There were pieces of blood covered ceramic on the floor from a coffee cup he had hit her with. “At least it wasn’t glass this time,” she thought. Every time he hit her with glass, it ended up in her skin somehow. Every time. Somehow. Most of the tweezers in the house were well used and a tad bloody. She gave up trying to clean them after the fourth time. Or was it the fifth? No, the sixth. She remembered because it was her birthday.
“At least he always leaves after,” she thought, picking up the shards and tossing them in the trash. It made cleaning up more comfortable. No one to tell her how to do it the right way. No more control or manipulation. Just a time of quiet with her and her thoughts in a large, empty house. Peaceful but sometimes, a dangerous thing.
She bit the rag in the bathroom and poured hydrogen peroxide on her face. The stinging sensation felt more and more enjoyable every time, even though she usually screamed through the rag in pain and cried hot tears. Hot tears filled with anger, betrayal, frustration, hurt, desperation, vulnerability. “At least the cuts aren’t so deep this time,” she thought, glancing at the deep scar in her jawline that was once a gushing gash. That one took stitches. Homemade stitches.
Once he turned to larger objects rather than smaller ones. He threw an end table at her from across the room and broke her leg, which made things difficult at work. She didn’t enjoy lying to her boss, a sweet old man who was a pushover on holidays. She also didn’t enjoy sticking to the same story when others questioned her with doubt. Peering in the mirror at herself, she paused. “At least I can walk this time,” she thought.
She threw the bloody rags and clothes into the washer and started it, hoping the stains would come out so she could wear the same thing to work on Monday. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. If they didn’t, she wore something that wasn’t stained. Sometimes it was clean. Sometimes it wasn’t. Once she waited overnight to wash the clothes and they were stained so she threw them out. He wasn’t happy and he made sure her body felt it. “At least I’ll hopefully have clothes this time,” she thought.
She sat on the couch and opened a half empty bottle of bourbon. She contemplated opening the scotch, but it would only anger him. He might kill her if she did. Besides, bourbon was her go to sorrow drink. It was the only thing that did it for her anymore. And it helped with pain. “At least…at least…at least I’m not dead,” she thought hesitantly before turning on the TV. But that hesitation bothered her. She had never hesitated in that way before. There was a pause, a moment, a what if.
The front door opened wide and he walked in. Drunken eyes, sober breath, and a decisive walk of a determined man. “Hey baby! Come on!” he said cheerfully walking into the kitchen. Her eyes widened, full of fear, anxiety. Cheerful was not a mood that existed in that man unless sex was on his mind. But sex never happened in the kitchen. At least not anymore. Every ounce of her told her to run but she couldn’t. She took one small step forward. Trembling hands. Another small step forward. A knotted stomach. Each step brought a new feeling. But only a few more steps forward and she was there in the kitchen. Standing in front of him. “You know, we don’t have to do this anymore sweetheart. I’m done doing this with you baby. I’m just done,” he said smiling.
Her throat tightened. She wanted to speak, respond to him. Mostly in fear. He had never come home so early and still drunk. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, well, we’re done. I’m done with you.” A minute of silence passed. Time that felt like a hundred hours strung along in slow motion. She didn’t know what he was saying, what to expect. His eyes finally found hers. “So,” he said, “here we are.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled something out. It looked like a thick stick, but the kitchen lights were too dim to make it out. Until she heard the sound. Click and lock. It made sense then. Oh, how it made sense. A thick stick in his pocket was his switchblade. His very long and sharp switchblade.
And that’s when she found her legs. Those ounces of herself building up to run, waiting anxiously to get out. They exploded underneath her in an instant, pushing off the ground with power. She heard laughter. It took her a little while to realize that it was her laughing. It had been awhile since her lungs had experienced it. She laughed so hard she cried. She laughed so hard she found her voice. She laughed so hard that she couldn’t hear him. “At least I can run faster than him,” she realized and laughed loudest of all.