This story is by Keneesha Saunders-Liddie and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“If you don’t bring me the belt, it’s going to be worse for you.” She could hear his voice in her mind as another fist squarely connected with her jaw. In her mind, she was a little girl once again experiencing the bruises and beatings of her father.
She fell to the floor and blacked out.
“Cynthia, why are my shirts wrinkled”? her father yelled
She knew something was wrong, she had to get to her mother before her dad did. Taking the stairs two at a time she found her mother and quickly stood in front of her as her dad walked up to them.
He didn’t care that she was his daughter, he just began punching.
“Emilee, Emilee, wake up.” Her mom said
Her mom’s arms were around her and she felt loved.
Here she was at the age of 32 with a 16-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. She was married to the first boy that ever said he loved her. Although he’d promised, he wouldn’t be like her father, actions usually speak louder than words.
She should have known something was wrong when he isolated her from her friends in high school. He even got jealous because her lab partner was a boy and squeezed her hand so hard, she looked like she wore a purple bracelet.
“You’re hurting me,” she mumbled
He let her hand go and instantly hugged her. “Babe, I don’t like the way he looks at you. I just want to protect you. I love you.”
He lifted her hand, kissed her bruise and she felt loved.
The first time that he hit her was when she found out she was pregnant and wanted to abort the child. His excuse was that she shouldn’t say stupid stuff, he didn’t believe in abortion and he wanted them to be a family.
When he asked her to marry him, she said yes because he loved her and she loved him. She still did.
She was 16 at the time she met Jerry. He was tall, handsome and all the girls in school liked him. He wasn’t interested in any of them; not even her at first.
He caught her putting makeup on a really nasty bruise under the bleachers; he came under and introduced himself. From that moment on they were inseparable.
Yes, there were plenty of signs that he might become violent but he loved her and he did it for her own good.
When she was finally able to lift her head, she picked herself up slowly, so as to not cause her head to hurt unnecessarily. The first thing her eyes focused on was her husband who was staring directly at her. He looked at her as though she was the scum of the earth.
He opened his mouth and began the verbal assault.
After he expended all his energy on beating me to a pulp; he’d sit down and start talking.
He wasn’t very talkative but the spirit of alcohol almost made him an eloquent speaker.
“Why in the world did I marry you? Look at you Emilee, you were so beautiful, so young, so understanding. WHAT happened to you? After all these years of me being loyal to you, providing for you, taking you from under your no-good dad, this is what I come home to? A wife who hasn’t cooked because she wasn’t able to manage her time well.”
“You have one job Emilee, one job… all you have to do is cook, take care of our home and take care of the kids and me.”
He paused and she froze because she could see the wheels turning in his head, he was back there again.
He was back to believing she was cheating on him. She hung her head and braced for impact; there was only one thing he could do and she knew to beg was useless.
What he did next surprised her.
He got up and started shredding the chair he had been sitting on. She realized that he was looking for evidence and cringed at the sound. She heard every echo, curse, and insult being hurled as he sought to prove her infidelity.
Slowly raising her head, she saw her children in the corner of the living room corner. Her daughter’s face was etched with sympathy and sorrow. The pity that she’d seen countless times made her catch her breath.
However, it was her son’s face that gave her pause. His face was stony, she could tell he was angry because of the sinister stare that was pointed toward her husband.
She knew how he felt about his dad and had talked about right and wrong with him. She never let her husband see her cry; this was a practice she had since she was a child. This time, however, she allowed the tears to flow down her cheek because she was fed-up.
Over the years she’d resorted to hand signals that they used whenever her husband was drunk. It was sad but necessary. She didn’t want to be like her mother; she would protect her kids.
She lay back on the hardwood floor. She could smell the pine sol from when she mopped this morning. She studied the fan in the ceiling and looked at it spin around and around. She knew how she ended up here, but what should she do about it?
She started mentally checking the many places that hurt the most and knew something was wrong. This time the pain was so severe; quite unlike any pain she’d ever felt before. She knew she had a broken rib. This wasn’t a normal beating; this was different.
Over the years Jerry had turned from being sympathetic after he hurt her to not even caring anymore. She was still young, her kids needed her, how long would she allow herself to stay in this situation where she continued to be helpless and dependent; enough was enough.
She heard Jerry’s antiques die down and were surprised that none of the debris had hit her. Then she felt someone touch her foot. She tensed so as to prepare for the attack but it was her daughter, Sherie knelt next to her and placed the big kitchen knife next to her.
She looked at me and whispered, “I wouldn’t blame you if you killed Dad, no one would.”
With her eyes wide, she looked at her daughter and nodded. Sherie got up noiselessly and retreated into a living room corner.
She placed the cold object under the curve of my back and let the tears run into her ears.
She was still young, she thought to herself, her life is still ahead of her. But her children this is all that they know. What should she do? Should she use the knife to change their lives forever? Should she run away with the kids when things got better?
She still loved him….
The thought of killing him wasn’t new but she’d never actually had weapons in hand to do so. He was sitting on the only part of the sofa that hadn’t been destroyed with his head laid back.
“Aren’t you going to get up and cook Emilee?” he thundered
She jumped, causing her rib to spasm, “I don’t think I could move; can you help me up?”
She didn’t realize she was tense until her muscles hurt. She slowly relaxed and turned her head at an angle that would give her a great glimpse of him without him realizing it.
Thinking that he was asleep, she jumped when she heard him start talking. He started right where he left off as if he hadn’t ever paused to destroy the furniture. Sleep must have started taking over his body because his words were becoming softer and incomprehensible. The alcohol was wearing off.
She lay there looking at the fan, while he snored, while her kids were wide-eyed in the living room corners, thinking of her mother and father in comparison to her present situation and something came over her.
She moved her hand to her back and gripped the handle of the cool blade. It was time to do something about this once and for all.
Inch by agonizing inch she slowly sat up, this time it was much more painful but she got to her feet and limped over to him. With all the strength she could muster she held the handle with her two hands and held it over his chest.
All she had to do was sink the knife into his heart and she would be out of the woods, she would be totally free for the first time in her life.
But she couldn’t kill him. Her breaking point wouldn’t allow her to go that far. She gently backed away only to find comfort in her kids who were standing behind her.
It was over, she knew enough was enough.