, July.... And Metilda,”
The strings in her chest tightened when he said her name. Right then, she knew she couldn’t leave him even if she wanted to. Why was she being punished for loving him?
She poured him a cup of chamomile tea but he gripped her hand, stopping her in the process. “Why don’t you leave me alone...?”
“You know why, John”
“I don’t understand. We fight too much. You’re making me ill, Metilda. Just leave me alone,” He pulled her closer instead of letting go. Their breaths mixed as a snowstorm messed with the wild wind. With his index finger, he traced the outline of her lips.
“May, June, July. I can’t never seem to remember their names but I remember Jannet and I love her,”
“I know you do,” She whispered, calmly. As calm as a winter storm could be.
“She won’t ever be mine until you take Louis’s custody. She don’t want the child,”
“Maybe that’s why I don’t take his custody.” Metilda spoke freely. She knew he wasn’t going to remember anything in the morning.
“Oh you evil woman, you pain in my-“He cursed. The words bounced off her stone hard shield. Whatever he said, it didn’t make a difference on her anymore.
He pushed her away. “I’ll get rid of you. I swear I will. Then I’ll be free to be with my sweet Jannet and I won’t ever come home,”
Metilda stroked his hair. It was as dark as the countryside’s night sky. “You’ll come back home, dear. Trust me. Love doesn’t fall apart so easy,”