Neither had wanted to go the party on that freezing night. They hadn’t recovered from their argument on Monday night when Mick had arrived home late, drunk and an unapologetic mess.
Loretta didn’t want to argue. She could sense the coldness from her husband like she had just opened the freezer door.
Loretta didn’t say anything but Mick had other ideas.
“Go on, say it.” He barked.
Loretta said nothing.
“Say what’s on your mind.” Mick spat, staggering closer and closer, not realising he could not stand up.
Loretta relented like a harassed mother giving in to her whining child.
“It’s your job.” She said with quiet concern. “I’m just worried you’ll lose your job,” she pleaded.
I won’t lose my job. I’m so good at it,” Mick growled.
He’d been a sports journalist since his college football career had been cut short due to injury, something Loretta always believed she was blamed for.
It was the typical teen romance; the cheerleader and star football player who were married after graduating from the same college.
The night of the accident, he didn’t want to drive after a tiring football week but Loretta insisted they went to her Grandfathers 70th family birthday celebrations 80 miles away. That evening was cold and icy and the journey home much the same when Mick’s car slipped on some black ice and did a couple of turns before crashing into a tree. There was no one else on the road and Loretta came out unscathed but Mick’s back injury was too much to sustain a professional playing career. From then on, being a sports journalist was all he knew and he loved his job. It was the next best thing.
“Mick,” Loretta pleaded. “They will fire you if you lose your licence. You won’t be able to do your job.”
Loretta knew it was pointless arguing with Mick trying to string words together like a toddler learning to talk, stopping after each word to think of the next one.
“I won’t lose my job, I’m good”, Mick kept repeating before eventually falling asleep on the just made for watching sports, armchair.
Since then, they had barley spoken; Mick going to his job and Loretta going to hers as a Kindergarten teacher.
The tension had mounted the next day when Mick announced he was going away to cover a game in Chicago. Although Loretta had always known it was an integral part of the job, this was the last thing their marriage needed although she knew it was what Mick’s career needed.
She hated what he had become and longed for the days when she used to sleep wrapped in his arms covering her in cashmere comfort. At those times when, his warm breath soothed her beating heart, there was nowhere on earth she’d rather be.
So now, after an intense week, they are driving home from another birthday party Mick didn’t want to drive to, their best friends’, Charlie’s. He was tired. She worried. Worried for his driving, not knowing how much he had really drank and daring not to ask. Worried for the week ahead, worried for………
The noise went straight through from under the car, straight through her terrified body through her aching ears. The car came to an abrupt stand-still. They were both unhurt but now Loretta could hold back no more. His drinking has become unbearable. Loretta’s shouting drove Mick outside to see what he had hit, the smell of burning rubber becoming more intense.
They had hit the end of the road head on. As had their marriage. February 11th 2009