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Eyes of Love
         Barbara A. Killmeyer

May 4 - Maria

Maria watched the small black and white television while she did her ironing in the basement laundry room. She was ironing Dominic's shirt and she had to be very careful because if she put just a little too much starch on it Dominic would become very angry.

On the television, Oprah was interviewing author Willa Weetham who recently wrote her third book, this one titled, How to Become the Woman You Want to be. Oprah asked Willa to give viewers three hints to help them to initiate change within themselves.

"First," Willa said, "Decide just who you would like to be and how that person differs from the person you are now."

"Second, work on raising your level of self-esteem. You can't expect people to treat you with respect if you don't respect yourself.
"Third, Begin...."
Maria jumped as the door slammed overhead in the kitchen.
"Ma! Ma!" The voice of her younger son, Sammy, bellowed for her.
"Down here", she called.

Sammy appeared at the top of the stairs. At sixteen he was a replica of Dominic at that same age. He had the same thick black hair, with an unruly lock that insisted on tumbling out of place and over his left eye. His intense brown eyes surrounded by long, thick lashes, assured that he had no trouble getting girlfriends. Physically, he was a neater, trimmer version of Dominic. Dominic had let himself go over the past several years and now at forty his once hard muscles have been reduced to flab, he doesn't bother with hygiene and his toothbrush hasn't seen the inside of his mouth in a very long time. Sammy adores his brother Salvatore, two years older, and uses him as a role model for all his actions.

"Did you go to Aubry's and buy that sweatshirt I wanted?"
"No Sammy. I've been busy all day and haven't had time to go out."
"Damn it Ma! I told you I wanted to wear that tonight. There's still more than an hour 'til supper, you have time now."

Maria glanced at the clock; 3:45, she had the lasagna made and ready to pop into the oven, it would only take a few minutes to throw a salad together and dinner would be ready. This was Saturday and Dominic had to have his dinner at 5:00 so he would have time to get ready for his weekly bowling night. If she hurried, she'd be able to get to Aubrey's and still have dinner on time.

"Just let me finish this shirt and I'll be on my way" she said. But all she heard in reply was the stomping of Sammy's feet as he ran up the stairs to his room. Maria sighed and finished ironing Dominic's shirt.

By 4:45 Sammy's new shirt was on his bed and Maria was mixing the salad with the dressing. She looked over the table to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. She didn't want to give Dominic anything to complain about today. On his plate Maria had placed a package wrapped in colorful paper and tied with matching ribbon and a neat bow.

Salvatore came into the kitchen trailed by Sammy. They were having a conversation about some school activity. They ignored Maria, sat down and continued to talk to each other while helping themselves to salad. Dominic came in and sat down. He was scowling and Maria knew he had had a bad day. He picked up the box and looked at her. "What's this?" he asked her.

Maria answered, "Tomorrow's our anniversary and I picked up a little something for you. I'm giving it to you now because I thought you might be able to use it when you go bowling tonight."

"Yeah, thanks," Dominic said. He picked up the box and set it aside without even looking at it. He turned his attention to the boys and joined in their conversation.

Maria knew there would be no anniversary gift for her. She sat down to eat and blessed herself before the meal. No one followed her lead or even stopped talking while she prayed.

7:15 and Maria finally finished her chores for the day. She worked Monday through Friday at Lanyon's candy factory so most of her household chores had to be left for the weekend. After cleaning, picking up after Dominic and the boys, doing the laundry and cooking, she was exhausted. Everyone was out so she had some time to herself. Finding her favorite radio station that played the soft music she preferred, she picked up the book she was reading and sat in a comfortable chair. She rarely got time to spend on herself so she appreciated every minute away from the demands of her family. She was allowing herself two hours to relax, before she would go up to the bedroom and prepare for bed.

For Dominic, Saturday night was not only bowling night, it was also sex night. It had been a long, long time since she enjoyed sex with Dominic but she endured it because as his wife she was not permitted by her husband, or her church, to refuse. Maria hoped that if he thought she was asleep, he would leave her alone.

At 11:15 Maria heard the garage door raise, then lower. She settled herself into a sleeping position and tried to regulate her breathing so it would appear that she was sound asleep. Dominic threw open the bedroom door and stumbled to the bed. He shook her roughly. "Hey, wanna hear what your old man bowled t'night?" Without waiting for her answer he threw his clothing on a pile on the floor and got into bed with her, bringing the smell of stale sweat with him. He grabbed her and rolled her onto her back. "C'mon, congratulate me Baby. I had high score t'night." His breath was a combination of unbrushed teeth, beer and garlic. Maria held her breath and tried to turn her head away. Dominic crawled on top of her. "Hey Baby, you know how I like to be congratulated." Every Saturday night was the same. He was hard and ready. He immediately pushed into her while she lay still and did her best to keep from gagging from his foul breath. Finally, he grunted, groaned and rolled off her onto his side. "Wasn't that the greatest?" he managed to mumble before falling into a deep sleep. Maria stayed awake for a long time listening to the snores of her husband and thinking about the woman she would like to be.

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