Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Confession

She’s shaking so hard, she can barely hold on to the pistol in her hands. She relaxes her grip and lets go, not even registering the sound of the gun thudding on the carpeted floor or the fact that blood is seeping across the carpet and will soon reach the weapon lying at her feet. Her hands flutter around her face as she chokes back the building sobs and bile. Repulsed by the scene in front of her, but unable to turn away, she stumbles backwards until she hits the wall and sinks slowly down to sit on the floor. What have I done, what have I done? I have to call the police… they’ll never understand… I’ll be put in jail… Ohmigod, what have I done?

She draws her knees up to her chest, wraps her arms around them, buries her head, and takes deep breaths. So far, her breath has been rapid and shallow and she needs to calm down and think. The intakes of air don’t help. Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! This isn’t real… it can’t be happening. What… why? Oh, Lord, help me – what have I done?

She closes her eyes, trying to focus. She runs a still shaking hand through her hair and then rests her forehead against her palm. What am I supposed to do now? This wasn’t how my life was supposed to turn out.
She was sitting on the metro, willing the train to move faster and skip the upcoming stops. She just wanted to get home and spend a couple hours in a warm bath. She felt the presence of someone sitting down next to her and rolled her eyes. There were twenty empty rows on the train – why couldn’t this person sit in one of them?

“You’re probably wondering why I just didn’t sit in an empty row.” She wasn’t sure whether it was because he’d read her thoughts or because of the deep, warm voice, but she jerked her head up to look into the face of the perfect man. She knew that was cliché, but she couldn’t help it. She’d seen him before – not only did he work in her office, but he made regular appearances in her dreams at night. This man could have run Mt. Olympus with his dark brown perfect hair, his deep pool of chocolate eyes, and the defined muscles showing through his immaculately pressed shirt and pants that perfectly fit his tall – she had to stop… she made even herself sick with this nonsense. He had flirted with every girl in the office except her, and she never would have expected him to sit down next to her on an empty train.

He didn’t seemed put-off by the fact that she hadn’t answered but had, instead, sat there gaping at him. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it, and he looked like this happened to him every day. Apparently he was perfectly comfortable with women looking at him like hungry lions. She managed to close her mouth, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to open it again to try to speak. Somehow, he knew that too. “Honestly, I considered sitting in an empty seat, but you looked so beautiful that I had to come talk to you.” She wanted to act cool, roll her eyes, and laugh the remark off as a lame come-on, but nobody had ever told her she looked beautiful. She wasn’t ready to throw away the first compliment she’d received. She glanced away before tentatively asking, “Really?”
“Of course, really. Why would I make that up? Hasn’t anyone ever told you that you are beautiful?”
How did he do that? Everything she thought, he put into words.
“N-no. I don’t think so.”
“Well then, it’s obvious you need me because I plan to tell you that every day for the rest of your life.”
“The rest of my life?”
“Of course, don’t you believe in love at first sight?”
“Um, no, not really. I mean, no one would fall in love with me at first sight.”
“I did. Now how about you have dinner with me tonight?” She looked at him for a long time. This wasn’t right. It couldn’t be right… could it? And she couldn’t go to dinner with him... could she? He was too smooth. Her friends would probably say he was corny, but it was having an effect on her nonetheless. But men like this didn’t ask women like her out. He had to have some ulterior motive.
“I don’t think–”
“You don’t think you could break my heart so you’re going to say, “Yes’?”
She nodded. “Yes.” Where had that come from?
He smiled. “Good. My name is Doug, by the way.”
She’s still sitting against the wall when she feels a brush of something against her leg. She jumps a bit before realizing that it’s her cat rubbing his head against her, looking for attention. He begins to walk towards the body face-up in an ever-growing pool of blood on the floor. The cat stops at the outer edge of the ring of blood and bends his head to sniff this unknown substance.

“NO!!!” she screams, lunging for the cat. She yanks him back from the blood and carries him into the other room. There are three chairs, but she returns to a sitting position on the floor, this time wedged in a dark corner. The cat in her arms squirms, but she tightens her grip and buries her head in his soft fur. She can’t let him return to the body. He can’t know what she did. No one can know what I did. They’ll never understand. They’ll hate me.
Dinner was wonderful. He had given her his complete attention. He hardly even glanced at the gorgeous waitress who had taken their order; he hadn’t even seemed to notice they way she touched his arm or leaned in close to hear him order, even though she seemed to hear Emily just fine from where she was. He had chosen the restaurant, held her chair, ordered her meal for her, and never took his eyes off her. He was completely in control; she liked that because she was never in control. He made her feel taken care of. He made her laugh. He told stories of his childhood, his family, his work, and hobbies. Although she couldn’t believe she told him, he managed to draw out of her how she had always been shy and overlooked, how no one had ever asked her on a date in high school, and how she always felt out-of-style and frumpy. She told him how her mother had died young so no one had ever taught her how to be a woman. When he told her that he thought she was “all woman,” she was hooked.
The first teardrops begin to fall. She had always been a good girl, always went to church, always obeyed the speed limit. Had she really just murdered a man? No! It’s a dream. It’s just a horrible dream. I’ll wake up and everything will be okay. I’ve been dreaming of killing Doug for four years so that’s all this is... just another dream. She stands up and takes a step toward the foyer. Okay, I’ll walk in there and everything will be fine. He won’t be lying on the floor. He won’t be there. Still, she doesn’t take the first step. She scratches the cat’s ears and picks at a piece of mattered fur. She studies the pictures on the mantle and wipes some dust off a shelf. Finally, she inches toward the doorway. A sob racks her chest – it wasn’t a dream. He’s still there, just as dead as he was before.
After that night, hardly a day went by that they weren’t together. They had dinners; they saw movies; they went on hikes in the mountains. She never had to plan or suggest anything. Every day, he knew what they should do and he made it happen. She had begun to worry that she’d never have a relationship, but now, she had a man who wanted to spend every minute with her.

They’d been dating for two months when they had their first disagreement. She’d wanted to go to a friend’s party, but he had other plans.
“I had dinner plans for us. You’ll have to see your friends another time.”
“It’s her thirtieth birthday. That only happens once. Can’t we do dinner tomorrow night instead?”
“No, we can’t do dinner tomorrow night; the reservations are for tonight. Just call her and tell her you hope she has a good birthday, but that you won’t be able to make the party tonight.”
“But, I want to go! She’s my best friend and I want to be there.”
He stared at her for a minute before whispering, “I thought I was your best friend.”
She sighed. “You are. I mean, you’re my boyfriend. I love you. It’s different though.”
“I don’t think it should be different. You’re the most important person in my life, but obviously I care more about you than you do about me.”
“That’s not true!”
“Then why don’t you want to have dinner with me?”
“I do want to have dinner with you. It’s just that it’s her thirtieth – ”
“So she’s making you do things you don’t want to do? If you want to have dinner with me, if you love me and want to spend time with me, then you should do it. I don’t think you should be spending time with these people if they don’t support your relationship with me. What kind of friends don’t want you to be happy?”
She looked at him blankly. What had just happened? He took her hand, pulled her to him, and wrapped his arms around her waist. He kissed her forehead and brushed her hair out of her face before continuing, “I want to spend every moment I can with you. That’s how much I love you.”
“That’s how much I love you, too.”
“Then you’ll go to dinner with me tonight?”
“I’ll call Julie and tell her I can’t make it.”
He smiled and gave her a light kiss. “I knew you’d do the right thing. It’s one of the reasons I love you.”
She begins to cry uncontrollably now. The cat tries to jump out of her arms, but she doesn’t notice; she just stares at the body, as if seeing it for the first time. She lets out a yelp as the cat digs its claws into her arms. She drops him to the floor, and he streaks up the stairs and out of sight. She follows him halfway up the steps and sits down, staring at the body. I can’t call the police. I’m not a bad person – I can’t go to prison. I have to clean this up.
Eventually her friends stopped inviting her to do things with them, and by the time she announced their engagement, the only person left to be a bridesmaid was her sister-in-law. The wedding was a small affair with his parents, a few friends, and her father, her brother, and his family. She’d always wanted to go to Hawaii on her honeymoon, but he preferred a mountain retreat so that’s what they decided to do. Just before it was time to leave the reception, her brother took her aside into a one of the church’s Sunday school rooms. He smiled at her, but he had tears in eyes.
“I love you. You know that, right?”
She nodded. Her family had never been vocal about their emotions, but she knew his wife had softened him over the years.
“I just wanted to tell you that you can call me. Anytime. For anything. Okay?”
Again, she nodded.
“I’m serious. Please call me if you ever need help.”
“I will, but I have to go now. He’s doesn’t like to wait.”
He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You look beautiful.”
Tears filled her eyes and she smiled at him. “Thank you,” she replied and turned to go.
She moves down to the bottom step and sits back down. She has to get rid of him, but the idea of touching a dead body sends waves of nausea through her. She decides she needs to find some gloves, but as she begins to look for them, a knock sounds at the door. She freezes and ducks behind the kitchen counter. Who on earth is that? Nobody ever comes to our door; why do they have to start now? Oh Lord, what do I do know? The doorbell rings and there’s another knock, harder and louder this time.
“Police. Open the door.”
Ohmigosh! No, this can’t be happening. Why are they here? How do they know? Oh God. She makes no move towards the door. Will they leave if I don’t answer the door? She hears the doorknob click and realizes she never re-locked the door. The door opens a few inches before it bumps into the body lying in front of it. She hears a whisper.
“Sir, there’s a body here.”
They’d been married eight months the first time he hit her. She hadn’t meant to be late – there was an accident on the highway – but she knew she’d made him angry. It was a just a slap in the face, and he cried and apologized. She was sure it wouldn’t happen again.

But it did. She’d started talking to a woman at work; it had been so long since she’d had a female conversation that she lost track of time. It was her fault. He cried and apologized again. He decided that she should quit her job so that she’d always be able to be home to fix dinner. It would keep stuff like this from happening again.

She tried hard to keep him happy, but it wasn’t always easy. He got upset the night she burned his dinner and gave her a bruised arm and black eye. He got angry when she talked to the mailman and gave her a concussion and a bruised rib. He was furious the night he wanted sex, but she was on her period. He forced himself on her anyway and left bruises on her wrists and pelvic area, along with a new black eye and split lip. He apologized every time, but she never knew what would set him off next.

Her sister-in-law gave her a brochure about a woman’s shelter. When he saw that, he broke her cheekbone and her arm. The next night, he came home with a gun. He didn’t say anything... just set it on the table and began eating dinner. When the meal was done, he stood, picked up the gun, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and said, “If you ever leave me, I’ll find you, and I’ll kill you.”
When the first officer finds her, she’s still hiding behind the counter. He looks at her for a few minutes, obviously noticing her swollen cheek, shaved head and stitches, and the bruises on her face, arms, and legs.
“Ma’am, are you alright?
“N-no. I don’t... I mean I didn’t... ” She shakes her head, not really knowing what to say to this man. The tears begin to fall again. Between her sobs, she manages to get a few words out, “Please help me.”
When she found out she was pregnant, she knew things had to change. She couldn’t let him hurt her child. It was up to her to protect this baby and she wasn’t going to fail. She bought books on pregnancy, raising a baby, and being a single mother. She went home, packed her bags, found the gun he had hidden in the desk so he couldn’t use it against her, and left.

It took him less than twelve hours to find her at her brother’s house. He asked to speak to her alone, but her brother refused.
“If she’s willing to talk to you, you’re going to have to do it with me in the room.” She agreed to hear what he had to say.
“I want you to come home right now.” She looked over at her brother. He shook his head and she replied, “No.”
“Why are you looking at him?” he asked. “Think for yourself for once. You’re my wife, and you need to come home.”
“I can’t.”
His fist tightened and he took a step towards her. Before he could take a second step, her brother had moved to stand between them. Through clenched teeth he told him, “I think it’s time you left. She’s not going with you.”
“I’m not going anywhere without my wife.” He stepped back to look at her. “Honey, please, you know I love you. I need you in my life... please, please come home with me.”
“I can’t,” she said, shaking her head.
“Why not? I told you I love you. I’ll try harder, I promise.” When he saw tears start to form in her eyes, he reached out and brushed her hair behind her ears.” “Sometimes I forget how beautiful you are, you know? I’m sorry for that. I won’t forget again if you just give me another chance.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t just think about myself anymore... I’m pregnant.”
“What? P-pregnant? Oh sweetie!” He sank to his knees and put his hands on her stomach. You’re really pregnant?”
She nodded, “Yes, and I can’t let you hurt my baby... I can’t.”
“I wouldn’t! I would never hurt it, I promise you.” Tears welled in his eyes and his voice got thick. “Oh man... a dad! I’m going to be a dad. Honey, please, I can do this. I can be a great dad... I can be a great husband. Please, don’t take my child away from me.”
Tears were now streaming down his face. He moved his hands from her stomach to take her hands. He looked up into her face. “I know I’ve blown it again and again and again. I didn’t realize how badly until just now. I don’t deserve another chance; I know I don’t, but please, please give me one. One more chance, please. Let me be a dad. I’ll take care of our baby; I’ll take care of you. I’ll never hurt either you, I promise. I know how important this is now, Sweetie, I do.”
“Could I talk to my brother a minute alone please?”
“Sweetie, please – ”
“Just one minute.” He nodded. He caressed her belly one more time before standing and facing her. He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “I love you,” he said, before turning and leaving the room.”
She turned and looked at her brother. “I’m going home.”
“No. Please, don’t do that. Don’t give in to him again.”
“Did you see him? He’s sorry.”
He rolled his eyes. “He’s always sorry.”
“It’s different this time. He’s going to be a dad and he knows he has to change. Weren’t you listening to him? He gets it now. I believe him.”
“Yeah, I was listening. All I heard was a bunch of lies. You can’t – ”
“I can. I am.”
He sighed. He could tell he wasn’t going to be able to change her mind. “I think you’re making a mistake, but I can’t stop you. I’ve still got the copy of the house key you gave me. Just promise me that you’ll call if you need help... anytime, okay?”
She nodded.
She tries to lie, but she’s never been good at that. She wants to tell them that she just found the body, dead already, but even she can see the holes in her story. It’s obvious the officer can as well. She takes a deep breath and plunges into the truth. “I did it. I’m so sorry, but I did it.”
“What happened?”
“My husband... I wanted to... I mean, he deserved to... ” How do I explain this to them? They’re not going to understand.
“Ma’am?” the officer prods, “you shot him?” She nods. “Why did you do it?”
It had been four months since she came back home and he hadn’t hit her once. He’d come close a time or two, but always managed to reel himself in before it was too late. This night, though, he was angrier than he’d been in a long time. She’d been having a lot of back pain and had taken a long, hot bath to help. He came home from a meeting with a lot smokers and wanted to take a shower. When he realized that there was no more hot water, he became furious. She was about to go downstairs when he grabbed her arm and began yelling.
“Are you stupid, woman? What is wrong with you? I work hard all day to feed you and that brat you’re carrying around. All I ask for is some respect, some simple courtesy when I get home, but obviously you can’t handle that. You ungrateful bitch!” He threw her into the wall and the plaster cracked where her head slammed against it.
She began to cry, “I’m sorry, I just wanted – ”
“Yeah, you wanted. It’s all about you, isn’t it?”
She began to edge away from him, but he caught her arm again. “Where do you think you’re going?” He jerked her back towards him. “Don’t you dare walk away from me.”
She took a step backwards to steady herself. Thinking she was trying to leave again, he stepped forward and slapped her face. She tried to catch herself, but the force of the slap knocked her off balance and she fell face forward onto the steps. She continued tumbling down until she landed at the bottom of the stairway.
“Do you see what you made me do?” She looked up to see him coming down the steps after her. “This is your fault. If you’d just be a good wife, this wouldn’t happen.” He stepped over her crumpled body, grabbed his jacket, and slammed the door behind him as he left the house.
She gently moved her arms and legs. Everything hurt, but nothing seemed to be broken. Blood was pouring from a gash on the side of her head. Slowly, she made her way to the telephone and dialed 911. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, she began to feel an odd sensation and went into the bathroom to check. There was blood on her underwear.
Despite himself, the officer feels for this broken woman in front of him. He has two sisters and the idea of a man hurting one of them makes him sick.
“I had to do it. He... he...” She begins to sob uncontrollably.
“You shot your husband to keep him from hurting you again?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m used to that, but he killed my baby girl. Her name was Elizabeth.”
On her way home from the hospital, she called her brother. There was no answer. She tried to leave a message about the baby, but all she could do was cry.
She handed the taxi driver a fifty-dollar bill to cover the twenty-dollar fare. She didn’t even notice – the only thing on her mind was making her husband pay for what he’d done. She went inside and found the gun. She wanted to make him think she wasn’t home so she could take him by surprise. She turned off the lights in the house and hid in the coat closet, leaving a crack just wide enough for the gun to fit through. All she had to do then was wait.
“I knew where the gun was kept. I waited in the closet so I couldn’t be seen. When the door opened and he walked in, I-I... I pointed the gun at him. I-I never even shot a gun before, but I pointed it at him, and closed my eyes, and pulled... Oh God, what did I do? I did it, but I didn’t mean to. I-I... ”
When it seemed obvious that she wasn’t going to finish the sentence, the officer asked, “And that’s when you shot your husband?”
“No. My husband... my husband still hasn’t come. I thought he had, but... that’s not him. I... I killed my baby brother.”


  1. Great work! Nice surprise twist at the end. I look forward to reading more in future weeks. :)


  2. You so rock, dear girl! And now I'm all sad and jumpy and a wee bit traumatized. There are not a lot of things that can do those sorts of things to me.

    I eagerly await future tales!