This is the rework of a self-published auto-biographical story (2008), rewritten for this blog. Names of characters have been changed.
Content warning: mental and physical abuse, misogyny.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
Getting to know them
Continued from… Moving in
During weekends, after his daily work and during holidays, Fred was a chicken farmer. In the big bar on the plot he raised chickens from small chicks up to the moment that they were ready for slaughter. Today was the day about a hundred chickens had to be slaughtered. Annie wanted to help, even though she had never done something like it before.
That evening, after the usual barbecue, they all sat outside on the terrace under the stars. Like several times before, it surprised Annie how much alcohol both Fred and Fran consumed. The wife drank even more than her husband. However, once they had too much, their tongues loosened up, and Annie learned a lot more about their lives before she was on the scene.
Already in their teenage relationship, sex had played a big role in their lives. Whenever Fred picked Fran up from her parental home, they told their parents that they were going window shopping, but the couple attached a different meaning to that expression. They drove out to a deserted place and made out in the back of the car. Fran frequently repeated this same story when she was lightly intoxicated, always with pride in her voice.
Two years after Fred and Fran were married for the first time, their daughter Melanie was born. Their daughter, Elaine, was born three years after they got married for the second time.
It became all too clear to Annie that Fred was the boss in this household. His wishes were everyone’s commands — from wife to children, and now Annie and her children. Everyone had to live by his rules and regulations. Fran was to oversee that everyone indeed obeyed his rules, and she was too afraid to step across the imaginary line to give her own opinion, despite Fred’s verbal abuse. What Annie couldn’t imagine at that moment was that she would eventually be just as frightened of him as Fran was.
And, with good reason…
Fred, Fran, Annie and the four children visited a friend of Fred, Jack. He had a plot on the other side of the main road, close to Fred’s plot. That afternoon both Annie and Fran shot with a large shotgun, big enough to take down an elephant. Afterwards they were all invited to join their hosts for a barbecue and yet again, Annie was surprised at the amount of alcohol that was consumed. She certainly drank alcoholic beverages too, but for every one drink she took, the others drank two or sometimes even three. Only Jack’s wife drank about the same amount as Annie did.
Despite all the laughter and fun around her, Annie felt like she was drowning. She felt lonely. Fred paid her no attention at all. It was clear that Jack knew about Fred’s relationship with Annie, but Fred seemed to only have eyes for his wife. Not only did this make Annie feel lonely, but it also irritated her. It gave her the impression that she was not important to Fred once they were outside the plot’s master bedroom.
Contrary to her feelings of the night before, today Annie believed she was the most important woman in Fred’s life. He was busy plowing a field where he wanted to cultivate vegetables. Annie stood on the plow while he steered the tractor. She tried not to spoil her own illusion about her and Fred being the perfect couple.
After their hard work, they took a dip in the swimming pool. This was the first time Annie got in the pool since the single’s party and the evening she had met this couple.
On this bright and sunny Sunday morning, Fred wanted to prepare a champagne breakfast. He ordered the women to prepare everything. Since Annie came to live in the same house as the couple, she didn’t receive any special treatment from Fred anymore. No, she had to get used to the brusque manner in which Fred spoke to both her and Fran.
After breakfast, the children went for a swim while the adults quietly enjoyed the sun.
“You’re not the first woman to live with us,” Fran said unexpectedly. Annie looked at Fran in confusion. She glanced at Fred, who seemed to be undisturbed.
“Barbara lived with us for about four years,” he then said without looking at either of the women.
“Yes honey, but you should first tell her about Roxanne,” his wife said. Fred scowled at her.
“You tell her since you know so well what I should say and what not!” he answered sharply.
“Annie, you remember that we told you that Fred and I were divorced for a couple of months?” she started and continued when Annie nodded, “He had an affair with Roxanne. We weren’t married for that long when he met her. Of course, I knew nothing about it. I’ve met Roxanne a couple of times when I had to accompany Fred to his work functions. Then one day, I discovered that they meant more to each other than only being colleagues.”
For a while, Fran seemed lost deep in thought. Annie waited patiently for her to continue.
To be continued… Roxanne and Barbara (part 1)