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Drama Fiction

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

Cassie tried not to wince as she pushed Kaylee on the swing, but the movements sent hot, jabbing pain to her ribs. Her upper arms protested every push. She wanted to lie down and not move until there was no more pain, physically or emotionally. 


Her thoughts drifted, wondering how her life got so messed up. She used to laugh more, have tons of friends. And then she got pregnant with Kaylee and married Marc. She missed the Marc she knew when they were dating. He was so caring, attentive, and tender. And sometimes he still was, even though it was usually after he tore into her about something mundane or when she suspected he was out with another woman. He always had reasons for why lashed out and she foolishly accepted them. Him being drunk was the most used and the scariest during these times. But the outbursts never lasted too long and he never did more than push her against the wall until last night. 


Cassie had picked Kaylee up from her grandparents when she had finished with work at eleven p.m. She had put her to bed and found Marc passed out on the living room hardwood floor after him going out with the guys from work. Cassie knelt beside him and gently nudged him, hoping to coax him to bed. 


"Honey, come up to bed." He didn't move. She rubbed his arm softly, for she knew from experience he doesn't wake easily and often swings out in reflex. "This floor can't be comfortable."


His hand swung up and backhanded her. "Stop pinching me!" 


Her face felt as if a bunch of needles was poking it. This wasn't the first time she has dealt with his state of being between the sleep and awake world. She decided it was best to leave him on the floor. But as she was starting to stand, he sat up and pushed her down. Cassie quickly got to her feet intending to run upstairs and lock herself in their bedroom until he cooled down. He was quicker though and was in her face before she could take two steps. "Marc, stop. I didn't do anything."


His face contorted like a mask of a demon, spittle flying from his mouth as he screamed at her. "No, you never do anything do you? You're useless, you know that?" Each question was followed by another slap, her head whipped from side to side. The sound echoed in her ears.


Cassie backed into the kitchen, putting distance between them. She tried to keep her voice calm amid the rapid thunder beat of her heart pounding against her chest so as not to anger him further. "Maybe you should go to bed. Sleep it off. You'll feel better in the morning."


He followed her and slammed her against the front door. "Don't tell me what to do." His face merely inches from hers, spit flew onto her face. The hatred in his eyes burned into her. Cassie closed her eyes to escape the seething look. 

"Look at me." He slammed her head against the door. 


Stars and tears blurred her vision as she opened her eyes. "Please, stop." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the lightswitch. Hope flowed through her. She reached over and flicked it on. Please someone look in and call the police. Help me. 


Marc swatted it back off and backhanded her with such force her head slammed against the window, causing the window to crack. Her head throbbed, tears streamed down her face. Marc backed up enough that Cassie was able to wiggle out from him. She frantically ran towards the stairs, but Marc grabbed her and threw her to the floor. He sat on her chest, knees pinching her arms to the floor. He slapped her repeatedly, shouting obscenities. Cassie bucked and tried to hit him with her knee to no avail. She whimpered as his fury grew. His knees crushed her upper arms, the weight of him made it even harder to draw in a breath. 


After an eternity, he stopped. "You're not worth my energy." He got off her and seemed to pass out on the couch. 


Sobbing, painfully she stood and hobbled to the stairs, up to Kaylee's room where she was peacefully sleeping. Cassie crawled in next to her and held her close. "I'm so sorry baby girl." Her voice broke. Silently, she cried until eventually, she slept. 


She woke shortly before Kaylee. Her body screamed out in pain. By the time she was done in the half bath between their bedrooms, Kaylee was awake, bouncing immediately in the way only four-year-olds can. They ventured downstairs to get Kaylee breakfast.

It was eerily quiet. Or more likely, it was because Cassie was on edge. She trembled as she looked into each room, expecting Marc to continue last night's tirade. She then looked out the back window and saw him puttering around in the garage. She let out the breath she didn't realize she was holding. Cassie got Kaylee's cereal ready and put on some cartoons. 


"I'm going to take a quick shower sweetie. Watch your show." 


Cassie washed up gingerly. After her shower, she noticed the angry bruises on her upper arms and felt the quiver in her lips. No, no more crying. You can get through this. She stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were puffy from crying and her face had a yellowish tint. She touched her cheek gently, gauging the tenderness. She wished she had foundation to cover it, but all she had was a light powder. Marc had told her she looked slutty when she wore make-up, so she no longer had much. She turned her head every which way. It's not too noticeable. She chose a baggy t-shirt with arms long enough to hide the bruises. 


Cassie was rinsing off the breakfast dishes when Marc came in. She stiffened when he wrapped his arms around her. 


"Sorry about last night babe. I really thought you were pinching me."


Still not a reason for what you did. She didn't trust herself to say anything. 


He leaned in and kissed her neck. Bile rose in her throat. "I am sorry. I think Jimmy slipped something in my drink. I can't think of any other reason why I would act like that."


Her gaze shifted to the knife block. In her mind, she saw herself grabbing the butcher knife, quickly swiveling and thrusting it in his gut over and over. 


"Please forgive me. I love you so much." 


Cassie nodded slightly. Please stop touching me. 


"Well, I gotta get to Pete's to help him with his car. You still meeting Barracuda and her spawn at the park?" He unwraps his arms and reaches into the fridge for a soda. 


Cassie bristled at the nickname for practically her only friend. "Brenda. And yes." 


"Have fun. Later sweetie." He kissed Kaylee on her head and was out the door. 


***

"Are you ok?" Brenda asked her son, Hayden at her side, holding her hand. 


Cassie wanted to cry out a resounding no. She wanted to tell her what happened last night. She wanted to sob, let out all the anguish she's been holding in. Tell her she thought he killed her cat because he thought it ridiculous to spend money on insulin shots for her. How she was spinning down a dark abyss with no escape.


But instead, she simply said, "I'm just tired. Didn't sleep well."


Brenda's eyebrows raised as she gazed at Cassie. She prayed the sunlight hid the yellowish bruises on her face. "If you ever need anything, call me. Ok?"


Cassie nodded. She stopped the swing for Kaylee to get off. "We gotta get going pumpkin. You can help me get supper ready." Cassie lifted her on her hip and together they all walked to their cars. 


"Same time next week?" Brenda asked. 


Cassie noticed her looking at her arm where Kaylee had pushed her sleeve up. Cassie pretended to itch her arm and tugged to bring the sleeve down. "Wouldn't miss it." She tried to sound upbeat as she buckled Kaylee into her car seat. 


'Seriously, Cassie. I'm here if you ever need someone." The pity in her eyes nearly undid Cassie. 


"Thanks, but I'm good. See you next week." And with that, she drove away. 


***

"Let's go for a drive," Marc suggested after supper. "Remember how we used to drive around trying to get Kaylee to sleep?" 


Cassie thought fondly of those drives. When Kaylee was an infant, many times that was the only way to get her to nap. She and Marc used to have many heartfelt conversations during those times, before things started to go south. Or maybe they had already started down that path, but it was so slowly she didn't notice. 


Kaylee loved going for car rides, though she rarely fell asleep anymore. She enjoyed looking at the scenery or looking at one of the books from the pile she kept next to her seat. Marc drove around town for a bit before heading to a more unpopulated area. A rock formed in her gut. He placed his hand on her knee. "Listen, I am sorry about last night. I know Jimmy dabbles in some hard stuff, and probably thought it'd be funny to spike my drink." He turned to look at her. His deep blue eyes, the same ones she used to love to gaze into, the same ones that often glared at her, and the same ones that implored her to forgive him. 


"I'm not going to go through that again." She said quietly. Around them, there was nothing but corn fields, the stalks swaying in the breeze. 


"I promise it'll never happen again." 


Yeah, and you always keep your promises. She willed her eyes not to roll. She realized they haven't passed a car for miles. When was the last time they even passed a house? Queasiness seeped into her stomach, making its way up. Cassie chewed on her lower lip. He could kill me and dump my body and no one would know for days. 


"What's wrong? I know that look." 


She shook her head. "Nothing." 


He laughed. "What, you think I'd dump your body out here?"


She snapped to look at Kaylee, who was gratefully immersed in looking at her animal book. Cassie laughed hoping it didn't sound as fake to his ears as it did to hers. 


He rumpled her hair. "You always did have quite the imagination."


Cassie's heart skipped a beat and tried to swallow against the lump in her throat. She stared out the window, willing her heart to slow down. All her thoughts were about Kaylee. Her infectious laugh. The joy she found in the simplest things. Please don't make her motherless. 


Cassie breathed a sigh of relief as they headed back into town. But what if next time, he does what he threatens? 


After they put Kaylee to bed, Marc went to work in the garage as he often did unless they watched a movie together. Cassie paced the living room, twisting her hands together. Breathe, girl. In through the mouth, out through the nose. Her stomach was a twisted knot. She didn't want to stay, but she struggled with Kaylee having divorced parents. Her parents have drilled into her that one stands by a marriage vow. She would be disappointing everyone. She missed who she used to be. She had met Marc when she was young and naive and fell for every word. 


Before she could second guess herself, she texted Brenda. Hi, have a question.


Brenda texted back immediately: What's up?


Cassie chewed on her lower lip, her foot tapping.


I'm thinking about leaving Marc. Cassie texted. She didn't add she had nowhere to go. Or how upset her parents would be. Or how scared she was to bring it up to Marc. Or the million other thoughts that were scrambling in her mind. 


Do it! You and Kaylee can stay here! Brenda handed her a lifeline.

I can't impose on you. And I'm not sure yet. Cassie's lip was raw from chewing on it. 


Brenda texted a rolling eye emoji. Not imposing. He's a jerk. Stay with us. 


I'll let you know. Gotta go. Cassie quickly deleted the texts. She knew Marc occasionally went through her phone, stating he was insecure. Cassie went to bed, hoping to be asleep before Marc joined her. 



The next morning, she walked by the front door on her way to the laundry room. The crack in the window seemed to throb. Marc grumbled. "How stupid can you be Cassie? This is not how you load the dishwasher." 


Cassie's face was burning. She threw down the laundry basket "That's it. I'm done with you cutting me down." Her voice trembled. "I want a divorce."


March laughed. "Are you serious? You're going to divorce me over a comment about the dishwasher?"


"It's not just the dishwasher. It's you constantly telling me I'm no good. Telling me I can't do anything. It's your drinking and your temper. I'm not putting up with it anymore."Her whole body vibrated. It wanted to run, but she forced herself to stand still. 


Marc's body stood tense, arms stiff at his sides. "I'm not leaving my house."


"Kaylee and I will leave this afternoon."


"Whatever. You will get abandonment of the house if you do. And I will get fifty percent custody of Kaylee. You can't take her away from me. Good luck without me. You'll be back begging for me to take you back." He stormed out of the house. She heard his car start and his tires squealed as he left.



Cassie took a deep breath and held it before blowing it out. "You can do this." 


Kaylee loved Brenda's son and was excited to be staying there. Cassie knew she had a long road ahead of her, but every day she was learning to stand on her own. 







July 08, 2022 21:20

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14 comments

Charlotte Morse
07:13 Jul 14, 2022

Hi Ba, Good story, well told. There was one bit I didn't understand, but maybe it's an American term, what is a half bath? As in your sentence... in the half bath between their bedrooms... I had an image of one of those old hip-baths, but then she went and had a shower! 🤣 Thanks for sharing.

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Ba Eubank
14:51 Jul 14, 2022

Thanks for reading. A half bath is a bath with just a toilet and sink. In the story, that was upstairs. She took a shower in the downstairs bath after she got Kaylee’s breakfast. Maybe I wasn't too clear on explaining that. I saw it all in my head though :)

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Charlotte Morse
07:32 Jul 18, 2022

Aha now I know what it means, I hadn't heard that term before, thanks. In the UK the upstairs room would just be called a toilet (if no bath or shower), if there's a shower but no bath it would be a shower room (or if attached to the bedroom, an en-suite) and a bathroom would have a bath (with a shower, toilet and wash hand basin, or not). Interesting the differences between the 2 countries, despite us having the same language! 🤣 Thanks for explaining. You were perfectly clear, it was just me not understanding the terminology 😁

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Hope Linter
05:11 Jul 14, 2022

A well-told story. Good job

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Graham Kinross
10:42 Jul 11, 2022

The path to healing is told really well here. It’s awful stuff but the hope in the end is beautiful.

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Ba Eubank
15:00 Jul 11, 2022

Thank you.

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Graham Kinross
15:02 Jul 11, 2022

You’re welcome. This was a great read.

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Andrea Mariana
21:36 Jul 10, 2022

Hello Ba, thanks for sharing your story with us! Agree with other comments that this is an incredibly powerful story of abuse. Your writing shows a really strong emotional depth and understanding of the internal thoughts that make women really struggle with these sorts of hard choices. There are a few points the external dialogue didn't feel quite as natural (as the internal dialogue definitely does) and the story feels a touch fast-paced at the end (e.g., her coming to her big decision and standing behind it) but otherwise your pacing is ...

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Ba Eubank
01:18 Jul 11, 2022

Thank you. I can see your points and agree. I wish we had two weeks instead of one to submit. Writing with extreme children is a challenge all it's own. :)

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Andrea Mariana
15:15 Jul 12, 2022

Absolutely agree! I so wish we had more time too! I always miss all sorts of little edits in my stories :)

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L. E. Scott
15:15 Jul 10, 2022

Couple of things I noticed -- in the physical assault scene you describe her getting hit in the face hard enough to make her ears ring, but the bruising around her face the next morning is minimal. In my experience just one backhand to the face can cause sever bruising and you describe several. Yellowish bruises are usually ones that have healed over, do if cassie waited to go out because of the bruising, that would make more sense. There is no mention of bruising on the abdomen or a lump on the back of the head from him using his leg to pin...

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Ba Eubank
15:51 Jul 10, 2022

Thank you. I debated on the yellowish bruises, but used it because she needed to go out and not be something readily noticed. I sometimes bruise like this so even though it may not be common to many others, I do know it's a possibility. (I do think it happens more to those of us who bruise very easily) And yes, she should have had a reaction from brushing her hair because they would be a nice bump there. Good points. Thank you for reading.

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Wendy Hayes
01:50 Jul 10, 2022

Wow. Very powerful, Ba.

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Ba Eubank
14:56 Jul 10, 2022

Thank you Wendy!

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