She had the posture and demeanor of a whipped dog—submissive yet hopeful. Her facial expression was usually a small, apologetic smile. She was an average size woman, yet seemed to be under the impression that she took up too much space, so her hands stayed clasped and arms tight against her body. Her steps might be quick or slow, but always so light she seemed almost to float.
Mona lived her life under the constant, paralyzing fear of offending—anyone.
When I worked at the hospital lab in Elizabeth City, it was staffed mainly by women. It was a kind of a slightly dysfunctional sisterhood. There were occasional squabbles, but we all had each others’ backs. You mess with one person from the lab, you messed with all of us.
Mona was hired at the lab, and because of her sweet self-effacing personality, everyone liked her. She was cheerful, quick to volunteer help, and very kind.
She had three kids between the ages of twelve and six. They were very shy, polite, and always had one eye on their mom. Mother and children were an uber tight unit
But somehow, without knowing why, we felt sorry for her.
When the lab Christmas party rolled around, we understood.
Her husband was awful.
He was a bully. He was a strutting peacock of a bully. The kind of bully who assumed that everyone was as twisted and small as he was.
He took delight in humiliating his wife. He barked orders at her, made her wait on his every whim, and blamed and belittled her if everything was not perfect. He’d then gesture to the person he was standing near, and say something like, “Can you believe how stupid she is? She’s lucky I put up with it.”
Of course, we were all appalled at this jerk.
After the party, we all had an extra measure of affection for Mona and felt very protective of her. But deep down we all wondered how and why she stayed with this absolute horror of a human. We daydreamed about what we would do and say if we were in her position.
One day Mona came into work with a different look in her eye. She was excited. And maybe a little happy?
At Elizabeth City’s tiny little mall, she’d met a very nice man who was in town on business. He was from Texas and had already gone back home.
He promised to write to her.
And he did. And told her he was a Texas oil millionaire. And later, he’d fallen in love with her, and wanted her and the kids to move to Texas.
Of course, the women in the lab were 100% convinced that this guy, for whatever reason, was stringing her along, and probably lived in the basement of a mobile home.
Even I, who is usually very trusting to the point of pathological gullibility was certain this guy was the baddest of bad news.
Then he sent her four plane tickets so that she and the three kids could come out to Texas for a visit. We were all petrified he would cook and eat a couple of them and sell the rest into human trafficking.
She came home with pictures of her and the kids enjoying what looked like South Fork ranch. Turns out the guy was a legit, well-known and beloved Texas millionaire. She moved out west and when her divorce was final, married her prince.
Her first foray into romance was a bust. But despite the fears of us all, Mona got her fairy tale and her happily ever after.
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