Fiction

The Long Walk Home

Fiction Short, created for & published on Our Write Side.

She wiped snot on the bottom of her torn silk tank top. Sweat dripped down her dust-caked face, creating rivers for the moisture to flow freely in the heat. She meandered along the dusty road, running through possible scenarios she would face upon returning home. She clutched the gun in her hand, the weight of it increasing with each step. There was a gas station a mile or two ahead. She tried to swallow but dust clung to her teeth like bugs to a windshield. She spat into the dirt. Several cars had slowed and kind strangers asked if she needed help. Each time, she continued to trudge forward and stare into the distance. Lost in thought, she shook her head no. Once they noticed the sun glinting off the weapon, they sped away, content to leave her to her own devices.

Punishment would be severe, as it always was when she dared defy him. Once, he kept her locked in her room for a week like a prisoner, only allowing her a liquid diet. Her sin was gaining five pounds and indulging in too much cake at a friend’s party. He’d told her she looked like a pig and wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior. During her time in solitude she figured out how to adjust the scale so it would never put her over-weight again.

She would need to hide the gun and retrieve it later. If it was still in her possession when she walked in the door, she was as good as dead. It had taken tremendous effort to obtain and she refused to leave herself defenseless, even if she couldn’t actually pull the trigger. She thought she’d had it in her to fight back, to stand up for herself, but in the end she had chickened out.

She would have to practice more, become sure of handling the thing. Next time he threatened her, she wouldn’t be bluffing.

Another car sped by, kicking up dust. It caused her to cough, her entire body convulsing. Her small frame trembled when the fit was over. She ran the back of her hand over her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat like a two-year-old. Adrenaline from the rage she felt still coursed through her body.

As she trudged on, she could hear what her best friend would say when she told her about today’s drama. “Why don’t you just leave?” she would ask.

A simple question with a complicated answer.

She couldn’t leave. There was no way she would leave her precocious five-year-old daughter with her sadistic husband. Her friend had begged her for years, even offered her home as sanctuary, however she knew she could never put her friend in that much danger.

Her feet ached from walking the road in her Gucci’s. There was a blister forming on the back of her left heel that caused her to wince in pain with each step. The shoes looked amazing, but were definitely not meant for walking on a dirt road. Ridiculous heels always reminded her of life before him.

She met her husband many years ago, long before his prestigious career. She had been prostituting herself to pay a gambling debt when he pulled her off the streets and cleaned her up. He would often remind her where she’d be without him. He was a powerful man and had essentially erased her past. He even had her name changed before they married. The girl from the streets was gone, no trace left behind, of that he had made certain. Sometimes, especially when she was drinking, her language would slip from the sophisticated vernacular she had tediously learned. That would warrant a slap in the privacy of their lush bedroom, a reminder to keep herself in check. It had been hours since her last drink. She blamed her alcoholism on him. He drove her to it, but it would be easy enough for him to find witnesses to her problem. His best manipulations consisted of blackmail.

So she stayed. She tolerated him. She decorated his arm at public functions. She was an expert at putting on a pretty face and saying all the right things to all the right people. That’s why he kept her, or so he said. She was well aware when her beauty and youth faded, she would be replaced. She figured she should enjoy her life of comfort while it lasted.

The gas station loomed ahead like a giant mirage, too good to be true. She stumbled into the parking lot and into the bathroom, which by some miracle didn’t require a key. She locked the door to the one-seater and turned on the faucet. She put her mouth under the cold water and gulped greedily. After satisfying her thirst, she doused her head, feeling the liquid gold trickle down her face and neck, then meander down her back. Blood ran down her arm and onto the floor. She located the scrape and stopped the flow with a wad of toilet paper.

The only freedom she would have for weeks would be the next few hours as she made her way home. She tried to decide if her attempt to stand up for herself was worth it. They were arguing when he slammed on the brakes and leaned across to grasp her door handle. He shoved the door open, screaming at her to get out and walk home. She used his distraction to retrieve the gun. When he leaned back, she pointed it squarely between his eyes, but her hands shook betraying her fear. The look on his face when she pulled the gun out from underneath the seat of the car was brief, but priceless. His eyes indicated the fact that he didn’t think she was capable of this level of defiance, and she watched as his initial shock gave way to quiet rage.

He laughed and shoved her out the door, “Yeah right. You don’t have the balls.”

He laughed. The jackass laughed with a gun pointed at his head. And then he drove off, leaving her bruised in the dirt.

But he was right. She didn’t have the balls. Maybe a gun wasn’t her style. She needed something more subtle if she was going to be serious. Something he would never suspect. Something she could actually get away with.

She used a paper towel to dry herself off and pulled her hair back into a ponytail, a small attempt at making herself look presentable. The phone in her pocket began to ring, startling her. She pulled it out and tried to see through the shattered screen. It must have cracked when he shoved her out of the car.

It was him.

“Hey honey! Kate wants to say hi!” His soothing, melancholy voice purred on the other end of the phone. It was one of the things she fell in love with first. Now, she loathed the sound.

A small voice on the other end said, “Hey Mom! How’s the spa?”

“The spa is wonderful! I just had a facial.” The happiness in her voice sounded genuine, a skill perfected years before.

“Oh good. I was worried you and Dad were fighting again,” Kate said in a hushed voice. She heard her husband clear his throat in the background. “Well alright! I’ll see you later, Mom! Dad

is going to take me to Emily’s birthday party, so I gotta go! Love you!”

“I love you too, baby.” Silence.

“The dinner is in three hours. I’m coming to get you after I drop off Kate.” The line went dead.

He was tracking her phone and knew exactly where to find her, which she learned accidentally a few months earlier. She would be sure to leave it somewhere safe while she hid her precious weapon, then look pleased as punch when he arrived, like nothing ever happened. She was always learning new tricks.

Someone pounded on the bathroom door.

“Hey lady! You comin’ out? My kid’s gotta pee!”

“One minute! Relax already!” Anger mixed with fear seeped through her, a common feeling.

She gazed at herself in the mirror and practiced smiling, trying to see the woman she was expected to be beneath the dirt and sweat. In three hours, she would be the gorgeous, sophisticated, engaging Mrs. Stapely.

Devoted wife of the Great Senator.

Holding On Tight

Fiction Short, created for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

I grew up anyway.

When I close my eyes though, I can still picture it. I’m 17 and working the booth at the county fair. It’s the middle of the day and it’s a virtual desert. I lean my head back, feeling my hair against my neck and turn my face to the breeze of a fan. I’m leaning against the counter and all I can hear are flies buzzing and the occasional horse whinny.

Candlebox is playing quietly on the stereo in the background. It’s a little heavier than what I usually listen to, but the boy listens to them and now, so do I. I turn my attention back to my book. If anybody asks, I’m not reading, just acting bored and cool. But on the sly, I’m really intrigued by the book.

I look up to see him walking towards the booth. I shove my book haphazardly under a bag of bread, but I don’t notice that half of the book is still sticking out. The boy is a fine specimen of maleness. Plus he’s in college and he has a really great car. And that smile. That smile melts me every time. What more can a 17 year old girl ask for? And today he’s hanging out with his friends so he’s not in our ugly green work uniforms. He takes my breath away.

I recover as he draws near and try to regain my coolness. I’m sure he knows I have nerd status at school, but he doesn’t seem to take it to heart.

“Hey beautiful. How’s it going out here today?” I feel the butterflies.

Act casual, I think. “Boring and slow. You workin’ later?” I lean slightly forward, teasingly.

“Yeah, I’m on at 6.”

I already knew that, of course, but I act surprised. “Oh, I’ll just miss you then. That’s when I’m off.”

“Maybe I’ll see you before you leave then.”

“Maybe.”

He turns to go, then something catches his eye. “Whatcha readin’?”

I look down at my half concealed book and blush. I’ve been caught.

“Anything good?”

“Not really. I’m just behind on a book we are supposed to read for school.” I lie. I’m never behind on reading and it’s not a book for school, but I’m acting cool, remember.

He winks at me and walks back to his group of friends. I’m sure he knows my secret.

If I hadn’t seen him act like this with piles of girls, I might be even more tingly than I already am. My interest in him is solely physical. He’s damaged goods. He’s been around the block once or twice or twenty times. But that doesn’t mean a girl can’t lust a little. I’ll flirt my little heart out, just for the thrill of it with that one.

I sigh as I recount all the time we spend flirting with each other, and I’m suddenly anxious for 6 o’clock to arrive. But I have hours. And once again all I hear are the flies buzzing in the background.

“Moooom! I need help wiping!” I’m wrenched back into the present. I’m no longer 17 and single, but married and 33 with six kids in tow.

“I’m coming,” is my reply as I whistle some nearly forgotten tune.

Just the Way It Is

dishes.jpeg

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.

Sunlight

Fiction Short, created for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

I sat in the kitchen chair with my knees pressed against the sliding glass door. The rays of the sunshine streaming through the window danced on the floor, belying the freezing temperatures outside. I leaned forward resting my head against the glass and closed my eyes. The sunshine was refreshing, warm even. I glanced down at the dirty track where the door slid back and forth and watched while a spider spun a web, the tiny gossamer strands sparkling in the light.

I closed my eyes once more and pretended the world around me was silent. The spider and I were all that was left in the world. Most importantly, there was no school.

I counted my breaths, my small undeveloped chest heaving gently. Junior high was no laughing matter and today I didn’t want to go. I didn’t measure up to all of those pretty girls the guys were always ogling. I was plain and odd and clumsy. Oh so clumsy. Just yesterday, I tripped as I walked over to the tray return in the lunch room and sent my food flying all over the most popular girl in school.

She yelled, “What is WRONG with you?!?” I think there was cursing that followed, but the blood pounding in my ears drowned her out. I stood stock still as she ran off, then quickly gathered the contents of my tray and put it in the tray return.

I found the nearest bathroom and cried my poorly applied eye-liner off. The bell rung and I tried to pull myself together, my consolation being that English was next and also my favorite class. My teacher seemed to have an affinity for me and I used that to my advantage as I wandered in five minutes late.

He glanced up at me, looking through the glasses on the tip of his nose. The gray hair at his temples made me think he was easily as old as my Dad. I never wanted to be that old, but I also didn’t want to be in 7th grade anymore.

“Sorry, I’m late,” I mumbled. He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing as I took my seat. I doodled on my notebook through his lecture, then slipped out quietly. I was easy to ignore when I wasn’t dumping a tray full of food on the popular girl.

I decided to just survive the day and kept my head down as I made my way through the hallway to my locker. Just as I rounded the corner, I ran head-on into Miss Popular surrounded by her posse.

I gasped, then mumbled, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I began backing away, but one of her friends piped up loud enough for the entire school to hear, “Is THAT the girl who dumped her tray on you?” Disdain was written all over their faces.

“It was me and I’m so, so, so sorry.” I said. And then, I put my foot right in my mouth. “At least the colors kind of match your shirt so it’s not too noticeable.” I blushed ten shades of red as the sentence left my mouth. What was WRONG with me?!?

I spun on my heel and left the gaggle of girls bewildered and promised myself that I would never open my big mouth again.