When you woke up from sleep the first thing you noticed was that you couldn’t possibly be in your bed. The sheets were wrong and the smell that reached your nose was too clean, too clean that it almost seemed foul. You frowned at this and closed your eyes. When your eyes opened again, the room came into clearer focus and you knew for sure you weren’t home and in your bed underneath peach coloured bed-sheets. Your mind was fuzzy, and you did not understand how you got to be in this room.
The sun peeked slowly through the blinds on the other side of the room. Your first thought was to get up and investigate, but you found that you could not. The bruises on you riddled your entire body with pain. Your eyes trailed to your hands and in time you knew where you were. You understood how you got here and why your entire body hurt. You moved your hands defensively to your abdomen, and you prayed nothing had happened to your unborn child even though you knew how unlikely this was.
Because now you could remember. You remembered the fight that got you in here. How your husband had hit you like a punching bag. Your spirit continued to break as you thought of what you would endure after you left the hospital. You tried your best to force back the tears, but how would you? Near the brink of despair, you forced yourself to hope that maybe the little one in you, the one you would name Zach after your father would survive. But the voices in your head were telling you there was no way it could have survived the force of the wooden table John Grey had broken on your stomach.
‘Morning. It seems you’re finally awake Mrs Grey.’ said a man in an over-sized lab coat after he walked into the room. He seemed to be a pleasant person. You thought he looked too young to be a doctor.
You said, ‘How long have I been here?’
‘They brought you in last Tuesday. I put you on pain medication, you got injured and severely beaten up by those thugs who attacked you and your husband,’ said the doctor, ‘Mr Grey was so worried about you. He comes every afternoon to check on you.’
You almost hissed, but you stopped yourself. As you expected your rotten husband had lied to the hospital. This wasn’t the first time, but this time there was another life at stake that worried you.
‘Please, what about my child?’ you asked silently pleading with the doctor to say the baby was all right and it was just a scare ignoring the part in you that knew in life no one ever got what they wanted.
The doctor's face immediately turned solemn, ‘I’m so sorry but the amount of blood you lost could have killed you. Your baby didn’t have a chance.’
Tears fell freely from your eyes down to your cheeks. You did not clean them. You weren't sad or angry; you were just disappointed with yourself for letting it happen. It would not matter what anyone would say, you already knew it was your fault and it would haunt you forever.
‘I’m sorry,’ the doctor continued, ‘I will go call your husband and tell him you’re awake.’
‘No!!’ you screamed. The doctor jumped in fright. He looked at you in shock, no doubt wondering why you had such a firm response. ‘You can’t call my husband. Please. He is the one that did this to me. Please don’t let him in when he comes. I can’t be alone with him, please!’
The doctor seemed short of words. He nodded and walked out of the room. You attempted to get up again and immediately you knew this was impossible. You rolled on your bed and decided at the moment sleeping would be the best thing to do for you to regain your strength. You would get out of this hospital tomorrow, but who would you call? You knew you couldn’t ask any of John’s family for help and your family would not give you the light of day because they had always been against marrying John at such a young age. You cried again and wished you went back and slapped some sense into your eighteen-year-old self and stopped her from making the biggest mistake of her life. You became drowsy and finally, your eyes closed and you returned to sleep again.
The shouting kept getting louder and at first, you were sure it was in your dream but when you opened your eyes again to escape it you found you were not dreaming and that someone was shouting outside the door of your hospital room. Your eyes widened. The sun relaxed, and the room was windy. It was afternoon. When you tried to get up, you noticed the pain has relatively reduced but all the same still there. You got on your feet and brushed away the strands of blonde hair wavering in your face. You moved to open the door but stopped when you heard a voice that sent your knee shaking. You almost fell to the ground, but you leaned on a desk by the door. He was here. Your husband was arguing loudly with someone, something about him needing to see his wife Sally. You didn’t quite know who the other person talking was at first but after listening closely; you were sure it was the doctor who you had shouted at yesterday or was it this morning you could not tell how much time had passed.
You walked back to your bed and sat. The argument stopped after a while and when your room door opened again; you were glad to see it wasn’t John but the doctor. He offered a slight smile and took a chair by the desk and sits in front of you.
‘John was here to see you but I told him he couldn’t. He didn’t want to leave but when I threatened to call the police and report him he ran out as fast as his legs could carry him.’ said the doctor.
'Thank you, mister....’
‘Dr Remus Tate,’ replied Dr Remus.
‘Thank you, Dr Remus, for saving my life and making sure that monster doesn't see me,’ you said,
‘I have one more favour to ask, I have left John for good and I will press charges but I need you to call this number for me and ask for a woman named Wendy Mark tell her where I am and tell her I need her help and can someone bring my things,’
Dr Remus nodded and glanced at you looking pitifully then abandoned his seat and headed for the door.
Not long after a junior nurse probably the same age as you, you presumed. Came in, offered you a cup of tea and handed you a plastic bag of your belongings. You muttered a hoarse thank you right before she left. The tea was boiling, so instead; you left it by the desk at the corner of the room and took a quick bath. It felt good to be free of the hospital gown and back in your plain blue shirt and black jeans; you were feeling like yourself again and the pain was subsidising.
The mirror in your purse showed your flawless face staring back at you. Sharp hazel eyes and beautiful olive skin shadowed by fear. Whenever John decided it was time for his punishment, he made sure to never hurt your face, he always loved to remind you how he liked you pretty but your body. No one would see the bruises. The scarves, coats and the long-sleeved dresses which filled your wardrobe at home would do a magnificent job of covering up what he had done. The tea was cooling down now, but it was still not cool enough for you to gulp down.
You sat by the window of your room and pulled the blinds and watched the sunset. Your mind travelled back to the first place you and John met. At a bar back home, the home you had left five years ago to become someone’s anger coping mechanism. You remembered how your father always said any story that starts in a bar never ends wells once again proving your father is never wrong. The truth remained that you hated yourself for being foolish, for being a child and not realising you had a brilliant life ahead of you.
A knock on the door sounded bringing you back from your thoughts, ‘Come in.’
A woman taller than you walked in, she had very low black hair, like a man’s. In her right hand, she held a briefcase and a bright yellow coat in her other hand. You knew this woman by the name on her card she had given you the first time you met, Wendy Mark, an attorney who specialised in domestic violence cases.
‘Sally. Are you all right?’ she asked, you recognised the same look of pity in her eyes much like Dr Remus.
‘Yes. Thank you for coming despite how I spoke the last time we met,’ you replied.
‘No one ever believes they are victims of domestic abuse immediately,’ said Wendy, ‘I was wrong to ambush at a wedding but I saw the way he kept grabbing your hand and that look of fear I’ve seen so many times. I knew I wasn’t mistaken, but you weren’t ready to take action, so I want to know why now? Is it because of the severity of his beatings this time? Because two months ago you said you didn’t care if he beat you and it was enough to know he loved you, so why now?’
You cleared the lump in your throat, willing yourself to speak. All the while bearing in mind that if you had listened to her two months ago, your baby might have had a chance. ‘When you met me two months ago I didn’t care, I was still hoping maybe one day the man I married in Vegas would return to me. Two years of happiness we had and three years of pain for me with each time he begged for my forgiveness, claimed he was sorry. I would have done this for ten thousand years without fail,' the tears fell again,
‘But two months ago I would make John the happiest man and finally give him a child; I always assumed that was what my marriage lacked. Something for us both to love so dearly that we wouldn’t care about anything else, but now I don’t have that anymore. There is this small beautiful table I received as a wedding gift; we keep our marriage photo on it in our bedroom. John broke that table on me and ended my baby’s life,’ by now you could no longer continue, you broke down. Wailing and sobbing and coming to terms with what had happened to you and what it meant. Wendy moved over to you, fighting back a few tears of her own, and hugged you.
‘He will never hurt you again. I promise you he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.’ said Wendy.
‘My parent live in Boston, that where I’m going, to ask them to have me because I don’t have anywhere else. I want o leave today. I can send that worthless person to prison any time, but I need my family right now. I need them,’ you said, ‘Can you talk to Dr Remus? I want to leave today. I don’t want him to come back to get me.’
Wendy nodded, ‘I can arrange that but your parents will they accept you?’
‘I don’t know and I honestly don’t care but I need to leave please, I need to be home I need strength from them, so I can look John in the eye and lock him behind bars for the rest of his life.’
‘I will leave to talk to the doctor. When I come back, we will head to the train station and get you a ticket. I will come with you to Boston if I have to,’
You looked at her gratefully and said, ‘You need to take me somewhere else first. I need to get my things from that house.’
‘I need to make sure he knows what he did to our child.’ you replied
Wendy left and didn’t come back for a while and when she did, she informed you that Dr Remus was sorry that he wasn’t here to say goodbye himself, but he wishes you well. You said a silent prayer for him and wished him the best in life he deserved it. You lean on Wendy on the way out of the hospital as she leads you to her black sienna in the hospital parking lot. The drive to your house was silent.
You wanted to thank Wendy for not asking you a question like how the fight started because you honestly couldn’t remember. When you arrived the afternoon had long gone and soon, it would be dark. You got out of the car with minor difficulty and followed closely by Wendy; then you knocked on the door of the home you spent the last five years of your life.
A plump woman in her 60s opened the door, her black hair lined with streaks of grey. Her shiny black eyes looked at Wendy and you in shock. She was the mother of your husband, her name was Janet Grey but no one ever called her that; they knew her as Tee. You had always wondered why, but whenever you asked they would brush you off. You reckoned it had something to do with her dead husband.
‘What in the bloody hell are you doing here? Johnny said you were still in the hospital,’ said Tee.
‘Well Johnny was wrong, where is he?’ said Wendy. She looked vicious as though daring the old lady to lie to her.
‘He ain’t been back since he went to see you.’
‘Let’s go upstairs and pack your things.’ said Wendy.
‘I don’t think so, Missy,’ replied Tee, almost looking insulted.
‘I don’t recall asking for your permission. I’m a lawyer and if you don’t want me to call the police and have you and your son thrown in jail for domestic violence, I suggest you step aside.’
Tee hurriedly backed away from the door and let you and Wendy in. You felt a rush of gratitude go to Wendy; you were so glad you didn’t have to say anything you honestly had a feeling that if you said anything you would be too weak to continue moving.
Wendy did most of the packing and you sat watching her as she folded all your things neatly in your suitcase. She was through packing when she and you heard a knock from downstairs.
‘Don’t go down, I can talk to him,’ said Wendy.
‘You’re a lovely person; you have done so much for me already. I need to fight this battle alone. Thank you so much for everything.’
‘I’m not leaving you alone with him in a room,’ said Wendy.
‘You can wait right outside,’ you replied.
‘If I hear any trouble, I will call the police immediately.’
You gave a faint smile and nodded.
You went down the stairs with your head held high followed closely by Wendy who was already carrying two suitcases containing your things in her hands. He couldn’t hurt you anymore even if he tried. He had already taken the best part of you away so you no longer had anything to fear. You saw his face looking up at you from the foot of the stairs. Those giant blue eyes lured you into a trap from the first time you saw them.
‘Sally, why is this woman in our home?’ he asked, glaring at Wendy.
‘She is here to help me get my things. I’m leaving this place your call our home,’ you said shocked at your own daring ‘I’m going back to the only true home I have tonight.’
‘Are sure you aren’t woozy from the medication? What’s all this rubbish you’re saying? That doctor with his loud mouth sent me from the hospital, even threatened me; don’t tell you have seduced him too, huh.’
You looked at him in disgust wondering how you ever got married to him in the first place ‘Your speech is full of venom but I no longer care about your stupid words.’
‘Oh no Sally Grey don’t you talk to your husband like that. Don’t you-’
‘SHUT UP!!’ you screamed, ‘I’m not done talking. I wanted to come down and have a conversation with you but it isn’t worth it. You’re a fool, and I am a bigger fool because it took me so long to see it, but now I do. I married you a horrible man, you didn’t become one overnight. I was too in love, so I never saw you for what you’re. I’m going back home but before I do, I want you to know, I’m coming for you. With everything I have, I will make sure you spend the rest of your life in prison. When you broke the table on me you killed not only our marriage, you also killed your unborn child and I hope you can live with yourself.’
The look of terror on his face satisfied you. You took one suitcase in Wendy’s hand and left the house with no one objecting. Suitcase In hand, you entered the car and Wendy drove heading to the train station…