Un certain âge

I lowered my sunglasses and double-checked the street outside the bank before going in. “Pas des mechants, mes poulettes,” I whispered to the girls as I held the door open with the heel of my boot, wedged my orange BOB Revolution through the door, and made my way to the teller. She was très jolie, I had to admit, with her long brown hair and perfect lipstick, but I didn’t return her smile.

“May I help you, miss?” she asked, still smiling, giving me the benefit of the doubt, making nice.

“Bonjour,” I called over the counter, flaunting my accent. I still didn’t smile. “I need to close my account.” I showed her my license.

The teller furrowed her perfect brow. “Is there a problem?” she murmured confidentially.

“A problem? No.” Mais oui. Agathe and Édith were waking up now; their little chirps emerged from the stroller, which I jostled a bit while I debated how to tell the teller what she wanted to hear. I stooped down and pulled the leather satchel from underneath the Revolution and calmly passed it over the counter. “Here, take this. Give me all cash. Nothing smaller than hundreds, please.”

She nodded. I watched the second hand make a slow round of the clock above her pretty face. Mais oui, une problème, I thought as I recalled the past six months in the apartment with only the staff and the bébés. It wasn’t natural. “You can’t go outside alone,” David insisted. “It isn’t safe out there,” he’d coo to the girls as he’d part the blinds to peek at the street below.

Not long ago, I thought as I watched the teller’s manicured fingernails match the rhythm of the second hand, I used to enjoy David’s protectiveness. He loved me and didn’t want to share, I used to think. Merveilleux, I used to think when he had a museum shut down for the afternoon so we could wander through uninterrupted, or when he emptied out the restaurants first so we could dine privately. Oui, I used to love it.

“Just a moment while I go downstairs, miss,” the teller smiled.

The girls’ chirps turned to screeches. I clucked and jostled, jostled and clucked, but they wouldn’t settle. This was new to them, I realized, reaching into my handbag for their bottles. I shoved the plastic nipples into the girls’ open mouths and thank God, they shut up. I pulled out their twin bowls of organic crackers and plunked them on their matching trays. We were getting looks by then. I could feel the prying eyes on the back of my head and the skin on my bare hands began to crawl. I wished I’d worn gloves.

The teller returned, my bag hanging empty in her hand. “Please come with me, miss.”

“Just call me ma’am, why don’t you?” I screamed, slipping into my native drawl. My heart was pounding. The teller blinked but didn’t lose her composure. She pressed the bag into my hand and ushered me and the baby stroller through a door into a small room.

It turned out that my asshole husband had rolled my whole $50 million savings into one of his private accounts. It turned out to be a teensy clause in our fucking pre-nup. The teller smiled and handed me a tissue.

It wasn’t the bitch’s fault, so I backed the BOB out of the bank, turned on my heel, and headed for the park. At least that was free. “Ladies, don’t ever go and get married,” I called to the girls, who cooed back.

18 thoughts on “Un certain âge

  1. What an awful situation! She was so near freedom, away from him. The use of the accent, though, was interesting. Luckily I could remember some of my French from high school. I wonder, though, why she chose to use it? New life? New self?

  2. Wow, Christi, love the story and the tension. And DAMN!
    I think you would have a much more powerful ending with ‘handed me a tissue.’

  3. I was worried something worse was going to happen when she was called back. Of course, the ending presented wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Like Kymm said: great tension.

  4. She should’ve known a girl’s gotta be stealth! Take the money while you still go home to him every night. Ba-bam! Then you leave! Hahaha. (Not that I would know….)

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