She wants out. Tells him so.
He loves her too much. She belongs to him. If she leaves, he’ll track her down. Kill her. Tells her more than once. She believes him.
* * *
Two years of abuse. A slow ruthless awakening leaves her nights staring at the ceiling listening to his ragged breath and intermittent snores. She takes to the headland, walks the beach, ventures through marsh and listens to calls of night herons and screeches of lapwings warning her approach.
He’ll wake as he always does, not even notice her gone, light a cigarette, stumble to the toilet, piss and miss and leave his smelly mess mixed with cigarette ash for her to clean. It’s routine.
On this night, the wind, soft and off shore, flattens the inshore waters. Small waves rattle pebbles. She-oaks weep and drape to the ground, sigh little whispers in the breeze. Her breath steadies. She calms to a quiet melancholy, gives up the notion of plunging from the headland onto rocks or swimming out to sea to be carried by the current. The night is tender, gentle and soft. A magical medley of soft sounds and semi dark soothe her.
She’s done enough night walks to judge time by the flow of moon and stars. He will be awake, grab a cigarette from the nightstand, light it, and stumble through the kitchen to the toilet. He’ll be too hung over to smell the gas left running on the stove.
She sits on cool damp sand, wraps arms around her knees, shuts her eyes, hears the explosion in the distance over the gentle lapping of water, sighs, stands and looks back to see smoke rising in the early morning light. There won’t be much left. She’ll have to find a new place to rent. It’s a shame. She liked it here.
Alpheus Williams is an expat American who lives and writes in a small Australian coastal village community with his wonderful wife and border collie. On the alert for fires and flood, he mourns the continued destruction of Australia’s unique environment and endangered wildlife.
His stories have appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Barren Magazine and will be appearing in the near future in The Write Launch, The Fabulist Words and Art and Bath Flash Fiction.
You can find him at:
Websites: https://seasongchronicle.com, https://medium.com/@alpheuswilliams, https://www.amazon.com/Alpheus–Williams/e/B07Y8TQ94T
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