Grace perched daintily on the edge of the sofa. Everything was in its place. She had just finished a whirlwind of cleaning house, scrubbing and shining every surface to perfection. She surveyed her work with great satisfaction. She was the master of anything she put her mind to.
The turtle-dove gave a chirp from her cage. Dan had insisted on keeping a pair from their wedding day, almost a year ago. The male died not long after. Grace suspected that he wasn’t keen on staying locked up, wild at heart. The female surprisingly survived, even after suffering a terrible depression when her mate died. Grace often felt bad for continuing to hold this little warrior captive. But Dan insisted. So she stayed.
Grace hadn’t given the turtle-dove a name yet. Dan liked to call her Princess. Grace didn’t feel like that name fit but kept the thought to herself. He was a bit of a sensitive man. She loved him, as much as convention allowed. He worked and provided well. He never mistreated her. They got along and she was comfortable in their lifestyle. That’s all a marriage really required.
At least that’s what her mother had told her. Her mother, the perpetual matchmaker. Mother had met Dan at the supermarket and after discussing the health properties of squash, she promptly invited him to dinner. Grace had just graduated from university and mother was afraid that she would never marry since Grace had yet to secure a husband during her four year college experience. Grace explained that she had been too busy enjoying life and traveling to worry about finding a husband. After all, it was the 1960’s, things had evolved. Mother was still stuck somewhere between the 40’s and 50’s.
Grace had the wild dream of moving to Ensenada, Mexico and spending her days writing on the beach and living amongst the natives. Mother had quickly shot that idea down. “How would you survive? That is no way for a young woman to live! It’s crazy talk, how would you ever find a proper husband?” She had a disgusted look on her face. “Living with those people.” Grace hadn’t realized she was biting her tongue until she tasted the warm, bitter taste of blood in her mouth. Shortly after that, Mother met Dan, Dan met Grace, and the rest was history.
Grace gently eased herself into the tub to soak for a while. She loved the feeling of getting good and sweaty before a bath. On the wall across from the tub hung a painting that Grace had purchased on her trip to Mexico during college. It was of a woman, her black hair whipping around her brown shoulders as she looked out longingly to something unknown past the oceanscape. Grace had fallen in love with it immediately.
Grace was admiring it when suddenly the woman in the painting turned around and motioned for Grace to come over. Grace felt confused but obliged, standing up, water dripping down her naked body. The woman whispered, “Ven” as she motioned to Grace again. Grace did not know Spanish, but somehow understood that the woman was saying “Come”. Grace slowly reached her hand out to the painting and touched it. Immediately she was on the beach, naked, with this woman. The woman did not notice as she herself had a see through white sheet draped carelessly over her bare body. “Where are we? What am I doing here?” Grace asked her but knew she would not get any answers.
“Su corazón está allí. ¡Tienes que ir a buscarlo!” The woman’s tone was hushed and urgent, as if what she was saying was a secret.
“What do you mean my heart is over there? How am I supposed to find it? What does that even mean?” Grace was frustrated and alarmed. The woman came closer. “¡Tienes que ir!”
“Where do I have to go to?” Grace impatiently asked.
The woman came up to Grace and pushed her hair away from her ear. Grace could feel her warm hands touch her shoulder and the sensation of the sheet tickling her breast. “Salvaje” the woman whispered into her ear. Grace felt a current surge through her body as if she had been electrified. Grace turned her head to look at the woman but she was gone. The sky was turning black and the waves grew harsh. Grace was looking up at the sun burning out when a wave swelled and consumed her.
Grace woke up with a start. She had fallen asleep in the tub. Dazed, she got up and wrapped herself in a towel. She could still hear the woman’s voice in her ear, haunting her with that word, “salvaje”, wild one. Grace dried off and quickly dressed. She got her luggage and started to pack. She wasn’t sure what was possessing her, but she liked it. She gathered all her jewelry and money she had saved during the year for a “rainy day” and stuffed it in her purse. She knew what she was doing even if she didn’t know it yet.
She stood in the middle of the gleaming living room and took a deep breath. Just one call before she left.
“Hello mother. How are you? Oh that’s too bad. I know how those women at bridge club irk you so. There’s something I need to tell you. No, I’m not pregnant. I know you’ve been wanting a grandchild. Yes, I know, I’m getting older. Mother, please, listen… Listen to me! Thank you! I wasn’t shouting. Let me speak! I’m leaving Dan. I’m not happy and if I stay with him, I’ll whither away. I don’t belong here! Mother, please stop crying! No, you are not going to die of a broken heart. Stop being dramatic! I’m going to be fine. Actually, I’m going to be fantastic! Please don’t yell at me. Mother…MOTHER…Okay, I’m going to hang up now… I love you… Goodbye.”
Grace noticed that her hand was shaking as she put the earpiece back on the receiver. She felt like a goddess. She was standing in front of the door, bags in hand, when she remembered one last thing.
She walked over to the turtle-dove and carefully carried her out of her cage. The turtle-dove cooed as Grace made her way to the open window. She kissed the top of her head and whispered “Go live Salvaje. You are free!” and released her. Grace felt invincible watching her fly away.
Grace walked out of the door and never looked back.
Word prompt is: Crazy Mama