“Now look what you’ve made me do!”
Samantha cringed at his shout as she held her hand to her cheek, still smarting from his hand. She swallowed the bile in her throat as tears rolled down her face. She closed her eyes, willing him to go away and leave her alone.
“You’re so weak.”
His voice was filled with hate and she trembled at the sound. She drew herself up into a ball on the floor by the couch, hoping he would get tired of this game and leave. After what seemed like an eternity, she heard the front door close and his car start up. She curled up like a baby and cried until there were no more tears. And then the blessed numbness; she didn’t have to feel anything for now.
* * * * * * *
Brad stepped back from Samantha, his hand still in the air. His rage was so strong that he could barely even see. Why did she have to be so weak? He couldn’t respect her, could barely even stand to look at her. Watching her, he was filled with disgust. Her tears made him sick to his stomach. He turned and left the room.
He pulled his car onto the highway and drove for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the anger died down and in its place was an overwhelming sense of shame. He found a roadside park, stopped his car and turned off the ignition. He rested his head on the steering wheel as tears came to his eyes.
Samantha made him weak; she was the only one who could make him cry. Real men don’t cry, his father’s voice reminded him. The beating that followed reinforced the rule. He wiped his eyes and slammed his fist against the dashboard. Why did he have to get so angry?
* * * * * * * *
Samantha heard Brad come in. She stopped stirring the cake batter. God, help me, she prayed. I can’t take this anymore. She heard his steps go up the stairs and breathed a sigh of relief. She poured the batter into the pan and shoved it into the oven. Opening the utensil drawer, she pulled out a card. Haven in the Storm was the name of the abused women’s shelter on the card. Maybe she would go there tonight. She quickly hid the card in her back pocket as she heard Brad come downstairs.
Samantha nodded. I also made a pineapple cake for dessert later.” She tried to hide her trembling hand when she noticed him look at it.
“Quit being a weakling,” he ordered as he pulled out a chair. “You’re disgusting.”
She took a deep breath. “I’m not a weakling. I stayed because I loved you, but I can’t do it anymore. You treat me like dirt.” She paused, waiting for a response, a slap. “I’m leaving you. Today.”
* * * * * * * * *
The words were stuck in his head as he listened to her upstairs packing. He could feel the slow burn begin in his gut. He knew it would rise to the point where he’d have to hit her to feel any relief. The anger would turn to hatred as he looked at her begging him to stop.
“What kind of man have I become?” he cried into the silence. He didn’t hate her; he hated himself. He looked down at his own shaking hands, hands that had beaten and hurt. He wanted to cut them off, to keep them from causing Samantha more pain.
“God, forgive me. Take away these feelings.” He slid to the kitchen floor and knelt by his chair. “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He stayed there for what seemed like hours. It had been many years since he had talked to God.
“Brad, are you okay?”
He looked up into Samantha’s face. He saw her concern; she did still love him. He held out his hand. “I need help.”
She took a deep breath and placed her hand in his.
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