It was a dark and stormy night. (Well, actually it was)
Certainly darker, and far more stormy that Regina Wellstone was comfortable driving in. If it had just been rain, the 38 year old CPA would have been able to make it north to her home in Sioux City with both eyes closed. When the soft pitter-pat of sleet began to hit her windshield just as she pulled out onto Highway 29 out of Omaha a little after 10pm however, Regina started to feel queasy. That feeling was only heightened when the tires of her Prius began to shimmy on the increasingly treacherous pavement below.
She knew she should have taken the offer of her client that evening to stay at a hotel back in Omaha since some mixed precipitation was in the forecast, but Regina decided to soldier on. The analytic part of her brain quickly noted the absence of traffic flowing south down 29, so she knew the storm was most likely worse the further north she went. Unfortunately, there were things going on at home that were pulling her up that slick and desolate stretch of rural Iowa highway.
In a sign of the times, Regina had family issues her rearing hadn’t prepared her for. Having grown up in a relatively traditional household, with a Father who worked 50 hours+ a week, and a Mother who stayed home to raise the four kids, Regina could have easily latched onto a guy right out of high school, married and started a family of her own. For whatever reason, she wanted to blaze a trail of her own in the world and wound up going to college and getting her accounting degree before meeting the man she would eventually marry in her late 20’s.
While it wasn’t exactly a fairy tale, Regina’s relationship with her Husband, Kenneth, was pretty stable and the couple had two kids, an 8 year old Son who was planned and a 5 year old Daughter that had been a little bit of a shock.
Between Ken’s executive job at a finance company and the part time work Regina did balancing the books of a large farm co-op in the area, paying the bills had never been a big problem for the Wellstones. Like many people swimming peacefully along however, the recession in ’08 caused things to get far more choppy.
Ken was laid off and really didn’t pursue a new job considering the unemployment check was more than he could get working at a new place. Things were OK for about a year, Ken had even taken an active role in being ‘Mr. Mom’ while Regina took on more hours at her job and even began to do some word of mouth freelancing work during tax season. When Ken didn’t show any ‘giddy-up’ when his benefits ran out however, things around the house slowly began to deteriorate.
For starters, Ken started to drink. It was no secret when the two were dating years ago that Ken’s Father was an alcoholic, but Ken had always gone out of his way to say he’d never tread down the same path. Between the hit to his self esteem from losing his job and all the free time on his hands, Ken found himself self medicating in ways he’d swore he never would. It had started out as a couple of innocent beers in the afternoon but eventually Kenneth gravitated towards something more potent until Regina would find him drunk most afternoons when she made it home from work.