Submitted into Contest #47 in response to: Suitcase in hand, you head to the station.... view prompt



You have been plotting your escape for a while now. You lay in bed beside him at night as he belches and snores in his sleep, thinking about the old suitcase in the closet hidden under a pile of winter blankets and quilts.

It would be easy to go the kitchen, grab a knife and stab him through the heart as he sleeps. You will get in the car and drive to a faraway city, change your identity and begin life anew.

You know this plan will not save you. You are the first person the police will suspect. They will track you down, find you and make you stand trial. Your claim of self defense will not be believable despite the years of mental and physical abuse.

When you miss your monthly two months in a row you know the time has come. He can continue to hurt you. He is never going to touch your child.

Ironically it is Sally Benson, the

pastor’s wife who ends up helping you. She sees you sitting in the back of the church one day wiping away tears. She notices the black eye and the bandage on your left wrist.

During the breakfast reception in the basement after church, Mrs. Benson takes you aside and hands you a card.

“I don’t know you well, but you seem troubled and I think I know the reason why. This is my friend Jean Olmsted’s card. She lives in Philadelphia. She can

help you.”

You take the card without comment. He will kill you if he finds out you are speaking to anyone about this.

But after another drunken rage ends in him almost breaking your ribs, you begin to feel as though you have no other choice.

It is the year 1970 and the world is changing. Last summer man walked on the moon. There have been protests for civil rights, disabled rights and women’s rights. But in your small town women are still taught to put up or shut up.

Your own mother endured similar abuse from your father for years on end.

One day while he is out you pick up the phone and call Pastor Benson’s wife.

“Help me,” you say quietly in case he is lurking somewhere.

You awake and go through your morning routine as though all were normal. You make him scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast and serve it to

him with as much of a smile as you can muster.

“This food is crap. After four years you can’t even make decent eggs.”

You cower away from him as he pushes the plate across the table. It falls from the edge and breaks into pieces.

You calmly clean up the mess of egg and shattered pieces of plate. You tell yourself this nightmare will be over soon. You will be in a better place, a safer place soon.

You trudge through the rest of the day and wait until he is in his chair in the living room sleeping as a baseball game blares on the TV screen. You tiptoe to the closet and remove the old blue suitcase. The one your mother took on her honeymoon.

He doesn’t stir as you tiptoe out of the house, closing the screen door behind you and managing not to make a sound.

You walk to the train station in Harleyville. You are too afraid he will hear the roar of the engine if you were to take the car. Your feet are blistered and aching by the time you reach the depot.

You go to the window and purchase a ticket to Philadelphia for fourteen dollars. The ticket clerk hand writes the ticket without chatting or asking questions. You breathe a sigh of relief.

The ride to Philadelphia takes three hours. Thankfully you have a seat to yourself and are not forced to make conversation. You busy yourself by reading and eating the small lunch you managed to pack. Ham sandwiches and an apple. You have no appetite but feel you must eat for the baby.

When you arrive at Philadelphia, you go upstairs and are overwhelmed by the size of the place and massive crowds of travelers. There are people in smart business suits, families with children and students in jeans and tee shirts toting packs on their backs.

You have no idea where to go or what you need to do now. The card Mrs. Benson gave you has an address on Frankford Avenue. You don’t know where that would be in relation to this place.

You decide to approach a girl with long curly brown hair in bell bottom pants and a peasant blouse. She is carrying a guitar and seems friendly and harmless enough.

She gives you directions to the Market-Frankford subway across the street. You have heard stories about the dangers of subways and are frightened, but a cab is too expensive and your money must last until you can find a job. Mrs Benson gave you a little bit of money but you fully intend to pay her back.

The girl kindly offers to escort you over to the subway and you are grateful. Any kindness you are shown by anyone is appreciated.

It is rush hour and the subway is hot, crowded and noisy. You are unable to find a seat and are forced to stand while holding onto a pole. You are not impressed with city life so far.

You exit at Frankford Avenue and walk four blocks to the rooming house. Mrs. Olmsted greets you at the door and is not what you were expecting. For some reason you assumed she would be young. Instead, she is a grey haired, grandmotherly woman with a ready smile.

“I am so glad you made it safely! Go put your bag upstairs and we can sit down for supper.”

After a delicious dinner of beef stew, homemade bread and cherry pie, you go to your new room and sleep soundly for the first time in months.

The weeks pass and you settle into a new life. You find a job waitressing at a diner and become determined to keep working until you are too pregnant to do so.

Northeast Philadelphia is in the city but somehow apart from it. It is made up of working class families and row houses. There is a sense of community here you were not expecting. At night you lie awake and listen as teenagers drag race along Roosevelt Boulevard.

Your pregnancy advances and soon you are six months along. The weather is turning colder and when you sleep at night you add an extra blanket to your bed.

You don’t know why you decide to call Him. Perhaps it’s because it is almost Christmas and you are feeling sentimental. Maybe it is because as much of a monster he is, he still deserves to know he is about to become a father.

So after Mrs. Olmsted and the others have gone to bed you pick up the wall phone in the kitchen. You know she would talk you out of calling. And she would have been right.

The phone rings for a minute before so

someone picks up. It is a female voice. Her sister in law, Frannie.

“Frannie, it’s Deborah. Where is Bill?”

Frannie pauses for a second. You know she has never liked you.

“Deborah, where have you been? We’ve been searching for you for months. Bill is....”

“What Frannie? Bill is what?”

“He’s dead, Deborah. He got drunk and crashed his truck into a tree. The funeral is in two days.”

You travel back for his funeral knowing the family does not want you there. They blame you for his accident claiming he had been drinking more and was ”distraught” when you left.

You play the grieving widow at the funeral, the graveside service and at the reception back at your old house. Frannie and Bill‘s parents look at you with undisguised disdain. Only Mrs. Benson greets you with a smile and a heartfelt hug.

You know you should feel relief but it is tinged with sadness. You had married the man and dreamed of a different life once. A happy home with a caring husband and beautiful children.

You stay a few more days in Harleyvllle and arrange for the house and the truck to be sold. The few assets he had go to you. You don’t really want his money but need it to support the coming baby.

This time when you step onto the train platform with your suitcase it is with a new sense of confidence.

You are truly free.

June 25, 2020 22:05

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Grace M'mbone
18:35 Jul 04, 2020

I loved it Kathleen,the flow and everything. Keep it up.


Kathleen Whalen
15:26 Jul 05, 2020

Thanks so much!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Crystal Lewis
16:18 Jun 30, 2020

I feel like you've managed to do a lot of heavy lifting story-wise in a short amount of words which is sometimes tricky to do so that's good. I enjoyed reading it, although it is sad and stories like this happen far too often in the real world. But motherhood is such a wonderful thing that can make someone turn their life around. Feel free to read my story. :)


Kathleen Whalen
18:13 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you! And I will definitely read your story as well!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply