New Beginnings

Submitted into Contest #182 in response to: Write a story where someone’s paranoia is justified.... view prompt


Crime Christian Inspirational

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Marie thought her life had changed for the better. Oliver was going to be her new start. Sitting on the enormous mustard-yellow sofa, she tells her children’s father she is leaving. Larry didn’t love her. He loved his drugs. Marie wanted to escape this life. It was too much she wanted better for her children.

Bang, the gun went off and Larry went down. “What the hell?” Marie yelled as she ran to him; he may not have loved her, but he was the kids’ dad. The cops arrived and took Larry, in handcuffs, to the hospital. He had pulled the Colt pistol and accidentally dropped it, shooting himself in the leg. The police officer told Marie she must have an angel because if Larry’s leg had not gotten in the way, she would probably be dead. “Yeah, this is the second time; the first was in his foot,” she said.

Oliver had been sweet, giving compliments and roses, making Marie feel special. Yes, she was breaking company rules because he was her employee, but she needed to feel like someone cared. They found a mobile home in the country and moved in together. Oliver was the type that believed the man was the head of the household and convinced Marie to quit her job and stay home with the kids. This would be a first because she had always been the breadwinner. This was a new start, which unknowingly would turn into a nightmare. 

Sitting silently praying to God in the dark, Marie asked why she was being punished. Ebony and Derrick, thankfully, had gone to sleep. She dreaded the moment Oliver would walk through the door. She had stepped on eggshells all day, afraid to touch anything for fear that he would think someone had been there. He was determined that she was still involved with Larry, but she was totally faithful. She even stopped talking to her family because he knew they didn’t like him and thought they would convince her to leave. She had no friends, allies, or anyone to talk to except God.

Lying on the sofa, pretending to be asleep, she hears him open the front door. He did not allow her to go to bed before he came home. Slap, a backhand slams against her face. “Get up. I know you are not asleep.“

“Great, what is he going to accuse me of now?” she thought.

“I know he’s been here. His car is next door,” he screams, “Don’t fucking lie to me.”

Crying, Marie says, “Who are you talking about? No one has been here all day.”

“I know he has been here fucking you. Stop lying.”

“I swear Oliver, no one has been here. I am not cheating on you.”

He pulls out a revolver, puts in a bullet, and spins the barrel. He tells her, If you are telling the truth, then hold the gun to your head and pull the trigger. I promise there is only one bullet. You always read that damn Bible, so if you believe your God is real, you should be okay. Marie has spent months praying and reading her Bible, so she quotes scripture telling him we are not supposed to tempt God, but to have faith and not test Him. He holds the gun to her temple. She squeezes her eyes shut as she hears the click of the gun.. “Well, I guess you are lucky this time,” he says as he walks toward the bedroom. “Get your ass in here and go to bed,” he screams at her. She quietly walks behind him and climbs into the bed even though laying next to him is the last place she wants to be. However, she knows she will have hell to pay if she doesn’t; maybe she would be better off if the bullet had been in the chamber.  

The next day, Oliver came home with the news that he had lost his job. “How are we going to pay the bills?” Marie asked. She told him she could always go back to work. He would not hear of it though, because then she might talk to Larry or her parents. “I’ll get another job,” he claimed. It would be easy. They had to leave the trailer because they could no longer afford the rent, and Marie used a PO box to apply for food stamps. They stayed with Oliver’s sister for a couple of days, during which he cut off Marie’s long strawberry-blonde hair. She felt as though he had scalped her. The kids quickly learned to be quiet and unseen, which was a hard lesson for a two- and four-year-old. They had to leave after a couple of days; Oliver and his sister’s boyfriend did not see eye to eye. Ironically, the boyfriend abused his sister. Marie also discovered that Oliver’s mother was also being abused. It was apparent they knew what was happening, but showed no sympathy.

Oliver finally got another job. He began cleaning floors at K-Mart during the night. Marie and the kids slept in the car, which was placed where he could easily see it from the store’s window. The car belonged to Marie, by the way. The government approved her food stamp application and that helped them survive, although they all lost weight. Marie would stay up and read her Bible once the kids fell asleep; she found it hard to sleep even though physical and mental exhaustion threatened to take over. This went on for months and she often wondered why no one looked for her. Would this nightmare ever end?

Some people might wonder why she just didn’t leave. After all, it was her car. She was frightened, beyond scared. He was so controlling; when he went to work, he locked them in the car and took the keys. She knew he was watching from the store, so she couldn’t run away. Where would she even run to? It’s not like anyone cared. When he was not working, he did not let them out of his sight. She accepted the fact that she deserved this; she lived a pretty promiscuous teen life and often disappointed her parents. Was this God’s punishment? 

Eventually, they moved into an apartment complex. Oliver said it belonged to a friend who agreed to let them use it. This would end up being a blessing for Marie. She continued to jump at every sound and was paranoid about what she did when he was gone, but at least she was around people.

It had been six months since she had spoken to anyone outside of Oliver’s realm. She, of course, was afraid to talk to the neighbors, but she suspected they knew she was living in hell. They came home from the grocery store and Oliver was in one of his moods. Supposedly, Derrick was not walking fast enough, so he began dragging him up the stairs. Marie cried out for him to stop, only to be slapped in the face.

Ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Someone had called the cops. Oliver opened the door and played dumb. He assured the officer that everything was okay. The young man looked over Oliver’s shoulder as if to ask Marie if she was okay, but she was terrified to say anything. Secretly, she desperately wanted him to take her and the kids to safety. Not over five minutes after the door shut, Oliver grabbed Marie by her neck and slung her up against the wall. Feet dangling, she knew that this could be it. All she could do was pray for their escape. As her windpipe closed and her breath escaped, she told God that if he saved her and her children, she would serve him forever. At that moment, Oliver let go, and she dropped to the floor, gasping for air. In her mind, she said, “thank you, Jesus, I am yours.”

Marie could not sleep that night and she spent it praying and thinking. She felt guilty for so foolishly putting her children in harm’s way. She had to leave, no matter what. After Oliver left for work the next morning, she waited twenty-five minutes for fear that he would return. Luckily, the apartment had a phone book, so she looked up the number for Bill’s Sports Bar and Grill. Hopefully, her mother still worked there and would talk to her. She nervously took the kids’ portraits out of their frames and rolled them up. She put them and one outfit for each of the kids in a bag. “Come on kids, we’re going for a walk,” she said as she cautiously cracked the door and peeped out. The coast seemed clear, so as they left, she silently prayed that there would be a pay phone nearby. 

Marie’s angel was obviously still with her because there was a pay phone outside the office. Now she hoped her mother would answer. “Hello, Bill’s Sports Bar and Grill,” the voice on the phone said. In tears, Marie said, “Mom, I need you to come to get me and the kids. We will be walking on McCormick Road.” Her mom asked no questions, she only said she would be right there. Hopefully, this would be a better beginning. She would constantly look over her shoulder, but at least the kids would be safe, including her unborn child that she suspected she was carrying. 

January 25, 2023 15:59

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Marie Arrington
19:03 Feb 02, 2023

Thank you for readying my story and giving comments.


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Wendy Kaminski
03:21 Jan 30, 2023

How terrifying - and heartbreaking, too. You portrayed her dread and the constant anxiety her situation provoked very well. I was so glad you gave it a happy ending, because as we all know, those situations often don't end happily. Thanks for the story, and welcome to Reedsy!


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