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A New Day
By Melissa R Mendelson
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
No more would I remain trapped within this life.
A New Day
By, Melissa R. Mendelson
Noon. Dishes were cleaned. Rooms were dusted and straightened. Lunch waited on the table. Appearances were perfect. Chimes rang out throughout the small home, and black hands joined together over the twelve. He was coming home.
The front door flew open, and she quickly took her place a few feet away. As he stormed in, he threw her his coat and dropped his briefcase to the floor, which she quickly picked up. His eyes darted around the place, checking its perfection, and a snarl touched his lips. And without a word, he pointed toward a painting on the wall that seemed to always tilt to one side, even after she had fixed it, and she quickly moved to put it back in its right place.
Following him into the kitchen, she watched him take a seat at the table, place the napkin across his lap, and take a sip of juice from a glass cup nearby. Her eyes darted toward her own table setting, where her lunch waited for her, but she dared not sit down until he told her to. And her eyes moved back up to the man that she had loved, the man that she had married, and she watched him devour his sandwich without hesitation.
“What a morning I had today. I tell you. I could sue the guy so fast that he would wish that a truck would hit him instead.” The man wiped his mouth with the paper napkin. “I should call out for the rest of the day.” He leaned back in his seat. “I should take the rest of the week off. They don’t pay me enough at the office to take such insult, and I was trying to do the guy a favor. I was helping him out, and he treated me like I was… Less than nothing. Am I less than nothing?” She shook her head. “I asked you a question.” He rose from his seat. “Am I less than nothing?” She shook her head again. “Am I less than nothing?” He grabbed her by the back of her head and pulled her closer. “Am I?”
“No. No, you are not.” He pushed her away from him. “So, are you calling out?” His hand rose in the air but stopped inches away from her face. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be. I didn’t ask for your opinion if I should go back to work or not.” He turned toward the table and stared at her untouched lunch. “Eat your food. I don’t work my ass off for you to waste it.” He watched her take her place at the table. “I’ll be back at five. Have my dinner ready.” He started to walk out of the kitchen. “Do not disappear again.” His eyes held hers for a long moment, and then he was gone.
The grilled cheese sandwich was always one of her favorites but not today, and the orange juice stung her mouth with its tangy flavor. But she remained sitting and eating until she was sure that he was gone, and then she picked up his dirty dishes along with hers to bring them into the sink. Grabbing a sponge nearby, she quickly washed everything out and then left it on the side for it to air dry.
“Why do I do this,” she asked the empty room. “Why do I stay with him?” She knew the answer, though. “He’ll never let me go,” and her words echoed in the silence around her.
As she placed the dishes to the side, a puff of skin rose from the back of her hand. Before she could react, the skin fell off like her hand had been sunburned and was now shedding, but it was almost winter. And she had never been to the beach since she was a child, but how could she explain the layer of skin now lying on the floor?
Slowly, she bent down and picked it up. It was soft, cold in her hand. It wasn’t like the other pieces but bigger, longer, and when she looked at her hand, it was perfect, no flaws. So, where did this skin come from, and why was she shedding?
It had started a year ago. Little pieces of skin started to fall off during her long showers. Flakes drifted off when she jogged on the treadmill. There was never any real concern because she knew she had dry skin, but this was ridiculous. And this was going to be a problem now, but she wasn’t going to tell him.
He had come home early last week, and he found the house empty. Her car was still parked in the driveway, and she had taken a cab to and from the doctor’s office. Her cell was left beside their bed, and there was no note to indicate where she had gone. And he sat in a dimly lit den, waiting for her, and she walked back into his hands. But she still was not going to tell him, and the doctor could not find anything wrong with her. But something was very wrong with her life.
Her walks outside were revoked. Her trips to the mall denied, and her car was taken away. Phone calls were prohibited, and she was only allowed to call her parents using his cell once a week. She was warned about talking to neighbors and now spent all of her time indoors, flipping through magazines and television, and waiting for him to get home. This was not the life that she had dreamt for herself, but here she was, living with a monster instead of the man that said he loved her.
Moving into the family room, she passed by their wedding picture. It was a beautiful day, a perfect day, and it would be the first chapter of a new life. She thought the man that catered to her, promised to love her forever, and would never stand in her way of chasing her dreams would stay by her side, but shortly after the honeymoon, everything changed. He changed, and nobody believed her because when they were at family occasions, the act was back in session. And he was the perfect man again… Until they returned home, a place, where family did not visit too often anymore.
As her fingers touched the glass frame, she noticed more skin was standing up from her other hand, but it did not fall off as easily as before. Pulling her hand away from the picture, she hurried into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. Her eyes moved from her reflection to the skin that rose further into the air, and slowly it peeled itself away and fell to the floor.
She thought she was going to be sick. That was twice today. She never saw anything like this before. Usually, it was a few little pieces, but this was ridiculous. What was happening to her?
As she picked up the dead skin from the floor, she noticed that her hand was softer, cooler. She turned toward her other hand and noticed the same thing. It was like baby skin, and there were no bruises, no scars like before. It was like her body had regenerated. Was that why she was shedding?
Sitting on the cool bathroom floor, she thought back to all the other times when it would start. If she spoke out of line, he would strike her across the face, and then later skin would fall from her ears, her lips, or her chin. If she rose her arms in front of her to ward off his attacks, her arms would bruise, and then they would peel later. If she pushed him away in bed, he would start to kick her legs, which would bruise and then peel. It was like her body was healing itself after all those attacks, but why were her hands peeling now?
Glancing at her watch, she was horrified to see that it was already after one. She didn’t have a lot of time to herself. He would be home soon, and then it would be his time and not hers. And he couldn’t know about this. What would he do to her, if he knew?
Starting up the treadmill, she tried to calm herself. She stared out through the window and into her neighbor’s yard. The pool was covered up now, but she still remembered those long strokes he would take across the water. When she disappeared, her husband thought for sure that she had gone to him for rescue, and they had a violent confrontation. And after that, her neighbor stopped talking to her, and when he saw her looking at him, he would look away. And he would not be the one to save her, if anyone could save her.
Before she realized what she had done, the treadmill started to go too fast for her, and she slipped and fell backward. A cry of pain slipped from her lips as she grabbed her knee, and a pattern of blood formed on her jeans. Rolling up her pants, she watched skin form around the cut and then fall off, leaving behind a cool, clear knee.
Slowly picking up the reddish-white skin, she held it in her hand and saw drops of blood paint her skin. She turned toward her knee, but there was no evidence now of her accident. But the old skin was still moist with blood, and she tightened her hand over it.
He came home exactly at five. Dinner was not ready. No lights were on except for in the bedroom. Packed suitcases waited near the bed, and she sat perfectly posed in his desk chair. And he entered the room, fueled with rage.
“What the hell is this? Where’s my dinner?”
“I’m leaving you.” He fell quiet. “I can’t live like this.” She rose from the chair, trying to keep steady. “It’s over.”
“You are not leaving me.” He took a step closer to her. “You hear me? You are not leaving. Now, make my dinner.”
“Make it yourself. I’m not your mother.” He slapped her hard across the face. “I’m sorry.”
“You better be.”
“I’m sorry that you are less than nothing.” She turned her face toward him and smiled. “You are less than nothing.” He slapped her across the face again and again, but she would not step back. “You lose.” Blood dripped down her nose, and tears fell from her eyes. “It’s over.” She watched him retreat slowly out of the bedroom. “It’s finally over. After six years, it ends tonight.”
Moving toward the bags, she started to pick them up. Her new hands shook as they touched the handles. Her breathing echoed throughout the silent room. Her heart beat so fast in her chest that she thought it was about to lift off. She was free.
She didn’t realize that he stood right behind her. When she turned, something cold plunged into her chest, and the bags fell to the floor. And to her horror, she stared down at a kitchen knife that he pushed further into her chest, and she fell backward onto the bedroom floor.
“I told you.” He stood over her. “If you ever tried to leave me, I would kill you.” He pulled the knife out of her chest. “Nobody leaves me, and nobody tells me that I am less than nothing.” He started to move away from her. “It’s over alright. I have to find a new wife now.”
Blood poured out underneath her. Her heart’s frantic pace was now a slow one. Her breathing faded, and her body felt cold. And she tried to move, but she was frozen in place. She was dying, and he was watching the last moments of her life flicker by.
When she finally gave up the fight and allowed death to claim her, he left the room. Something soft touched her, and she slowly moved her head to find herself completely immersed in white skin. A few, long moments later, the skin fell away into the pool of blood beneath her, and her body was healed. Her heart was beating, and she could breathe again. And it was now her turn.
As he entered the room, he froze in horror. Puffs of white skin decorated a large patch of red on the carpet. His eyes frantically moved about the room, but he did not see her. How was that possible? She was dead, so where did she go?
“I’m right behind you.” She watched him turn toward her and smiled as the color drained from his face. “You want to try again?” She watched his rage come back a moment later. “I dare you. Try again!”
His hands circled her throat, and he pushed her up against the bedroom wall. She laughed as his grip grew tighter, and then she tasted something in the back of her throat. It was bitter, sour, and she started to cough. He thought he was winning, and his face was now a mere inch away from her. And she coughed into his face.
A scream of pain rang out as he backed away from her and covered his face. Steam filled the air as red holes appeared in his skin. She backed up further against the wall as he lowered his hands and stumbled toward her, and his eyes turned a bloody red. And just as he reached for her neck, he fell down, dead at her feet.
She had killed the man that she had loved, the man that she had married with some sort of… Venom, but their marriage was more poisonous than she would ever be. And she was now free. She was free of him.
Kneeling down beside his body, she pulled out his wallet and car keys. She reached for her bags and picked them up. She was done living this nightmare, and it was time to start over. It was time for a new day, but a chill raced through her. Would she still have to be careful? Was it best to leave all of this behind including herself? How could she explain what she had just done?
“911. What’s your emergency?”
“Yes. There is a horrible argument going on over at 212 Snake Hill Drive. I hear a lot of screaming.”
“Ma’am, can you tell if anyone is in danger?”
“Oh my God! He has a knife!”
“Ma’am, who has a knife?”
“No… No! He sees me. He sees me staring at him through the window. He’s going to kill me!”
The phone fell dead in her hands. She dropped it beside the body near her feet. A quick glance at the bags beside her, and she gave them a hard kick to the floor. A smile touched her lips as they thundered against the smooth, wooden surface. Her eyes lit up from the sun that touched the car keys that she now held, and she threw them against the wall. And she emptied out the contents of the wallet and placed the cash gently into her pants pocket.
“Good-bye, John.” She dropped the wallet into a pool of blood. “Thank you for the memories.” Their wedding picture slipped from its plastic sheaf and disappeared into red. “You destroyed who I was, but I have become someone so much more.” Her feet stepped over him. “And nobody will ever tear me down. Again.” The door slammed shut behind her, and sirens were heard off in the distance.
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