by Susan O'Reilly 7 days ago in fiction

Short Story


In the corner huddled, naked. I’m more colourful than any clothes I could wear. I’m red, black, and blue. Battered and bruised, my crime enquiring about his whereabouts. Together for 6 years now, our beautiful son asleep upstairs and I’m not entitled, according to him, to ask him anything.

I’m replaying my actions and conversation over and over again. He’s never raised his hand to me before. I realise this didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. For weeks now it’s been building money worries, new baby, never having lived together before. He can’t handle it, he can’t even handle the thought of being a dad, he acts as if he hates him. I believe he’s jealous of him.

Maybe it’s just a one-off, I wipe my nose and my hands covered in snot, tears and blood. I have to get up, I have got a baby to look after, he can’t see me like this. I need to shower, I can wash away the blood but not the shock and fear. He hasn’t gone near me since the birth and last night with the first punch his erection appeared. It grew the more he hit me. The names he called me, the force he used. I can’t tell my parents, they didn’t want me to move in with him in the first place. “I’m nineteen” I had told them “an adult and a new mum with a fellah that adores me I’ll be fine”. How can I now go back and tell them they were right?

It’s four months on and middle of summer and I’m clad in a woolly over-sized sweater which hides a multitude. He’s got clever and hits me in places which can be hidden from everyone, but he doesn’t hide his beatings from his son. In fact, I think he waits until he’s asleep in my lap sometimes to start. He knows I’m more afraid of him hurting him than me.

Yesterday something in me snapped I’m not taking any more. My son’s not taking it anymore. We both deserve better. In walks the oppressor, I usually sit waiting to suss out his mood before I do anything but not today. I carry on reading a book, Paul’s asleep in his cot oblivious. He glares at me walks into the kitchen, and comes storming back.

“Where’s my tea, you know what time I get in at and my tea and dinner should be already prepared sitting on the table waiting for me.”

“Paul and I have already eaten and since the last time I prepared food it ended up all over me and the kitchen I’ve decided I won’t be doing that anymore.” His face is incredulous in any other situation it would be hilarious, actually, even now it’s hilarious. I start to giggle and can’t stop, nothing could have stopped it. “Have you finally lost the plot, stupid bitch, what’s funny?”

I stand up and ask him for once can we take our fight into a different room and let the baby sleep in peace. I start walking before he gets a chance to respond, he comes in arm raised and stops mid-air as he catches sight of the carving knife in my hand. I slice and only succeed in ripping his shirt. He starts apologizing the only time since the first time, tells me he loves me, he’ll never hit me again. I can feel my resolve breaking and need to get to my son. I start walking and he grabs me the knife clatters to the floor. I knew there and then I was going to pay for this, big time.

He goes in and wakes up Paul puts the disturbed toddler in his walking chair and hands him the knife. I beg him to take it off him but he walks over to me and spits in my face. I tell him I’ll do anything he wants, that I love him but just take the knife off the baby. He pushes me on my knees and makes me go on all fours and rapes me while my son gurgles and plays with the knife. Not a scream or whimper do I make but hum and make soothing noises so Paul won’t get alarmed. When he’s finished he gets up and urinates on me and Paul. I’ve never known such hate and haven’t experienced it on the same level since.

When he leaves the next day I pack up all his stuff and our stuff I ring my parents and beg them to get me out of there, and plead with them can I come home. I hear my mother sobbing in the background and my dad says “Darling, we’ve been dying for this call. It killed us the last time when you asked us to leave and not come back. We’ll be there right away.” I never told them about the rapes, too ashamed, but the latest beatings were obvious you only had to look at me.

The drive home is terrifying and soothing at the same time. I knew I’d done too much growing up I could never go back to the girl that lived with mammy and daddy again, I wasn’t the same girl.

He killed himself in a prison cell, I didn’t send him there, it was an awful crime committed on someone else. It was a twisted relief knowing Paul would never have to see him and a twisted sadness because he’d been my first love and for a long time I adored him.

Time and life move on.

Scars heal, hope returns but your past is always your past and a part of me will be haunted forever.

Susan O'Reilly
Susan O'Reilly
Read next: I See You
Susan O'Reilly

Selfpublished author of poetry and novels.

See all posts by Susan O'Reilly