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Bruised, battered and bewildered

by Chestersmummy 

Posted: 05 July 2017
Word Count: 881
Summary: For the flash fiction challenge 646

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Bruised, battered and bewildered 
Gulping harsh breaths of air, solid stone stinging the soles of her feet, she pounded along the pavement.  Sweat streamed down her forehead and into her eyes, blurring her vision so that she barely noticed people parting as they watched the fat, middle-aged woman half run, half lurch down the street, dark semi-circles of sweat staining the armpits of her faded cotton T shirt.
‘Blimey, love, where’s the fire?’  One wag called out and other pedestrians tittered.
Marie didn’t hear.  Her energy was solely concentrated on getting home as fast as possible.   If she was lucky, she might just make it.   What a stupid cow she was.   Why, why, why had she not noticed the time?  
She rounded the corner and slowed to a stop.   She was too late.   His car out was parked outside the house.   For a second she panicked and her bloodshot eyes rolled like those of a bullock being prodded towards the slaughterhouse.   Then she heaved a deep sigh and plodded forwards.   There was nowhere else to go.   This was where she lived.
The key shook in the lock as she opened the door and peered inside. 
 He didn’t answer.   Maybe that was a good sign.  She advanced through the door, closing it softly after her.
‘Sorry, I’m late.   But Mum was in a right state and I had to sort her out, ‘cos the carers were late again.’ 
There was still no answer.   A feeling of dread closed her throat, almost choking her.   Stealthily, she opened the door to the living room and there he was - standing quite still, staring at her.  She tried to smile but it faltered and died under the weight of his scowl.
‘Where’ve you been, you dirty slut?’
‘Dan, I told you.  I’ve been to see Mum.   That’s all.   I’ll get supper straight away.  It won’t take long.’
‘I don’t believe you.  You whore.  You’ve been to see him, haven’t you?   While I’ve been working to feed your fat face, you’ve been lying on yer back.’
‘No….’    The word came out as a whine but she knew it was useless;  as always, he was determined to believe she had a fancy man.
The blow hit her with a startling ferocity.   Sometimes he just slapped her but this was a closed fist punch and her head rocked backwards.   Another blow and she was down.   Half crawling, half slithering into a corner, she protected her head with her arms as he started to use his feet.  Pain closed over her until a merciful darkness arrived.
‘Mrs Rogers…..can you hear me?’
Sound swam to her out of a fog.   Marie tried to open her eyes but even the slightest movement was agonising.  Eventually she managed a slit-eyed squint then closed her lids with a sigh.   She was in hospital – again, 
‘Ah, so you’re awake now.  That’s good. How are you feeling.  You’ve been beaten up.  Very badly. Are you ready to talk about it love?’
Marie needed a moment to think about that.  She rolled her head to one side and looked at the woman sitting by her bedside.   She tightened her lips.   Completely out of her league; pretty, obviously intelligent, what was the good of talking to her?   She would never know what it was like  to be fat and ugly, the runt of the litter.  Nobody had expected her to marry but then Dan had shown up.   It still hurt to see how eagerly Mum and Dad had got rid of her.  But Marie understood that.   What she’d never understood was why Dan had wanted her.       
‘My name’s Lucy and I’m here to help you.  We know it was your husband Mrs Rogers.  And it’s not the first time is it?’
Marie’s lips disappeared.   She was not about to tell tales on her husband. Anyway, he was good to her sometimes, except when she annoyed him and that was down to her really.   She wasn’t stupid, she knew he could be a bit rough but then again, she didn’t know what she would do without him.
The woman reached out and placed her hand gently on Marie’s.   It was cool and soft, no dishpan hands there Marie thought.
‘It’s not your fault you know love.  Can I call you Marie?’  ’   She paused then seemed to take Marie’s silence as consent.   ‘It can happen to anybody.   Shall I tell you about me?  Like you, I’ve been beaten by someone I thought I loved.  Eventually I ended up in hospital, again just like you.   When I recovered, I realised he could kill me if there was a next time.  Then, I got lucky.  I was put in touch with a Refuge and stayed there until…..’
Lucy’s words trailed away as she looked at Marie.  The woman’s  eyes were closed and there was no expression on her battered face.  She’d failed.   The drawbridge had been raised and her words were merely sounds stroking solid oak.   She sighed thinking about what her mentor had said that very morning.
‘We can’t reach all of them.   Some of them have been abused for so long they come to accept it.   Their self-esteem is so low they think they deserve to be slapped around.  To them it’s just another day.’

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Comments by other Members

Cliff Hanger at 11:40 on 07 July 2017  Report this post
There are some great lines in here, Janet.

There was no-where else to go. This was where she lived.

I like the nuanced way you make the 'helper' distanced and patronising by calling her 'love' etc. Interesting take on how someone who can never fully appreciate it, reacts to another's every day.


Bazz at 13:53 on 07 July 2017  Report this post
Great take on the prompt Janet, a harsh brutal reality that has become "just another day." You really capture the voice and mood of Marie, and in so few words we really feel what's happening to her, why she allows it, and why she wont break the cycle. It's both troubling and all too real.

I think the ending needs a break in the paragraphs, we go suddenly from marie's pov to Lucy's, and it's a little jarring. A little seperation would help.

BryanW at 12:35 on 09 July 2017  Report this post
A sensitive portrayal of a victim of domestic abuse. Some thoughtful insight here - her self-blame, mixing with her lack of a sense of self-worth comes over strongly. You show very well the 'victim psychology' and how a needy person in such a situation cannot see its reality - as well as how frustrating for those who actually empathise and want to help. The sentence 'Marie's lips disappeared' followed by the couple of sentences after where she justifies not reporting Dan are very telling. The disappearing lipsa image as she determines herself not to snitch is really good. You leave us with the Lucy's words about the tragedy of the situation - with her devastating acceptance of it - 'We can't reach all of them'. Very effective.

Chestersmummy at 17:34 on 09 July 2017  Report this post
Hi Bazz,  Thanks for your comment which I completely agree with.  I realised I had changed the POV and that it jarred.  It worried me but I couldn't think how to fix it.

Best wishes,

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