Marilena woke promptly at 5:20 am to the soft chimes of her alarm. She took a moment to inhale and, as she exhaled, smiled to herself. Rising with a slight spring (it wouldn’t be proper to hop out of bed, nor would it be wise to move slowly), Marilena dressed in the workout clothes she’d laid out the night before, ensuring a smooth panty line and giving herself a moment’s thrill as she adjusted her breasts and settled them into her workout bra.
After washing her face she applied a small amount of waterproof mascara and added a light sheen to her lips. Wearing makeup to workout makes little sense, but she wanted bright eyes and inviting lips. She carefully brushed through her dark brown hair before twirling it up into a coiled elastic band. The band was a soft shade of tan, which matched the tank she’d chosen.
She hummed to herself as she drove to the local upscale gym. Smiling, she greeted everyone she saw with a sweet but distant hello before taking her place at the bar to pre-stretch before class began. Her water sat in a monogrammed aluminum tin near the soft, white towel she used to dab sweat. As the workout became more challenging Marilena reminded herself to smile.
Once home she showered and prepared for her day, washing her face once more and applying full makeup before styling her hair. Her daytime clothes, also laid out the night before, fit her schedule of casual errands and meetings. She woke her kids and instructed them to dress in the clothes she’d laid out the night before. While they moved sleepily she made their breakfast and ran through her calendar while they ate. After cleaning the kitchen, fixing hair and tying shoes, they were out the door.
She drove them to school. She drove to the local organic grocery store to select the fresh fruits and vegetables she planned to feed her family. She made a separate trip for free range meats. She met a friend for coffee and listened sympathetically to her woes, offering sage advice when applicable. Finally she delivered a few hospitality centered goodies she had baked the day before to some members of her church who were in need. She did it all with pep, but not too much. She kept her thoughts light and airy. She kept her makeup perfect and hair intact with touchups throughout the day.
That night after dinner she cleaned the kitchen, finished the day’s laundry, then read and played with her two children. They washed and went to bed. After an hour of snuggles on the couch she led her husband to bed and, because it was Tuesday, they had sex. She moaned when he expected and used her mouth to bring him mostly to the edge. When it was time she allowed him to enter, moved with him, and watched his face as he came. She smiled into his eyes before disengaging and heading into the bathroom to wash up.
“I love you.” He whispered to Marilena as she brought him a fresh washcloth. He moved to kiss her deeply. She responded with a gentle peck. “I love our life,” Marilena responded. Once he dozed off Marilena read a few chapters of the simple contemporary novel chosen by her book club. At 11 Marilena turned off the light and went to sleep.
Marilena woke promptly at 5:20 am to the soft chimes of her alarm. She took a moment to inhale and, as she exhaled, smiled to herself. Rising with a slight spring (it wouldn’t be proper to hop out of bed, nor would it be wise to move slowly), Marilena dressed in the workout clothes she’d laid out the night before, ensuring a smooth panty line. She noticed her stomach rumbled slightly. Ignoring the unsettling sensation she made her way to her workout, forgetting her makeup.
She hummed to herself as she drove to the local upscale gym but couldn’t place the tune. She greeted everyone she saw with a sweet but distant hello before taking her place at the bar to pre-stretch before the class began. Her water sat in a monogrammed aluminum tin near the soft, white towel she used to dab sweat. As the workout became more challenging Marilena reminded herself to smile. The low rumble in her stomach became louder. Marilena clenched through the workout then made her way home.
Once home she showered and prepared for her day, washing her face, ignoring makeup, hair up. Her daytime clothes, also laid out the night before, fit her schedule of casual errands and meetings. She put them on but they felt tight. Her stomach rumbled. She woke her kids and instructed them to dress in the clothes she’d laid out the night before. While they moved sleepily she made their breakfast and stared into space while they ate. They put on their own shoes and she took them to school, hair unkempt. Her daughter asked why her stomach was rumbling. Marilena snapped at her.
She attempted errands as the rumble grew louder. She was just finishing a shopping trip to the craft store, items in hand to make a costume for her son’s year-end play, when the rumbling turned into a punch. Her stomach rolled, tightened, and rolled again. The sharp, sudden pain made her eyes sting. She abandoned her cart and walked slowly to the car. One hand on the steering wheel, the other on her stomach, Marilena drove home.
Marilena walked in and rushed to the bathroom, certain she would be sick. She wasn’t. Marilena decided to allow herself a nap and made her way upstairs to her bedroom. She opened her bedroom door to find her husband home, frantically dressing. A woman next to him was doing the same, her topless breasts swinging as she bent over to search for a shirt. Marilena looked down at her feet, saw the woman’s shirt tossed on the floor. She picked it up, handed it to the woman, instructed her to leave.
She heard her front door close, went downstairs to lock it. Marilena’s hand trembled as she touched the doorknob. Her stomach hitched and flipped with a pain so intense she doubled over.
Tears left her eyes, dripping to the floor. Sweat covered her entire body. Something inside of her began to simmer.
Marilena farted. It was extraordinary. Marilena made her way upstairs to her husband.
He sat on the bed, head in hands as Marilena yelled. She berated. She ran her fingers through her hair and yanked. When he looked up to apologize she hated his boring, perfect face. She slapped it. The simmer inside of her grew stronger.
Marilena’s husband left the house. Marilena’s mother picked up the children. Marilena sat on her couch, angry and embarrassed and betrayed. Marilena recognized the woman, the one with ugly breasts and stringy hair, from her husband’s office. There would be talk.
Marilena thought of her perfect life and her beautiful children and everything she had carefully and thoughtfully controlled and built. She thought of it all disappearing. She thought of her husband’s casual, idiotic decision and how it screwed them up. Sighing, she thought of their travel plans. She knew she would let him come home.
Marilena became angry. The simmer heightened.
Marilena woke promptly at 5:20 am to the soft chimes of her alarm. She took a moment to inhale and, as she exhaled threw her fucking alarm across the room. She smiled when it shattered. Rising slowly as her head hurt from too much wine, Marilena dressed in the workout clothes she found on the floor. She didn’t wash her face. She didn’t brush her hair. She forgot her bra. Marilena met her husband for breakfast, explained the steps he must take to resolve the situation. She listened to his apology and told him he could come home.
Marilena wandered the park. Marilena went to the mall. She refused to smile. Marilena wanted a workout but didn’t want to see people, so she went to the local hot sauna studio for a virtual class. No instructor, she thought, just a screen and a lot of heat. Perfect.
Marilena’s stomach no longer hurt but the simmer remained. Marilena went through the steps on the screen, feeling the heat of infrared inside of her. She closed her eyes and pictured the lights flashing and filling her, pictured them warming her.
Marilena felt the simmer become a boil. She decided it didn’t hurt.
As she continued her workout Marilena noticed stickers on the wall were curling and steaming. She thought that curious. Marilena saw the light brown wood near the vents. They were charred and black.
“Feel the burn.” The instructor told her and Marilena did. She felt the burn as the boil inside of her spread. She was hardly surprised when the TV sparked and the screen went black. She barely noticed the door sealed shut or the temperature rising steadily. She continued a workout in her head. She continue to fume.
Marilena enjoyed the boil inside of her, even when the surrounding wood cracked, bubbled and sent splinters flying. Marilena reminded herself to smile as she wiped blood from a spot below her eye. Marilena closed her eyes and saw the flames. Then she let them go.
Marilena stood still as the room around her caught fire. Marilena thought of all of her control and decided to abandon it. Marilena decided she preferred to boil.
Marilena wondered why she’d never raged before. Marilena burned. Marilena took the entire building down with her.