The Next Time

Elizabeth and Selma made cookies like they used to years ago when they used to live in their Aunt, Meme Mpingana’s house. Elizabeth went into her old music collection and started playing some old Toni Braxton songs. As they waited for cookies in the oven, they sat down, sipping tea and basking in nostalgia. When one of the more up tempo songs off the playlist came on they looked at each other simultaneously, jumped up and began skipping and singing along. They were both hitting all the wrong notes, but they didn’t care. Elizabeth forgot about her scar, and Jason all together, and it was only the faint smell of something burning that reminded her that they had left something in the oven. Selma left two hours after before Jason returned home. She wanted to say ‘hi’ to him, but he was taking rather long and Selma had to be getting home. It was getting quite dark.
Jason got home, and from the way he walked up the stairs, Elizabeth could tell it was going to be another bad night. He was not wobbling like the other night, but…something was wrong. She wished she had spent some of the time preparing him a light meal, just to appease him. But why should she have to appease her own husband with food to keep his fist from her face, the stubborn part of her argued. As he approached her, she wondered if this was a new record. A mere twelve or so hours before Jason broke his promise?
“Hello,” he greeted her grumpily. He walked past her and slumped into the couch.
“Hi, honey,” she greeted him happily. Perhaps she was wrong after all? “How was your day?”
“Horrible,” replied Jason. “We lost three of our major clients to a rival today. And two more are thinking of not renewing their contracts.”
Elizabeth followed him to the couch. He had never quite opened up to him like this, and again she wondered if he was at the start of some kind of reform. “What happened? Why the sudden change?” She touched his shoulder, but he flinched and stood up.
“Why, so you can just assume it was my fault again?” Jason asked her, but it was rhetorical. Elizabeth tried to cut him off and tell him that was not the case, but when Jason got like this, he could not be changed. “That’s always what it comes down to with you, doesn’t it?”
“Jason you’re sounding crazy!”
“Don’t call me crazy! I’ve enough of a bad day without having to be insulted in my own home.” Jason balled his fist, and Elizabeth expected a punch, but he quelled his anger and only pushed her to the floor. He grabbed his keys and stormed out of the house.
Elizabeth felt lost. What more could she do to save her marriage? Tonight, her tear duct was all dried up; she had no desire to weep. She only picked herself up and walked slowly to the visitor’s bedroom where she would spend the night once again.
With very little to look forward to the following day Elizabeth snuck under the covers and tried to ignore images of Jason in the arms of another woman. She was slowly descending into slumber when the vibration of her cell phone against her pillow brought her back to consciousness. It took her a while to pick up, but the frantic voice on the other end of the line shook her wide awake! It was her aunt.
“Elizabeth, it’s your auntie, Maggy. Can you please come help me?”
Elizabeth shot up! “What’s wrong?”
“Something has happened to Selma! She was just raped, she’s in a bad condition, I just thought perhaps if family —”
Elizabeth didn’t let her finish. She shot out of bed and was reversing her car out of the garage in less than a minute.
At the hospital, she found Maggy in tears, her neighbor, Mr. Emile who had drove her here was sitting quietly beside her. Selma was in a pitiful state, and though devastated for her cousin, it was in that moment, seeing her lying unconscious, bruised all over, and remembering her words that Elizabeth decided she was leaving Jason.
It dawned on her slowly, but her mind was made up, unwaveringly so. She would go home in the morning with a male colleague from work to pick up her things, and be done with it. She touched Selma’s arm, wondering what monster had done this to her. “Oh Selma.” It was just hours ago that she was so happy.