Playing House

Like the Prose: Challenge #6 – Write about a deep secret.

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Sometimes, she thinks, the writers should have given her better lines. Like when they had that stupid argument about the kids’ beds. She wanted paired captain’s beds with desks at the ends, and he insisted stack up bunk beds were better because they’d have more floor space.

“But they’ll fight over who which of them gets the top bunk.”

“No, they won’t,” he’d argued, pointing out that their older son liked to stay up later, reading, and having the bottom bunk meant he could have a clip-on reading light, and the younger boy was a marathon sleeper, never got up in the night, so putting him up top wouldn’t disrupt anything.

She’d wanted to counter that he was a marathon sleeper now, but she’d ended up just yelling that since he knew so much more about their boys he should do whatever he thought was best.

It wasn’t the first such argument.

And it wasn’t that she didn’t love their boys, wasn’t madly, scandalously in love with her husband, but sometimes it felt like she was just playing house. Like this wasn’t really her life, that she was an actress playing a part and she’d wake up and walk into her real life as a foreign correspondent or a famous chef or… something.

She’d gone through all the counseling after Zachary was born and then again when the arrival of Jordan had sent her into an emotional tailspin, but post-partum depression couldn’t still be a thing after nine years, could it?

Could it?

And really, Facebook is to blame.

Oklahoma? Her college editor had responded when she’d made the “friend request” a few days earlier. You’re living on a ranch in Oklahoma? And you’re married? I expected you to end up in New York, London, Paris. I thought you’d have published seven novels by now. But as long as you’re happy…

And that’s the thing. Feminism teaches that her life is her choice. That staying home and writing cooking blogs and raising two boys who are free thinkers and respectful of women is as valid as anything she might have done before (and there was a novel, actually, before she traded that life for this one).

And, really, that’s the secret she doesn’t share: that she’s happy. She’s so goddamned happy, and she feels fucking guilty for enjoying her life. Like she’s some horrible failure for not living up to other people’s expectations of what she should have been.

And so, she goes through periods where she wishes she had better writers handling her day-to-day dialogue.

And sometimes, she feels like she’s playing house.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Playing House by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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