Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OPEN UP A CAN OF WORMS (08/22/19)
- TITLE: Mr. Right Fist
By Joanney Uthe
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How did it ever get to this point? When I first met him, he made me laugh like I had never laughed before. Over the next year and a half, we became inseparable. He made sure of it by controlling what I did: when I ate and studied, who I hung out with and how often. Lately, he’s been using his fists to help with that control.
“Jerry, I can’t do this anymore. You don’t give me time to study. I need to pass my statistics class and I don’t understand it. I’m going back to my room to study. We are done.” I don’t know where I got the courage to say that and get back to my room, but here I am.
After hanging up on him ten times, I leave the phone off the hook and sit down to study. Not that my mind is in it, but I need to try.
Suddenly, there is a knock on my door. “Open up, we need to talk.”
“I’ll open only far enough to give you this crate of what belongs to you or your family. I’m studying.”
“You’re coming with me for a car ride.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I need to study. We are done.”
“You’ll come with me or they’ll find a dead body in the dumpster in the morning.”
As I follow him to his car, my mind travels back to the time I walked home with him following in the car, trying to convince me to get in. A policewoman stopped and asked if I was okay and wanted to ride back to campus with her. Fear convinced me to get in Jerry’s car then, just as it is now.
I watch out the window as Jerry drives on a new stretch of freeway. “If I timed it right to open the door and push you out, it might take them a week to find your body in a culvert.”
I say nothing as I continue to stare out the window. I won’t let him know that I’m now watching the placement of the culverts in the ditch. It doesn’t look possible for my body to land in one of them, but that doesn’t mean he won’t try.
When we arrive at a mall twelve miles from campus, he tells me to stay in the car and count to 300, then meet him in front of a certain store. I start counting, but my mind’s really asking how I can get away. If I start walking back to campus, he’ll find me. I don’t have any money to find a payphone and call my sister. It’d take her an hour to get here anyway. And when I told her that the sores on my face were from Jerry washing it in scorching hot water to get rid of acne, she scoffed like it was my fault. No, that’s not an option. Nor do I have friends on campus with a car. I am stuck.
A bouquet of roses appears in the car window. “Forgive me?”
I’m too exhausted and scared from the whole ordeal to refuse.
When Jerry asked me to marry him the following summer, the memory of that day convinced me that I had no choice. He decided that we’d both drop out of college and work at a warehouse. We got an apartment together and between work and home, I was constantly under his supervision. My office at the warehouse was a locked room that felt like freedom because Jerry was not one of the few employees allowed to enter.
It seems cold-hearted, but I consider it a blessing that two months before the wedding, Jerry fell off a ladder at work and broke his hip. This work comp injury gave me the opportunity to end the relationship for good.
I may have struggled to pass statistics class, but with the help of some of our co-workers, I didn’t become a statistic.
** Non-fiction except the title (He was left-handed.)
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