I grabbed the orange suitcase from its dusty home in the attic. When I began packing, I noticed the dog asleep by the fireplace. He looked so peaceful. There was a time when this house was peaceful for me, too. Before the holes in the wall, before the new locks on every door, this place was my escape. A moldy smell coming from the kitchen brought me back into the present and I realized I hadn’t done the dishes in days. I began to walk towards the smell, but I stopped. “I will not clean,” I said aloud to myself. So, I returned to packing the bare necessities.
I had been stashing money away in the cookie jar for about a year now. It only added up to 300 dollars, but I pocketed it anyway. I grabbed a pen to write him a note. I sat down at the kitchen table trying to think of the right words. Then I tossed the pen across the room. “I don’t owe him a fucking explanation!” I wanted his limp body to swing from the rafters but a divorce would suit me, too.
I finished packing and wrapped my shawl around my shoulders. I gasped to capture one last deep breath of the musty air. It reeked of torment. I took a good look around at the memories I was leaving behind; the house that used to be my home. I felt the anxiety rise in me so I headed for the door. I knew I had to get out of there and never look back. I ran my fingers through my hair and put it in a ponytail, then slipped on my sandals. As I grabbed the knob, I saw the most recent scar on my right forearm and I reached out to touch it. My finger slowly went up and down my arm and for a moment, I felt loved. All I had ever asked for was to feel loved. Suddenly, a roaring sound rustled me out of my day dream. The teal 1963 station-wagon was pulling up the driveway and my heart sank. The past ten years began to play like a horror movie on the projector screen of my brain. It displayed nothing but emergency room visits where fake names were used, excuses I had made about how clumsy I was, and boxes of bloody towels he had preserved in a safe as trophies of his sick games. The last clip showed the baseball bat and my unborn child. I had almost bled to death that night before he had decided that going to the hospital would be a good idea.
At that moment, I remembered the orange suitcase was in my hands; I made a mad dash toward the kitchen but was yanked down to the floor by my hair. I had never, in the fifteen years we’d known each other, seen him that angry. I got one good look at him before the beating started and realized right then why I loved him. At that very moment I saw my father. I always thought that if I could just love Daddy a little bit more, things would be okay.
I’m pretty sure the first blow broke my jaw. The second blow was ruptured my kidneys. After that, I was damn near numb to the other forty-three. I was praying to God to just let me die and join my daughter in peace.
I was on the floor with one eye swollen shut and my lip was swollen to the size of a pebble when the beating stopped too suddenly. I heard only footsteps and then nothing. He said nothing. I felt the cold barrel of the gun against my temple. I got one last look at the orange suitcase now sprayed with blood before I finally got my wish. He may not have been swinging from the rafters, but I was free from the bastard forever.