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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)

TITLE: Taken Care of
By Debbie Roppolo


Norma hummed as she walked into the den with her magazine. Her housework was finished, and reading was one of the few indulgences she allowed herself. She was just sitting down in her favorite overstuffed chair when the phone rang. “Blast. It’s always something,” she mumbled as she made her way to the kitchen.

She reached it on the last ring. “Hello,” she panted.

“Hello stupid.” Norma’s blood ran cold at the sound of her husband, Gene’s, voice at the other end of the line

“Did you call to insult me, or is there something you want?” Norma’s heart beat faster at her sudden outburst. Oh dear God, I’m going to pay for that later. She pulled back her sleeve and examined the nasty multi-colored bruise just above her wrist.

“You Italian women are a fiery bunch. I called to make sure you weren’t cheating on me. But who’d want you?”

“The dishwasher is broken,” Norma ventured, hoping to change the subject.

“Call a repairman.”

“Y-you are going to pay for it, right?” Norma asked.

“Nope. Why don’t you pray to that God of yours to help?”

“You’re right. God WILL take care of me.”

She hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair. She struggled to keep her tears at bay. Not this time. He’s not going to make me cry this time

The grandfather clock chimed four times. Four o’clock. Robert will be home from school soon. I can’t let my baby see me like this, Norma thought, walking down the hall to her bedroom. She bumped the hall table, knocking a picture of her late husband, Giovanni, onto the floor. She kissed the picture tenderly before sitting it back on the table She longed to hear his booming laughter, and see the mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Oh my love, if only I could hold you once more, she thought. “Giovanni, I can’t stand life without you,” she sobbed.

His car accident last year left Norma with an empty space in her heart; she tried to fill it with another man, and dated Gene. He seemed compassionate, got along with her son, Robert, and after a few months, they were wed. Soon, Gene became abusive.

“Mom?” Norma turned and stared into the concerned eyes of her ten year-old son, Robert. Hastily, she brushed away her tears and managed a shaky smile.

“Hi precious,” she said, rumpling his hair. “Hey, why don’t we take a little walk? Norma put on her coat, and taking her son by the hand, stepped out into the frosty air. They hurried down the sidewalk to where Norma knew they would find hope. . .their church. Soon they arrived at the stately brick building.

The large oak doors squeaked in protest as they scurried inside. “Norma, is that you?” Norma turned and saw her priest, Father Jonathan. It’s been a while. Good to see you and Robert,” the elderly priest said, walking toward them. He smiled and took both of Norma’s hands in his.

“I can’t stay”

“There’s no need to rush off,” he said, patting her hands just above the wrist. Norma winced as the priest unknowingly hit the bruise on her arm.

“Are you in pain?”

“No,” Norma protested, trying to pull free.

The priest pushed back Norma’s coat sleeve and gasped when saw the bruise. “Who did this to you? Did Gene do this? “

“Father, please. . .” Norma jerked away and raced toward the door with Robert.

“Stay out of this, Father. I can handle it.”

“No, you can’t,” the old priest mumbled.

Gene’s truck and a police cruiser were in the drive when they arrived home. “You called the lousy cops on me, didn’t you?” His face a picture of murderous rage, Gene lunged toward Norma. An officer and his sergeant tackled Gene and knocked him to the ground.

“Cuff him and place him in the cruiser. We’ve got one charge on him for now,” the sergeant said.

The sergeant approached Norma. “Your priest called us. Show me your right arm.”

Norma pulled back her sleeve. “He did this?” the sergeant asked, jerking his head toward Gene. Norma nodded and stared at the ground.

“We got a charge of spousal abuse now. Let’s take him in and book him,” the sergeant told his officer. As they drove away, for the first time in a long while, Norma felt safe.

“God does take care of us, doesn’t He, mom?” Robert asked.

Norma bent down and hugged her son. “Yes baby, He does.”

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