Running down the road proved challenging in my long skirt but I couldn't stop. The heavy footsteps seemed to get louder and angry the faster I ran. My father, in an angry fit, had chased me out of the house, in an attempt to kill me. I was hoping that he would trip, or dust from the road would build up enough to blind him.
"Damn it, you stupid b*tch..." His screaming voice only made my legs want to work faster. I silently groaned as the muscles in my legs ached in protest. "Get you f*cking ass back here, now!" Lucky for me he sounded horse and out of breath, if I could just keep going he would soon tire and leave me. Then he would just wait for me to return home, then beat me until I either died or lost consciousness.
It had been going on like this for a while, I'd come home then have to run out again just to save myself. This was just the first time he had come after me with a weapon, this time was different, this time I was scared. He only started to beat me after mom died. We had both loved her, she cared for us, and in return we cared for her. But then the flu came, and like so many others she fell ill and died.
After that my dad would stay out late at night and come home drunk, he would normally rip me out of bed, to beat me or try and rape me. When I refused he would scream saying it was my fault she was dead and gone, and that it should have been me that died not her. The he would pass out, tears fresh in his eyes. It made me feel sad, I missed my old father, the one that would care and love me. Not this monster that had the form his form.
All I had done today was get home a few moments later then normal, I didn't even think he'd notice. When I walked in the door he was sitting there, waiting for me.
"Where the hell have you been?" He asked in his large booming voice, it seemed to make the house shake. I didn't answer, I don't think I could have even if I had wanted to. School was my life, the only reason I hadn't married yet was because I was to busy going to school. I needed every chance I could to get out of the house.
When I didn't answer he pulled a knife out and stood up. I saw my reflection in the blade, and it took me a second to realize what was going on. He could have just been trying to scare me into telling him where I had been all day, though I thought he might know. But I didn't think, my natural instinct was to run as far from him as I could.
I wasn't sure where I was going but I had an idea. My life long friend Lily and I talked it about it a few weeks ago, but the conversation was still fresh in my mind.
"He hit you...again?" Lily's face looked outraged, I feared that at any moment she was going to stand up and punch someone. "You can't let him do this to you, Rose. I won't let him do this to you again." Her glowering stare had me looking down, like I was the one she was mad at. We always talked about my dad, and somehow I always walked away feeling like it was my fault.
I gazed down at my lap, hands folded neatly waiting for her to scold me about not taking better care of myself. To my surprise Lily didn't say anything more. When I looked I saw that she was looking at one of the older boys, Tom. She liked him, it was so easy to read on her face. All around us children of all ages were playing about, getting dusty. The teacher would yell at them for that when we got back inside.
I was about to talk to Lily about her and Tom, when Lily grabbed my arm. I looked up at her face again. Only this time, there wasn't any longing for Tom, only a burning determination to save me. "Why do you let him hit you?" She asked me, looking into my eyes to make sure I was being truthful.
"He's older...and bigger...and stronger..." It was all I could think of, and it was the truth. But by the look on Lily's face it wasn't enough for her. She wanted real reasons, not just the obvious. I thought everything though then spoke again. "If I tried to fight back, he'd hit me harder. If I tried to scream, he would cover my mouth with his disgusting hands. He wouldn't stop even if I tried to do anything against him." I pulled my arm away from Lily and looked at the ground. If that wasn't enough for her, then I didn't think anything would be.
"Rose..." Lily sounded far away and distant as she spoke to me, thinking everything through. Sitting there I watched the other kids, all so happy and free. Not one of them had a care in the world. It made me wonder if any of the kids parents abused them. Or if the dust that covered there hair during lunch was the only thing they had the hide. I was watching two little kids in particular, they argued about what game they should play, not realizing that lunch was going to be over pretty soon. If they kept it up they wouldn't have play anything that day.
It made me jump slightly when Lily started to speak again, "I have an idea, Rose." She said moving closer so she wouldn't be overheard. "You should run away or go into hiding." I pulled back, I couldn't believe what she was saying. Running away was not something someone simply did, plus I didn't have anywhere to go. Nor did I have any food or clothes. Water was always easy to find. "All you have to do is pack enough clothes, food, and water to keep you going." She continued, pulling my arm down so that she was whispering in my ear. "Enough so that you can make a trip far away of this town."
Before I could respond the teacher rang the bell, and told us all to come inside. Lily pushed away from me, picking up her lunch box and standing. When she turned back to me she half-smiled made me fell less then human somehow. The two children from before seemed angry that they hadn't come up with a game to play before the end of lunch.
Lily and I walked into the classroom without a word, my eyes straight ahead, hers on Tom. I wondered if Lily ever heard herself speak, because her ideas were so crazy. Crazy enough that I spent the rest of the day thinking about them.
Lily's home was about a mile away from mine. Lily and her family would keep me safe until I could leave. They would make sure my father never found me. All I had to hope was that my father wouldn't make it that far. But I could tell I was slowing down, Lily's house never seemed that far when I was walking. As I got slower, I heard him getting closer.
"sh*t...girl..." he groaned coughing loudly, I could see him though some trees. His face was red, his chest moved up and down quickly as he sucked in more lungfuls of air. He leaned against a tree, that seemed to bend to the right as he put more weight on it. A crack of sunlight hit the blade of the knife, making it look more deadly. "Get...here...now!" Every word had a pause, which was filled with wheezing noises that made me want to gag.
I ducked down and slowly made my way to a bush, hoping he hadn't seen me. I couldn't run anymore, I would die if I had to. I had trouble controlling my breathing, making the world spin. Soon my gasps for air were controlled and quieter. I had my back to a bush, the leafs sticking in my hair. I didn't want him to find me. Here in these woods, where no one would hear me scream.
I heard twigs snap as he made his way to my hiding place, he had heard me or seen me, because he knew were I was and was coming for me. With my last shred of hope I held my breath, my lungs hurt, begging me to breathe.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are," He didn't sound tired anymore, it surprised me how fast he recovered. I could hear the smile in his worlds. See the sick twisted grin on his face, the blade held high. My hands started to shake and I feared I would pass out from lack of air.
Not being able to hold it anymore, I took a deep breath. I heard him take his final steps towards me. It felt like he was breathing down my neck. I didn't want to look up, so I looked at his feet, the boots he had made himself.
"I'll never have to worry about you again, you poor stupid cow." At his words I looked up. The tears on my face didn't seem to add to his amusement. In a way they seemed to hurt him. The knife was held above his head, shining brightly in the mid-evening sun. As he breathed in and out his chest seemed to heave, almost like he was crying. The hand with the blade twitched, I closed my eyes, balling my hands into fists.
After a moment, I opened my eyes. The world didn't look any different, it made me wonder if I was still alive or dead. I stood up and looked around in front of me for my father. He was gone, it was like he had never been there. I brushed off my skirt and fixed my hair. Nothing seemed to make sense, like the moment had vanished. I turned around to the sounds of a man crying.
What I saw made my stomach drop, I felt like I was going to be sick. From the peaceful view of the forest to the horrible truth. Blood soaked everything, the trees, the plants, the grass, even my father. He sat in the middle of it all, body shaking with the sobs that escaped from his throat. He seemed to be holding onto something, something large and limp. I walked around to get a better look.
My father was holding a body, my mothers ring on the middle finger meant it was mine.
The body was headless, I looked around for my head, it lay at least a foot away. My eyes were still closed tightly, the muscles in my face still in its grimacing shape. They say the dead look peaceful, almost like an angel had kissed them softy before death. I looked everything but peaceful. I put my hand to my mouth to stop from screaming, not knowing if my father could hear or see me.
Without a word my father pushed my body away and lay it gently on the floor. Turning to his right, he started digging a hole, only using his nails and hands. I stood there watching as the cold Earth made his fingers raw and cut them open. Once the sun had gone down he stopped and looked at the hole. Slowly and reluctantly he looked over at my body, still lifeless. Closing his eyes and letting fresh tears escape, he went back to work on digging his hole, my grave.
Something made me stand there and watch him for hours and hours just digging and digging. He kept at it for days without eating or sleeping. Sometimes at night I heard people calling out our names, we were missed in the town, they noticed when my father didn't show up at work and when I didn't go to school. The flies had already started picking at my body, every once in a while he would swat them away.
His sobs became loud again everything he looked at over at my rotting face. The skin faded away enough to reveal muscle and bone. I saw him wince, the smell must have gotten to him, I can't smell things on the mortal plane, which I was happy for.
Finally it was big enough to fit my body and head. His fingers had turned a strange blueish purple, they were stained with blood and dirt. As he picked up my body I could see maggots eating away at the rotting flesh, I shuddered as he gave it one last squeeze and placed it in the hole. My head looked like it would break apart if he squeezed it to hard, like a rotten fruit left out in the sun, was far enough away that he had to stand up to get it. He stumbled and fell and ended up crawling over to get it.
He kissed my forehead, then carefully placed it inside the grave. He closed his eyes almost like he was praying, he wasn't a religious man, so it made me wonder. He started piling the dirt on after that, absent minded, looking straight ahead, as if he could forget.
Once he was done he stood and looked down at the ground. "I'm sorry..." he said wiping a tear from his eye. He turned and stumbled his way back to the house. It was dark, but he seemed to know where he was going. I followed him, I had a strange feeling that I wouldn't be alone for much longer. The house looked darker then I remembered it, almost as if someone had covered it with a dark blanket. He walked in, and went straight to his room. But not before picking up the rope we used to tie the horses up with.
I stood outside his door and waited for his soul to appear, it never did.
Did he go to hell?
Growing tired of waiting, I walked down the hall to my own room. Death didn't feel like the end, but the beginning to something much bigger. Looking at my door I had a feeling that I was going to like being a ghost, I sighed and walked though my door, on to the rest of my existence.
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