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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Fists and Roses
By Joanney Uthe


Lying between it and the wall, I tried to calculate if I could fit under the bed. Only a temporary reprieve, at least it would provide some safety. That may have worked for a toddler, but not for a grown woman.

“I’m sorry, honey. I overreacted. It will never happen again.” The familiar words did not stop the bruise developing on my arm. Nor did it stop my paralyzing fear of this man who was supposed to love me. Stumbling to my feet, I timidly walked past him waiting for the final blow. It didn’t come – this time.

It only took a minute to complete that task that would have prevented the attack. Why can’t I learn to do this one simple thing before it is too late? An ounce of preparation would save me a lot of pain. Or would it?

Listening to him snore, escape options eluded me. If only I could afford to live on my own instead of living in sin. But I knew that even if I could, I wouldn’t have had the courage to tell him I wouldn’t live with him. Ever since he threatened my life for wanting to break up, he has made all of the decisions in the relationship.

Locked in the “cage”, an “Authorized Personnel Only” area that included my office, I cried my eyes out to my co-worker and friend the next day. Her repeated, “Listen to yourself. Why do you stay?” did not change my situation. How could I leave? My only time away from him was when I was locked in the cage. We worked in the same warehouse, the same hours. He was my ride to and from work and everywhere else. I was not even allowed to go to the grocery store without him. How could I leave?

With a buzz of the doorbell, we admitted one of the few warehouse workers allowed into the cage. When he told me that my fiancé had fallen off a ladder, I thought he was joking and told him to get out of my office. Only he wasn’t joking. The fall had broken his hip. I knew I could not marry a man that I didn’t even feel sorry for as he lay in a hospital bed needing orthopedic surgery.

I enjoyed my few weeks of freedom while he was in the hospital, but still had not figured out how I was going to leave. He returned home, still unable to go to work. One night I cowered on the bedroom floor as he repeated kicked me – all because I had left a closet door open. He stopped when his foot started to hurt from the kicking, which in turn warranted a few hits from his crutch. I had to find a way to get out.

Since he was not working, I rode to and from work with another co-worker and one night decided to not go home. I knew he had an appointment that evening with the groomsmen for the wedding, so I waited until he would be gone and went back for a few things – only what would fit in an overnight bag.

I jumped every time the buzzer rang to let us know someone was at the cage door the next day. Midmorning my fears became reality when he showed up. I refused to go to the door. He claimed he had something for me, so my co-worker went. I could hear their exchange over the intercom. He sounded sad. She sounded indifferent towards him. When she returned to the office, she carried a bouquet of roses. He waited at the door for me to run back into his arms.

I looked at the roses in my friend’s arms. As pretty as they were, my mind transposed over them the image of the single rose pressed somewhere in Psalms in my Bible; his first ever apology. The rest had been discarded as easily as his promises to never hit or kick me again.

“Give them back to him.” I handed her my engagement ring. “And this with ‘em.” It took breaking up with him twice in as many weeks for him to realize that our relationship was as dead as the rose pressed in my Bible. I love roses, but don’t ever give them to me as an apology.

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This article has been read 711 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/29/08
This is absolutely heart-breaking. What a cycle to be in, but oh how many are trapped in it. I thought of this scenario when I saw the topic, because isn't that just the way it is with an abuser? All words, no action. Well except for the angry words. Anyway, I hope the happy ending continued on and that the woman was safe after that.
Seema Bagai 03/01/08
Well-written piece. Hopefully it will spur someone to seek help for a similar situation.
Jacquelyn Horne03/03/08
Why do women wait so long? I have never understood it. But, then, I have never faced this problem. Good story.
Hanne Moon 03/03/08
Great job! I loved this! You captured the voice of the woman perfectly. I'm so glad you allowed your MC to walk away.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/03/08
You made the situation so clear that I was able to share the MC's fear of her abuser. I was so glad for her to end the relationship. I loved how the title summed up the story.
Joanne Sher 03/03/08
Perfect title, amazing descriptions. Such a frighteningly vivid story. Wow.
Debbie Wistrom03/03/08
I loved her final strength. Well done and heart felt, keep it up.
Jan Ackerson 03/03/08
Oh, this is heartbreaking and terrible! Well, I mean "terrible" in a good way, because the writing is superb.
Lynda Schultz 03/03/08
The more I read, the angrier I got — in this case, that's a good thing — you made me feel, and that the sign of good writer.
Lyn Churchyard03/03/08
You captured the thoughts of the MC beautifully. The utter feeling of hopelessness and not being able to bring yourself to leave. I wanted to take his crutch and give him a few whacks with it. Well done!
Karen Wilber03/03/08
Powerful. I've known this woman, but she did not leave her fiance. Unlike your MC I don't think she really knew she had a choice even with friends and coworkers willing to help. This was well written. Thanks for the happy ending.
Marita Thelander 03/05/08
I'm not sure I would call that a happy ending. But, life isn't always about happy endings. Very well written.
Julie Arduini03/05/08
You had me from the title, and you never disappointed. This was amazing writing and an all too real account I bet too many can relate to. Very well done.
Loren T. Lowery03/05/08
To think this kind of abuse sickens me. Your writing shows that women/men/children can escape from it. More articles like this should be written to show those caught in the web of seemingly hoplessness that there is a way out. You've showed a way to start that first step. Bravo!
Tim Pickl03/05/08
Wow! and ouch--excellent written. This story reads like a chapter from a very good book...hmmmm...I wonder what happened in the previous chapter(s)...and in the next chapters?! It's just an idea!
Chely Roach03/05/08
Wow. What a phenomenal, POWERFUL story. Though is was sad through to the end, justice prevailed. Loved it!
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
I have known many young girls and women who have gone through the exact same struggle. The abuser always ends up sweet talking them to try and lure them back in. Things go fine for a while, and then the beatings start again. Some have walked away, but I know a few who continue to stay and take the abuse.

Your story is not only important for this week's challenge, but it is also important for women who need to know that there is a way out. Thank you for sharing this important piece of writing.
Catrina Bradley 03/05/08
My heart breaks every time I read a story about abuse. I'm glad this girl made the decision to leave. Good writing!
Sherry Castelluccio 03/06/08
Wow. I won't offer you a rose but will an "I'm sorry you had to go through that" be ok? What courage it took to finally leave and even more, to recognize where to find that true love. And I'm sorry but my righteous indignation is flaring. Ironic that it took an injury on him to get the abuse to stop. Serves him right. xoxox
Sara Harricharan 03/06/08
This gave me goosebumps. I really felt for your MC, I wanted so badly to give her a hug and find a way to take her out of that situation. I'm glad that she did give the roses-and the engagement ring back. She didn't need that. Good job. Powerful last lines. ^_^
Mariane Holbrook 03/06/08
I wish this had won. It deserved to. You're the best!
Edy T Johnson 03/06/08
From the title to the last line, this is a gripping story. Well done, friend!