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The Existential Woman

Chapter Two: Page 41

By Shanon NormanPublished 7 months ago 4 min read

Being back at her brother's house did not make Shanna happy. He'd inherited the house over two years ago, and for all the money he'd spent on this and that the house still looked awful. Sure there had been some improvements, but none that the neighborhood would notice. The fence in the backyard hidden to any walking by. The new refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, would not be considered cosmetic improvements. The watered, raked, and mowed grass would only be considered basic maintenance. Shanna's paintings or decorations would only be considered "silly" or "temporary", not substantial or valuable. So when Shanna sat around his house while he was at work day to day, she tried to blind herself to these details.

When she had first moved in, she had attempted to care. She would lovingly plant flowers and tend to the garden with love. She would clean the bathroom not just as a chore or obligation, but with a sense of pride in "their" shared home. She had tried to make the bath tub more appealing. The walls had been covered in stains with pieces of wood crumbling. She had spent hours with decorative duct tape improving that area just so that bathing didn't have to make them feel dirtier instead of cleaner. It wasn't expensive to purchase the duct tape. But it took her several days of care and patience and love and effort to get it done. She was so pleased when her brother had added the white wooden trim. It was the perfect touch and showed her that he noticed and appreciated her effort. Where did that tenderness go?

When they had one vicious argument about their mutual lack of empathy for each other, she tore up the garden. All the flowers and plants that she had spent so many days loving and watching blossom, became nothing more than a heap of ripped up garbage.

He didn't even mention it. He was more concerned with reprimanding her for painting the fence. So she decided not to do anything anymore. Without specific instructions, it seemed she could do nothing right. She only mopped the floors and put the laundry away out of a basic courtesy and for her own comfort.

They hardly conversed anymore. When he did say something to her, she would only give him one ear, not both. She would nod and pretend that anything he said mattered. It didn't because she was never included in any of his "doings" --- not any event he attended on his "free" time and not any "special" event that might really interest her; the sort of holiday excursion or festival.

She could tell by the look in his eyes or the grimace on his face that he considered her an ingrate especially after having presented her with the van for a Christmas present. Yet she found it difficult to comprehend how he could be so proud and insensitive regarding her behavior when he was driving a vehicle worth triple the vehicle she was expected to be grateful for. His indignant reply would be "Well, I earned it." which of course, she would laugh silently to herself pondering the word "earned". Their conversation about car payments two years previous seemed to be meaningless to this present tension. Just another reason to listen with only one ear.

Shanna spent a few days organizing what was left of her "life". She put every leftover "possession" in a storage closet. Mostly sentimental items, a few pieces of her worn-out leftover wardrobe, and a few items that she just didn't want to re-purchase. She scoffed thinking about the year before when she had rented a 10x10 closet and how she had so many credit cards at that time. So many "things" that she tried to "improve" life with or their "home" with, that were gone. The robot vac, the weed-eater, the typewriters, the cellphones, the laptops, the folding chairs, the camping gear, the bikes, the dishes, the coffee mugs, the paintings... and probably more that she was glad she couldn't remember. None of it mattered. It was all gone. She could blame it on a hurricane or a tornado or enemies or capitalism; Or she could just laugh at how ridiculous her ambition to achieve an excellent credit score while caring about her obnoxiously competitive and overly proud brother was to her demise.

Today, she sat thinking about basics and bare minimums. Her goals after two years and more failure than success had completely changed. She no longer could think about the "Big Picture" as she had done for the past five years. Every bit of her perspective at this point was all on the petty and miniscule.


About the Creator

Shanon Norman

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