November 9th, 1983
Mark walked up the steps to his bungalow, one arm carrying his brief case and the other a book. “2000 Leagues under the sea,” he flipped it over in his hand, to admire the cover. ’She would love this story,’ he thought, as he places the briefcase under his arm and unlocked the door. It connected with a loud thud as the deadbolt slid free.
He walked into his home with a sense of ease. Finally, he could wash off the smell of the day, and just relax. Mark walked into his bathroom and rapidly removed his suit. He threw the messy bundle into the clothes shoot. They landed with a significant thunk. That pleased him. It meant all the laundry was done. His wife was learning. She was getting used to performing her wifely duties in a timely manner. Time management is an important part of life. It made him happy knowing that she was finally getting the hang of it.
Walking into his bedroom he found the clothes he had placed on the bed that morning, go undisturbed. He hurriedly put them on. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until that very moment. It was unusually early for him, but he chocked it up a light lunch. Ever since he was diagnosed with high blood pressure, he told the wife to make him salads with a light snack. Today was beats and arugula. A little fancy for his taste but even he, so set in his ways, had to admit it was rather good.
Walking down the stairs to the basement floor he waited mid way for Caesar. The miniature lab ran up the steps so quickly, he missed a step on the way up. That did not stop him though. He hopped up and down, trying to get Mark’s attention. Mark placed a hand on his head to give Caesar the satisfaction of his consideration. The little dog wanted to be held, but Mark knew better then to hold him before supper. His wife would become upset if hair fell onto the table while eating.
“Well someone is excited to see you.” Holly said from the bottom stair. “You there, come here so I can feed you.” She pointed to Caesar and then the bowl on the floor. A fresh can of wet dog food all laid out for him. He ran up to the food and started attacking it. As if he had never seen a bowl of food in his life.
“Well, it didn’t take too long for him to ignore me.” Mark said with a laugh.
“He certainly loves food just as much as you.” Holly grinned widely.
Mark walked down the rest of the way to give his wife a kiss. He placed a hand around her waste gently and leaned into her. He loved the smell of her, always so clean, and with a hint of nutmeg. She always cooked with nutmeg. Something about her grandmother swearing by it.
“Supper coming along?” he asked.
“Swimmingly.” She replied with a wink. “How was work? Anything interesting happen?” She smiled so sweetly it made Mark melt. Those beautiful green eyes could stop any man in his tracks. He felt blessed they fell on him. She was tall, mostly all slim legs. Must have been all those Jane Fonda tapes I got her, he thought. He looked her up and down. Her neon leggings shown in the bright light of the living room. Holy had requested he install them. She always loved natural light, but this part of the house had no windows, so fake yellow ones would have to do. So, after almost a year of begging he finally installed more of them to please her.
“Not at the office.” He stated, “but I did find a little something at the bookstore today.”
Holy giggled in excitement as he gave her the book he had been holding behind his back. She practically tore it from his hands in anticipation.
“2000 Leagues under the sea.” She read aloud. She turned it over to read the back.
Holly looked up from the book, her eyes almost watering with excitement. “This sounds like a glorious adventure. I wish I could see the ocean.”
“Well not much ocean to see around here.” Mark proclaimed, “but maybe one day.”
“One day soon?” She asked still reading the back of the book.
Mark smiled. He wasn’t sure how long it would be until he could bring Holly to the beach. She was worth it, but he wasn’t sure when he could get away from the office. They needed him there. No, she would definitely need to wait. It would not be soon. She didn’t need to know that.
Holly took his hand to lead him to the table. He gave her a little smack on the behind, to signal his intentions for later. She squealed a little girlish squeal. He was pleased.
He sat and watched, as she reached for the cast iron pan in horror. “Stop!” he shrieked.
“Sorry!” she yelled back in surprise. “All the magazines say to serve the chicken from the pan, or the juices run off.” She explained.
“Sweetheart, you where about to pick it up with your bare hands.” Mark said.
“Oops.” Holly replied sheepishly. She turned to get the gloves before going back for the pan.
Mark turned back to his empty plate, as he wondered what kind of chicken would be served. One thing was for sure, it would have a touch of nutmeg, as always. He was getting used to the flavor. Nutmeg felt safe to him now. Like home.
Mark turned his attention to Caesar, who let out a small bark. “What’s wrong buddy?” Mark asked.
He leaned his head towards his wife without turning around, “why do you think he is bar…” Mark could smell a whiff of nutmeg until the world went black and he fell face first onto the plate in front of him.
November 9th, 1983
Caesar growled at Holly upset his master wasn’t home yet. That stupid dog hated her with every part of him. Holly looked at the time. He was ten minutes late; the chicken would burn. “Why do I care.” She said aloud to no one in particular. She heard the big pad lock upstairs unlatch.
She ran to the small bathroom throwing the pile of undone laundry into the bathtub. Closing the curtain for extra measure.
Like clockwork Mark’s ugly beige suite fell down the shoot and hit the floor with a thud. She caught it right on time. She had to insure he was not upset tonight. She snapped her fingers calling Caesar to her side. He waddled his little fat legs towards her eager to see what she wanted.
“Remember what I said you little rat. You wait until he is through the door before going to see him. Do not piss him off today or so help me I will make you starve for a week.”
Holly waited to hear Marks fat steps hit the brown wood. She heard as he walked across the room above her head. Not that she knew what it looked like. She could only imagine his fat thighs slapping together in a towel as he walked. She was lucky it was one of those days he decided to shower upstairs.
She heard the latch to the basement door unlock. Caesar jumped up and down eager to run up the stares. Holly held onto him until she heard the door close and then let go of his collar.
“Well, someone is excited to see you.” Holly said. She made sure to smile as widely as possible. She prayed he couldn’t see the fear in her eyes. “You there, come here, so I can feed you.”
She watched as Mark lightly laugh. She could not read his mood just yet; it was too early. He seemed fine, but the bruise on her inner thigh was proof how his temperament could be deceiving.
“Well it didn’t take too long for him to ignore me.” Mark said. She was relieved when he laughed. It eased her. He was in a good mood today.
“Well he certainly loves food just as much as you.”
‘Shit,’ she thought. She hoped he didn’t take that as a fat joke. She was trying to flatter Mark’s ego by referring to the dog’s equal affection, not how much Mark loves food.
She watched fearful of his retaliation. He walked up to her and grabbed her waist aggressively. She flinched in surprise, prepared to be thrown to the other side of the room. Luckily, he leaned over and placed a rough kiss onto her lips. She closed her eyes, waiting for it to stop. She always wondered how someone who just got out of the shower could smell so disgusting, like rotting garlic.
“Supper coming along?”
Holly felt mark pull away from her. She begged herself not to wipe her lips unintentionally, with her sweater. He was still looking at her after all.
“Swimmingly.” She replied with a winked. She hoped she didn’t seem too eager. He needed to stay happy. “How was work? Anything interesting happen?” She really couldn’t have cared less. He was boring. He dressed in the same suites every day, the same sweats every night. He was always sweating and couldn’t talk with out a hint of a wheeze.
“Not at the office.” He stated, “but I did find a little something at the bookstore today.” Holy giggled a little too loudly. She secretly chastised herself for the fake laugh. She expected a slap to the face. Nothing came.
She looked down at the book she was holding. He must have thrusted it into her hands when she wasn’t paying attention.
“2000 Leagues under the sea.” She read aloud with pep. She could see he was expecting flattery for his wonderful present. Gifts always meant he was getting lucky. She trained him that way. It was the only way Holly could get information from the outside world. Once, he even brought her a news paper. It was from 3 weeks earlier, but it was some kind of information.
She kept the paper under her mattress, so he wouldn’t be able to find it. If he did, he might tear it up on one of his late-night rants. She has only half read 3 books and 8 magazines. He was a monster.
Holly looked into his black soulless eyes and said, “this sounds like a glorious adventure. I wish I could see the ocean.”
She immediately regretted her words. If Mark had his way, she would be locked in here until her final breath.
“Well not much ocean to see around here, but maybe one day.”
With all her might she bit down on her bottom lip, internally swearing at him. Every fibber of her being wanted to call out bullshit.
“One day soon?” She daringly asked. She knew that this one small act of rebellion could hurt her. Literally make her bleed. Would he pull her hair again? Maybe he would kick her in the back? He hadn’t made her nose bleed in a few months. The face could be next.
Before he could decide, Holly thought she could save face. She grabbed his hand, and led him to his usual spot, at the head of the table. His back would be to her, so she could do what needed to be done.
As soon as he was placed, she turned and immediately felt a hot stinging pain run up her spine. He had slammed an open hand across her backside. She let out a low groan of pain, followed by giggles. If he felt he had accidentally hurt her, he would punish her for not being a strong enough of a woman for him.
She smiled at him as she reached for the stove top. This would feel so good! She thought.
“Stop!” She heard Mark yell.
Her body automatically froze. She messed up. Something she did angered him. She had spent months trying to get him to trust her with pans and knives, but she did something wrong to mess it all up.
“Sorry!” She shrieked, throwing her hands in front of her face protectively. “All the magazines say to serve the chicken from the pan, or the juices run off.”
She begged him with her eyes not to hurt her. She expected the mighty blow of his fat fists. She could almost feel it before it came.
“Sweetheart, you where about to pick it up with your bare hands.” Was all he said.
Holly blinked away the tears. She was so sure he was going to hit her. She almost felt him try to be loving. Was he pretending to be tender to get her hopes up, and then beat her to bring them back down?
“Oops.” She forced herself to look silly and stupid. She grabbed the gloves near the sink and turned to see mark looking down at his plate.
She stared at the back of his head in disgust. Her whole body was ready.
She didn’t bother using the tongs. She grabbed the chicken from the pan and gently placed them on the counter next her. Not to make a sound. Holly felt the sear of the hot oil seep through the oven mitts. She bit her lip to stop from screaming. Holly slowly poured the remaining oil into the sink, silently.
She heard the dog bark at her. Stupid animal would give her away!
“What’s wrong buddy?” She heard Mark ask.
She couldn’t help but wonder if he was starting to grow a soul. He was never so tender towards her or the dog. She couldn’t go through with this. He fed her, he bathes her, he made her. They weren’t really married but he treats her better than most men treat their wives. Mark is tender at times. Like after he hurts her, he always bandages her wounds.
‘No!’ She thought. ‘He would never change; men like him never do.’
Holly needed to think fast, no time to drain the rest of the oil.
She watched in slow motion as he began to turn his head towards her “Why do you think he is bar…” was all he could get out before she slammed the pan onto the side of his head.
She didn’t stop there. She kept slamming the pan over and over. With every blow she remembered.
She remembered the big potato sack, bam! The truck, boom! Getting thrown into the basement, smack! Every beating, every bruise. Getting touched when she didn’t want to be touched. Getting thrown through furniture, thrown against walls.
She watched as the pan dented the side of his head, but she wouldn’t stop yet. She hit harder and harder, letting go of all her rage. Finally, she felt it, the warm spray that had been the theme of every dream for months.
She licked her lips, it tasted metallic.
She was finally pleased.