Tag Archives: abuse

No Place Like Home

“We should get there by nightfall, Shelbina,” the woman told her sleeping daughter, the susurrus of the road having lulled a sense of calm. She always used the little one’s full name, unlike her father. He refused to recognize the namesake, yet another way to maintain his control, so everyone else knew her as Shelly..

Shelbina was the tiny place where her mother grew up. That town and the girl represented everything the woman truly loved, which only fueled her husband’s resentment. But his predictable delivery room absence left her a chance signing of the birth certificate without him. Someone wise might have warned that lack of parental participation as a foreshadowing.

She glanced over her shoulder at the girl’s limp form slumped in the backseat, eyes fluttering in a disturbed REM cycle. A big row earlier in the evening must have played part in such fitful slumber.

The woman reckoned all that nonsense had to come to a head before she finally split up their family. A glimpse in the rear-view mirror as she returned her gaze to the road convinced her that fateful decision was the right one. Proof in fresh bruising around her left eye.

Just lightly fingering the puffiness brought a sudden flinch. That kind of pain proved she’d done the right thing to hit him over the head with the floor lamp and gain enough escape time to get to the car. Even if her brother ended up beating the man half to death in retaliation when he saw her face later.

It was only a matter of time before her husband’s anger turned to Shelbina instead of herself. “He ain’t never gonna touch you, honey. Not if I can help it,” she whispered, not wanting to wake the girl. Maybe saying the words out loud would mean she could believe she’d actually left him.

Shelbina’s untidy hair glistened in the golden hour glow of gathering dusk. The closer they got to the western horizon, the closer they were to home. “Just a little while longer now,” the woman said softly. “We’re almost to Shelbina.”


Two Word Tuesday prompt – adumbrate and/or foreshadow


video: Samantha Fish – “Go Home” via Local 909 in Studio


Filed under fiction, writing

Someone to Watch Over Her


“I don’t want to see you ever darken this door again,” her father shouted at Delilah as she stood dazed in the front yard, dead grass crunching under her footsteps in the autumn chill. He apparently didn’t care if the whole neighborhood heard their family row.

She stooped to pick up all the clothing she could carry, a couple t-shirts, a jacket, and two pairs of jeans that wouldn’t fit her much longer. Her mother must have at least put together the overnight bag beside the front door that held her makeup bag and some underwear. For that, the 16-year old was grateful. The girl stuffed everything she could fit inside the bag and sunk down to her knees on the lawn, not knowing where to go.

Her dad glared at her with disdain and said, “No daughter of mine is going to get knocked up and expect to come live back here. Go back to that boy who done got ya in trouble!” The glass shook when he violently slammed the door to finalize his point.

Delilah looked up from her spot on the ground, searched the sky to beg God’s help in deciding what to do, and spied the tiny brown ceramic squirrels perched on the roof’s eave. Her dad had affixed the puffy-tailed mother and baby rodents there, and she always feared they’d fall down in a strong wind and break. Instead, they now stared accusingly down at her.

A crow in a tree behind the girl squawked its own disapproval at the scene. Delilah had known no other home than the dingy single-story structure before her. A bevy of children existed within those walls. Too many for their parents to control.

Delilah thought back to the halcyon of growing up there with her sisters, playing outside with Barbies, and using cardboard for dollhouses and tissue boxes for little beds. They used any scrap of fabric salvaged from Mom’s sewing basket as a makeshift outfit or blanket, resourceful as they were with few toys. She reminisced over good times they experienced as innocent kids.

She remembered her tea parties with discarded cups and chipped saucers begged for before those wares went to the garbage. Pinkies raised, the girls sat in the garden with the squirrel duo envying the gathering from atop the house. The sisters sipped water while wearing old hats, straw ones with holes or a brother’s ball cap to portray the only man interested in attending such an affair, pretending their soiree included canapes and creamy petit fours.

The brothers bothered them little if roaming the neighborhood or playing stickball in the street. Harassment occurred in the dark of night with Mother unaware. Three sisters shared a single bed, but Norman would slip his hand up beneath the covers without waking up Frannie, Delilah’s older sister. She’d never have let Norman bother Delilah like that had she known.

Delilah learned to distrust Norman and other boys like him. He threatened to hurt their youngest sister if she told, so Delilah lived silently with the abuse to keep the little one safe from him. Her father never suspected a thing. He didn’t realize what Norman did to her when their parents weren’t home.

Her dad didn’t know much of anything, because he never paid any attention. All the girls begged for his affection but only got it on Christmas morning with a slight hug, a peck on the cheek and the slightest smile the man could muster at them. Delilah often wondered why he even wanted to have kids at all if he could only stand to be around the boys.

Those boys were hardly ever disciplined. He didn’t keep Norman from hurting her. And now he wondered why she gone to her boyfriend for love and attention?

“You never cease to amaze me, Daddy,” Delilah muttered defeatedly even though he didn’t hear her. He’d gone back to his television and turned up the volume to shut out the world and signify to any nosey neighbors that the show was over.

She had no other choice but to move on and hoped her friend Jenny’s mother would allow her to stay at their house for awhile. Her boyfriend’s parents were against them dating, much less her expecting his baby. They would freak when they found out, so she didn’t dare ask for hospitality there.

Delilah searched the ground around her to see if anything else she owned was scattered about it, discarded like so much trash, and found a rock within arm’s reach. She picked it up and chucked it toward the Mother squirrel on the edge of the roof. “I hope you fall,” she told it. She sobbed into her sleeve and thought, “You should’ve noticed, Mother. You should’ve seen.”

*Click the link above to read previous installments in Delilah’s Dilemma.

Studio 30+ writing prompt – halcyon Studio30

“What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life

in our bodies, we are determined to rush

to see the sun the other way around?”

Elizabeth Bishop


Filed under fiction, writing

One Too Many

Last time she’d sworn she would never let it happen again. Explaining her black eye at work was so humiliating with her co-worker friends pressing her to tell them how she got it. The lies kept adding up after time, and she could no longer keep her stories straight.

He thought she was being unfaithful, but God knows she didn’t even have time to look at another man. Much less, have an affair. She would never bring another person into the mess that was her life.

This time it was different. Date night had meant a luxurious meal at the crappiest fast food restaurant in town. Allie was used to that treatment.  Her boyfriend was the biggest cheapskate she ever met. The only reason she stayed with him was her inexperience at never having had another partner before. They were teenage sweethearts before he turned into a boozed-up asshole like his own father had been before he left their family and disappeared.


Nomadic Lass via Flickr

A reflex glance over her shoulder to see who came through the entrance meant Tim thought she was looking at the guy who’d just arrived. Tim’s lack of confidence always got the best of him, and he accused Allie of staring at the complete stranger. Ironically, there was never any reason for him to be suspicious. One partner is all she’d ever had — Tim — and he still suspected she messed around on him all the time.

When the argument raised to a volume above regular voice-level, she was lucky to persuade Tim out of the burger place. She’d learned these coping techniques from the great number of embarrassing fights they had in front of other people. If the bruises weren’t enough, she also suffered the indignation of public humiliation.Friends said he had a very big problem, that she should leave him, get out while she could. They probably never had an inkling how she would do it.

Loud accusations and futile explanations continued in the car and onto the road. Another strategy Allie used to avoid confrontation was to offer affection instead. She could usually count on Tim’s libido to counteract his anger if nothing else would work, so she coaxed him into taking the usual route to go park on a country road. Their spot out by the water tower was secluded enough they’d never been bothered by the police or a territorial landowner, even on that first time when he’d forced himself upon her.

“Get my damn Coke, girl,” he told her before they left the table. She had just enough time to slip two tablets under the lid of the soda after he turned his back. The sleeping pills were ones she hoarded in her purse from her mom’s medicine cabinet, one at a time to not be noticed. Circumstances were bad enough she considered taking them all at once to end her pain.  Plans had now changed, and she hoped the pills could quell Tim’s rage.

He grabbed her by the wrist, wrenching her body through the doorway and out into the rain, and pouring his own acid-filled words on her. “When are you ever going to learn,” he spat sarcastically, “to at least not make it obvious if you are going to screw these dudes behind my back?”  No amount of denial would convince him otherwise. Tim jerked her arm, spun her around, and shoved Allie into the car. His face contorted and his ice-blue eyes flared as he accused, “You little lying ‘ho! You’re lucky I have anything to do with you at all.” Allie lowered her head, water dripping off her already wet hair, and sobbed. She kept her eyes on her lap as she willed the time away until the chemicals began to take effect.

Tim cranked up the car radio and slammed his fist on the steering wheel to the beat of the droning music.  He calmed a little on the way, the heavy dosage of her mom’s prescription having the quick reaction time she desired. Apparently the taste had been covered up with the Jack Daniels mixed in his drink, and Tim’s driving on the rain-slicked roads showed he was quickly becoming intoxicated by both substances.

The car almost slid into the ditch when they finally arrived at their destination, and Allie helped him put the gearshift into park. He fumbled across the bucket seat to make a half-hearted attempt at reaching over to Allie before his head became loose and wobbly atop his spine and he slumped over onto Allie’s left shoulder. She pushed him back over onto the driver’s side so she could maneuver the gear into reverse and crank the steering toward her, effectively backing the car down a muddy path of the adjacent incline. The car came to rest, but Allie left the gear where it was to suggest Tim’s drunken driving was the culprit of his now impending demise.

She knew her fingerprints were everywhere inside the car, but that would be expected from their long-term relationship. A feeling of excitement and relief simultaneously washed over her at her realization that relationship was just about to end, and she scrambled into the back seat to exit the car from the driver’s rear door.

Allie checked to make sure the car’s tailpipe was where she intended, jammed into the mud bank where no exhaust could escape it. She crossed her fingers in hopes the carbon monoxide would well up inside the car with Tim and end his tirades once and for all.

It took the girl two hours to walk home in the rain that night, but her mother was asleep when she arrived. She was none the wiser of the late hour when Allie got there, but it wouldn’t have been that unusual anyway. Allie was ready with a typical explanation of how she and Tim had argued, and he’d kicked her out of the car and sent her hoofing it home.

Her mother was not surprised at Allie’s grief and consoled her despondent daughter when they received news of Tim’s untimely death the next morning. However, no one was shocked at how he was found asphyxiated on a country road with drugs in his system and a blood alcohol content. So sad for such a young man.

As for Allie, she’d never have to defend herself to someone like him again.

*A writing prompt at Studio 30 Plus this week was “unfaithful.”s30p


Filed under writing