I hear my rapid, shallow breathing intensify with my grip on the medicine bottle. Yet again, I try to fight off the doubts filling my mind. The decision I’m about to make isn’t one to be taken lightly. Even if this gets me away from Him, I might never see my daughter again.

The bedroom is so dark that I strain to see the time on the clock. For the thousandth time, I find myself questioning why, in this day and age of technology, He didn’t have a Digital Clock.

With bars on the window, bolts on the outside of the door, and a passcode for the downstairs door, this is my only option. He left the bottle on the bedside dresser this morning. Without knowing what this medicine did, I know I’m foolish to take it. Especially since this is the first medicine bottle I’ve seen in my year here. Part of me feels like taking it would do me more harm than good.

There have been many times I wonder why I let this go on for so long without making any effort to escape. Surely I could have done something, even with how perceptive He is. I can remember many times seeing something I could use, only to have it removed from the house within hours. He isn’t even very built, either. Why have I always been too scared to make the attempt?

Tick. Tick. Tick. The turning of the seconds makes me feel like I’m running out of time to diffuse a bomb.

My heart skips faster as I hear the front door close. Early. He is home early! The medicine bottle must be a trap. There is no way He would break his careful habit without good reason. I swear softly under my breath as I place the bottle back onto the dresser. There is absolutely no way I have the ability to place it just so. He’s going to notice! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

A mixture of hope and worry fills me as the minutes pass. I entertain the thought of Him tripping on something downstairs and knocking himself out even though I know the most likely scenario is He simply chose to wait to get back on schedule.

I hear him fumbling with the bolts and squinted at the clock again. Right on time. Wait. Fumbling? There’s just no way this could be a trap.

The opening of the door let in a stench of alcohol and sweat. Instead of entering further, He simply stands there. It’s as if He’s trying to remember something, but can’t quite place what it is that needs remembering. I see a shrugging movement, and then He begins to stagger past me towards the bed.

This isn’t the first time He has been drunk, but it is the first time He didn’t have a clue as to the things happening around Him. I dare not move until I hear Him snoring. And there it is. He’ll be out for hours now.

Quickly and quietly, I made my way through the still open door, down the two flights of stairs and into the living room. I couldn’t help but feel relief at the fact He is a Minimalist, meaning there isn’t much I can possibly trip over.

It’s only now that I think of the Security System. It doesn’t matter that I’ve made it this far. I’ve never been allowed to catch even a glimpse of the code. There’s no way I’m getting out. My eyes drift to the general area of the device, and this time, I couldn’t hold back my gasp. There is a solid red light, which means the system is inactive.

Now that I’m so close to freedom, I have to fight back a desire to rush to the door. Any mistake right now could be costly. And there is no telling what He might do to me if He catches me. He never laid a hand on me, so beating isn’t on my mind. But there are many other ways to harm a person without resorting to violence.

With my freedom on the line, I pause to confirm his loud snores are still audible. It’s only once I’ve done so that I walk the thirty foot to the door, place my hand on the knob, and escape.

The next ten minutes or so are a blur, as I neither remember leaving the house, nor entering the Police station. The first thing I’m aware of is sitting in a chair with a warm blanket draped across my shoulders and a cup of hot cocoa in my hands. I don’t remember speaking to an Officer about what I’ve been through. I probably haven’t either. The majority of people typically allow the shock of a situation to vanish before demanding the victim speak.

I blink. One second the floor before me is empty. The next, a smiling woman knelt before me. The Police Officer says nothing, just places her hands on my knees in a silent form of communication. Next thing I know, I’m spilling the beans about everything that’s happened. Don’t know how much, if anything, she could hear through my sobs. I didn’t really care, either. I’m sure they’ll question me again later on to get a calmer version of the story. For now, it just feels really good to get it all off my chest.

I’m not aware of the Police Officer leaving, as I slip into a semi peaceful sleep not long after. A combination of His voice and bright sunlight in my eyes wakes me. A quick glance at their clock says I’ve been out for at least twelve hours. Turning my gaze in the direction of His voice, I doubt my sanity for several minutes until I see Him being led out of the back.

Ah. Of course. They require a confirmation of my story. Yet, He is unbound, and by His chattiness, it appears He is being let go. I continue to watch as the Officer with Him speaks to the Clerk, trying to come to some sort of agreement. In the end, the Clerk turns to Him and gives Him a smile. I’m too far away to hear the words, but I’m sure they are an apology.

Finally feeling my gaze upon Him, He turns in my direction. Upon His face is the kindest, warmest, most genuine smile one could ever see. Yet it chilled me to the bone. No fear. No worry. No regret. In His eyes, I can see the unspoken satisfaction. He believes He has nothing to worry from me. That He has won.

Racking my brain, I search my memories for any clue that can tell me why He thinks He is the winner. There’s only one answer, which also answers why He hasn’t even received a Booking for the other women He brags about doing this to. He is a highly functioning sociopath who knows how to not only observe, but manipulate anything and anyone to His advantage.

There’s also the fact that nothing, aside from my word, confirms my presence there for the last year. The clothing in His closet is His wife’s. He could never bring Himself to take it down. Sometimes, when He couldn’t bear her loss, He made me wear her prettiest dress. I became quite good at playing the perfect wife. And yet, whenever He came back to reality, He would yell at me, saying that impersonating someone’s dead spouse makes you a horrible person.

The closest He ever came to laying a hand on me is when I, in frustration at the idiocy of His actions, made the suggestion to use her clothing to make a dress for me. My reasoning behind that being if I didn’t look like His wife, He had no reason to yell at me. To this day, I don’t understand how I came up with that most illogical option.

Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to cry. He deserves to suffer for what He put me through. Yet, if His words did convince the Police I’m crazy, I know there’s nothing that I can do. I am going to have to content myself with the knowledge that He couldn’t possibly avoid this forever. Someday, one of His victims would be braver than I and all the others.

I don’t want to speak to the Police again, but I know I’m going to have to due to a teensy problem known as having no clue where I was. Their only form of help was to give me directions to the nearest bus station. Unfortunately, my freedom came with nothing except the clothing I wore, so I’m now begging for a free ride to a town five hours away.

The calmer the Bus Driver explains to me why he can’t take me, the angrier I become. After five minutes of standing in the doorway preventing him from leaving, he finally tells me the real reason he won’t take me. The Police really do think I’m crazy, and they made sure nobody gave me help.

Opening my mouth, I plan on telling him everything that I’ve been through in the last year, but the look in his eyes gave me pause. Nothing I say will convince him because he believes the Police. Before escorting me out, he tells me how much he wishes he could help, but the safety of his passengers comes first, and he hopes I can understand that. The best he does is give me a map so I can find my way.

So now I find myself panting, relying on the thick stick I found early on as a walking cane. Even with the hours of sleep at the Police Station, I’m practically dozing off with every step. Not even the frostbittengly cold wind is helping. I’m still at least an hour away, and, without being able to feel the cold, I know I should find some form of shelter, and fast.

It takes another ten minutes of walking before I find what I need. Crying in relief, I stumble towards one of those protected containers of hay. It’s not really a container. Container implies something with a lid. Even if I make it to the hay, I’m unlikely to make it through the night.

Takes me a little while to realize I’m laughing. For a few seconds, I couldn’t remember what I found so funny. Then the thought resurfaced, and I can’t help but laugh again. Instead of experiencing a figurative death by staying with Him, I’m now going to actually die. And I found the irony behind it all amusing.

White. Everything is white. Tears fell down my face as I realize I didn’t make it to shelter. Wait. Tears? Can I cry if I’m dead? As the minutes pass, my senses return. No. I’m not dead, but I may as well be. My hands and feet are strapped to what feels like an operating table. With the whiteness of the room, I assume I’m in a Hospital. But if I’m recovering from frostbite…Why the straps?

The sound of approaching footsteps and soft voices catches my attention. Doctors, like lawyers, tend to be vague about what’s happening, keeping info from you on a need-to-know basis. And so I strain to hear what’s being said, only to growl in frustration when I can’t understand them.

A prick in my arm alerts me to someone else in the room, but I instinctively act as if I’m loopy on some sort of drug. Strangely enough, I can now understand the voices.

It was two doctors, speaking of some test with an experimental drug that can alter one’s perception so vividly, they will be unable to distinguish between the hallucination and reality. Midway through one of their sentences, the two began chanting.

Hysterical laughter echoes through the room as I finally hear what they’re chanting. I can’t help but think: This is one hell of a way to bring in the new year.

Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One!

January 02, 2020 18:35

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


AS Hardin
11:10 Sep 23, 2022

Wow. This was intense. Your sentence structure and translations convey urgency and her confusion well.


Show 0 replies
Samuel Cardy
14:42 Jan 09, 2020

Wow. A heartbreaking story about the terrors of an unjust society. Throughout, the tense atmosphere builds and builds until a really smooth transition from the roadside to the bed brings us to that impactful ending. Very powerful.


Show 0 replies
Haaken Bailey
05:50 Jan 09, 2020

Really good! The story does a really good job at telling the story of internal stress, not just from the words, but also by the paragraphs, which do an excellent job at visualizing mental stress.


Show 0 replies
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.