Jumping Ship

Tiny almond eyes squinted in the light. I cooed at her and nuzzled her fragile head swirled with tendrils of silken black tufts. I was in love—wholly, completely, instantly. Her desperate hands grasped my finger and I silently promised her a gilded future. My eyes radiated upwards and connected with his. This was our love, alive! This was our intention! My gaze hardened as it slid to the small girl in his arms. This time we had done it right.

Pang after pang of blistering tension pulsed through my frontal lobe. My ears were ringing. Her cries frayed every nerve ending that had remained intact after my first daughter. Nothing can quench nameless desire. She needs, she needs. Why isn't this different? I wanted this time to be different. I glared at the exposed pink brick wall of my cell. My mind was awash with toxic sludge—engulfing and welcoming—I let it have me. Once again, I'm trapped in this fucking monument to our love.

My thoughts seethed and roiled over the reality of motherhood. It's not all cute dresses and stroller walks in the park. How could I have let myself be conned into this indentured servitude? Why did I welcome these shackles? I poured a shot of whiskey for my sanity. Breathe. The door careened open under the weight of my guilt. Our eyes connected and mine shied to the bloated duffel bag on the floor. "The girls are asleep. I'm leaving."

The bus rolled into the station and expelled a noxious sigh of relief. Glowing with life and promises of gold, Sin City beckoned with open arms. I buried thoughts of pink teddy bears and soft giggling under the city lights, and collapsed into the comfort of a new start.

Before my enslavement, I had been a dancer. My days were long with ballet, Latin fusion, and street dancing. The tumbler cooled my lips. Two auditions this week, an invite to a marina party, and two auditions next week. One, two, pause and hold, and five, six... Every neon fruit was within reach, I just had to lift my hand and grasp the most enchanting. Chase your dreams. Don't give up on yourself. Don't settle. The mantra repeated as I rehashed my audition sequence. The dying echo of a baby's coo lingered in an empty corner of the bar. Brushing it off, I continued—seven, eight. Kick, step.

Sunlight dappled through a school of fluffy popcorn clouds. I smoothed my dress and simpered over the hull at the water below. To my left, a small gaggle of dancers were orchestrating dainty lines of coke on a platter. My eyes locked with a long legged, auburn. During my audition, she had glorified her 7 month love affair with cabaret. Oh I needed that love! In her southern, honeyed voice she offered the silver slat and I obliged. Moments later a velveteen bag emerged from a petite blonde's clutch. Rocks of varying sizes were divvied out. We mimicked a toast and bottoms up.

Every pore of my being was dripping pure, lava-like adrenaline. I was melting and melding with the ship. The world was open water. I inhaled, the ship heaved, exhaled, and ho. Opalescent streams trailing with pink ribbons—some in bows, some in knots, some knotted in bows in a little girl's curls—streaked across the deck. The tentacles slithered around my chest and snaked across my throat. Exhale. My body convulsed as I struggled against the constricting ribbons. White molten light blinded me, as the sun, set on bleaching the scum from the deck, flooded my vision. I surrendered to the light, but at least I drowned free.