By Candy Porett

“If you go over 118 pounds, you don’t have to leave, just move over so someone else can get in. If you’re not late for church, you leave early. Don’t leave the vacuum out. Turn that music down. Don’t work more than two nights in a row. Why is your hair always messy? Some people that you think are your friends, really aren’t .You should get battle pay for those stretch marks. You have a new stove, dishwasher and refrigerator. What more could you want? Where do the Ten Commandments say that stealing one Q-tip from your job is any less a sin than murder? I believe a person can love two people at the same time. Who would want you with four kids? You’ll never make it on your own. You can’t do that.” You’d heard this from him so many times.

You look around the bedroom where your four kids and their friends slept. Clothes and toys lay all around. The beds are unmade, but the sheets are clean. They had fun last night. You wander into the elongated living room and sit on the tattered brown couch. The atrocious green and orange tweed carpet is raveling in spots. Magazines and newspapers are strewn around. The stereo is rebelliously loud, so you can hear Pink Floyd throughout your small house. From the picture window you notice soft blankets of pink clouds ruffling in the sky. In your bedroom, your tight jeans lay next to the bed, right where you peeled them off when you came home from the bar.

You went out with your friends after work. You laughed a lot last night. You are wiping up the remnants of a food fight the kids had while you were working. You feel relieved that you left a bland chicken casserole for them instead of spaghetti. When you finish, you decide to call your ex-husband to inform him of some decisions you have made regarding the kids. As you are wiping the burner grates on your tiny apartment-sized stove, in which you cooked a 22-pound Thanksgiving turkey just last week, you tell him you are taking the kids out of parochial school because you can’t afford tuition anymore. In his too familiar , condescending, you are dumb, let me lead you tone, he says, “You can’t do that.”

There is a loud clank when you drop the stove grate. You say “Oh, really? Guess what. You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do anymore. I can do anything I want. I can even say ‘FUCK’ now.” Then you rapidly repeat the word loudly, three times in succession, “FUCK, FUCK, FUCK.” You hear a gasp, and then a click.

You are now so happy that you stand alone in your narrow little kitchen, smiling, with your fists raised above your head. You yell, “All right. I am free. I am fucking free.”

Nearly every day for the last six years, Candy Porett, landlady, nurse, wife, mother of five and grandmother of two, has prevented her own derangement¬† by writing stories and poetry at five in the morning. If asked, she’d say she prefers creative non-fiction the best, but still loves Steinbeck dearly.