Collective three way piece,
Silently, so as not to be heard, the figure in black slipped through the doorway, stumbling over his feet as if they were made of cement. But she didn’t need to hear him. She waited and watched as he wobbled to his side of the bed and threw himself down onto it, not even remembering to take off his shoes in his drunken stupor. She peered through the crack in the bedroom door, listening patiently for his breathing to even out as the poison of the alcohol moved through his bloodstream, lulling him into a sleep comparable to that of the dead.
This is it—my chance. It has to be now. She believed that life handed out chances for a reason, and she couldn’t pass this one up. She crept into the room, avoiding her sleeping lover as she pulled shirts off their hangers and stuffed them into a sack as quietly as possible, even though it wasn’t likely he’d wake until much later the next day. Her ribs screamed at her as she reached for personal items on the top shelf, screamed like she had when they’d cracked under the pressure of his fist. The pain was a constant reminder of why she had to leave.
After snatching her watch from the bedside table, risking being so close to him, putting her hand within arm’s length of him—a necessary risk—she paused to take in the man that slept. His face was so peaceful when he slept. His long hair draped over half of his face, covering his forehead, tickling long dark eyelashes, and accenting his near-perfect lips. This was not the face of a monster. How is it possible that the same face that could fill you with such love and devotion could also strike such a deep seeded fear in your heart? Flashes of that face in the mist of rage, his eyebrows lowered so far over his blazing eyes and his mouth set in a growl, gave her the strength to look away. It took so much out of her every time. Turning away all she felt was the exhaustion, Lord, she was so tired. It was a deep exhaustion that surpassed the physical connotation of the word. It was a mental exhaustion that came from carrying the burden of the abuse. It ate away at who she was every day, consumed her more and more. She feared that she may never feel alive again.
She entered the small bathroom down the hall, and as quietly as she could, slid the door shut. She took a deep breath, and flicked on the light. For a second she froze, she feared the blinding light would wake her slumbering husband, but the house remained silent. Turning to the mirror she took in what was now her. Bruises painted her light skin in ugly shades of blue, black, green, and yellow. Each of which held a horrific story she would hold with her forever. Such aggression. Such anger. She never thought that the man she fell in love with could harbor such darkness.
She made quick work of erasing the evidence of her past. She wrapped her aching ribs, and used make-up to cover the shadow of bruises on her face. When she was finished she stood back and looked at herself again. From the eyes of a stranger you could not see that she was a battered woman. Her skin was free of the blemishes that haunted her. Though the bruises did not show, she could feel them there, and she knew only time would heal that.
All her personal belongings finally packed she walked on silent feet into the bedroom that held memories of both joy and love, yet also of pain and grief. Her head was held low as she went to her husband’s dresser and snooped through the clothes. She was just about to close her fingers around the wad of green bills that lay at the bottom, when a loud snort sounded from the edge of the room and the man who was slumped in the bed, rolled onto his side. For half a minute she didn’t turn, she didn’t move, she dared not even breathe for fear of his wrath she was sure would come if indeed he caught her in the act. For a minute she second-guessed her move of taking the money, but she needed it and was adamant about moving forward with her plans.
Before she left their bedroom for the last time, she chanced a look at his face once more. Inching its way in like a snake looking to sneak into a mouse hole; a long ago forgotten memory presented itself to her. A white gown, friends and family, a giant cake that had taken hours to create, but most of all the presence of a cheery, gentle smile on a man who had captured her heart and promised to cherish her forever. The memory began to take root in her mind, but just in time a pain from her side shot through her body and tore the images from their hold on, not only her mind, but also her heart. He hurt me. He tore me up until there was nothing left, and still desired to hurt me deeper. Is that the type of man I fell in love with? No! This is not the same man. He is gone and dead, just like my love for him. This is my chance, and this is my time. I rule my life now. And no one stops me.
Before anything else could happen she snatched up her bag, grabbed the car keys, and stole out the back door. The night was cool and dry; a typical summer evening, one she would imagine young people out in. And then silently, so as not to be heard, the figure in black was gone.
-Renlaw (assisted by two anonymous)