I'm working on another "Redemption Story" right now, but maybe sometime down the road, I'll get back to trying fiction again. We'll see. :) For now though, here's a portion of Shay's story.
Was it the sunlight that awoke her, or, perhaps was the buzzing of a housefly dancing around her nose? Shay twitched her head in an unsuccessful attempt to chase it away. She blinked and slowly opened her eyes. The couch beneath her was comfortable enough – as long as she could ignore the coarse fibers of the upholstery pressing criss-cross lines into the bruise on her cheek.
The fly returned, landing on her lip. Shay blew out a puff of air and it moved to her forehead. Annoyed, she reached up to flick it away. The simple movement took her breath away and she gasped in surprise at the intense pain along her rib cage. Tears flooded her eyes as memories from the night before filled her senses. She could still hear the cries of her little girl through the bathroom door.
She had knelt outside the door, clawing at the wood until her nails bled, begging Brett to stop. Offering him anything… anything he wanted if he’d only open the door. He had stopped. The door opened, stepped over her as he dropped their whimpering daughter into her lap. Shay scrambled up and pulled the bathroom door shut behind her and Faith – locking Brett out. Clutching her daughter close, Shay climbed gingerly into the tub where tears streamed down both their faces as they clung to one another.
Hours later, after she had laid a sleeping little girl in her crib, she tiptoed out to the living room – hoping to sleep on the couch. But he was there. Waiting.
The beating lasted longer than most and Shay wondered if she’d live to see the light of morning.
Now with a dull ache throbbing between her ears and the sickening taste of blood in her mouth, Shay eased slowly into a sitting position. Baby James whimpered beside her and she wondered how he had gotten there. Brett must have brought him to her before he left last night. She shook her head, angry at his apparent kindness after such insane abuse.
“I don’t understand you, Brett Anderson!” A lump filled her throat, expanding until her ears hurt and a searing pain burned deep in the core of her spine. Raking her fingers through her hair, Shay spat the words towards Brett’s empty chair, “I do not understand you!” Her words were low and guttural and they grated on her ears.
Sliding off the couch wasn’t easy. She was having a hard time seeing through her right eye, and the constant pain in her ribs kept her whole body tense. Baby James stirred slightly and Shay held her breath. “Not now, baby boy.” A sob caught her by surprise, “Not now.” The very thought of him latching on to her breast and nuzzling his head against her ribs was painful. “Just give me time to shower, baby!”
The peaceful scene of the sleeping baby beside her defied every emotion pouring through her soul. Such trust. Such innocence. So free of the pain this world had yet to offer. Still untouched by the anger of the very one whose blood ran through his veins.
Shay ran her finger over baby James’ hands. His fingernails had not yet been trimmed. He stirred and grasped her finger, pulling it within his tiny grasp. His skin still bore the newness of life and it made her cry. What would these hands do? Who would he become? Would he use these hands to bring joy to others? Would he be loving? Would he be happy?
Shay sighed and looked away. Would he be kind? Please, let him be kind! A sigh slipped through her lips when she finally was able to stand. She needed to clean herself up before the kids awoke. Soon they would gather around her bruised legs begging to be held, asking for breakfast, and fighting over Barbie dolls.
Oblivious to her pain, Jessa and James would make their childish demands unaware of the agony within their mother’s broken body, while Faith would likely need comfort and more assurance than Shay was able to give.
Leaning against the wall for support, Shay limped towards the bathroom. As her hand slid along the wall in the hallway, it bumped against the cold hard edge of a picture frame. Shay froze. She knew what it was.
Turning, she stared into the eyes of a younger Brett and Shay. She remembered the moment that picture was taken. The way his face felt against her cheek and how handsome he looked in his tuxedo. Shay reached up and touched her face. Her fingers left little round circles on the dust-covered glass. Even now, her bridal gown took her breath away. How happy she had been. No, not happy. Just naïve. Or stupid.
The pain shooting through her side and loneliness clawing at her throat told Shay finding the exact word didn’t matter in light of her current circumstances.
She needed to get in the shower.
And then she needed to make a plan.
©Lynette Carpenter 2014