Moving Out With Barbie
I used to wish my parents would divorce, so my mother and I could have some peace.
We could barely afford school clothes as it was, so how much worse could it be without my father screaming like an outraged gangster in the middle of the night anyway?
As I nudged toward adulthood, it dawned on me that my parents could have lived totally different lives, separately. Instead of torturing each other for decades. Instead of inherently blaming the hypnotic vapor trail of a post-war society that told them divorce was B-A-D. Bad. But devout mothers didn’t leave their husbands, no matter what throes of insanity were unleashed.
One brawl cut through the 3:00 a.m., mid-seventies darkness and woke me out of bed. Mom threatened to run away. She sprinted through our wood-paneled hallway, yesterday’s make-up running grey trails down her cheekbones.
A Barbie carrying case the size of a mini-fridge sat in my closet, sturdy cardboard veneered with a layer of white vinyl as slim as typing paper. It held Barbie’s mod and glamorous ski apparel, gowns, tennis outfits, and plastic go-go boots, arranged in cardboard drawers and on orange hangers diminutive as paper clips.
I dumped the cloud of pink and yellow Barbie gear to the floor and stuffed the case with my less-appointed wardrobe, snapping closed its silver latch. Case in hand, I stationed myself at our front door.
Mom paced in the kitchen, left-over make-up swiped away, having transitioned into the next phase of the night’s argument. Never planning to attempt what she’d proposed. She stopped cold at the sight of me. “What are you doing?”
My grip tightened around the molded plastic handle.
“I’m ready to go,” I answered.
I can still smell the vinyl.
Finalist: Women on Writing WOW Spring 2017 Flash Fiction contest
Winner, First Place (revised version) in Pennwriters’ “In Other Words” contest, May 2017