As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.
Falling in and out of love – Gaffer Tape
She lay in the bath and viewed her bruises which were beginning to turn a bluish green. They covered her abdomen and upper thighs, places where they would not be seen by the curious. A few days old now, they had resulted from a night in the pub and a lost game of darts a week ago.
As always, of course, he had promised it wouldn’t happen again; she knew he loved her, didn’t she? He had looked so crestfallen the next morning, hungover with tears in his eyes as she had stared at him warily; arms crossed supporting her aching body.
During the week he had been very attentive, home early from the office, buying flowers and saying all the right things. She managed to go to work on the Tuesday, pleading sickness the day before, something her boss noted was becoming a bit of a pattern. He asked after her health when she arrived ashen faced the next morning. She had smiled and told him she would was fine to come back to the office.
Her husband Steven was a solicitor working in a large practice in the city. On the rare time he had taken her to office functions, she had found his boss and his colleagues friendly, and they clearly thought very highly of Steven. He was adamant about what she wore to the functions, laying out the outfit he wanted her to wear on the bed. He also warned her in the car on the way to the party to watch what she said to his boss and colleagues. If anyone did engage her in conversation, he would steer her away with an arm around her waist possessively, whispering in her ear to behave herself. She wondered what his boss would think if he knew his star protégé was a wife beater.
The water was cooling and was tinged a light pink from blood which had dripped from her nose, swollen and painful to the touch. She didn’t think it was broken, but certainly one of her front teeth was loose. The painkillers she had taken were helping, and it was time for her get out of the bath and get ready.
She dried herself slowly and painfully dressed in her underwear. Her nose had stopped bleeding, but as she looked in the mirror, she could see how swollen it had become. Picking up her phone she moved to the window, and in the better light, took a selfie from a couple of different angles. Then she took pictures of the bruising on her abdomen and thighs. When she was happy with the result, she went over to Steven’s laptop on the dining room table, and uploaded the images, along with two others she had taken earlier.
When they were resized, she attached them to an email which she simply marked as ‘For your Information’ in the subject line and wrote a short note and her name. She added several email addresses from his contact list including Steven’s boss, his colleagues, close friends, his parents and her own solicitor, who she had already spoken to on the phone an hour ago.
She pressed send, and then went into the bedroom to continue dressing before collecting two suitcases from the guest room. These were filled with the clothes, bags, shoes, books and toiletries. She slipped in the jewellry box containing quite a few good pieces; mostly given in lieu of an apology, and she would take great pleasure in selling them once she was settled.
She had one more job to do on Steven’s laptop. They had a joint bank account she had access to, but was only allowed to withdraw a mandated limit of £200 each week. This was enforced rigorously with receipts for all purchases checked. She transferred half the contents into her own bank account, secretly opened a few months ago. She wanted nothing more from him, as he could keep this apartment with its memories, and all the other trappings he had bought to impress his friends and family since their marriage. They were their only visitors as her own parents had died when she was a teenager. Friends of her own were discouraged from visiting, in case they became too close and suspicious of her frequent falls or encounters with kitchen cabinet doors.
She knew some of her friends suspected there was more to her frequent headaches and excuses not to get together with them, and she felt ashamed she had stayed so long in this abusive relationship. Steven had isolated her from everyone she had known before they met. He constantly reminded her of how weak she was, and totally unable to look after herself without him. There had also been the implied threat if she ever considered leaving him, as he boasted of the connection he had with his criminal clients he defended.
Having placed her suitcases and her handbag by the front door, she turned and walked back to the kitchen and stepped over the body lying on the tiled floor. She had placed Steven on his side after she had hit him with the frying pan, ready on the hob to cook his fillet steak for supper. Despite the pain of her bloody nose she had instinctively, and with a deep rooted anger, picked up the nearest weapon to hand.
He wasn’t dead, but she had taken the precaution of binding his ankles and wrists with gaffer tape, and once sure he was breathing through his nose without difficulty, she had wrapped more tape several times around his head and across his mouth. He opened his eyes and glared over the top of the tape, squirming around on the floor in an attempt to reach her as she stood holding a pack of frozen peas to her aching nose. Placing the bag back in the freezer, she reached for some painkillers and took two, watching him over the rim of the glass of water. She put the tablets in the pocket of her jacket and gave her husband a scathing look as she walked to the door to the garden and left it partially open.
Despite Steven’s attempts to kick out at her on her way back through the kitchen, she managed to bypass his legs, and once in the hallway she turned and stared down at him.
“I am sure someone; either your parents or one of your colleagues will be here shortly, as I have sent them an image of you tied up on the floor and that I have left the back door open for them.’ She paused and then smiled despite the pain of her swollen nose and lip. ‘I also sent photographs to all your close contacts of the injuries you inflicted last weekend and this evening, which have also been forwarded to my solicitor.’
Steven’s eyes widened and he made increased efforts to yell against the restrictive tape.
‘I won’t be pressing charges, unless you contest the divorce or approach me verbally or in person ever again. I have taken all I want, and you are welcome to the rest, although I am sure your reputation might never recover.’ She leaned down and looked deep into his eyes now wide with fury.
‘I also have a copy of all your files, including the criminals you represent. If anything happens to me, I have instructed my solicitor to release them to the police, who will, I am sure be very interested in the contents.’ As Steven rolled around the floor in an attempt to free himself, she added. ‘I would imagine you would be on their hit lists for a very long time, don’t you?’
Jennifer slipped the strap of her handbag over her head and opened the front door. She retrieved some keys from the hall table and popped them in her pocket before picking up the two suitcases and walking out into the street.
‘Oh, and by the way I am taking your BMW too as part of our severance package.’
She slammed the door, and then she was gone.
© Sally Cronin 2020
One of the reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries
Sally Cronin’s anthology is an entertaining collection combining sweet, wholesome tales with stories from a more jaded point of view.
I love how she takes everyday situations and infuses them with humor, such as in The Weekly Shopping;
‘What the hell does DNST mean?’ ‘Do Not Serve Treats.’
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries- Sally Cronin
Bittersweet endings like The Wedding Day when a hero returns from the grave to see his daughter’s wedding.
I teared up think of my Annie with The Nanny. The story of an overwhelmed couple caring for their teething baby and the unexpected help they receive.
Another favorite is a poem titled The Duchess, where the author paints a portrait of her beloved parent.
There were a few stories about the dark side of life, but these just served to enhance the rest and made me appreciate the blessings in my own life.
Easy-to-read, enjoyable, and relatable.
If you need a fun escape from the winter doldrums, give Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries a read!
My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.