It is quite rare that I write in second person, but after writing this one in first and then third and still feeling it was missing something I switched to second and it seemed that’s what [the story] wanted all along. As always, I appreciate thoughtful, constructive critique. I hope you enjoy Then as Now, rated PG-13, according to my standards.
Then as Now, by Deanna Schrayer
He grabs hold of your shoulders and pushes you aside. You stumble over your own feet to step out of his way so he won’t have to use any more force than he has already. You had just put down the spatula and rushed over from the sausages sizzling in hot oil, (in preparation for his favorite meal), to welcome him home from work with a kiss. You feel the sting on your lips where his dry ones had quickly peeled themselves away from yours.
He tosses the mail on the counter, unopened, an act so unlike him it causes you to stop and stare, looking for your name alone on an envelope. He moves to the stove and you remember the sausages and rush over to flip them.
But it’s too late.
He yells to wherever in the house your sons are, “Boys! Do y’all wanna go to McDonald’s?”
“McDonald’s?” you say, flipping the over-browned meat anyway, “I’m making sausage subs.”
He sneers at you, “They’re burnt.”
Your sons come flying downstairs from their bedrooms, jumping from the fourth step to the kitchen floor. “Yea, let’s go!” they say and suddenly your family is gone, leaving you to decide whether to feed the sausages to the dog or save them for supper tomorrow, whether anyone will bother eating them at all.
Hours later you find yourself pulling all the clothes you’ve not worn in the last two years from your closet, remembering that day ages ago when you finally threw out the maternity clothes. And that day more than twenty years ago when the ER doctor told you the twins five months inside your womb had not one heartbeat between them.
You reach for your wedding gown at the back of the closet and you recall how your future husband, the father of your living children, had gotten you through the heartache of losing your first babies, how his love made you want to live again.
And now, as the slamming of the kitchen door jolts you back to today, you wonder why you aren’t dead yet.
This song, one of Bruce’s best, Something in the Night, came to me after writing the story and got stuck in my head for a while. The heartache of it does seem (to me) to reflect the heartache of Then as Now. And this particular performance is quite powerful, give it a listen.