The boat rocked gently, creating a mesmerizing environment. The young woman could hear the lapping of water outside against the boat's sides, accompanied by the chime-like sounds of ropes pinging in the wind. The man whose strong shoulder supported her head snored softly.
She thought back to how they snuck on board some fisherman's unmanned vessel last night after enjoying an evening of food, music and the debauchery known as dancing. Such wickedness would never have enticed her just a year ago. After all, she was the classic example of a preacher's wife, a tall, slender blonde who dressed modestly and carried herself with propriety -- so staid, so proper.
She had tired of the constant strain of putting on the perfect act, trying to please everyone around her. Their expectations and demands were impossible to meet. No matter how hard she tried, she would eventually become aware of verbal sniping going on behind her back, both of family and church members. It seemed everyone was a critic. But that alone was not enough to send her over the edge.
She had had to take a job to help pay the bills, bills that overwhelmed her husband. She did so happily. But the fact that he could not support his family on his own tormented him. He felt like a shell of a man. He had initiated the choices that brought this family into being, but now realized that having a large family was a crushing weight on his shoulders. He fell into depression, feeling sorry for himself and barely going through the motions of being a father and husband.
She came to think of him as a coward. He had brought them to this point. She had trusted that his leadership would bring them through the tough times. Instead he stewed in his own self-pity.
It was during this time they found a young man from Mexico on their doorstep. He had risked everything to come to America. His ambition and courage, along with his playful spirit, did not go unnoticed. She found herself drawn to him. She tried to teach him English, he tried to teach her Spanish.
One day she went out to the garage to do laundry and he followed her there. He pulled her into a passionate embrace and kissed her. She did not resist. Just at that moment her husband slunk around the corner, catching them in flagrante delicto.
The young man returned to Mexico. She was happy for him to be reunited with his family. She admired and respected him, and she knew she had nothing to offer him.
In the meantime, her husband now turned all his anger on her, becoming violent in words and ultimately in action. Daily she would come home from work and he would yell at her, eventually throwing whatever he found handy at her. Day after day she endured his anger, while still trying to keep the family together. Day after day, he would scream that he was going to leave her, at times even dragging out the suitcase. But he would never actually put anything in it.
It finally dawned on her that he was desperate to get out, but didn't have the courage to do it himself. When he repeated again that he was going to leave them, she took the suitcase from him and told him, no, he wouldn't. But she would. She packed her things and left him that night, never having made a plan for the future and not yet realizing that she would never go back eventually. She had no place to take her boys yet, so she knew her first plan of action would have to be to secure housing for herself and them, which would take her a couple of months. In the meantime, her temporary home would be her workplace.
She remembered how it felt leaving alone that night, never having supported herself, let alone herself and five sons. She had kissed them all as they slept, while her husband lurked close by. Then she told him goodbye and walked out into the night, the screen door banging behind her.
The rules she had always lived her life by were no longer a valid force. She found herself freefalling through life, searching for a new foundation, trying to find her footing in this new world of hers.
The rhythmic rocking of the boat soon quelled her thoughts and lulled her to sleep. She would sort out the dynamics of her new world tomorrow. After all, tomorrow was another day ...