“I’m going to make our supper now.” David released Renee and moved towards the kitchen. “Maybe think about what I said in the meantime. We will talk again later.” He left the living room and Renee headed down the half stair. She slid into bed and curled up into a ball. Her stomach cramped painfully. Why does he treat me so? She pulled out her phone and pressed the call button. She had been talking with April lately. The older woman had gone through horrendous domestic abuse and had given Renee good advice before. Perhaps she could help her in this situation. David’s erratic behavior was really concerning. As soon as April answered, Renee began discreetly explaining a little of what had happened.
Suddenly the door flung open and David walked in. Renee was just finishing her conversation. She pressed the end call button and set her phone down.
“I heard the tail end of your complaining session with your mom.” He bent over the edge of the bed until his nose was practically touching hers. “How dare you tell lies to her again!”
“I wasn’t talking to my…” Renee began, but David cut her off by clamping his hand over her mouth.
“Don’t you lie to me!” He hissed through clenched teeth. His icy eyes bore into her, sending shivers up and down her spine. Please, God! Have someone interrupt this! I’m so scared! She prayed silently in her head.
“I know you were….” He stopped as the blanket vibrated. David grabbed Renee’s phone. “See! It’s your mom calling you back!”
“I wasn’t talking to her.” Renee finally got it out. “I was talking to the lady I’ve been counseling with.”
“Whatever…” David sat back on the bed and handed her the still vibrating phone. The steam seemed to have gone out of him. “Well, aren’t you going to answer it?”
“If you… want me… to.” Her voice quivered. He nodded, so she reached out and took it with trembling fingers. She touched the call button and held the phone to her ear. The instant she greeted her mom, David leapt off the bed, glared at her with a look to kill, and stormed out of the room. He yanked the door shut with a loud bang! Renee jumped and her whole body began to shake violently.
After talking with her dad as well, Renee decided that she wanted a break from all the stress. She began packing a small bag with a few of her belongings. She began taking a few shirts from their hangers in the closet. Kneeling, Renee neatly folded them into the bag. The bedroom door opened, and David walked in.
“I have sup...” David began, but then glanced down stonily at Renee. “You’re… leaving?” He sank down onto the bed, a tear rolling down his cheek.
“Just for a few days to visit my family. My dad is coming to get me.” She glanced up at him.
He stood shakily, grabbed her hand, and pulled her to her feet. “You’ll come back, right?”
“Yes, I will.” She replied. “If you want me to.”
“So, it is permanent then!” He gripped her arms tight, then shoved her down onto the bed. He turned and flung himself out of the room. Renee pulled herself off the bed and raced after him. She found him in the kitchen, sitting on the stool in the kitchen with his head leaning against his mother’s chest. His shoulders shook with sobs. Sherri looked up as Renee approached gingerly. David lifted his red, tear-streaked face. He motioned for her to go closer. When she got close enough to touch him, he snatched the house key from her pocket.
“I’ll give this back when you come back.” He stated, then turned his face away from her. Renee felt like drawing close to him, but Sherri was still standing there.
“Don’t you still have more packing to do?” She sneered at Renee. Emotion stuck in Renee’s throat as she turned away and headed down to finish. Trying not to gag, Renee saw Sherri hug David’s head to her breast and turned his face up to kiss him. Renee was not sure if the disgusting act was on his cheek or his mouth.
The small bag was packed, and Renee sat cross-legged in the middle of the bed, waiting. She began playing a home design game on her phone. The house was eerily silent. An unease settled into the pit of her stomach. I wonder why it is so quiet. She slid off the bed and headed towards the door to investigate. Suddenly, it opened! Renee back stepped before she caught the door in the nose. David stood there in the doorway.
“So, you think you can just leave me, then?!” He hissed in her face. It seemed like his incestuous cuddle session had given him his courage back.
“I’m not leaving permanently.” Renee stated gently. “Just for a few days. I’ll be back.”
“Well, maybe I won’t be here when you come back!” He shot at her. Renee just sat there and did not reply.
“Don’t you have more to say?” He placed his hands on the bed and got in her face. She still did not say anything. Anger rushed back into his face as he placed a hand on her chest. He shoved her hard against the mattress. Panic rose in her throat as she fumbled with her phone under her back. As he bore down on her, she managed to press the two buttons together that sent the police the emergency call with her location. Renee did not realize the phone would vibrate against the bed. David’s scowl deepened.
“Who did you call?” He grabbed her phone from her hand. The color drained from his face and he dropped the device as if it were a hot coal. “You…” He did not complete the sentence before he turned on his heel. “I’m leaving… I’m going to the barn… I refuse to be here to greet your father and the police at the door…” His voice dropped the temperature in the room well below freezing. Then he was gone.
After talking with the police, Renee took her bag upstairs and sat on the steps to wait for her parents. She pulled up her phone and began playing a game. David’s parents were sitting on the couch in the living room. Renee did not glance their way. She was glad the police were there. She was sure there would have been an ugly mess with Sherri and Ben otherwise.
“So, are you going to take all the wedding gifts with you too?” Her mother-in-law’s voice dripped with venom. “You might as well take everything with you.”
“I’m planning on coming back.” Renee stated without looking up. She stood and took her back to the front door. She had heard a car door. She looked out the window. Sure enough, there were her parents getting out of her dad’s truck. She gave Sherri a little wave, then exited the house.
She turned over under the covers and tapped her phone. The screen lit up momentarily. 9am. She did not care that it was late morning. She rolled back over and hugged Pooh Bear to her chest. The little dog snuggled close, wiping Renee’s puffy face with sloppy kisses. She withdrew a hand from the covers and rubbed her swollen eyes. They were probably red too. Maybe she would just lay in bed all day. Then she could avoid talking with anyone. And no one would see that she had cried all night long. Bang! Bang! Bang! Renee jumped at the sudden noise. The knob rattled as someone pounded on her bedroom door. She pulled her knees up to her chin, heart pounding in her throat! He’s here too?!
“Aunt ‘Nee!” A toddler’s high-pitched voice called out on the other side of the door. It was Ann. She was no longer a baby. The little girl had just turned a year-old back in March. Renee released the breath she had not realized she’d been holding. Sliding her feet out from the covers, she made her way to the door and opened it.
“breh-fas time.” The almost 18-month-old gazed adoringly up into Renee’s face. She scooped up her niece and entered her bathroom. She had to fix her eyes before she joined the land of the living. Taking a washcloth from a drawer under the sink, she rinsed it under cold water and held it to her eyes.
“Owie.” Ann simpered from her seat in Renee’s right arm. The little girl touched her fingers gently to the washcloth. Renee gave a small smile and lowered the dampened cloth.
“Yeah.” She squeezed the little girl in a gentle hug. “Let’s go find your mama.” Renee exited the bathroom and headed up the stairs towards the living area. She had been back at her parents’ house for a couple days now. Carol had come to visit with Ann every day. Renee enjoyed the distraction her terribly busy niece provided. If she did not keep herself occupied, she would break down and cry all day long.
“Oh, there she is.” Mama called out. Renee set her niece down next to the couch, then sat next to her. She gathered the toys closer to the light-haired little girl.
“May I borrow your shampoo, mama?” Renee stood up. There were several items she had forgotten to throw in her bag, toiletries being one of them. She had not had a shower since she had left home, and she felt disgusting.
“Certainly.” Her mom headed towards the master bedroom. “I’ll have your dad get in contact with David. Perhaps we can go pick up some of your things that you need.”
“How long do you think I’ll be here?” Renee was genuinely curious. She followed her mom to her bedroom door.
“No idea.” Mama replied. “At least until he starts replying to you again.”
Renee wiped the dampness from her cheeks, then picked up her phone. She still did not have any new messages. She began typing a message to her husband. Can we talk, please? She felt useless. David most likely was not going to answer this message either. She’d sent him a few messages over the last several days, none of which were answered. Her dad had gotten ahold of him yesterday. They were going to go pick up some of the things Renee needed tomorrow. She was surprised David had answered her dad at all. She plugged in her phone, then dropped her hand limply against the covers. Why? She sent the silent plea to God. Emptiness filled her gut as tears welled up in her eyes again.
Renee rode silently in the backseat of her dad’s truck. Rain pelted against the window. It was as if God was crying with her. She tried to choke back the lump in her throat. She almost managed it, except for the single tear that slid down her face. She watched the scenery whiz past the window. They were almost there. Her dad pulled off the freeway and headed towards home. Anxiety knotted in the pit of her stomach. What am I going to say to David? What would he say to her? The thoughts swirled through her brain.
“I love you, girl.” Grandpa squeezed Renee’s knee. She took his hand gratefully.
“I love you too, Pop.” She glanced over at him. Her mom’s parents had come to visit for a week. They had arrived the day after Renee had returned. She had not been able to talk with them much at the wedding.
“Oh, honey…” Mama’s sad voice drew Renee from her thoughts. She looked out the window as they approached the house. A horse trailer sat in the driveway hooked up to a moving van. No other vehicles were in sight. David and his parents not there. Dad pulled the truck into the paved driveway next to the lonely vehicle. Renee opened her door and the sight that met her eyes brought her to her knees in the wet grass. Three folding tables were set up in the yard. All of Renee’s things were wrapped in trash bags, sitting on the plastic tabletops. All the wedding gifts had been set out as well, the cardboard boxes covered in clear plastic. Even the untouched, leftover wedding cake was there, covered in a clear cake cover to keep off the rain.
“There’s a paper with a message under the plastic on this box.” Grandpa held up the white sheet.
“What does it say?” Mama took it from him and read it out loud. “’We’ve packed up your things for you for ease of transport. You’ll find Cinnamon has plenty of food and water in the trailer. Let us know if we forgot anything.’ It’s not signed.” She handed the paper back to her dad. Tears slid down Renee’s face. She could not say anything. Pain shot through her heart like a knife, and she collapsed on the edge of the lawn. Renee sobbed into her hands, her salty tears mixing with the rainwater in the grass.
© 2021 Tori Leumas