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
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“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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