Feeling much older than his years, Wes sits on the bathroom counter, head in hands. Thoughts swirl through his mind like a hurricane—so much turmoil.
Quickly he dresses and prepares for the day. Rearranging his shirt, he winces as fabric makes contact with tender skin, recently bloodied by deep scratches. With any luck, no one will question why he is again wearing a long sleeve shirt in the middle of summer. He checks the mirror one last time to ensure no tell-tale crimson stains have appeared. Something else to worry about. Quietly descending the stairs, and hopes to snatch a cup of coffee before making his escape.
Pushing open the swinging door to the kitchen, Wes stops in his tracks then quickly regains his composure. He turns to grab his briefcase but Anna is standing right behind him. Nearly spilling his coffee, he backs up into the counter, trapped. Panic sets in as his mind begins to race.
Anna smiles at him with an evil grin and says, “Aren't you going to kiss me good-bye?” With an obligatory peck on the cheek, he attempts to dodge around her, desperate to get out the door.
“Wesley!” she snarls, “Are you avoiding me?”
Before he can think better of it, he replies, “Gee, no, Anna. Why on earth would I do that?” Sarcasm drips and the air is suddenly fraught with tension. “I have to leave for work or I'm going to be late. See you tonight.”
Suddenly, her face contorts and with flashing eyes, she darts toward him as he braces for the next onslaught.
With blood pounding in his ears, Wes resigns himself to the inevitable. Anna's screams fade as his consciousness retreats. For a second, he considers defending himself but just as quickly, dismisses the idea. Instead, he surrenders--there is no fight left. As pain explodes in his left ear, he slumps to the floor, and the world goes black. Peaceful oblivion.
Wes stirs, confused and unsure of where he is. Attempting to open heavy-lidded eyes without much success, he zeros in on one of several voices attempting to thread its way through the chaos.
“Wes, can you hear me? .”
His blurry gaze comes to rest on the face of his best friend and next door neighbor, Gary.
“Hey, pal. Welcome back,” he says with a strained smile. Despite his altered state, Wes senses Gary's concern.
“What happened?” Wes whispers.
Gary, unsure of how to proceed, decides it is time for honesty. “You can't do this anymore. When I came over this morning to borrow your lawn mower, apparently I arrived just in time to stop her. Thank God I showed up or she might have killed you. You're in the ER with a concussion and she's in jail for domestic violence. Maybe she'll get the help she needs this time. You're always making excuses for her behavior but it doesn't change the fact that you're in danger. Honestly, this is no way to live.”
Wes looks down, worrying the corner of the sheet to avoid Gary's intense stare. Tears overflow as the dam of emotion finally erupts.
“Gary, you know how sick she's been. All the psych wards, drugs, doctors- northing's helped. I thought if I just hung on, things would get better but if anything, it's gotten worse. What kind of man lets his wife beat him up?” Flooded with shame and humiliation, he glances up at Gary, concerned about what he must be thinking.
“Wes,” Gary says kindly, “None of this is your fault. All you've ever done is try to help her. You've tried but northing's worked. Maybe it's time to let go.” Gary's voice trials off and silence fills the room.
As Gary's simple words begin to sink in, Wes realizes that he has reached a crossroad. Even though he would rather avoid the truth, the facts of the situation are suddenly becoming crystal clear. Gary's right: this is no way to live. It's time to come out of denial and into reality.
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