It was never supposed to be like this, she thought as she scrubbed the floors of her downstairs hallway. She was supposed to be happy, still madly in love with her husband of 20 years. Instead, she felt washed out, empty and unloved. Sabrina hated her life. She hated the endless cleaning, the constant dinner parties for her husband’s associates; men she couldn’t stand and whose wives she loathed even more. She hated playing pretend with these women, hated playing the perfect hostess all the while being ignored by her husband, Mark, who did little to make things easier on her, all but ignoring her most of the time and ridiculing her when he did pay attention to her. Sabrina began whistling while she scrubbed. Despite everything, she was actually fairly happy today. Only four more hours till the dinner party.
She finished scrubbing the floors of her 7 bedroom, two story house. She loved her house but lately it felt like a prison. Endless days of cleaning, cooking, catering to Mark’s every need had drained her more than she had realized. She felt aged even though she was just 35. She had married young to get away from her abusive, alcoholic mother and the shameful late night visits from her father. Everything had been so perfect in the beginning. Mark had promised to love her forever and take her away from everything that was wrong in her life. She had stupidly believed him.
It would be so much easier, she supposed, if he allowed her to hire someone to help out with the cleaning. But no, Mark insisted that staying home and taking care of the house was a woman’s duty. The only thing he allowed was the occasional catering when their dinner parties ran over 10 guests. He prided himself on having a wife who ran the house and kept everything in order. He liked coming home to his immaculate house and glass of scotch prior to the five star meal he demanded Sabrina cook nearly every night. Sometimes he would take her out to dinner to a fancy restaurant but not very often.
It’s not like they couldn’t afford the help, Sabrina thought bitterly. They were rich beyond their imaginations but Mark was so paranoid about losing it all they didn’t live a lavish lifestyle by any means. If you live like a millionaire you won’t be one for long, was Mark’s favorite saying. Who cares, Sabrina wondered. She didn’t understand the way Mark thought, she’d much rather enjoy the money but since it was constantly reminded to her that it was Mark’s money and not hers she didn’t have much of a say of what was to be bought.
Three more hours till the party.
Sabrina trudged up the marble staircase, tired even though it was only three in the afternoon. She had been up since 5 a.m. cleaning, decorating, preparing the meal, doing laundry, and had little time to stop and think let alone rest. It’s done, she thought with relief. No more cleaning, no more slicing and braising lamb shanks. I’m done with it all.
She went up to her bedroom where she flopped on the bed and exhaled. She loved her bed. The furniture was one of the few things Mark had let her choose and she chose the best. It was a hand carved, imported bed from Italy with an ultra-soft down comforter resting under hand sewn pillows from Carrie’s of London. If there was one thing she was going to miss it would be her bed. She had decided earlier this morning while ironing Mark’s slacks the way HE demanded they be pressed, that tonight was going to be her last dinner party and that thought made her happier than she’d felt in ages. Sure, the thought of leaving Mark had crossed her mind before but tonight she was going to follow through with it. No more, no more, no more! She was delirious, rolling around in the covers, fluffing the pillows and throwing herself back into them.
She still needed to pick out a dress for her final evening. She walked to her closet and picked out her favorite ball gown, a pale peach colored strapless satin gown with diamond encrusted beading on the bodice. Dinner parties at her house usually weren’t formal enough to warrant such a fancy dress, but tonight was special and she wouldn’t get the chance to wear the dress again.
She decided to do her hair first. Nothing too fancy, just a simple French twist, a style she usually chose just because she thought it looked so elegant. She remembered the first time she saw the style was on a pretty blond model in her mother’s Redbook magazine. The model had been wearing a strapless black cocktail dress and was holding a tray of food out to her guest. It had been an advertisement for a specialty cheese and it looked like the ideal life to Sabrina. It was also just moments before her father burst into her pink, frilly little girl’s room with a drunken salacious smile on his face. But that part of the memory she didn’t like. The entire time her father was forcing himself on her she had thought of the model in the picture with the pretty French twist and how she wanted that life, a life of dinner parties and hosting and being a socialite. Sabrina decided that she wanted that life the while her father was on top of her and insisting that she did like it and she wanted this more than he did.
She finished her with her hair and began applying her makeup.
One hour till party time.
Of course Mark wouldn’t show up until right before the party began along with the guests. He always waited and timed it so that he would arrive the same time and the first guests did so that it would never appear that he had in any way helped set up for the dinner. He wanted everyone to know that the domestic department was solely Sabrina’s responsibility.
She walked around her bedroom for the last time. She touched her fine bottles of perfume and sprayed herself with her favorite, a small expensive amber colored one imported from France. She walked down her hall and walked to the top of the stairs where she had spent hours earlier cleaning the chandelier while standing atop a thirty foot ladder. The chandelier stood directly above the hallway closest to the front door, Mark made sure of that since he was so proud of the ostentatious piece. She’d always hated it, had thought it was too grandiose and over the top for their home. It had been a major argument between her and Mark but he’d insisted on purchasing it and of course had thrown it in her face that it was HIS money that was paying for and it was up to him and what he thought looked good. It’s a miracle she didn’t fall and break her neck while cleaning the stupid thing. Now that would’ve ruined everything, she mused chuckling to herself at the thought. She stood on top of the banister and balanced herself carefully. She reached out and grabbed hold of the rope she had attached to the chandelier and slipped her neck delicately into the noose.
Three minutes till the guest would begin to arrive.
Sabrina took a deep breath and jumped.