Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Like a Red Rag to a Bull (11/28/13)
TITLE: Enough Is Enough
By Marlene Bonney
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“It’s okay, baby. Just a while longer and you can get out of there.”
She answered the blaring phone on the first ring. Harold did NOT like waiting . . .
Louise and Harold had married after a whirlwind romance that could rival a Harlequin romance novel. He was her knight in shining armor, rescuing her from an unhappy, lonely existence that had been filled with an exhausting schedule of college classes and a low-paying waitressing job on campus. He had wooed her with frequent gifts and attention. She quit her job right after they married. Harold did NOT like the way some of the male students flirted with her. His jealousy was sure proof of his love--so then she stopped her classes and church attendance when he complained about sharing her.
The first time her husband flew into a rage, Louise was so shocked that the accompanying hard slap across her face hardly registered. He was remorseful the next day, apologizing and teary-eyed as he gently caressed her bruised face. He promised it wouldn’t happen again.
As time went on, Harold’s temper flared up more often. The second time he slapped her, it was followed by a punch that broke her jaw and sent her sprawling across the room.
“You little ______! Don’t you DARE question me!”
A pattern formed. Abuse; then apologies that grew shorter each time. Louise, nervous and wary, felt like she was walking on eggshells. She never could figure out what would set him off . . .
Louise kept the news of the pregnancy to herself for months, fearful about her husband’s reaction. How would he feel about an extra mouth to feed? Finally, she couldn’t hide it any longer. She dressed up and prepared a candlelight dinner with Harold’s favorite dishes. Initially, he was pleased, but then grew suspicious.
“Who you getting’ dolled up for--you been going out behind my back?”
“That would be impossible, with you calling to check up on me every hour, wouldn’t it?” she untypically snapped back, forgetting to be docile.
“Don’t you talk back to me!”
Aiming his fist to punch her in the gut, Louise instinctively bent over and covered her belly with both hands.
“Harold, DON’T! I’m pregnant!”
His arm and jaw dropped in slow motion.
“Wha--what did you say?”
“We’re going to have a baby, honey—please, don’t hurt him,” she sobbed.
“I’m going to have a son?!” Solicitous now, Harold helped her to the nearest chair and tenderly wiped away her tears, “Darling, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll get help for my temper. I promise . . .”
Louise was eight months along now. Harold had not raised his hand to her these past months, but she wasn’t sure how he would react when he found out their firstborn was a girl. He assured Louise he was getting better during the anger management classes; but she found out he had stopped attending them.
Ten days later, Harold and Louise became parents of a healthy, robust daughter. Harold was all smiles and politeness until the doctor and nurses left the room. His face turned three shades of purple as he gazed down at his wife and pink-blanketed newborn baby girl, looking as if he might explode.
“You knew all along, didn’t you, you lying ______,” leaving the room and the hospital.
Louise and baby Lacey got home two days later by cab. Harold ate his supper in brooding silence that night and then gave her a severe beating. When he started for the baby, Louise became an incensed tigress, pulsing adrenalin giving her the strength to knock him out with an iron frying pan.
She called a crisis center and mother and baby were taken to a secret shelter for battered women. Harold regained consciousness to an empty house and a throbbing headache, never to see his wife or child again.
Louise began a new life in a new location and attended a church recommended by her old pastor.
“That night you decided to leave Harold? We were having a prayer vigil on your behalf. We asked God to give you the courage to leave,” his parting words as he gave her the address of another body of believers who would support her.
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