Jean opened the door to her brand new space. She took a deep breath, the citrus smell was pleasant. This small space, was the first time for a long time, that she had an area to herself. Of course, it was tiny compared to the home she shared with Dan, but this was her space.
The first thing she moved into the bedroom was her laundry basket. She stood it in the corner of the room. It used to drive Jean mad that even with a laundry basket so close Dan still never put his socks in it. Every night the same routine, come home from work, strip off his suit and socks. He would always hang his suit up, but the socks were thrown. Round the bin, near the bin, but never in the bin. Jean smiled at the memory it was funny how when all the hurt faded it was still the little things you remembered.
Jean had met Dan when she was 35 he was a younger man of 25 but had always dated older women. Dan had said all the right things to make her fall in love with him. He promised her a family, how they could have fun together. He promised to fulfil all Jean’s dreams for her. Jean fell hard, harder than she had fallen before. Rather than resisting love, like she had so many times before, she let it engulf her in its warm arms.
The only negative with Dan had been the fact that he was black. She was ashamed, but her father was a racist and would not take kindly to her marrying a black man. Still, she reasoned her sister would still support her. That was the first mistake of the relationship. Her whole family had disowned her after 35 years. The hurt was immense. There were people on death row who were supported by their family. Hers had turned their back over the colour of someone’s skin. Jean stuffed the hurt down inside and instead revelled in the warmth of Dan’s love. She was committed to this relationship, she was 100% in, what did the loss of her family matter.
Two months into the relationship the second mistake occurred. During a night out with his brother, Dan met someone else and cheated on Jean. Jean still remembered the day she found out. The crippling pain that gripped her heart. She always knew she wasn’t good enough for young handsome Dan and this confirmed everything. Who was she trying to kid that this young beautiful Adonis was interested in sad, fat, frumpy Jean? His behaviour had proved her feelings were reasonable. It was these feelings that would eat away at Jean for the next 4 years, like cancer killing her spirit.
Dan had managed to talk her round. He had been drunk, he didn’t know what he was doing. The excuses went on, Jean was too infatuated to turn him away. She reasoned to herself that things could get better and the hurt would fade. It did over time, the betrayal became less, but the hurt never died.
Dan true to his word was faithful for the next couple of years. Well, at least that is what he said. Apart from a few friends on Facebook that seemed a little too close, Jean never found any proof of betrayal. Not that it stopped her wondering of course. She was constantly on the lookout for the signs. Was this what had eventually destroyed their relationship. It would take several more years of counselling to work that out. Jean knew that she always held the feeling that Dan would cheat on her again. More than a suspicion a deep down knowing that no one could talk her out of.
Jean shook herself, she didn’t want Dan in her new place. This was her chance to finally find the person she was before Dan had entered her life. The Jean that had been strong and gutsy, the sort of woman anyone would want to be friends with. The Jean that Dan had created was insecure and paranoid. Jean didn’t like herself, so how was anyone else going to like her?
The next thing she moved into the space were her books. Five in total she had selected to move with her. Her five favourites. She placed them on the small window sill. Maybe in the future, she would be able to afford a bookcase and collect more books. At present, the window sill would have to do. Sitting on the bed she looked around and thought the place was almost looking a little like home. Again she sighed and listened to the peace. Apart from a slight rustle from others living in her block, there was peace all around her. This finally was the place that Jean was going to repair her battered heart.
Having dealt with a few more decorating tasks. Jean then sat down and ate a small dinner. She sat on her bed with the tray resting on her knee’s. Although her mind wanted to take her back to those years with Dan she refused to let it. If she let him wander into her subconscious, then the pain would start again and Jean would not allow that. Having finished her dinner Jean put her tray to one side. Feeling suddenly exhausted, she retired to bed.
As she took her socks off she threw them towards the laundry bin. She missed. The old Jean would have jumped up to put them into the bin. No, Jean thought to herself, this is the start of the new me, the socks will be fine on the floor.
She lay in bed looking at them on the floor. It was as if they were taunting her, demanding she got up and place them in the bin. The compulsion was strong, but she resisted. Instead, she closed her eyes and let her thoughts drift. Of course, they drifted back to Dan and the day she discovered that her fears were real.
For months Dan had been telling her that she was mad, for how she felt about him cheating again. He told her she was driving a wedge between them and her behaviour would push him away. She could see the logic of what he was saying. She could not believe it though. She hated herself for pushing him away, but her stupid head could not trust him completely. Her own family had walked away after 35 years of loving her, why would Dan stay around after only 4.
One Saturday she had decided to do the laundry. Going upstairs to get the basket she started picking up all the socks that Dan had discarded. As she was nearing the end of the bedroom hunt, she picked up a pair of small black socks. She turned them around in her hand. They couldn’t be Dan’s he took a size 10 and these were definitely smaller than that, about a size 6. About the same size as her socks, except, these were not her socks. She had never seen them before.
At that point, everything became clear to Jean. She didn’t know who the socks belonged to, but she knew what they represented. She didn’t know whether to cry with the excruciating pain or shout out that she had been right. The pain was unbearable but also there was a strange sense of relief. She hadn’t been going mad, thinking he would cheat on her, because that was exactly what he had done. Taking the socks in one hand she went to face him and watch him lie his way out of this.
Jean got out of the bed, the compulsion was too bad and now it had caused her to start thinking about him again. Stomping across the room she picked up the socks and launched them into the laundry basket. The laundry basket and the five books had been the only luxury items the prison had allowed her to bring in. Jean was determined to find her old self again. Even if it did take the full 25 years she received for strangling Dan with a sock.