Night of Rest

2 Dec

We’re “Piecing Things Together” on Story Dam. This week’s prompt was to write a story using four, seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces.

 

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Night of Rest

 

Cora had planned to find a cheap motel, but Tito offered to put her up. Exhausted, she accepted. She kissed his ruddy cheek and left him sitting in the kitchen, then carried her duffle down the narrow hall to the room on the left.

It was exactly as she remembered. Like the rest of his house, the room was crammed with junk he couldn’t bear to throw away, the heavy, walnut-stained furniture and Oriental rug layered with dust. She knew from experience the bed would be comfortable, warm, the pillow scented with the stale, heady aroma of barbequed brisket, the result of twenty years of pit smoke seeping in though the cracked caulking around the windows. It was the smell of home.

She made sure the door was shut tight, the lights turned low before she undressed. Tito would never walk in without knocking first, but with the rain drumming out a five stroke roll on the tin roof above she couldn’t be certain she’d hear him. She stripped down to her panties and stepped up to the grime-glazed mirror.

The faint bruise gracing her cheekbone that Tito had raised an eyebrow over at supper was nothing compared to the rage painted in angry blotches across her chest, stomach, and upper arms—fist prints, every one of them. They didn’t hurt anymore, not like they had when they were fresh. A broken rib was more than likely buried under the swelling, but like the others before, it would heal.

Stepping closer to the mirror, she took in a slow, careful breath and sucked in her stomach, watching her hands travel up her body until they cupped her breasts. They were smaller than they used to be, her muscle tone weak, the skin covering her stomach loose. Stretch marks lay barely visible under the varying purple hues. They were the mark of motherhood, a badge of honor she felt privileged to wear, but didn’t feel as though she deserved.

From the very beginning, she had been a horrible mother. She couldn’t even make it through nine months of pregnancy. Her daughter had been born after only 176 days, weighing nothing. She had been a terrifying shade of blue, incapable of crying, but she had long, thick eyelashes, ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes. And she was a fighter.

Cora had named her Grace. But for the grace of God, Grace had survived. She had thrived. She was beautiful. She was funny. She loved the color pink and carried a purse on her dainty shoulder everywhere she went. Now two and a half, she could recite Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” word-for-word.

Tears burned Cora’s eyes as she turned away from her reflection in the mirror. Keith, the man who had promised before God to love, honor, and cherish her for as long as they both shall live, had beaten Cora to within an inch of her life, and, as she lay barely-conscious on the floor, had snatched Grace and vanished into thin air. After four days of searching, she’d tracked him down, hiding here in Wasatch County, where their life together had begun.

Cora sat on the bed and pulled her duffle onto her lap. Tucked deep at the bottom, wrapped in a thick wad of socks, was the gun she had purchased the first time her husband had beaten her. She’d never fired it, but she had carried it for three years, knowing there would come a day when she would press the cold, metal barrel against his temple, and pull the trigger.

That day would arise at dawn.

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11 Responses to “Night of Rest”

  1. julieemoore December 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Great story with an awesome ending. I hope to get to read more. Abuse is such a horrific thing but so much more common than most people know. You put a real “face” to it.

    • Donna December 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      Thank you, Julie. I’ve had these characters sitting on the back burner for a long time now. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to finish telling their story soon.

  2. Renee December 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Well done! The image of Cora going over her bruises is great. And her cool rage is palpable. I think this is going to be an interesting story.

  3. Brandi December 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Donna, my first marriage ended because of abuse, I won’t go into details but I woke up after a beating, to my oldest gone. She was only 6 months old and I thought for sure he’d finally done what he promised he would do if I ever tried to leave. After a few days I found her with his Mom and pretty much had to kidnap my own baby and never look back. For a long time it was hard for me to read or watch anything that had to do with abuse, now I read/watch it… and I’m so glad I got out when I did. Thank You for being strong enough to put this into words. I felt it, saw it, and lived it…

    p.s. would it be bad of me to hope that she eventually pulls the trigger?

    • Donna December 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      Brandi, I will never understand how a man can willingly, knowingly, abuse a woman with his fists or his words, through his actions or neglect. I am so sorry for the horror you have lived, and I am incredibly thankful that you and your daughter were able to escape. So many women never find the strength or the hope to survive. It’s absolutely not bad of you to hope that she pulls the trigger. (She does.)

  4. Brandon December 4, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    The story is good. I won’t comment personally, other than to say sometimes gunpowder has a very nice smell to it. 😉

    As for constructive criticism, I will say this sentence: “The faint bruise gracing her cheekbone that Tito had raised an eyebrow over at supper was nothing compared to the rage painted in angry blotches across her chest, stomach, and upper arms—fist prints, every one of them.” – Whoa. This is a monster. Watch the run-ons. They can really kill a section.

    Aside from that, you did a very good job (as usual). Keep it up!

    • Donna December 4, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      Hello. My name is Donna, and I am addicted to run-on sentences. The tongue-twistier the better. LOL I’d blame trying to stay in word count, but that would be a bold-faced lie. I have issues. haha.

  5. areelcoolsummer December 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Definitely haunting. Seemed very descriptive and real to me. I loved it!

    • Donna December 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Thank you! 🙂

  6. DM December 7, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    I know I’m supposed to offer concrit, but it’s 2:36 am on Wednesday, I have been awake since 9 am, after only a few hours of sleep, so, I just read it to enjoy it because your writing is fabulous. (How’s that for a run-on?!?) Is that okay too? Brandon is right though about the run-on. They are so easy to do, especially when they make sense. I love your response back to him too. LOL!!

    This story, all you piled into it, setting the scene, then the abuse, then the kidnapping…so much for so few words. You really captured the pain of the abuse, the love of a mother, and I was definitely wincing. I want her to pull the trigger but I don’t want her to, either. I don’t want her to destroy her life by ending his. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Donna December 7, 2011 at 7:24 am #

      Thank you, DM! And your run-on sentence was superb! Highly-impressive, especially considering your sleep-deprived state. I think you nailed my problem on the head when you said, “easy to do, especially when they make sense.” They make sense to me! LOL You guys will have to keep pointing them out in these critiques so I can train my brain to insert the occasional period into my paragraphs before I end up with a 300-page sentence. 🙂

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