Some people just ought to be dead, just dead. Dead in the ground. This wasn’t Martha’s normal frame of mind, but today she felt it’s justifiable. Andy was on another I’m a poor black woman being oppressed by my white selfish in-laws day. The third this week.
“Throw them in the street. I don’t care what happens to them. You don’t care about me. I cook and clean.” She threw the third lamp this week against the wall. Andy was in rare form, and Martha couldn’t help noticing from the crash of the lamp against the bedroom mirror, that her aim was getting better.
“I am not throwing them in the street and neither are you.” Sara’s voice was remarkably calm. The argument was about last night’s dishes soaking in the sink.
“Steve just needs to get a job.” Andy Shouted.
“And so do you!” Sara’s voice was beginning to shout. “You haven’t had a job in ten years.” For the record Sara thought Andy hasn’t washed a dish, or lifted a hand to clean house in the three months that Martha and Steve have been living with Sara and Andy. Her complaint was about Steve not pulling his weight in the kitchen. He’d been on another job interview. He’d come home depressed after the interview went south and locked himself in the bedroom. He skipped dinner, it was another one of Andy’s risotto and Velveta concoctions with chicken wings twice fried in duck fat and burned parsnips for vegetables. None of which he was sure was on his diabetic diet.
Andy’s five am screaming fit woke Martha, the dogs and the neighbors from a sound sleep. It took Martha a few minutes to sequester and quite the three poodles in the bathroom. Martha sat in the living room listening to the profanity and the destruction behind her sister’s bedroom door.
“Andy, I am not having this conversation with you any longer. If you don’t like it you can leave.” Sara’s tone of voice had a finality to it.
Andy burst from the bedroom shouting profanity over her shoulder at Sara, and stopping long enough to glare at Martha and say.
“I’m sick of all of ya, go to hell.” You’re all a bunch of white Freeloading bastards.
Martha took a breath and didn’t say, that’s a two way street sister, at her freeloading sister-in-law while watching Andy storm down the hall to her study and slam the door. Checking up on her sister, Martha found Sara sitting on the bedroom floor cleaning up the magazines and pillows that Andy had launched at her during their morning fight. Sara had stopped buying ceramic lamps years ago because of Andy’s fondness for throwing them. Martha laughed at the idea that Sara ran a tab with the mirror man at the local furniture store.
Sara sat looking nonplussed about the whole thing. Martha was realizing that twenty years of this kind of crazy gives a sane woman a unique perspective.
“Sara, I’m sorry you have to go through this domestic abuse. When Steve gets a job you can live with us.”
“What domestic abuse? It’s just a fight, everybody fights.”
“No, they don’t fight like this.”
”Mom and Dad fought like this all the time.”
“Yes, they did, and we can agree, it was domestic violence.”
“In fourteen years Steve has never called me a bitch, whore or any of the other shit that you have been called since we have been here. On the days that I work late, If Andy wants help cleaning the kitchen, she can ask him and he will help her.”
“He should just know, he’s a grown man. He acts like a seventeen year old. He should just know to help. We do.” Sara replies exasperatingly.
“Of all Steve’s wonderful attrabutes, mind reading isn’t one of them. By not telling people what you expect from them, or not asking for help, and then getting mad at them when they don’t meet your expectations is a major part of the patterns of abuse.”
“Well, Steve should go and apologize to Andy for not helping out.”
Over my dead body, Martha thought to herself, and neither am I.