Just the Way It Is

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This fictional short story was inspired by the prompt for the Master Class at Sinistral Scriblings and was the last line of this post. While the entire contents described above are a figment of my imagination, I know some amazing women that have left abusive relationships and are the strongest people I know. If you would like more information on how to heal from abuse please visit The Treasured Life and find strength from one amazing woman who found her way out.

His hand hung in the air, palm open and rage consumed his face. She watched her world move in slow motion as his hand came towards her face and sent her head turning violently in the opposite direction. The second slap she didn’t see coming.

Her cheeks stung and tears rolled down her face as she begged and pleaded with him to stop yelling.

But she could feel the defiance and knew he saw it in her eyes. They continued their argument over the division of labor and who should be responsible for cleaning up after dinner. She didn’t think she was being unreasonable, but maybe she was. She wasn’t really sure anymore.

“Would you maybe just be willing to clear over the dishes?” She asked, her voice diminished to almost a whisper. His large hands hung at his side, but his eyes betrayed his ability to escalate if she said the wrong thing.

“I think you are perfectly capable of walking your sorry self and four measly plates over to the sink.” He spat.

She glanced up at him and for a moment saw her father and mother arguing. Her mother always cowered and she always hated her for it. But now she understood.

“Ok. You’re right. Just keep it down. I don’t want to wake the children.”

“You keep it down! You are the one who started all this!” He was yelling again, his hands curled into fists now.

Her makeup was running down her face in rivers and her cheeks were bright red as though she had spent too many hours soaking in the sun. She stifled a sob as she heard a tiny voice from the hallway.

“Mama? Mama? Are you ok?” Tiny feet made their way to her and she bent over to hug her daughter. She threw a dirty look in his direction, but was relieved to find that he had his back turned to her. If looks could kill, she thought.

“Yes, honey. Mama’s fine. You scurry back to bed.” Her little girl looked at her doubtfully, but obeyed.

When she turned around, she saw tears in his eyes. The “I’m so sorry’s” would begin now, followed by promises not to get so mad. She always melted when he cried. She told him she would forgive him, but her heart was saying otherwise.

He made her sit next to him on the couch and cuddle while they watched their favorite show. She felt stiff and unnatural, but she smiled up at him every time he laughed so she wouldn’t set him off again.

She thought maybe she should get out. Maybe there was something better. A better life somehow. Maybe she should do what her Mama never did. Maybe…

But it wasn’t always bad. Sometimes she even loved him a little. Never a lot. A lot was too dangerous.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.