The current WIP up for comments is "What the Whole Town Knew."
Advance warning - this had very adult material in it. If you are easily offended, please skip these. I will put up more family-friendly reading for next month's - if this goes well.
If you're still here - Enjoy!
Dale was dead, that much was obvious. He was motionless, lying in the bright red blood that had gushed at first, but now just trickled a bit, from the hole in his neck. The hole where you plunged the kitchen knife when he came at you in a drunken rage. The last time he would ever come at anyone in a drunken rage.
As you sat there on the floor next to him, knees to your chest and staring at him over your bruised and bloody arms, a sense of relief washed over you. The beatings and abuse would stop now. No longer would it be necessary to wear long sleeves in the summer to hide the rainbow of bruises. The sunglasses could be saved for when it was actually sunny out.
A knock at the door startled you, sounding unnaturally loud in the silence. Standing was difficult after sitting for so long. Bruises from the broomstick he had swung were red and angry, turning purple against the whiteness of your legs. Each and every one of them was a reminder of him.
Grabbing a dishtowel on your way to the door, you scrub at the blood on your arms. Some of it is yours, but most of it is his. You frantically start to think of excuses for the bruises and blood. Maybe whoever was at the door wouldn’t notice.
“Just a minute,” you yell. Whoever it was certainly didn’t have much patience. Peeking out the window in the door reveals Miranda Withers from across the street. What could that nosy busybody want?
“Miranda.” You force a smile and civil tone as you open the door just enough to carry out a conversation.
“Lizzie. Hi. Is everything all right?”
“Yeah. Everything is fine. How are you and Eric?” Keep her out on the front step but don’t raise her suspicions.
“Oh fine, fine. Listen, we were wondering if you and Dale would like to join us for dinner Saturday night. Nothing fancy, just a neighborhood get-together. It’s been so nice that we thought a barbeque was in order. What do you say?”
“Sounds lovely, but I think Dale might have plans. Saturday is his bowling night after all.”
“Is he home now? I can talk to him if you like.”
“No, he’s out right now.” Miranda’s eyes glance beyond the doorway. What did she see? Did she suspect something? You move to block the doorway and she glances down at your arms. There are smears of blood where the dishrag, still clutched in your right hand, wasn’t able to wipe away the traces of guilt. Miranda’s eyes grow wide.
“Oh, Lizzie! What happened, honey?” You try to remember some of the excuses you came up with, but nothing comes to mind.
“Uh, oh. Just a little accident. I was, uh, lugging some glassware up stairs to the attic for storage and slipped and fell. Just a few cuts from a plate that shattered and some bumps when I fell down the stairs. Nothing to worry about.” You bite at your bottom lip, wondering if she believes the lies.
“Do you need some help? I can have Eric come over and put things in storage for you if you’d like since Dale’s not here.”
“No, no. I got them up there after a while. You caught me while I was cleaning up is all.” It came out a bit rushed and it’s doubtful she believes it. Her mouth turns into a tight smile but her bright blue eyes don’t look convinced.
“If you’re sure. Let me know about Saturday. We’d love to have you over, even if Dale can’t make it. No reason why you shouldn’t get out and have some fun.”
“I’ll let you know.”
“And Lizzie, if you ever need anything, if you ever need to talk, I’m right across the street. Don’t be shy.” She turned and walked back to her house, her bleach-blonde hair barely moving as she bounced slightly in her platform sandals. On her porch, Eric waits as she makes her way across the road. When she reaches him, he leans down and hugs her. They talk for a minute and laugh. Eric looks over toward your house and sees you still in the doorway. He smiles and waves. You wave back and close the door on the sickenly happy scene.
Dale is still laying on the kitchen floor. The blood had begun to congeal and turn brownish as it dried. Walking around towards his head you can see the look of surprise on his face. He didn’t believe you had it in you to fight back. Not you, not little Lizzie Mosher.
“Lizzie Mouser,” Dale use to say. He would tease you about your name because you refused to change it when he married you. He always thought women should be subservient to men, especially wives to their husbands. His mother had always done what his father wanted and his grandmother would always bow to his grandfather’s wishes. Then you came along and broke with the whole family tradition.
He didn’t know how to deal with a woman who wouldn’t bend to his will. It was probably what drew him to you in the first place. You were different from any he had ever known and he wanted to break you. And break you he did, on all accounts except your name. Your name was the only thing that was yours, that you alone owned, and you refused to give that little scrap of identity to him. It irritated him and he would try to use it against you, belittling the one thing you could call yours.
“Lizzie Mouser. Mousy little Lizzie,” he’d call when he came home from the bar after work, drunk and stumbling about. You would lock yourself in the bathroom, listening as he bumped into walls and furniture, looking for you. Yelling for you.
It always ended the same way. He’d find the bathroom door and pound away on it, rattle the handle and yell obscenities at you on the other side.
“Lizzie, I know you’re in there. Come on out.” Silence fueled his anger. “Get out here, you little bitch. I am your husband and you will do what I tell you to.” The banging and rattling would get more insistent. In the early days of his abuse he would break the cheap lock on the door and drag you out. He would beat you with his fists, relishing the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
“You little bitch. You little fucking bitch. You think you’re better than me? Don’t you ever try to hide from me again, do you understand? I am your fucking husband and you better not forget.” The abuse was mingled and rained down all the same.
For a short time there was a deadbolt on the bathroom door. It was a short reprieve from the violence. Dale could still scream through the door, but his fists were useless. A few days later, during a sober moment, he remembered and removed it. The next time he came home drunk your defense was short lived. You ran to the bathroom, but the bolt was no longer there. In your moment of surprise and horror you never put up any form of a barricade. Dale was through the door and upon you within moments.
“Stupid bitch. Thought you were smarter than me? Think again. I own you, do you understand? You are mine, as my wife, to do what I want with.” The hitting had stopped for a second and you risked a look at him, uncovering your head with your arms. He was smiling a very chilling smile. His brown eyes that once generated warmth now could chill the stoutest heart.
“That’s right, Sweetheart. Nothing to be afraid of.” You made an attempt to scoot backwards, away from this madman, but the grin left his face and he grabbed you by your hair, kept long under his orders.
“I don’t think so, my little mouse.” He dragged you down the hall to your bedroom. He threw you on the bed and tore off your clothes with no regard to buttons or zippers. He forced himself on you again and again and the sobs caught in your throat. His big calloused hands groping every inch, pressing harder at the bruises, trying to cause more shouts of pain.
You tried to fight him off, but he was too strong. He worked in the town foundry, pumping iron in a much more literal sense. He was far too strong for such a little mouse.
That was the night, wasn’t it? The night you knew it all had to end. Dale had become possessed by something far more evil than anything you had ever seen and it had consumed him entirely. It had to stop. And it had to stop soon.
Kneeling next to his body, you reach out and close his brown eyes, frozen in their state of sightless surprise. What to do now, now you don’t have Dale to make all the decisions. Everything was yours to decide now. A shower seems most logical, but sleep is trying to take over. It has been a long day. A very long day.
You grab a sponge from the sink and dampen it. Gently, you wipe away the blood and the grime from Dale’s face and arms. His lank, blonde hair had fallen across his face when he had collapsed, making him look peaceful, almost angelic. He had been such a good looking guy.
Sleep soon claims you and you snuggle up next to Dale’s body. It’s cold, but for the first time in over a year it doesn’t cause fear. It’s just a shell and shells can’t cause any harm. You wrap his arm around you and kiss him goodnight on the cheek. In the morning the body would have to be taken care of, dumped where no one would find it. Tonight was for the final goodbye.