This story is by Cheri K Jones and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Mia frantically tossed and turned, almost ripping her sheets. Caught in a nightmare with no way to wake herself up. With tears streaming down her face the image from the weekend terrorized her thoughts, stop it Gary, you’re drunk.She could barely breathe as she felt his weight on top of her. Mia screamed, please don’t. He was so close that the stench of Vodka made her want to vomit. Mia continued to scream at him No. Stop! Gary muffled her screams by covering her mouth with his rough calloused hand.
Mia awoke crying hysterically. Cora came running in, “Mia what’s wrong baby? Did you have a bad dream?” Still unable to speak, Mia shook her head yes. Cora hugged Mia and began to comfort her.
Cora whispered, “Do you want to talk about it?” Mia shook her head no. They just sat there silently holding each other.
Mia looked up at Cora and asked shakily, “Where’s Gary?”
Cora said, “He left 2 hours ago for his business trip. He told me to tell you that he’ll see you in a few days.”
Mia looked into her mother’s eyes and thought of telling her about the horror that she faced at the hands of her step father while her mom was away at her retreat this weekend. But looking into her mom’s eyes, seeing the worry and stress on her face, she couldn’t bring herself to tell her. The thought of hurting her mom was too much for her to bear. Mia began to cry again.
Cora said softly, “It’s ok, I’m here.” Cora kissed Mia’s forehead then pulled the warm fleece Butterfly blanket up to Mia’s shoulders. Cora looked defeated with worry as she left the room.
Once Cora closed her door, Mia grabbed her fuzzy pink pen and emoji note pad. She sat there staring blankly at the pages with tears still welling up in her eyes. Never once had she thought about ending her own life, but how could she live with this secret? Gary had told her that if she told her mother about what he did to her, that Cora would be so hurt and angry with her that she would send her away. He said that she would choose him over Mia.
Mia sat on her bench at the window, looking out into the starry night sky. She quietly asked, “God, what do I do? I don’t want to hurt my mom. Both decisions will destroy her, and I’ll lose my mom. Ending my life would be the easy way out. I wouldn’t have to deal with the hurt I’ve caused. Please guide me.”
The next morning Mia heard her mother in the kitchen cooking breakfast. Mia rushed to get herself ready for school although she didn’t feel like going. She thought of creative ways to run past her mom, but none would work since the kitchen is right by the front door.
“Mia, are you ok honey?” Cora said.
Without making eye contact, Mia replied as she proceeded to the door, “I’ll be fine mom.”
“Ok, you aren’t eating breakfast this morning?” Cora said.
“I’m not really hungry. I’ll get something later. I’m running late, see you later.” Mia said as she rushed out the door.
Something was seriously wrong with Mia. She never misses breakfast. Mia is usually affectionate, outspoken and outgoing but she wasn’t herself this morning. What changed this weekend? Cora thought as she cleaned up the kitchen to get ready for work.
Mia struggled to pay attention at school and decided to leave shortly after arriving. Mia’s best friend Freya hadn’t been able to reach her since Friday and noticed that she wasn’t in their 5th period class. Freya was getting worried. After school Freya went to Mia’s house. There was no answer, so she took the emergency key and let herself in. Once inside, she called out to Mia but still no answer. Freya went upstairs to Mia’s room and found her asleep in her bed with a bottle of prescription pills on her night stand.
Freya frantically shook Mia screaming her name with tears streaming down her face. “Wake up! Don’t you do this to me Mia!!!”
Mia opened her eyes, “Ouch Freya, what the hell?”
Freya, with tears flowing freely down her cheeks, grabbed the bottle of pills and began shaking them at Mia, shouting, “Did you take these???”
Mia said, “No, I didn’t. But I was going to”
Freya said in disbelief, “Ok Mia, you’re going to tell me what’s going on because the Mia I know loves life too much to EVER consider killing herself!”
After confiding in her best friend about what her step father did to her, Freya suggested that she immediately go to the police but recommended that she tell her mom first.
“I don’t think I can tell her. What if she hates me? What if she thinks it’s my fault? What if she sends me away?” Mia said.
“You MUST tell her Mia. Forget about what he says. Your bond with your mom is way stronger than that. You must know that. Gary is confident that he shut you up, don’t let him win.” Freya reassured her.
Mia stated, “But he’s my mothers’ love.”
“Wrong, Mia YOU are your mothers love. Nothing could ever come between that.” Freya replied.
As Freya was leaving, Cora had come home early. She rushed up the stairs. “Mia, I just received an automated call that you weren’t at school today. I tried calling your phone several times. Are you feeling ok? What’s wrong?” Mia took her best friends advice and told her mom what Gary did to her. Cora’s face was red with fury, her heart was pounding so hard that she thought it would burst out of her chest. After taking Mia to the hospital to be examined, they confirmed the assault and the police were called to file the report. They would keep Mia in the hospital overnight for observation.
The rage inside of Cora was growing by the minute. Her baby girl was her life, barely 15 and her husband violently stripped her daughter’s innocence away. Prison was too good for him and Cora wanted to make him pay.
Cora hadn’t slept all night. She sat in her bedroom contemplating killing Gary before the police could get to him. But as much as she wanted to kill Gary for what he did, Mia needed her more. Mia would need all her support to get through this traumatic event. Cora cried as she took a long hot shower. After she got dressed she went to the hospital to wait with Mia. When Cora arrived, Freya was sitting on the side of Mia’s hospital bed painting Mia’s nails. Cora kissed both girls on the forehead. Freya and Mia had been friends since they were seven.
The nurse came in and said that Mia was being released. Just as Mia was beginning to get dressed and pack up her things a police officer and another man walked in. “Ma’am” the man addressed Cora, “I’m Detective Gordon and this is Officer White. We wanted to inform you that we went to the hotel to arrest your husband this morning and he decided to run. While in pursuit, his car veered off the road where he had a head on collision with a tree. He was taken to the hospital however he did not survive the crash.” Cora was in disbelief. She said, “Thank you Detective” She really didn’t know what else to say.
Cora, Mia and Freya rode silently the whole way home. After dropping Freya off at home, Cora and Mia sat quietly in the living room.
Cora said to Mia, “I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I’ve protected you your whole life and I can’t help but feel guilty for going away that night. After 10 years together and 5 years of marriage, he never gave me a reason not to trust you with him. Although this can’t be undone…he’s gone baby. You will never have to worry about him again.”
Mia wept on her mom’s shoulder, relieved that she had made the right choice of not ending her own life. “It’s ok mom, you had no idea. He’s never done anything like that before. Neither of us knew what he was capable of.”
Cora hugged her daughter even tighter and whispered to her, “You have a long journey ahead of you baby and I will always be right here by your side. You are my only love, don’t ever forget that. We’ll get through this together.”