Thank you for stopping by my blog. It has been awhile. Life happened. I am in the process of redoing my blog and updating it. Lately I have been just posting my book reviews here. I will be adding to that occasionally. Like today. I'm going to share a short story I wrote. I like Pinterest...okay maybe like is a weak word. I think most of us can get sucked into that site and need help to leave. It just is an amazing wealth of sharing information and ideas. One of the things I love are all the writing ideas. This story was written off of one of the writing prompts. Some friends and I tossed out challenges we found on there. This was mine. I hope you like it. It has not been edited. Sorry. First time sharing my writing with the public so I am truly nervous. I really do hope you find something of value in it.
Warning: It is not an easy topic nor is it meant for children. There is violence. There may be domestic violence triggers.
The following story is owned entirely by Alaskan Book Cafe. I am the sole writer of this story.
It's Okay. You Don't Have To Love Me.
“It's okay. You don't have to love me.” The thought kept blasting through her mind. She wanted to shout it out loud. She wanted to scream it. To whisper it. Anything to take the gun away. How did things get to this point?
She was a single mother. The struggle was real. With three kids you'd think she couldn't possibly be lonely. But there it was. Not just at night, when the kids were tucked into bed, sleeping soundly. The loneliness was there in the morning when she drank her coffee, smoking the first cigarette of the day. She would wake the children up to get them dressed, fed, and ready for the walk to school. She sat at the table with the children, feeding the baby and thinking about being alone. She would imagine the conversation they could have.
How he would put his hand on her oldest daughter's head and ruffle her hair, saying, “Good morning”. He would drop a kiss on the head of the baby and tweak the cheek of the toddler. Then he would kiss her and look into her eyes, “Good morning Baby”. She would get him a cup of coffee and his breakfast. They would talk about nothing or possibly everything, before each left to finish their day. He would go off to work, kissing everyone goodbye, of course. She would put the baby in a car seat, the toddler in a booster and the oldest in the seat between them. She would drive to the school dropping off one and then do all the things moms lucky enough to stay home do. The fantasy could go one forever except that the baby wanted down, the toddler wanted to play, the oldest wasn't sure she finished all her homework and she had an hour to get them all ready and out the door in order to be at work on time. She wouldn't be able to get in another smoke until after she dropped the kids off, either. Bubble burst, time to move it.
She enjoyed the walk to work. She loved her children, but the walk to and from work were her time. She smoked another cigarette and enjoyed the feeling of freedom. That ended in about 15 minutes when she entered the store to punch in. She really was grateful for the job. It was close to home and the hours worked for the children. Most of all it paid the bills, though she still had to rely on food stamps to feed those children. She dreamed of the day when she would be able to pay for the groceries, too. It didn't matter to her that almost everyone who passed through her checkout used food stamps. It still embarrassed her to use them, like she was admitting she was too stupid to feed her own children.
It was while she was checking out the cat lady when she first saw him. She was half listening to the cat lady drone on about what finicky eaters her cats were, passing the food tins over the scanner when she noticed him in the lane over. He wasn't anything truly special when you thought about it.
Average height, he had a bit of a tummy on him. Not really fat, you could just tell he wasn't doing any sit ups. Dark hair, dark eyes, and dazzling white teeth. She only noticed him because he was someone new. He looked over and quickly changed lanes. She figured it was because she was handing cat lady her receipt. In her mind, even Average Joe's were out of her league.
“Hi,” she said. “Thank you for shopping the Mercado. Did you find everything?”
He hit her with a smile that lit up the store. “I have now.” he flirted with her.
She smiled and blushed, not sure what to say back. Flirting was something that came easy only in fantasies.
He looked at her name tag and said, “Blue? Is that a nickname?”
She hated her name. Her mom use to tell people it was either her love of blue eyes or her love of the blues that made her name her only daughter Blue. Since she did not have blue eyes and the blues were, in her opinion, what you listened to when your troubles overwhelmed you, neither explanation helped her self esteem. Figuring the blues story would elicit less sympathy she went with it.
“No. My mom loved the blues so she named me Blue.”
“It fits you because if you say no to a date, I'll have the blues.”
Even though she hated when men said similar things, she giggled at him. Somehow it was acceptable from him. She tried to think of something to say. Something clever that would let him know she was interested even as she turned him down. There was no way she could afford a babysitter. With no choices she could see, she sighed.
He smiled a sad smile and said, “I figured a pretty girl like you would be taken. I had to chance it though.”
Blue laughed. He made her feel so good.
“I'm only taken by children,” she said.
“Really? Well it will have to be a family date then. When is your day off?”
Blue couldn't believe what she was hearing. But then a scary thought entered her mind. What if he was one of those kind of men? You know. The ones who “like” children too much. How do you tell? She smiled a nervous smile and said she didn't even know his name. Taking his groceries, he told her his name was Rey and that he would be back every day until she said yes.
He was true to his word.
Six months later they married. Six months and one day marked the first time he was so sorry for hitting her.
It wouldn't have happened if she didn't make him jealous talking to men in her checkout line. Nine months and she got her fantasy of being a stay at home mom. The only thing was it turned out to be nothing like her fantasy. A year went by and she couldn't tell you how she came to be in the position she was in, much less come up with a safe way out.
Then came the day she was downstairs doing laundry. Jacelyn was napping in her bed and Justin had fallen asleep on the couch. She had left him there. She knew better than to wake a sleeping toddler. She heard someone walk across the floor and hurried upstairs. An anger she didn't know she possessed rose up even as she had never felt so sick in her life. In all the times he had struck her, she never imagined he would lift a hand to her children. Yet there he was, with his hand over her terrified son's mouth and nose, his other hand pressing down on his little chest. He didn't seem to notice Justin's tiny hands and feet beating at him as he tried to breathe. He also didn't seem to notice Blue as she raced at him, with the skillet she had grabbed from the stove as she ran past. She hit him as hard as she could. It was enough to make him let go of Justin. She snatched him up screaming for Rey to get the fuck out. Amazingly, Rey thought he was going to talk his way out of it. He started off telling her it wasn't what she thought. He loved the kids. She just kept commanding. “Get the fuck out!” until he did.
After making sure both Justin and Jacelyn were fine, Blue looked up a number for battered women. There was no way he was coming back. She no longer cared about being lonely. She had discovered there were far worse things you could be. She called the number and made an appointment for the next morning with an attorney who worked with them. The woman she spoke with strongly suggested Blue call the police to make a report. Blue hung up and noticed it was time to pick up JoAnna from school.
Walking to and from the school, Blue kept going over everything that had happened. She kept thinking that if she called the police she would be blamed for not protecting her children. In the end though, she was more terrified he would return. So sucking up all her fears, she called the police and made the report. Sitting in the ER while the doctors made sure the children were okay and the police took photos of the bruises that were forming, Blue blamed herself. That guilt and fear stayed with her far longer than her anger, insuring she did not back out of court dates.
Filing for the divorce turned out to be easier than she ever imagined.
That brought her and the children to where they now were, sitting in the kitchen with a gun pointed at them.
They had just returned from attending a Christmas party at the women and children's center. Kay, who had driven them home, had just left. Blue was in Justin's room taking off his snowsuit, when she heard the knock. She heard JoAnna call out that Kay was back. She walked out in time to see JoAnna scrambling back from the open door that Rey was walking through. Rey holding a gun and telling JoAnna to take Jacelyn into the kitchen. Rey holding a gun and telling Blue to sit on the kitchen chair with Justin. Rey throwing the papers at her. Blue watching the divorce papers hit the floor, noting the order of protection on top.
She thought to herself, no protection now. On top of that thought was, I did this. She watched as he unloaded the gun and showed them all the bullets he was replacing were real. She wanted to do something, anything, to get her children out of there but couldn't figure out how.
Her daughters were frozen with fear. She knew, even if she were able to tell them to run, they wouldn't be able to. The thought that she did this kept repeating in her mind. She prayed, making deals with a God she wasn't sure was listening. She promised if they lived she would live lonely the rest of her life, happily. It was a stupid deal, she knew, but the only one she could think of. All the while Rey was softly, but deadly serious, saying, “no divorce. I love you.” when she finally focused on what he was saying, she wanted to scream back, “It's okay! You don't have to love me!”
Terror kept her quiet, though. Then the gun filling her mouth left no room for words. Rey told her to leave Justin on the floor and get up. With no options open, she did as she was told. He walked Blue to the bedroom, telling the children, “Go to bed!” Blue prayed, thanking God her children would not have to see her die and begging Him to save them.
In the bedroom, Rey told her to get on her knees. He kept the gun in her mouth, crouching down in front of her. Softly, he kept telling her that he loved her. He told her this was all her fault, He gave her all his love and she refused it, trying to get a divorce. The soft way he was speaking somehow sounding more menacing than if he were yelling at her.
Hours went by with no change. The sun was rising and Blue couldn't handle it anymore.
She cried, “Just pull the trigger! Just do it.”
Rey looked into her eyes for several minutes. Blue looked back through her tears, meaning, in that moment, every word she said. Rey sighed and removed the gun from her mouth. He caressed her cheek with the barrel and then turned and walked out.
Blue flew to the bedroom door, intent on finding her children. She didn't have far to go. The three of them sat next to the door.
JoAnna, dry-eyed but red-faced from crying, tracks streaking her face, said, “He's gone. We waited for the gun to go off.”
Blue collapsed on the floor, wrapping her arms and legs around her babies, kept repeating, “I'm so sorry.” After a moment she picked up the phone and called 911. Then she called Kay. She knew they had a long road ahead of them.