The following story is a work of fiction.

Any coincidence to people living or dead in terms of names, events or characters is unintentional. ----------------------------------------------------WARNING: The following story contains violence & swearing that may cause offense! It also contains spelling mistakes, grammatical challenges & other errors that may cause offense Jennifer lay on the bedroom floor, gasping for air. From the corner of her eyes she could see her toddlers crouched against the side of the queen size bed in fear. Their father’s hands were around her neck squeezing ever harder. She knew she had to find the strength to fight him off or his gruesome words would become her last reality: ‘Die you Bitch. I hate you. You stupid fucking bitch. I have had enough. Now you are going to pay. Are you happy now. Its enough, you are going to die.’ His face so enraged that she could hardly recognise the man she had loved and married and slept beside for ten years. Seconds felt like hours. Part of her wanted to relent and just die. The other part of her was a mother and a survivor. A mother who knew above all else that she couldn’t leave her children behind. ‘Why’, she wondered. Why had she tried? Why had she asked? Why had she been stupid enough to stay? Why had she been stupid enough to think he loved her? Why had she been stupid enough to call, to care about him, to worry where he was so late? Her desperate pleas for mercy were ignored. She squirmed and used every bit of adrenaline in her to try and shift his weight off so she could escape and breathe. He never hit or beat her once in ten years. Hitting you see, in his sociopathic justifications, is classed as throwing a punch. And since he had never ‘thrown a fist or a slap’ at her, he argued over and over throughout the years that he was not a wife ‘beater’. He had also previously argued in his defence that it was her provocation that initiated the attacks. She was the problem. Not him. Throwing her against walls, pinning her down by her arms, pushing her across the room and strangling her were excluded from his definition of domestic abuse. She had provoked him into anger and she had created the rage inside of him, she deserved it. Sadly she had always believed everything he said. She hated herself. She wore guilt and blame like an invisible burka, slumping her posture and neglecting her body and looks because she felt so unloved and unwanted for so many years. As she tried to escape his grip using her arms and legs, she momentarily wondered if it wouldn’t be better to die right then. It would all be over. 30 years of abuse and isolation had left her longing to just be numb. To never feel this pain and this rejection and this anger ever again. Her inner pain was greater than anything he could lash at her externally. The panic, fear and pain overwhelmed her. she could feel her face getting hotter and hotter. She could feel her lungs burning for air. And she heard her child crying in the background. Sobbing. ‘mommy, mommy, daddy don’t hurt mommy’.

As she thrashed on the floor her hand felt the smooth surface of her cell phone on the carpet. she had managed to grasp it. I need help she thought. Help she prayed. Please god don’t let me die. please stop. I am sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to anger him. I didn’t mean to exist. I didn’t mean to ask to be loved. I didn’t mean it. From SMSing under the steering wheel, her hand had learnt the familiarity of the buttons on the cell phone. if she could hit dial she thought. If she could hit dial someone might hear and come help. over and over she prayed in her head and cried out. she didn’t know if anyone had answered. she didn’t remember who the last person she had called was. In her experience in life, the times when she had most needed her family and friends and had phoned, she would be met by a quick ‘ can I call you later, bye ‘. The weeks events had run over and over in her head… It was Friday night or the early hours of Saturday morning. late. It had been exactly one week from their last marriage counselling session. At the session they had both agreed to try. to do all they could to fix their relationship. She believed he loved her. After all, he kept saying it. Why would he lie. But why then did she feel unloved. why was she alone every night with the children. Her trust in him and her large salary had accommodated his every whim and his utter freedom. She used both to appease him. To try make him happy. To be considerate. To be patient. She had only asked for love in return and help with the children. The agreement in the session was that they would both make an earnest effort. She would try and listen without interrupting and he would ‘try’ to. From Friday to the following Thursday, she religiously made every effort to not interrupt him when talking. While he spoke she kept reminding herself that if she listened to his day and had dinner ready and the kids in bed early and tried to initiate sex every night that it would be ok. She needed it to be ok. Her efforts were rewarded when she heard him take a call on Thursday morning. ‘Its weird, she is really trying, its been so peaceful’. She had interpreted it as a compliment. She was wrong. It had irritated him that she was trying. He had been away almost every night since that previous Friday. He had told her during that week that Saturday night he was invited to a fancy dress dinner murder evening. It’s a work function, he’d explained ‘partners are not invited.’

‘On a Saturday?’ She thought. She hat and sunglasses for the event. he wanted. Her usual over helpful annoyed interaction with her just

stomached the questions and helped him find a She made special effort to go and find the ones demeanour and willingness to ignore his curt and seemed to mean nothing to him.

Monday he had called to say he would be running late because of work. Tuesday he came home and asked if he could join his friend Jonathan at the movies.

Why do you always ask me, she retorted. Have I ever said no? Of course its fine. Tuesday he apparently had a work event. Wednesday he came home and spent two hours reading and falling asleep in the bath. She woke him up to make sure he got out the water and into bed. Thursday, she waited patiently at home alone with the boys. When he returned she would submit tingly be kind and listen and supportive of his stress at work. Not once on those days did she ask him where he had been or who he was with or why he needed to be away or even vaguely been anything but submissive. Every night for 4 years she had cried herself to sleep. Her depression and loneliness engulfed her as she retreated deeper and deeper into herself. She numbed her pain with hope. She soothed her suspicions with self loathing. But she never showed it. Never told anyone or complained about his anger or his violence or his constant misery. She played her role as the dutiful loving wife and for one whole week, he had not one reason to be angry with her. Friday however was different. She called at noon to ask what he would like for dinner. She always did. He had sounded annoyed to hear from her. Is it ok if I take my team for drinks after work? He asked Of course it is. Why do you always insist on asking? I never say no and I don’t want you to ask. She replied Silence. OK I ll be home later. He hurriedly tried to end the call What about dinner? She just managed to slip in. Ill stop on the way back home and get take aways. The kids would like that. He suggested. Ok about seven then? She asked Yes seven. He snapped back. Ok bye. <click> She had bathed the children. She had given them formula bottles. And then she waited. Seven came and went. She sat and stared at her phone. 7:15 Should she call? She knew the consequences of calling. She knew it might anger him. Should she call Mr Delivery. She had done nothing wrong all week. surely it would be ok to call? 7h30 The kids were hungry. She made them some Milo and then called. it rang.

7h45 it rang 8pm it rang The boys had fallen asleep watching TV on her bed. 830 she called again. He picked up. The anger in his voice was clear. YES? he demanded. In the background she could hear the hum of a bar and laughter. um, sorry to disturb you, I just wanted to know if you were still bringing take aways for me and the boys? The tremor in her voice was audible to her. I SAID I WOULD he grunted. um, sorry, I didn’t mean to make you angry. Its just that its late. WHAT SPEAK UP I, WHY CANT YOU SPEAK FUCKING LOUDER he screeched. sorry, I said that you had said you would be home at seven. I NEVER SAID THAT’ he grunted. But if you were bringing take aways, its almost nine, the boys fell asleep waiting with me. IM LEAVING NOW OK. <click> he grunted. 9h30 she waited and smsd…Are you ok? 10h00 she waited 10h15 she called….it rang 10h30 she smsd 11h00 she called…it rang and went to voicemail. 11h05 she sent an SMS ‘please let me know you are ok. I am worried you have been in an accident or something, are you on your way?’ Finally at one am, her fear of him had been superseded and eroded by the fear that he had been hijacked, crashed his car or was lying in a ditch somewhere. She called over and over. it rang. She saw no harm in asking his friends what time he had left. It had been hours since he had said he was on his way. Nervously she dialled Shaun. Shaun answered…Shaun, its Jennifer, I am so sorry for calling so late…(there was no noise behind him, she noticed, he was at home?)…it’s just that Brandon hasnt come home yet and I know he went with you for drinks tonight. I was just wondering if he was still with you.

‘No he said’ he sounded a little bewildered. We went with a group, I left early. Oh ok. He isn’t taking my calls. I am not sure why. Sorry for calling you….ok then…bye…thanks, you too. <Click> she tried Brandon one more time. Still no reply. It was freezing cold. She returned to the room and lay cell phone in hand waiting. The anxiety of the night welled inside of her leaving her panicked and nauseas. She called her best friend Deidre. She didn’t pick up. it was late and she was scared. She called the nearby clinics, the police station and the armed security company. No casualties had been brought in and no crimes reported in the area. She lay in the dark staring at the children as they slept beside her, waiting. Since the armed robbery, she had been terrified to be alone at the house at night, but she had little choice. The trellidoor to her make shift panic room secured her bedroom, but didn’t calm her nerves enough to relax and sleep. Finally at 230am, she heard the automated gate creak and the rumble of the garage doors as they rolled up. She got up to disable the alarm for him and greet him as he arrived at the door. She was elated he was safe. He was home. He was ok. He was home safe. Thank GOD. YOU FUCKING BITCH. YOU FUCKING USELESS BITCH. ‘, he screamed. As the door flung open she felt the force of his hands and arms throw her against the wall. His face was red with rage. The veins in his neck were sticking out and his mouth was gritted open in an expression of utter hatred. WHY? WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME. I HATE YOU. ‘, he screamed. i a i ….i um… WHY YOU STUPID BITCH? ‘, he screamed. what…ww ha ‘ Jennifer was frozen with fear. She battled to mouth the words as she stammered and tried to understand the force he was pinning her against the wall with. ‘I just called to find out if you were ok.’ She pleaded. YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO CALL SHAUN. YOU FUCKED UP FUCKING BITCH. ARE YOU INSANE. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CALL ME OVER AND OVER.YOU ARE FUCKED IN THE HEAD. NO ONE DOES THAT. YOU HARASSED MY FRIEND. YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME ALONE. NOW YOU ARE GOING TO PAY. ‘, he screamed. His rage was relentless. She didn’t fight back. She froze in terror. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO KNOW WHERE I AM OR ASK. ‘, he screamed. i I I m your wife Brandon, I was worried, its normal to call, normal to, to, to worry, p p please. p p lease I am sorry, I’m your wife, please, I m your wife, I love you. I love you Brandon. Please don’t hurt me. Please stop. ITS NOT NORMAL. YOU ARE NOT NORMAL. YOU THINK MARRIAGE IS FOREVER, THATS INSANE. CALLING ME OVER AND OVER, ITS MAD YOU BITCH! WIVES ARE NOT ENTITLED TO CALL. BEING

MY WIFE MEANS NOTHING. YOU MEAN NOTHING. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CALL ME OR EXPECT ME OR CALL MY FRIENDS OR EXPECT ANYTHING FROM ME‘, he screamed. YOU ARE MENTALLY INSANE TO THINK‘, he screamed. Iy i….I ya…kept calling you Brandon, you didn’t answer? I thought you were dead. Im sorry. im sorry. im sorry. , I m your wife, I love you. I love you Brandon. Please don’t hurt me. Please stop. I’m sorry was her mantra. As he screamed and shoved and dragged her by the hair across the room she rocked her head repeating it over and over again. I’m sorry. I m sorry. im sorry. im sorry Brandon. I didn’t mean to make you angry. I didn’t mean it. Please I m sorry. Don’t wake the children. Don’t. im sorry. Within seconds she had internalised the blame. Why had she called? Why had she not just gone to sleep? Why had she called? She hated herself. A whole week of hard work of walking on egg shells, of making sure his every desire and whim was met so that he wouldn’t fight with her, a whole week of success was brought to nothing. NOW YOU ARE GOING TO PAY FOR IT, NOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. ‘, he screamed. She heard the baby wake up screaming and her toddler crying behind her in the main bedroom. He had flung her to the floor pinning her down. hands around her neck, squeezing harder and harder. Please, I didn’t mean it…I’m sorry she gasped. ITS TOO LATE, YOU BITCH, THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT, I FUCKING HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. DIE! He screamed over and over I’m so sorry boys she thought, as he pounded the back of her head into the carpet, the full weight of his body over her chest and his hands reaching back in to throttle his own guilt from her bruised limp throat. … be continued

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