Good Enough to Eat

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis Read Free Book Online

Book: Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stacey Ballis
amount liquid at this time, and we are happy to discuss the association making a loan to you for up to two-thirds of the assessment amount, at a reasonable interest rate, with a twelve-month repayment plan.
    If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
    Kurt Jacobs, President
Ravenswood Manor Condo Association
    Fifteen thousand dollars. Due in three weeks. My arm is shaking, and the letter drops from my hand. The store is netting less than five hundred dollars a week after expenses. I have just under twelve thousand dollars in my checking account, the last of the divorce settlement after buying the condo. This assessment will mean giving up a huge percentage of my liquid cash, and would also mean that a slow month at the store would bankrupt what little I would have to reserve for protection in the blink of an eye. It also means that I’ll have to get the difference somewhere. Even at a low interest rate, it will still be nearly a thousand unexpected dollars a month to pay back the association if I decide to take their money. I have some retirement savings, but between early withdrawal penalties and the tax burden, not to mention the very real possibility that without them in my old age I would become a ward of the state, I’d have to be close to living on the street before I’d dream of tapping into them.
    I collapse on my couch, feeling the tightness in my chest, the sting in my eyes. Just when I am feeling like maybe my life is going to be okay, life has other plans. I think about the thousands and thousands of dollars I spent on spa treatments and clothes and handbags and vacations at fifteen-hundred-dollar-a-night hotels. I think about the money that flew through my hands: fresh flowers all over the house every week, a full-time housekeeper, extravagant gifts to everyone in the office at the holidays. And stupid me, never fancy jewelry that you get to keep and has resale value, not antiques or art that you can auction off in tough times. Oh no, just massages and six-hundred-dollar-a-pair shoes, and fancy restaurant dinners with two-hundred-dollar bottles of wine. I own the store and this condo outright, same with my car. But in this economy, with my tiny profit margin and the crappy real estate market, I’m not qualified for much of an equity line on either property. I was too proud to take alimony from Andrew. I didn’t want the constant reminder of him, even in check form.
    “What would you like to do about maintenance payments, Melanie? The law is clear, you’d be entitled to a percentage of Andrew’s income,” Bill, the attorney handling our collaborative divorce, asks me.
    I look across the table at Andrew, whose glare is steely. He clearly thinks I’m about to nail him to the wall. “I won’t be needing maintenance.”
    Both Bill and Andrew look surprised. “Are you quite sure?” Bill says, in a voice that seems to imply he thinks I’m an idiot, especially now that there is such a marked discrepancy between my income and Andrew’s. I love the feeling of surprising them both, of being strong and independent. “I’m absolutely sure.” Andrew can keep his money to spend on Charlene. I’d rather have less and know it is mine.
    I look around my sanctuary, which now has the taint of being flawed. Broken. Somehow, it makes me love it more, knowing that just under the surface things are amiss. Just like me.
    I breathe deep, trying not to lose it. Trying to stem the anger that is building. I get up and start to pace around, rudderless and suddenly starving. Fuck it. Fuck it all.
    I call Philly’s Best and order a large cheesesteak sandwich, extra meat and extra cheese, a side of garlic bread, and an order of onion rings. By the time I take my shower, getting the day’s grime off me while sobbing into the steaming sting of the water, and get into my sweats, the doorbell is ringing.
    Soft, chewy buttery bread, steaming seasoned meat, gooey cheese, crispy,

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