Looks can be deceiving. The four walls around Maggie’s lifeless body, told a very different story of her life, than the one that played out in her head.
Maggie’s office housed all that anyone knew about her. Her PhD hung on the wall, adjacent to the plush couch, her patients sat on. The bookshelf displayed her best-selling, self-help books. Her children’s artwork, framed around the door.
Not even those closest to Maggie, suspected the depths of her sorrow. A pain that her silence fueled.
Jack looked at his wife for several seconds before asking, “Are you feeling ok, hun?”
He couldn’t help but notice a void in Maggie’s eyes tonight. He watched her clean a dinner plate, in a repetitive circular motion, for nearly 5 minutes longer than necessary. Maggie’s body and mind were locked on something internal.
“I’m fine, babe. Just thinking about Addison’s birthday party this weekend. Could you pick up what’s left on the list tomorrow after work?”
Maggie’s vibrant nature was as absent as her mind. Jack could feel his wife’s vibe, begging to be left alone. He respected the unspoken plea, answering only, “Yeah, I can do that.”
That night, as Maggie tucked the kids in to bed, her hugs and kisses were stale. Afterwards, she sat in the middle of the hallway, equal distance from the only real traces of love, in her defective heart.
Maggie passed through the living room. She stopped behind Jack’s recliner and told him she had a ton of patient’s notes to catch up on and would probably be in her office late tonight. Jack felt a pull in his heart to grab her, but decided to give her some space.
To my family,
I wish this wasn’t real. But it is. This had to happen. I’m not the wife and mother that you have always thought me to be. I have spent the last 20 years building on my knowledge of how to help people feel authentic and happy. That journey has been about me, attempting to heal myself. I’ve been searching over half of my life, to find a way to “fix” me. There is no where else to look.
I followed the paths that are suppose to lead to happiness. I married you Jack because your love was so strong, I thought it would help build me in to a woman that was capable of loving herself. I became a mother because I had studied and seen the power of maternal love. I failed at that too. My soul is just too broken to hold the undeserving love you kids give me.
I have become numb. Numb to the reality that there is no hope. I am numb to career and financial successes. I am numb to the arms that embrace me. I walk in stride only with fear of being exposed as a fake. A woman who masks her total void of self-worth, with drive and designed compassion.
Knowing the pills will be taking effect soon, is the only peace of mind, I have ever really had. Joy on the surface is what I have spent my entire life portraying. There would have come a day, when my make-up wore off, exposing my unhealed wounds. This was the only way to prevent it.
Jack, I want you to look at the Piet Mondrian painting you bought me, so many years ago. Do you see how the branches are being pulled away from their foundation by a force, unrecognizable in the painting? Please understand that to be me. Remember how you loved the straight lines and bold colors? Please understand that those lines always looked bent to me, and the colors, pale and draining.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the burden of my false emotions, misleading arms and fractured soul. I will no longer be those burdens on you all.
Now you are free. Now I am free.
Jack sat in the first row, his and Maggie’s children on both sides. They wept together. It was not only a room full of grief for a wife, mother, sister and daughter; but heart ache for a woman, who was never able to truly live.
This week’s prompted writing challenge was to use the line, “Looks can be deceiving” as the first sentence of your story; as well as, make reference to the painting Avond (Evening): The Red Tree by Piet Mondrian, featured above.