It has been 13 weeks since I participated in 3WW, and I’ve missed it. It was a challenge, but I included all 39 words that have been posted since the last time I participated. A little over two hours after I started, I’ve finished. 1,500 words. That is a big deal for me, since I’ve let my writing go for quite a while. So, here are the words I included:
Escape, hum, vibrant, fear, ignore, weightless, dread, grasp, pacify, abandon, gradual, precise, budge, nimble, theory, hidden, noble, roam, erase, meadow, trace, feign, imply, virtue, hassle, inject, wealth, acrid, bane, tepid, gentle, praise, vulgar, bait, jump, victim, abuse, cramp and hatred.
I know I’m a day late, but I still wanted to post. Thanks for reading.
Writing was Sarah’s escape. All around her she could hear the vibrant hum of life, but she was removed from it. Separate. When she was immersed in her character’s lives, she was able to ignore the fear that stooped her shoulders and made her feet feel leaden. In the fantasies she created she was free. Weightless and insubstantial.
She would write for hours and came to dread her return to reality, but it came everyday at 5:22. He would come home from work then. Never a minute earlier, never a second later. It only took two months after they were married for her to grasp all the ways her life would change.
It was small things at first. They couldn’t afford such a large cell phone bill so she gave up hers. Then, it bothered him for her to have a night out with her friends without him, so he began to come along, until he got tired of going out with them, so she quit going out all together. After that, things spiraled out of her control so quickly she didn’t know how it happened. Now it seemed every decision she made was calculated to pacify him.
Within months of their honeymoon, he’d abandoned all pretense of trying to make her happy. And after a year of wedded bliss, there had been a gradual shift in her life. She went from being a strong, independent, productive woman, to a shell that only existed to please him.
Sarah learned quickly the precise ways he liked his clothes folded and put away. They went out together to dinner every Thursday night, and she never went out alone. That was something he wouldn’t budge on. At first she thought he was being cute and over protective, but realized, slowly, that it was so he always knew where she was and what she was doing.
When they’d been dating, making love had been a symphony of pleasure. Gabriel’s long, nimble fingers had played over her body like a concert pianists. Now, years later, those fingers were more often cruel and bruising. He’d wrap them around her neck and squeeze until black dots danced across her vision and she knew this would be the last time. She knew, in theory, that she could leave him and get away. Maybe then she would be safe and not wonder if every time the clock said 5:22, it would be the last time she would see it.
But, she could never find the courage to step out of the life she knew. So, she stayed hidden in her make-believe world, creating a happily ever after that she would never have.
Gabriel had been her noble white knight, rescuing her from an abusive family. Her father had roamed from one girlfriend to the next, while her mother took out her hurt and frustration on the children their union had produced. The sweet nineteen year old version of Gabriel had swept in, and given Sarah what she thought was love. Any time they argued, he used flowers and gentle kisses to erase everything harsh word he’d said. And Sarah fell for it.
After four months of dating, he’d taken her on a picnic in a meadow and asked her to marry him. They’d made love in the sweet smelling grass with the sun blazing above them. Afterwards, she’d used long blades of grass to trace patterns of hearts and their initials on his back while he feigned sleep. His promises that day seemed to imply that they would be married after they both finished their education and had careers. How wrong she’d been.
She’d gone home, floating on a cloud of teenaged dreams and told her mother what had happened. Sarah’s mistake had been in telling her mother that she was happy and would be even happier away from their family. The first slap caught her by surprise. Her lip split and she could taste blood in her mouth. She wasn’t fast enough to dodge the second hit from her mother, but by the third she decided to fight back. It was the beginning of the end for her.
Her father had come home that night, and Sarah could remember the bitterness in her mother’s voice. It coated the air with an almost palpable feeling of hate. It was then that she realized her mother was jealous of her, of her happiness. Within minutes her father was raging that, “He’d have no whore living under his roof.”
She’d called Gabriel and he’d come and taken her away from the screaming. He made everything right with the world. It was a virtue that he used many times in the following years, his gift with talking his way out of any situation.
The first time he hit her was one month after the birth of their first child - a son she’d been so proud to give him. The baby had been up all night, fussy with colic, and Sarah was exhausted. She’d left Gabriel’s eggs on too long and the yolk wasn’t runny like he liked it. After one bite, he dumped the plate on the floor and backhanded Sarah. She’d hit the wall and slid to the floor. The crash had scared the baby and he had started crying again.
By the time Caleb was three, Sarah had grown tired of the hassle calling the police caused and pregnant again, decided that something must be wrong with her or Gabriel wouldn’t hit her. She’d hidden the bruises for so long, it was second nature.
The violence lasted for years, and Sarah took it. Gabriel was good to their children, but she knew in her heart seeing him beat up their mother and scream awful things in her face had to be doing some damage.
Caleb’s high school graduation changed that. Gabriel had beaten her two days before, and the bruises had reached their peak of ugliness. One eye was swollen shut, her lip was busted and a near perfect hand print circled her throat. There was no way she could go out in public, and she’d been forced to miss the ceremony.
Regret and shame filled her blood like someone had injected acid straight into her heart. Never again. That night a plan formed like ice in her brain. She would get away and spend the rest of her life making it up to her precious children.
Over the next week, she gathered what she needed. Just a few innocuous items and the problem would be gone for good.
Her kids were gone for the weekend and it was nearing 5:00. Calmly she saved the document she was working on and pushed away from the desk. In 22 minutes her life would change forever.
After the police and emergency services left and she was finally alone, Sarah sank to her knees in the middle of the living room floor and laughed. The sound rang out and echoed in the empty house until it changed to sobs. She cried for all of the bruises, lost friendships, and the loss of innocence in her children. She cried until there were no tears left.
She woke to the sounds of her children coming home the next morning. She’d already decided how she would tell them that their father was gone. They sat at the table looking shocked for almost an hour. Then her precious family hugged her close. She knew they loved her. They’d asked why she let Gabriel hurt her for so long, and for that she didn’t have an answer, but she swore it would never happen again.
Caleb had looked at her then, and in his eyes she saw the truth. He knew she had murdered his father, and he approved.
They talked of the future and how would they afford college and house payments, and Sarah reassured them. Months before she’d sent her writing to an agent, who’d already sold three of the seventeen manuscripts Sarah had completed. They may not have much in the way of money, but in love they had immeasurable wealth.
After the autopsy had been performed and Gabriel’s death ruled and accident, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Never again would his acrid breath wash across her face as he pushed her head under tepid bath water. The bane of his presence would no longer haunt her nights.
Her home became something that was filled with gentle praise instead of vulgar comments and slurs meant to bait her into a fight. The children didn’t jump when the door opened any more, and for that alone, Sarah would have done it all over again.
There were no victims living in her house - only strong individuals who had lived through abuse.
Six months after his death, Sarah went to visit Gabriel’s grave. Her stomach cramped and she felt like she would vomit, but forced her feet forward. She expected to be filled with hatred for the man she had once loved and then killed, but standing alone on the cold overcast November day, all she could feel was overwhelming joy.
She had gotten away and was finally free.
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