They had recently seen their last child off to college. A few nights ago they had viewed the film, "Kramer vs. Kramer," along with the handful who had not yet seen it.
And she knew it was time.
No holding off any longer. IT was coming; IT had always been coming. Like a dreaded train in the distance slowly, but relentlessly, approaching, finally arriving within view.
The girl in the Kramer film was climbing the walls and her kid was only 8. So it was bad enough that she had kept her feet planted on the floor of her house until the last was 18.
But now she was hanging around. Or so she thought. And, to go on with what she'd been told, if she did not leave her house from boredom, there was always the other thing she kept reading about: the woman's right to freedom. A triangle was the way she saw it: bordom at one side, freedom across from it, and she at the tip being squeezed out, like from a tube of toothpaste, a maniacal grin of "showing them all" on her face.
For a few days she thought about it. Long days, where she would sit by the window and watch the fall leaves drift quietly to the ground and see her car parked firmly in place, when it should have been long gone for the day.
And then it occurred to her! Yes, that was it: Park the car away from her house each day. Let them think she had THE JOB, but in reality she wouldn't. And she could stay at home.
Her relief astounded her. Thoughts of those days upon days of being alone in her home, doing what she wanted to do while the others believed she had THE JOB, sent joy to her heart. Ah, the bliss of her own definition of freedom.
But there was groundwork to be done. First, where to leave the car? It was yellow and too easily recognized. She brought her husband -- always one for adventure -- into the plan, who wisely advised the neutral color beige. oThey had their car painted.
She made a tour of the neighborhood to decide the best place to leave the beige car. Their neighborhood was made up of winding streets and front lawns meeting asphalt. And there were few trees. Even a beige car could be pinned down there.
She decided to sell the beige car and take a bus.
The bus stop was four blocks away, but she did not mind walking; it was as close as she would ever come to jogging after she had THE JOB. She took the bus to test her plans and decided she would transfer halfway to town, leading people on the bus that she would inevitably know off her track.
Having solved the transportation problem, she concentrated on her change of clothes. She must leave her house in smart office clothes, but come back unrecognized. But who would she be?
She would be the housekeeper! A woman with THE JOB was entitled to a housekeeper.
She bought herself smart office clothes, a few colorless outerwraps for the return role as her housekeeper, and a multitude of headscarves. She practiced walking with her legs bent to disguise her height until she could do it perfectly with her back straight.
She found a nice brown leather briefcase that looked sober and important and which could be used as a storage place for her disguise.
At the stop where she would transfer there was a shopping center with a large department store. The sports department in the store was so large that she could change into her disguise in one of the dressing rooms and no one would notice.
The last and most pleasant part of the plan was deciding on the title of THE JOB. And with that -- like a revelation -- it flashed in her mind that she wanted: head, chief, yes, even vice president. With awe she realized she could give herself a promotion to the title of president.
It was then that she began to feel her first sensations of power. She asked her husband for some ideas for titles to her work. Together they contrived a long one that took her some moments to memorize.
The night before THE JOB she barely slept. The knowledge that her liberation was so close at hand thrilled her.
The next morning she put on her smart office outfit. On the bus she met two people she knew. They nodded approvingly upon hearing about THE JOB and remained respectfully silent when she told them her title. They glanced admiringly at her brown leather briefcase.
In the department-store dressing room, she changed into her disguise: a brown raincoat buttoned to the top button at her neck, and a dark green scarf tied neatly under her chin, pushed ever so slightly forward to shade her forehead. She bent her knees slightly . . .
When she arrived home, she shut the door firmly behind her. She took off the scarf, raincoat and smart office outfit and slipped into her quilted bathrobe. Flattening herself against the walls, so as not to be seen, she pulled her draperies closed. From a drawer she took out a box of chocolate covered cherries, turned on her favorite music station in the living room and stretched out on the sofa.
She popped a chocolate in her mouth. It broke crisply between her teeth. The syrup was thick and sweet. She folded her hands behind her head, stared peacefully up at her beamed ceiling; soft music filled the room.
In the shopping center tomorrow, just before she changed into her housekeeper disguise, she would stop and buy the novel . . .