Bound For Submission
Bound For Submission
I came to the beach to cry all the tears I thought I should cry, but there were so few, almost none, it was embarrassing.
Seven years of marriage and I couldn't dredge up the simplest emotion of grief to honor what should have loomed in my memory as a significant piece of my life. All that remained when I walked away from Peter's vacant eyes was emptiness, complete and abiding, so empty even the ocean waves, that should have reminded me of the tears I should shed, left me empty and dry.
The beach house was a tonic for my woe. The walls were a bright, cheerful white, the sun porch overlooking the sea was blooming with a dozen varieties of geraniums and fuchsias. Sitting in the midst of growing things, looking out on the ever changing patterns of the waves, I could almost feel something inside myself, even though I knew it was a trick. There were only worn out memories of the light-hearted days before Peter, when I sat on the porch and felt full of myself, soaring with some intangible spirit, ready for the great quest of my life.
Even though I could never repeat the feeling of that other time, the sunporch and the house itself, with its sweet Victorian angles and its fresh, uncluttered, homey verve, reminded me that there once had been something more.
At other times the beach house only reminded me of him. A left over from Dr. Peter Percival, I remembered I had to fight to keep it. Fight dirty. He didn't want to give it up, but finally he had no choice. His reputation couldn't suffer from the messiness of a prickly divorce, and since I threatened him ever so sweetly, he was taking pains to see that our divorce was amicable. All I cared was that I had the house. Nothing pleased me more than to replace the wooden name plate at the gate with "Nightengale," my maiden name. Only if I could feel like a maiden again.
"I'm changing my life . . . my name . . . my clothes, I'm going to dye my hair red and wear cowboy boots . . ." I warned him.
Peter smirked. I should have slapped it off his face, Mr. High and Mighty, thinking he'd taken a sniveling college sophomore and molded her like Pygmalion into me, the perfect product of his well-chiseled life, carved in cold stone, like the figures that lined the hall of his Percival Institute. Good God! That I ever thought being his pristine masterpiece was something I gloried in!
"I taught you everything you know!" he told me-his way of saying that I was nothing without him. I was nothing with him. I had little to lose thinking I could learn something new away from his grasp.
"The Percival Theories don't translate well to other therapy schools. What do you plan to do to support yourself?"
He said everything so dispassionately with his well-rehearsed calm and reserve, as if he was reading from a used script of marriage breakup. It was all there in his black and white rule book, the words, the intonation, even the scornfully sarcastic pronouncements of my ill-fated future. I don't think he really believed his scorn was a way to get me back, but it was the only ploy he used. Maybe at one time it would have worked, at a time when I still could remember feeling, when I was still confused enough to let his opinions be my own, when I might still buy his tales of doom.
Now it wouldn't matter what he said or did, even if he tried to cradle me in his arms, I wouldn't trust anything he said, though it might sound sincere.
Maybe that's what I wanted him to do, cradle me. Maybe I held out for that possibility, imagining it in my head-that he'd rush to my side with corny sweet-nothings to woo me back, to suddenly mend the Grand Canyon between us. But all that was a foolish romanticism. Peter didn't change, he hadn't changed in seven years. The sun had a better chance of setting forever, than Peter had of finding something real to feel.
What was even worse was that Peter wouldn't be crying either. He