The books I’ve read have always explained blood as smelling “coppery” or “metallic.” They’re not wrong, but they’re not right either.
Yes. I could detect that old-penny tang in the air, but there were other things too.
They never mention the rot of it. The butcher shop meatiness. The piss and shit part that will undoubtedly be there. Because if there is so much blood you can smell it, then someone is either dead or about to be. A band aid would no longer help them.
Blood doesn’t just smell like loose change. I should know. I was covered in it.
The final chapter
Pain was what I felt.
There was no shock. His behaviour no longer shocked me.
It was bad, what he did, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t the worst. This was a Tuesday morning type of hit. Not, say, a Friday night when he knew I’d have, at least, the weekend to recover so no one could see.
Some of you may ask, what did I do to deserve it? Cause I’ve heard that one before. I must’ve started it. Asked for it in some way.
And you’d be fucking right. I did something that pissed him off. I don’t regret it neither.
I bought the wrong ice cream.
I had stood in the super market, staring into the ice cream freezer at the ice cream I knew he liked. Trying to make a decision, I fiddled with the six dollars in very small change that sat fat in my pocket and jingled loudly, sounding out the joyous accompaniment to my poverty.
I could afford to get one tub of what he wanted but we’d have not much else to eat. And he’d never share the ice cream with me. I was fat enough, he’d say.
Or I could buy milk, bread and the cheap plain stuff. I knew I could make it nice for him. I thought we’d have some Oreos in the back of the cupboard, maybe some chocolate sauce. I could turn it nice like the expensive stuff. And that way, we could at least eat toast until his pay day.
I thought it was a good idea.
While I lay on the floor, feeling my lip swell and pulse, watching my blood puddle on the linoleum, I realised I was wrong.
He said nothing as he stormed away from me, fists clenched as if he were ready to take another swing.
I stayed on the floor. Unmoving. Trying not to cry. Crying only made it worse. Playing dead. If I don’t move he can’t see me.
I sneaked a peek as he sauntered around the kitchen, his boxing ring. He slammed open the freezer door so hard that it made me flinch and I doubted it would ever close properly again. Taking out the white and black tub, he threw it at the kitchen window with a thunderous, wet crash which made me flinch again.
The ice cream, half liquefied because our freezer was on the fritz, sprayed across the kitchen bench, vanilla white tears streaked down the cob-webbed window.
I still cowered as he stalked around the kitchen, breath like fire burning, he couldn’t get it out of his lungs quick enough.
I, a mouse, a small creature, heart murmuring be still, be still, be still. But, for the first time, I do not see a cat in front of me. I do not see a tiger, a lion, a wolf.
I see just a man.
And even if he were an animal, he would be a Chihuahua. All bark and some bite, enough to draw blood. But no longer enough to eat me alive.
If my heart pounds be still then it is the heart of a bear and he heard my roar. And I will not be still any longer.
He had power over me for a lifetime and I will give him no more.
It may not have been the worst time, just a Tuesday morning, but it was the last time.
I waited till the blood stopped pumping to call an ambulance. I had to dirty a tea towel to use my phone. I won’t lie. I enjoyed watching him die.
The cleaver in my clenched fist, slick with his blood, no longer shakes.
Power is not something that can be taken, it must be given, even if it seems stolen at times. But there is a secret they – the fake wolves, fake lions, fake predators – don’t want us to know.
We can take our power back.
Short story for Chuck Wendig’s Fiction Challenge
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please seek help. Go to the police. Do not pass go. No two hundred dollars for you. Go now. Today. Because this bullshit has to stop.
To put it into perspective for you, here is a quote from Huffington Post.
The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.
And this just for America. And this number has not improved. It is only getting worse.
Silence about domestic violence can be deadly. So please, please, please speak out. #notviolentnotsilent
And don’t resort to the lengths that my character went to. This is a work of fiction and by no means an instruction to murder a spouse. Abusive or not. No stabby stabby.
If you are unsure if your partner is abusive, I will attach something below that shows the typical behaviour of DV and DA situations. If any of the items on that list are checked please call the police, ask for help, stay safe.
You don’t have to walk on eggshells forever. You don’t have to be another statistic. You can have a life again. You have the power. You are stronger than you think.