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AUGUST 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 8



Less than Superman | Michael Schiavone


The Arc of a Rotten Apple | Steve Mueske

JESSICA MERTZ, a high school junior, is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. She lives in Short Hills, New Jersey.


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I remember looking at the clock every three minutes. My mind was distorting time as if each moment was eternity. I could see him at a bar talking to some single woman about politics, while slipping his ring off, or maybe he kept it on to intrigue her. Perhaps it was that fresh-faced secretary he had recently hired, disregarding her lack of experience. It was as if I had given my husband a curfew, a grown man whom I had sworn my trust to and their I was letting fifteen minutes block his honesty. I was consciously becoming his mother - the women he had continuously worked so hard to prove wrong. With this in mind I began to feel guilty for doubting our love, which for eight years had overcome affliction, except for the time a hypothetical fight left him on the couch for a week.

My intense visions relapsed creating images of his body thrown on the side of a city street that was only innocent in daylight. A few drinks, then a casual walk to the car, interrupted by a criminal whose intentions lead to abuse. Then an even more graphic image arose: a disheveled body trapped in a destroyed car while thick alcohol-poisoned blood dripped on the interior. I remembered him neglecting three stop signs earlier in the week after he insisted five beers were nothing. So I put the blame on myself, I had allowed him to drink and drive almost as if it were acceptable; therefore he had done it again. I stopped myself, once again feeling like an angry mother, yet this time I was more like my own - annoyingly paranoid. I recalled as a child constantly reminding her that not all actions were negative or had harmful consequences, as she refused to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.

In the midst of all this worrying the clock had slowly progressed and I realized none of my thoughts could have occurred within the mere twenty minutes he was late. I was calming down, then it became twenty-three minutes, twenty-five, twenty-eight. Tension built once again. I discovered at that moment how fast a heart is capable of beating, and the results were indescribable. I was beginning to doubt my doctor who said it was impossible to have an emotional breakdown at the age of thirty. My teeth were grinding, my eyes were bulging, and a door opened. Just the side door, no police ringing the bell or thieves calling for a ransom, just the simple familiar sound I was anticipating. So he was safe, he entered the bedroom in perfect condition, other than the bags under his dark eyes. I took a deep breath, yet refrained from sounding relieved for I was still waiting for a completely valid excuse. He humbly walked towards me as I sniffed in search of an unfamiliar perfume to be lingering and found only his rich aroma. His overworked body eased beside me in bed and he finally noticed the impatient look in my eyes.

"I suppose your wondering why I'm late," he said. I remained silent and wide-eyed, staring at him. I felt uneasy again at the tone of his voice. "I know this will aggravate you," my heart stopped, " the car broke down again. Luckily it was just the transmission and a gas station was near. I took the train home. I know we don't have the money to invest, but you have no idea how frustrating it is," I put my finger over his mouth before he could continue. Inside I was yelling at myself for having lost faith and for allowing my imagination to take control. Outside, my face was glowing with a sense of fulfillment, as if I knew it would be fine all along. He attempted to talk again trying to elucidate his misery however, I selfishly wanted nothing more than to indulge in the moment and allow my dreams to capture the bliss. Confused, but obviously craving rest as much as me, he changed and crawled into bed beside me. As I turned the lights off I leaned into him and whispered through the darkness.

"Remind me to call my mother and cancel our plans. I think I've been spending way to much time with her."

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