A Portrait of Ruin by Stephanie Wilson

My ruby stilettos skidded on the hardwood floor at the state of our living room. Burgundy bottles of wine had been savagely smashed against the wall. The fresh bouquet of roses was gone from the cherry wood tabletop. Its petals mixed and mingled with the shattered pieces of the vase as they drowned in the puddle. My late mother’s hazel eyes frowned back in dismay. A gaping hole in the wall resembled the mouth of that tormented soul in Munch’s The Scream.
The bashed-in picture now hung crookedly on our wall. It is a snapshot of our seaside wedding on Manhattan Beach, a seemingly happy couple caught in a natural shot. Roger beams at me, everything about him still intact. Meanwhile my toothy grin is cracked in by a furious fist’s blow that left crimson residue on the pieces of glass strewn all over the white rug.
“Roger,” I called. “I can explain.”
But no one heard me speak. My lie echoed in the empty apartment.
There was no way he hired a private eye. His framed degree in Journalism from Syracuse hanging on the wall in his immaculate study reminded me of the horrid reality otherwise.
I shuffled my way into our bedroom. Old Spice, his signature after-shave scent, still lingered in the air. The once sweet fragrance now suffocated me for my fresh, exposed acts of adultery.
How refreshing to see the photographer being captured by her own beloved weapon. These were words scrawled on a neon pink Post-It note. Biting words that clashed with the bright color.
My bureau was filled with scattered pictures all in disarray. They were of me with his kid brother, Artie, checking into the seedy motel on the outskirts of L.A. on a night I was supposed to be working late on a photo shoot at the studio.
There were others depicting midnight trysts to Holiday Inns and Super 8’s. My mind was reeling with a flash of memories of those nights that seemed to blend all together.
The blinking of the neon sign with the red arrow pointed directly at us before drawing the curtain, the smoky smell of the vomit-colored sofa, the peeling mustard-yellow wallpaper, the tangled sheets, the rising sun’s glare, the harried way I buttoned up my blouse, the quick kiss before we had to return to the pressures of our demanding work days, the schoolgirl giddiness of keeping a delectable secret tucked away––
His wedding band was there on the bureau, too, tossed aside as if it were nothing more than a tacky prize won from a carnival game.
In the fractured mirror above the bureau, I saw myself divided into a plethora of pieces. I scoured for a place to see my whole reflection again.

 

About the Author:

Stephanie Wilson is a recent college graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts who has her B.A. in English. She currently resides in Kennebunkport, Maine where she is a beach bum by day and a waitress at a local resort by night.