This story is by Wanda Huntington and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The day had started mundanely enough. How had it spiraled so out of control so fast? Was it such a surprise? Kristan thought. No, it wasn’t.
The winter wind howled around her petite frame, as she continued to lean forward into it, trudging through the knee-high, heavy snow. The flurry was a mix of snow and freezing rain which cut into her skin, yet she scarcely noticed. Her thoughts kept her distracted from the world around her, as she recounted everything that had happened over the past four hours.
Lance had come home around ten-fifteen that night, charming as usual. When asked where he had been, he told her not to worry about it. Kristan worried. Lance was out on parole with strict conditions. He wasn’t to interact with any of his cronies or be out after dusk. Also, no drinking or drugs. Rather than let it go, she pushed for an answer.
“Lance, where have you been?” Kristan asked with a shaky voice.
With a menacing smile and a challenging look in his eyes, Lance stepped closer to her. This only fueled the anxiety building in the pit of her stomach. He had only ever been verbally and emotionally abusive to her in the past. Would he become physically violent with her if she kept pushing? She knew he had it in him. She had witnessed him beat a man up. Kristan pressed on, knowing full well she was on very thin ice now.
“Are you high and drunk again?”, she asked, drawing herself up as tall as her petite 5’5” frame would allow, looking him in the eyes, daring to push on. “Or did you steal something? Let me guess: one last score with the boys? An Audi? No… a Mercedes? Lance, TELL ME!”
Lance dove at her with his right hand reaching for her neck. Kristan froze in a panic.
“It’s NONE of your goddamn…” The doorbell interrupted Lance’s response. He shot Kristan a look that reminded her she had better cover for him or there would be hell to pay. All she could think about at that moment were their two beautiful angels asleep upstairs. Kristan knew what she had to do as she opened the door to the police officers standing there.
“Good evening, Miss,” said the taller of the two. “Would Lance Clairvaux be home?”
Before Kristan could respond, Lance stepped up behind her, placed his hand on the small of her back, pinching her skin hard as a reminder and welcomed the officers in. Kristan stepped away from them and returned to reading her book at the dinner table. She kept her face down to mask her fear.
“Evening, Officers,” Lance spoke, “How can I help you?” With this, he extended his right hand. Neither officer accepted it. The officer who had spoken identified himself as Officer Lee. His partner was Officer Gendron. They had a few questions for Lance. They needed to double check he was complying with the conditions of his parole.
“Where were you this evening?”, asked Officer Gendron.
Lance looked very calm and as he replied, he gazed intently at Kristan and smiled knowingly.
“I was home having quality family time.”
“Is that correct, Miss? Was Lance home all evening?” Officer Lee directed the questions her way. Kristan couldn’t meet his gaze as she replied, knowing full well could happen if she defied him. Also, she was a horrible liar. Before speaking, she chose her words carefully.
“I was home all night and after putting our two toddlers to bed around seven p.m., I read. I was just closing my book when Lance came into the room to talk to me. That’s when you knocked on our door.”
Both officers looked at each other, clearly hearing what she couldn’t say. Officer Gendron followed-up by asking Kristan if she had driven anywhere that evening. She replied she that hadn’t been out since the day before.
Officer Lee looked pointedly at Lance and responded, “The hood of your car is still warm. Any thoughts who may have driven it?”
This last question felt like a bottomless pit that was ready to swallow Kristan up. Lance can’t be driving as one of his conditions. If either of them said that someone had borrowed it, the officers would follow-up with them. Did she dare hope that Lance’s luck had finally run out?
“Can either of you explain why the motor of your car is still warm?” demanded Officer Gendron.
“That’s simple,” replied Lance, “My wife mentioned the car was acting up and tonight I started it up and let it idle for about thirty minutes. Wanted to make sure the battery was charging.”
Officer Lee asked Kristan if this was true. She confirmed she had mentioned to Lance that the car was misbehaving. With it being winter, she didn’t want to be stranded in the car with their daughters or be late for work, as they lived off her pay cheque.
Both Officers looked at Lance and then at each other. Officer Gendron asked to speak with Lance alone. Officer Lee asked for a glass of water and followed Kristan into the kitchen. Once he had her alone, Officer Lee encouraged her to speak freely.
Kristan handed him his water and told him again that she had been home all night with their daughters. She apologized profusely for not being able to tell them what they needed to hear. Officer Lee nodded knowingly and gave Kristan his card, suggesting she keep it somewhere safe and call him if she needed anything at any hour. She blinked back the tears as she nodded in understanding.
When they returned to the living room, Kristan overheard Officer Gendron asking Lance if he knew who could have stolen a Porsche from down the block. She didn’t catch Lance’s response, but her gut said he knew about it.
Officer Lee spoke quietly with his partner, and the two of them left saying good night. Once the door closed, Lance was ecstatic, thinking that he had yet again skirted the law. Kristan simply stood there in disbelief. All Lance genuinely cared about was the adrenaline rush; whether it be from the cocaine, the thieving or the many lies that he weaved. How had THIS become her fate? How?
As if reading her thoughts, Lance came up behind Kristan and whispered in her ear. What he said to her brought on fresh waves of fear and paralysis. He guided her up the stairs to the master bedroom and reminded her she belonged to him. Only him. That was how it was and how it always would be. Once he finished, he rolled off her and drifted off to sleep. Kristan got dressed in a daze. Her mind kept replaying what he had whispered. Nobody will ever believe you over me. You will die before I let you leave.
The blare of a horn snapped her out of her thoughts. Kristan hadn’t realized how far she had walked. Looking through the raging snow, she realized she was standing on a bridge. It was after three in the morning. Thanks to the blizzard, the traffic was non-existent. She could end the madness simply by jumping. It would be months before they found her body. Nobody would miss her; Lance had ruined her external relationships. Other than her parents and brother, the only person who hadn’t disappeared from her life was Lynn, her best friend.
Only Lynn knows the ugly truth.
Lance would most likely tell people I had walked out on them. Anything to gain everyone’s sympathy.
The thought of them growing up without her made Kristan spiral deeper into her depression. Tears streaming down her face froze in place as the wind continued to howl, echoing the despair and loneliness she felt.
What should I do?
That thought kept racing through her mind.
I can’t bear to have them grow up thinking I didn’t love them.
They never asked to be born, and they deserve so much better.
Would they be better off without me?
The snow fell heavier as she stood there, on the bridge, ready to jump.
Without me around, Lance would have custody. That can’t happen! They are precious and innocent. They need me!! Dammit!! I NEED THEM!
The thought of them growing up in Lance’s twisted world brought on a sudden wave of nausea. Kristan couldn’t stop herself from vomiting over the side of the bridge. As she watched, the vomit hit the ground below; she wept uncontrollably, realizing that splat could have been her!
As Kristan turned and made her way back to her prison, she knew that the protection of her children needed to come before her own wishes. They needed her to be their champion. With a newfound resolve, she plunged her hands deeper into her pockets as she walked back.
Time to plan our escape.
Delicately fingering the officer’s card in her pocket, she felt a twinge of hope.