The Last Straw

When is enough enough !?

Very moving and poignant Story written by Charlotte Pearson

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1. Thin Walls

 

“I walked into a door,” I had said with no emotion in response to the doctors questions.

“Again,” she said. Her eyebrow was raised and a concerned tone in her voice.

She was not convinced; I no longer cared to elaborate my lies.

My husband Michael had sat in the waiting room. What had once been a guilty, sorry expression was now a cold scowl; we walked silently to the car.      

Things got really bad, one particular night, I thought he was finally going to kill me. That weekend our son Joshua had stayed with Michael’s mother. I was in the bedroom straightening my hair when he appeared in the doorway. My muscles immediately tensed up.

“Where’s the JD?” he demanded.

“There’s a full bottle in the cupboard,” I replied.

“It’s finished now, you useless cow. Why didn’t you check before going shopping?”

“I’m sorry; there was a full bottle there when I last checked. I will get some from the supermarket first thing tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow’s not good enough. I want a drink tonight. Not tomorrow. Do you know what your problem is?” he asked, walking towards me.“You’re too concerned about your looks, you whore”

With that he grabbed my straighteners with one hand, and a handful of my hair with the other; I could feel my hair ripping out at the roots.

“I’m sorry,” I cried “I’ll go to the shop now. I could be back in ten minutes.”

“No! You need to be taught a lesson,” he said as he clamped the straighteners down on my arm. I screamed as I felt them burning through my skin. Tears flooded my cheeks as I tried to struggle free, begging him to stop. But it was useless. He was so much stronger than me and he was intent on causing me the most pain possible. It felt like my arm was on fire. Struggling did not make sense, so I gave up and just sat there helplessly bawling as he held the sizzling straighteners to my arm for what felt like an eternity. Suddenly he released the grip of them from my arm and tossed them on the side. The smell of cooking flesh was sickening.

I thought that night’s attack was finally over. Had I not been punished enough? Apparently not, I looked up at him through the blur of my tears. His eyes were crazed.  

I apologised again. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” It felt more like a plea; he still had a hold of my hair.

“See what your incompetence has made me do?” he said angrily as he slapped me across the face. “When are you going to learn?”

He then yanked me by my hair and dragged me across the floor. Kicking and punching me when I struggled. It had never been this extreme before. What was he going to do to me now? I was terrified but screaming and struggling was useless, so I helplessly curled up into a ball, trying to protect my head and face. That is when I heard the sirens approaching. Michael let go of me as they got closer. Thin walls I thought. He practically threw me away from him, warned me to clean myself up and then he coolly walked downstairs as there was a knock at the front door. I locked the bathroom door and buried my face into a towel to silence my hysterical cries. Footsteps, unfamiliar voices and the unmistakable sound of police radios echoed up the stairs.

“Is anyone else home?” A man asked, with no attempt to disguise his circumspect tone. 

“Just my wife,” I heard Michael respond. “We had a little argument. She’s gone to take a shower to calm herself down.”

With that, I quickly turned the shower on. The pain from my arm was agonizing, almost unbearable. It looked just as bad if not worse; my skin had been burnt away exposing the flesh underneath. I quickly run it under the cold tap, causing me to wince and almost scream out in pain.

“Rachel, baby could you come downstairs? The police are here and they wanna have a word.”

Michael was on the other side of the door. “Make yourself decent and come down; it will only take a minute.”

My heart flipped involuntarily as his soft tone brought back memories of the man I had fallen in love with all those years ago, but swiftly the memories evaporated to be replaced by a bone chilling coldness that was made up of pain, fear and loneliness. I felt sick and reminded myself that it was all for show. I wrapped a wet flannel around my arm, secured it with a hair band, and quickly washed my face to clear away the traces of my nose bleed and tears. Luckily for Michael a black eye had not formed yet. I quickly undressed and threw on my dressing gown to add to this little pantomime then made my way downstairs.

I entered the living room. “Mrs Smith?” I was asked by a young man who looked way too young to be a police officer.

“Yes good evening officer, how can I help you?” I said with my best attempt at a surprised look. My arm was throbbing.

“We had reports of a female screaming at this address. We wanted to make sure you were ok,” his tone was concerned.

I just stood there for a minute. I wanted nothing more than for them to rescue me from this nightmare, for them to take me somewhere happy and safe where he could not hurt me anymore. Was this my chance to escape? Indecision made me hesitate for a moment. I did not know what to do; I could feel Michael’s gaze blazing into my back.

“Are you ok Madam?” said another officer who had a kind face.

“Yes, Yes I’m perfectly fine,” I said, snapping out of my mental tug of war. “I’m embarrassed. I shouted at my husband over something really silly, and not only have I wasted police time, but now the neighbours must think I’m a right bitch, I am truly very sorry,” I insisted, pasting on a forced smile and taking all the blame.

“Not to worry. It happens all the time. We’ll be on our way now, and let you get back to your shower.”

I fought back tears as the four officers walked towards their cars. The one with the kind face looked back at me. He was not convinced of my story. He looked concerned.

“Goodnight,” I said with a wave.

I felt Michael walk up behind me; he threw his arm over my shoulder adding effect to this rigmarole. As soon as the officers were out of sight, he turned on me and grabbed my face.

“Don’t you ever embarrass me like that again. What must the neighbours think?”

“I’m sorry,” I apologised again, not entirely sure what I was sorry for. He turned and made his way towards the sofa.

“Michael...” I hesitated, “why do you hate me so much? Why have you stopped loving me?”

He seemed to digest what I had said as he sat down on the sofa. I anxiously waited for his response.

“Put the kettle on,” was his cold retort. “And don’t forget my bottle tomorrow,” was his warning.

Smiles, laughter and affection were now a distant memory. I felt like a prisoner. Not a wife. Thank god Josh was away for the weekend.

 

 

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