This week’s story is about escape. Sometimes we can’t escape ourselves, and we live in a culture of escapism and consumerism as it is. Sometimes, like in “Lilith Had to Leave” by Olivia Masters, it’s enough just to get away from the travesties that life in a particular place has heaped upon us. Perhaps we can find ourselves elsewhere without the Dennis-es, “pig-headed, obtuse, and beady-eyed” who have us cornered.
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“Lilith Had to Leave” by Olivia Masters
It was a long-enduring need that, like phlegm, hung in the back of her throat. For the past few weeks, she had never once been without the urge to cough. It kept her sober when she drank and rendered all food bland and unsatisfying. It kept her awake at the office, staring blankly into the computer screen where she would have once effortlessly drifted into a light coma. Of course, even if someone was particularly astute of Lilith’s daily activities, since she was seldom visibly intoxicated, satisfied with a meal, and often slept with her eyes open, they wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
Lilith was never one for planning. In the rare occasion that something should provoke her to act, she acted abruptly. Those close to her would wrongly think it sudden or unprompted, only because she held her cards so close and bluffed so well they thought her an open book, an apple for the picking. They wouldn’t notice she was missing. Paperwork would accumulate on her desk for ten business days, whereupon a notice of termination would be mailed to her former apartment, now occupied by a retired court reporter.
She phoned Dennis, pig-headed, obtuse, and beady-eyed. Not quite redeeming, he was doting, appropriate, and financially stable. Until now, she was unable to convince herself to break things off, which she accomplished surprisingly easily in under forty-five seconds. This made him hot, perplexed, and petty. She hung up the phone and ignored his following twenty-three calls. When he was once again in a proper mind to drive, he fled to the rotund Albanian woman several miles away. She sympathetically welcomed him into her lap and made him poached eggs the next morning.
Lilith made no more calls. The voices on the other end would do their best to disparage her, telling her how ridiculous she sounded, explaining away her yearn for escape as hypoglycemia. Instead, she filled a single suitcase with clean underwear.
She stopped at the gas station a block from her apartment, bought a tank of gas and a bag of corn chips. Back in the car, she turned the key in the ignition and began to drive, sun in her eyes and phlegm in the back of her throat.