When Rachel had a moment to think to herself that night, she fondly touched the pendant as she stared at herself in the kitchen’s mirror while she fixed the twins’ bottles for the next day and thought about the day’s event and…
She closed her eyes and thanked the heavens for her strength. It really hadn’t been the thought of being adulterous with Derrick. It had been more to the point that she didn’t want to lose her job. She could maintain her integrity despite the temptation and Derrick James was a temptation of his own. Rachel was well aware that this young man was physically attractive, charming and highly intelligent. She had heard how the young ladies went on and on about how cute Derrick James was, but he had made himself untouchable and as far as Rachel knew no young lady at the school had ever caught his eyes. Not to say the school didn’t have its share of beautiful young ladies, so why had Derrick set his sights on his teacher? He had to be aware that these girls would give up their virginity to have a taste of him.
A door loudly closed bringing Rachel out of her thoughtful ponderings and she could smell the stench a bar that Robert ha been at before her husband even reached her.
Without turning to face him, while he got a beer out the refrigerator, she noted, “You’re home early.”
“You should glad to see me,” he sneered being sarcastic.
“I’m not trying to nag you, Robert.”
Snorting, he said, “Then shut the fuck up.”
Rachel pushed away the hurt when he said hurtful things like that to her. Facing him, she asked,
“Did you call the man back about the job at the lab?”
He mumbled something and guzzled the rest of the beer down.
“I said I don’t’ want to work at no stupid lab, is that so hard for you to understand?”
“Yes, it is when the welfare of our children are at stake. The bills won’t pay for themselves and I can’t work any extra hours than what I’m already doing and take care of the children. It isn’t as if you’re giving me any help at home, Robert.”
“Would you shut your fucking nagging, woman and leave me the hell alone.” He opened the beer spilling some of the liquid on the floor and walked out the room without cleaning up the mess he had made.
She took a sponge and wiped up the mess from the floor. Afterwards she took a shower and laid down knowing Robert was going to spend another night in front of the television in the front room. She wondered if life would ever go in her favor?
* * *
Early the next morning, as soon as she opened her eyes and looked at the table by the bed where she kept her purse, she was very aware that Robert had gone through her purse and taken all the money in there and her car keys – again. Getting up out of bed, she ran out the apartment, not caring that she was just in her pajamas and barefoot in the chilly morning.
All Rachel could do was gasp as she saw her car in the driveway, but at first she wasn’t sure if it was her car. The front end looked as if it had been crushed into a brick wall and the left side looked as if the hand of God had picked it up and tried to hammer it into the ground.
The car was completely totaled. The keys were still in the ignition, although they were useless now.
Rachel didn’t know whether to cry or scream. This was the family’s only mode of transportation. Robert knew that and he definitely couldn’t afford to get a new car. Plus, they had only no-fault on this car.
Mrs. White came out her door, just as Rachel stepped back in the apartments hallway.
“He left a few minutes ago,” Mrs. White informed her. “He said he lost control.”
“When did this happen?” Rachel asked holding back the sob.
“I’m not sure. I heard the tow truck dropping the car off and came out to see what was going on. Your husband came home in another car long enough to dump the car and leave.” She then added knowingly, “You know the landlord’s not going to let you leave it there in the driveway like that.”
Rachel only nodded and promised to deliver the twins soon to Mrs. White. A migraine had started to make her eye twitch.
First thing she did was called the main office at the school and let them know she would need the day off. Her migraine intensified as Laura seemed only too happy to take the day off request. “Guess I’ll have to sub for you then,” she said.
“There’s an important personal matter that I have to take car of today,” Rachel said evasively. “My lesson plans are in the first drawer of my desk and Mr. Davish has keys to that drawer.”
She dressed the twins and took them to Mrs. White and then paged Robert. He didn’t call her back, but an hour after the page he came through the door with two buddies she barely paid scant attention to except one of them seemed rather too young to be hanging with Robert, but she didn’t even take more note on this too upset by the car. By the time Robert had come, Rachel found a company to take the totaled car away. The company even gave her $100 for parts. She was not telling Robert about the money because he’d only steal that away from her or demand she give it to him.
“Can I have a word with you, Robert?” she asked stiffly, trying not to show her anger at him in front of his friends.
Robert’s dark brown beady eyes cut at her as if she better watch whom she was speaking to. No longer the handsome young man of his early college days, in the few short years since college Robert had turned into an overweight down trodden unwept slush pile of a human being. The muscles he had worked so hard to build in college had turned to fat and the beer drinking had further escalated his state of being.
His image that used to turn her on and make her heart swoon now only sickened her.
Rachel followed him alone into the kitchen. “What happened to the car?” she demanded to know.
He spoke like he was discussing the weather and it was no big deal. “I lost control hit the back of some little shit’s BMW and smashed into the side of the wall on the freeway. Fucker shouldn’t be breaking so damn hard.”
The more he spoke, the angrier she became. Rachel wanted the scream some more, but clutched the back of the kitchen chair digging her nails in the cheap plastic.
Robert went to the refrigerator to get beers for him and his buddies. “Don’t worry, Rachel,” he said in that irritating casual tone. “I was alright. Arnie got a few stitches, but he lived.”
“But now I don’t have a car to get back and forth to work.”
He smirked popping open one of the beers. “You’ll figure something out. You always do, Rach.” With that, he left her alone.
Confused, frustrated and miserable, Rachel went to the bedroom. After a moment of just staring at nothing, she burst out crying until she fell to the ground in frustration.
When she couldn’t cry anymore, she realized Robert had left the house again with his
friends. Going to the hallway by the bedroom, she moved the rug from the floor and then used her nail to dig down and remove the floorboards.
Underneath, there was a combination lock cash box. Before removing the boards, Rachel listened carefully to any noises in the apartment. She had found the loose floorboards when they first moved in and decided to make use when Robert kept stealing the cash out of her purse. Removing one thousand dollars in cash from the box, she knew she’d have to come up with a really good story as to how she had obtained another car. Most likely she would lie and say another teacher pitied her and the car was on a personal payment plan or something. Either way, Rachel needed a car or she wouldn’t have a job.