I thank my editors, Hal and GeorgeAnderson. As usual, Harddaysknight is my mentor and gives me critical review. Sbrooks103x also gave me a pre-post read. I love you guys.
This is just a little flash story about domestic abuse, written from a very dark place, and the price it extracts from the soul. It’s dark and macabre. If you think you won’t like that, you should read something else. I hope you find it disturbing. If so, I’ve accomplished my purpose.
The darkness scrubs over my soul like a rasp. I sit alone, picking at old scabs. There’s a deep burning in my side when I breathe; I think my ribs may be broken. The shadow hides me. It is the repressed aspect of my consciousness. There is a mirror over the dresser, but I know what shattered image I’ll see there, so I never turn on a light when I am alone. I hate mirrors. A sliver of light pierces the darkness. It is Marissa.
“Mom, can I come in?”
“Yes, baby,” I tell her. “Please shut the door.”
Marissa was five last week. I took her to a party at one of those pizza places where they have games. He said it would be okay and He gave me 200 dollars. The party only cost ninety and I hid the rest of the money. I told Him that I had lost the receipt. That’s why my side has the burning. I’m supposed to keep the receipts for everything.
He let me buy some makeup, too. I needed to cover the fading yellow around my eye. I went to Walmart and got it, but I told Him I went to Macy’s. I got twenty dollars there. I had the makeup, and He doesn’t know what kinds are sold where. I’ve been doing this for over a year. I have almost 3000 dollars. I keep it in a dark place, taped to a floor joist under the house.
Marissa whimpers a little as she crosses the dark room. She finds me, sitting against the wall and I pull her down into my embrace. “Mom, I don’t like the dark,” she says.
“Shush, baby, the shadows are friendly,” I tell her. “No one can find us in the dark.” ‘Join me, my child, ‘ I think. ‘We will dig through the corners of my old numb shadow.’
“You mean Him,” she says.
“Yes, baby,” I whisper. We sit together, incorporating the material of shadow into our consciousness. The shadow slithers over us like a serpent, shedding its skin as I rummage through old reflexes, looking for a clue.
“Is Mr. Thomas going to help us?” she asks.
“Yes, I think so,” I tell her.
“Mom, can we go outside for a little while?” she asks.
“Yes, but only in the back yard,” I tell her. She is content and pulls me to my feet.
Mr. Thomas. Peter, I remember his name. A large man, he has kind eyes. I’m hoping he’ll help us. I’m still pretty. I had unbuttoned two buttons on my blouse, not far enough so that he can see the bruise, and I hoped what he saw was enough. I’d gladly trade my body for some safety. Two years is long enough. I’m afraid He’ll kill me, eventually, and Marissa will be alone. With Him. I can’t let that happen. He’ll be home in a few hours and I have to be ready. I don’t know if I’m brave enough, strong enough. I have to be, for her.
I send Peter a text. “Tonight, 7:00 at the supermarket.” I wait for a reply and I’m starting to tremble at the silence. I crawl on my belly in the dark sunlight. I want to go back inside to the shadows, but Marissa is playing. I sit and watch as she makes bubbles. They fly up, away, and gradually come back to earth to pop as they touch the grass. Those are my dreams. Everything I’d hoped, a handsome man and a beautiful laughing girl, she’s in white and she throws her bouquet. Other laughing girls fight over it, just bubbles, drifting down to die in the grass. I sort out what could have been from what is.
The phone in my hand buzzes and I start, surprised at the sudden motion. I look at the text. “I’ll be there. I can’t wait.” I seize upon a word to guide me.