She was the perfect mother and that’s the way he liked her.
The perfect mother and the perfect wife. Except she wasn’t the perfect wife, because he wasn’t the perfect husband. In fact, he wasn’t even a good husband, but he was able to hide that fact mostly beneath the flag of his country as a patriot and a soldier. Being a good couple never mattered nearly as much as appearing to be a good couple though.
They had met before his deployment, raised a young family and seemed happy for a while. Not because they made each other happy but because the family that they had both wanted made them feel like they should be. They were gifted with one boy and one little girl because every atrocity needs a witness and even God has a sense of humor.
Fortunately, the kids were blessed with strong imaginations and disappeared into their heads when things went sour. They were experienced with dreaming up better days and creating vivid fantasies to cover up the stark darkness of reality.
When Dad was on deployment they knew some peace as well – like the calm before the storm it seemed to only add weight to the anticipation of his return. Mom didn’t cry so much alone and it was nice. She was beloved by all and generous beyond measure, sacrificing her own happiness for the happiness of others. She lived like a martyr for her family and community.
Things carried on in this way for years. Between shouting and shoving there were moments that seemed something like joy. Was it possible? One could never be sure just how long it would take for a smile to transition to rage.
With enough time, the truth was becoming just too hard to hide. Her bruises were too plentiful to keep the blame upon her clumsiness. The behaviors of the children were also becoming peculiar in the classroom. Her little boy was acting out with anger and her little girl was incredibly timid and nervous.
She never really cared about what happened to her, but when it came to her children she had access to the courage that she was never capable of finding for herself.
One night after a particularly violent outburst she mustered the sum of her strength and planned a retreat far away from home. Dad was back on duty and although on the outside she was all broken smiles and glossy eyes, inside she knew a determination that had eluded her for years. She tried all day to find reasons to stay but only found further reasons to leave.
In the middle of the night, she woke her little ones with tears in her eyes to tell them that they were going to be taking a trip and that they had needed to pack some bags.
“Mommy, you look tired… Can we just sleep a little more?” inquired her daughter, concerned with a sweetly innocent tone.
“I don’t need any sleep.” she replied, kissing her gently on the forehead and peeling back the covers on her baby’s bed.
The fairy tale was about to end that night. At least as far as it concerned casual onlookers and acquaintances. For her and the children, they were about to wake up from a nightmare that wouldn’t cease to haunt for years to come.
For her betrothed the nightmare was just about to begin.
The self-reflection that comes with great loss was not about to be gentle with him. Everything that he had ever wanted was his and he destroyed it. He knew it but could never admit that much. She was always too good for him, and he hated her for it.
He could never find the anti-venom for all the poison that he spewed. The terrible things that he had experienced and inflicted bore too much weight upon his soul, but for his children and his pride, he wanted vindication. He searched for answers in all of the wrong places and found them only temporarily at the bottom of each bottle.
This short story was written around the suggestions of a writing prompt generator which can be found here.
The writing prompt generator was brought to my attention by a fellow blogger who writes about mental health, inspiration and other personal tidbits over at Nova’s Namaste 365 . Feel free to check her out and read some of her great posts as well.
Last but not least, if you are a woman or a man in an abusive relationship, please reconsider your situation and never be afraid to ask for help. Especially when children are involved. Even if you love your partner, sometimes issues are best resolved with some distance, time and professional help. Never forget to love yourself.