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The dirt smeared mirror doesn’t give much of a reflection, but it is enough for me to see my ruined appearance. My mangled hair, split bottom lip, the dark purple goose egg that has started to sprout beneath my right eye. While this is not the worst I have looked after one of his beatings, that does little to satiate my overflowing anger. There was a time when I used to feel sorry for myself. I used to feel like the world had wronged me in so many ways. Bringing me this sweet and loving man. The first man I ever trusted since my father left me 19 years ago. This man who I thought was loving, godly, and kind. It only took him two years, two years for him to finally lash out at me. And that was it, that man I thought I knew was gone. And all that was left was an angry, drunk ass.
Lost in my thoughts, the sound of the whiskey bottle hitting the floor in the kitchen startles me. Slowly I pull down my hair and retie it. I wash my lip and steel my nerves. While I have always dreamt of getting my vengeance on this man who now holds me hostage in our home, I don’t know if I will ever be able to take his life with my own hands. Walking out of the tiny dingy bathroom, I find Lance passed out at the table. A thick string of drool hanging from his mouth. The whiskey bottle with nothing but a drop left, forgotten on the floor. I could do it. I could end his life here, he wouldn’t know. He is in too much of a drunken stupor, he probably wouldn’t even put up a fight.
But alas, I am not a killer. I have always told myself that. I will not take his life with my hands. After four years of abuse and never leaving this god forsaken house, you would think I have lost all hope. There many times when I even thought I did. But tonight something urges me to laundry room. A room that Lance has never stepped foot in. Because not only am I his punching bag, but his cook and laundress as well. Checking one more time to make sure he has not woken, I silently shut the door. Behind the dryer in a small nook that I have made, I take out my prayer beads. Praying to the Dark Mother to remove me from this fate. Praying to the Green Faced God that this vile man will meet his end some way. And finally praying to the God of Mistakes that I can find some way, before my time, to right this terrible mistake, no one but me put myself in. I am tempted to spend the final hours of night before dawn breaks praying. But I think better of it. Tomorrow will be more of the same. Being ripped from my bed to make a meager breakfast for a disgustingly hungover Lance. He will leave to go to the liquor store. And by the time he returns he expects me to have the entire house clean, well as clean as it can get in it’s run down state. And all of his trails of vomit and bottles picked up. Only once did I ever disobey the man I once loved so fiercely. And that night he beat me within an inch of my life. I remember the pain, the tangy copper scent from my own blood. And the secret silent hope that this would be it, that he would finally take it too far, hit me one too many times so that I never regain consciousness. Tucking my prayer beads back into their place, I make my way up to my room.
The next morning I wake from a fitful sleep to golden rays pressing into the window. Sitting up I hold my breath. It is too late in the day for Lance to not be awake. It is also too quiet. He never lets me sleep past 7, even when his beatings don’t end till 5 in the morning. I gently shove the blanket off me. My feet hitting the floor silently. I creep towards the door and peer out over the railing into the kitchen. Lance has not moved. An acrid scent rises to meet my nose. Causing me to heave. Pulling my shirt up to cover my nose I calmly descend the stairs. Creeping around to the side of the table where Lance was passed out last night I see that, maybe, finally my prayers have been answered. Lance’s face is ashen and covered in his own bile. It looks like the drunkard finally drank too much and died in a pile of his own making. As I lean away from where he sits, I also poke his arm with one finger. Holding my breath waiting for a reaction. But one never comes. I am free. I am genuinely free from this dirt covered prison.
Rushing upstairs I grab a pack a what few belongings I have. I don’t even think to alert someone to the dead man down stairs. I pause at the door to give this place one last disgusted leer. And with that I am out the door into the afternoon light. I never thought I would see the outside again. Never thought I would smell the scent of the dew burning off in the sun. With my back to my past, I take a step. Into the future, into a fresh life, where no one has to know of the terrors I suffered at a man’s hand. For I know in my heart I will never let a man into my life again.