BEEP….BEEP….BEEP… My eyes slowly open. They blink in an attempt to adjust to the fluorescent light bulbs. I slowly turn my head to the left. I see a nurse fiddling with the flashing heart-rate monitor. I notice an I.V. attached to my arm. “Oh my God! She’s awake!” I hear a voice cry out. Startled, I look up to find my daughter’s tear-stained face. She is not alone. My son and mother are there also. I make an effort to sit up, but my daughter places her hand on my shoulder. “Take it easy, Mom. He almost killed you this time,” she says. I lie back and stare up at the ceiling. How could I have let this happen? I ask myself as a tear trickles down the side of my face. My head begins to spin as I silently recall the day’s events.
“Hey sweetie!” I said as David, my husband of twenty years, burst through the door. It was obvious he had been drinking. He staggered to the couch and flopped down. I knew that this was not a good sign. “Is something wrong?” I asked, trying to get an idea of the state of mind he was in. “Why do you want to know?” he fired back. “I was just asking, dear,” I said under my breath. “What did you say? You're lucky I don't come over there and knock some sense into you,” he said, turning on the couch to glare at me. I just rolled my eyes and continued to prepare dinner. He turned back to the TV and for a moment, everything was calm. There were no sounds other than the roar of the TV and the knife on the cutting board.
“I’m hungry LuAnne. What are you cooking? Why isn’t it done yet? I’m sitting here starving. You need to hurry up!” he mandated.
“I had to get the house ready for the kids David. Did you forget they were visiting today?” I said back, careful not to start an argument. He rose from the couch and turned toward me.
“What are you cooking? You didn’t answer me. What are you cooking? Huh?” he stammered. Here we go, I said to myself.
“Chicken and macaroni, David,” I sighed.
“I told you I wanted pork chops.”
“And I told you that I was making this for the kids, or did you forget?”
“Every time they come home from that college, you make it
a big deal. They're coming home, so what?”
“It is a big deal! I want them to have a home cooked meal ok!”
“You just don’t appreciate me LuAnne. I kill myself at work trying to provide for you and you just don’t care. How do you think I feel? You make a big deal about seeing those kids, but when was the last time you did something for me? Huh? I’m your husband! You know, there are a lot of women, who would kill to have a husband like me,” he said, pointing at his chest. Still attempting to avoid an argument, I ignored him. I soon realized this to be a grave mistake. Instead of letting the issue die, he slowly walked toward me. The closer he came, the stronger the stench of alcohol and sweat became.
He grabbed my arm and yanked me toward him. The knife fell from my hand, making a soft clink against the marble countertop. The foul odor exuding from him became unbearable. He grabbed my face and pulled me even closer to him. I gagged as he opened his mouth.
“Did you hear me? Huh? I guess I’ll have to find somebody that can appreciate me and everything I do for them,” he pushed me away, “and they’ll be a hell of a lot better looking than you are!” My temper getting the best of me, I slapped him. The sounds of the TV suddenly died.
“Are you serious?” I yelled at him. “After everything we’ve gone through you seriously said that to me? Well fine! You go find someone else who’ll put up with you. Someone who’ll stand by your side through all the women and alcohol. Someone you can just smack around whenever you get mad. You go right ahead! That’ll just mean I won’t have to be that person anymore! I‘m so sick of you, David. I hate you!” Fire flashed in his eyes and I could tell that I had made a mistake. He raised his hand and struck my face with such a force that it knocked me down. I collapsed onto the floor. I laid there for a second, trembling, hoping that would be the end of it. I placed a hand on my face where he slapped me, massaging it gently. I looked up and saw him standing there, shaking with anger. I knew there was more to come.
I tried to crawl away from him, but he grabbed my legs and pulled me back toward him. He started to kick and stomp me repeatedly. I struggled to free myself from his grasp. Somehow, I managed to escape his torrent of pain. I quickly got to my feet and ran upstairs with him closely in tow. I unsuccessfully attempted to lock our bedroom door. He violently toppled through it, breaking the hinges in the process.
Then he stopped to stare at me. He inched forward, as I inched back. The look in his eyes was murderous. He’s going to kill me, I thought.
“Don’t come any closer David!” I whimpered. He just smiled at me. The savage look in his eyes deepened. I remembered the gun hidden in the table drawer next to the bed. I opened the drawer and snatched up the 9mm pistol. Because my hands were trembling, I failed to place the bullets in the chamber. I saw him steadily advancing toward me. Not knowing what else to do, I snatched the lamp from the bedside table and chucked it at him. It narrowly missed him, crashing against the wall behind him. He then tackled me onto the bed.
“Until death, remember baby?” he said as he started to choke me. Instinctively, my hands rushed to pry his from my throat. I tried scratching his face to get him to loosen his grip. I started to pound my fists against his head. Nothing was working. I was losing consciousness. Everything started to fade out. Images of my children when they were younger started to play in my head. I could even hear their laughter. I swore I could hear my daughter’s voice.
As if by magic, I felt David being torn away from me. I looked up to see Michael and Savannah, my children, tousling with their father. David had Michael around the neck, while Savannah was on his back. He tossed Michael to the floor while he struggled to remove Savannah from his back. At that moment, I snapped.
“Nobody hurts my kids!” I yelled. I mustered up my strength and launched at David. Savannah crumbled to the floor as David crushed her against the wall. I punched, kicked, and scratched him. Anything to get him away from my children. He grabbed me by the hair, balled his hand into a fist, and punched me directly in the nose. Blood poured down my face. He continued to punch me until I finally fell limp. He let go of my hair and I dropped to the floor.
I heard Michael and Savannah attack their father once again. There was a faint siren somewhere in the distance. Then, everything grew pitch…black.
“Don’t cry Mom,” Michael says. “He won’t hurt you anymore. They got him this time.” He gives me his hand and I latch on to it, grateful that they were okay.
“I’m so sorry that this happened to you,” I say to them. “You don’t deserve this. It’s all my fault. He would tell me that he didn’t mean to hit me, but he kept doing it. I should have left when you two were born, but I stayed like an idiot.” I can’t help but to cry now. How could I expose my children to this?
“It’s not your fault, Mom. You tried to protect us. We love you for that!” Savannah says. Both of my children take turns hugging me. My mom, who has been uncharacteristically silent, starts to hum. I recognize the tune as the song she used to sing to soothe me when I was upset. I feel myself growing weaker as her lullaby progresses. I slowly fade in and out of consciousness. The day’s affair is apparently starting to take its full effect on me. My vision becomes blurred and my mouth becomes dry. The pain in my head pounds furiously against my temple. I’m ready to give up and let go, but a little angelic voice inside of me keeps repeating, “Be strong." As if a switch had been flipped, I drifted back to sleep.