by Rob M. Miller
JAN HELD THE ‘MAGIC STICK’ in her hand … and stared. The minutes went by like torture, stabbing her with every pounding second—
That damning … gorgeous … poorly-timed BLUE line would just not go away. And that was that.
“I’m pregnant.” Jan stared into the bathroom mirror, trying to assimilate the news, and what it meant.
Mother’s words came back to haunt:
“You’re not happy, hon.”
“Don’t, ‘Mother.’ Not to me. Is he still—?”
“Stop it, Mom. We’ve only been married a—”
“A year. Only a year. A honeymoon-year, it should have been. I don’t like the way he treats you. Not the glares, not the cutting remarks, not the yelling.”
Silence set like a wall, unassailable and impassable. Driving them apart. Mother and daughter.
Jan couldn’t meet the woman’s gaze.
“Has he hit y—?”
“What about your—?”
“I told you. I slipped on some ice yesterday. Besides, look at my arms. You know how easily I bruise.” Jan looked up and connected with her mother’s eyes. And with that first, most blatant lie, the wall became encased in concrete. “Brian and I have our hassles. Like anybody. But we’re fine.”
That time, so long ago, between her and mom.
We’re fine, Jan reminisced.
Her mother, last of her family, died 21 months later. Some stupid drunk, driving along, and mom crossing the street—making sure that the wall could never be blasted down.
“Mom, I’m sorry.” Jan tossed the wand and the E.P.T. kit.
Some hours later, she went into the garage. She had no problem finding what she was looking for, Brian’s tool.
The bat felt much better in her hands than when in Brian’s. She briefly remembered losing her first tooth to the thing.
The workbench vise held the stout slugger. She didn’t know much about tools, but she had used the power-drill before. Eight holes later, she was ready. Twenty minutes and eight nails later, she was done.
She stood, bat in hand, behind the front door.
Brian had warned her what would happen if she got pregnant. She’d tried to be careful. But the bastard was religious, least when it came to birth control. Sure as hell wasn’t God-loving about anything else.
She waited, watching the clock wind down to the time. Tick-tock-tick-tock….
The pregnancy might have been the capper, might just have been what sealed her decision. But she wasn’t sure. The previous night, while crying in pain, she had thought of taking the step, and thought, and….
She looked down at her right arm, saw the ugly purplish bruises all up and down her tender skin. She tried to picture her arm’s coloring … or discoloring, as something different than what it was. Something beautiful. Magenta perhaps. Plum or lavender. Maybe even mauve. A beautiful color to mark the occasion.
Because she would never get hit again. And now, with her baby, she’d finally have someone to love her.
Brian always got home, right about the same time. Ten after five.
She held the nail-studded bat high.
The living room clock continued counting down, down to the time of her freedom.