Once I heard the door close behind him that morning, I stood and pulled the spread tight across the span of the bed. I fluffed the pillows and pressed them against the headboard. I took off the red silk nightgown and laid that in the centre, placing the gold necklace on top. I pulled the smallest suitcase down off the third closet shelf. I didn’t know if everything would fit, but that’s the case that I had bought when I went to France with Mom so it seemed fitting to take it.
I went through everything on my side of the closet. Short skirts on the bed, flowing skirts in the suitcase. Low cut shirts on the bed, crew neck in the suitcase. Silver jewelry in the suitcase, gold on the bed.
Everyone says that relationships involve compromise, but I’ve always hated that word. Compromise is one of the words they use in the military when something has gone wrong – their position has been compromised. In space shows, things always take a turn when the hull gets compromised. Our hull didn’t really start with integrity, so compromising it wasn’t hard. It was a matter of one small bad decision after another. Compromise – when neither party gets what they wanted.
Ethan wanted a quiet wife, a helper, someone whose ambition would be about improving his position in life. I wanted a life of my own with a husband who was behind me all the way. We both acted as if we had married the the person we had meant to. I told the world about every small thing he did to support my ambitions, selling the story of a man who was behind me all the way. He bought things for the wife he wished he had – showy clothes to accentuate a figure I didn’t possess, expensive jewelry, fancy cooking implements, tennis lessons, and wine tasting tickets. A compromise, with neither of us getting anything we wanted.
I took books down off the shelves, piling the romances, the fitness books, the cookbooks on the bed, placing the few mystery novels and career guides in the suitcase. I took down the drawings from my brother’s kids, and left the showy art prints on the walls. I took the carved artifacts from my solo trips, and left the elaborate trinkets from our honeymoon. I dragged all the expensive shoes out from the closet floor and threw them on the pile on the bed, my sneakers and hiking boots went in the suitcase. I dressed in my one remaining comfortable pair of jeans and threw on a hooded sweater over my t-shirt and struggled to zip the suitcase. I paused in the doorway and looked at everything remaining in the room, then down at the case full of my treasures. I was okay.
I pulled off my rings and laid them on the pile of unwanted things.
This was not a compromise, this was at least one person being brave enough to get what she wanted.