A Sister's Place

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          Beth hangs up the phone after calling in sick. She is a certified nursing assistance at the Fair View Nursing Home. She told the supervisor she had fallen down the basement stairs while going to get a smock out of the dryer. A good excuse since her lip and eye will probably still be swollen tomorrow. Going to the kitchen to put fresh ice in her zip lock bag, she returns to the reclining chair just as Tim comes in the door. He is carrying a six pack of Michelob, a twelve piece chicken nuggets and a large fry with extra packs of ketchup and salt.

          This is a peace offering and is, in his mind, supposed to make up for her pounding headache, swollen lips and eye plus another missed day at work. She shakes her head “no” and places the ice bag on her eye while placing her head gently on the back of the big chair. After a few minutes she gathers strength to push the level on the side of the chair causing it to recline. She can hear Tim open a can of beer then the bag knowing he is taking out the Big Mac which he is biting into right about now. Everything in their relationship is about his selfishness and pleasing him. He never shares his Big Mac and he always gets a twelve piece McNugget because six pieces are for him. About now he is putting half of the French fries on a napkin. They are covered with two packets of ketchup and salt meant to under mind her diet and loss of fifty-five pounds. She does not drink beer but today is not the day to refuse. There is still tension in the atmosphere so why take a chance. She knows she is going to spend the balance of the day walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding the emergency room at the local hospital.

                Beth closes her eyes and replays the conversation with her supervisor, Mrs. Hogan. She had reminded her there were three sick days remaining for the year with three months to go. Maybe it is time to talk to Mrs. Hogan about the real reason she misses work so often or maybe it is time to move back to Atlanta, Georgia. Beth told Tim this morning she was tired of his drinking, not working and hitting on her. The next time she was leaving for good. Yes, and this time, Tim would not be able to talk or threaten her into returning.

          She must have dozed off but the sound of the door slamming wakes her. What did I do she wonders sitting up in a daze. The look on his face causes her to focus on his hand carrying a gas can.

Instinct tells her to run! She jumps up from the chair as Tim rushes toward her. Fearing reaching the kitchen door, Beth runs into the bathroom and manages to lock the door just as Tim slams into the door. Beth screams at the top of her lungs while reaching for the cell phone in her jeans. She dials 911 but the sound of Tim beating against the door tells her time is running out. She jumps in the bath tub and, with shaking fingers,   unlocks the window latch. She manages to crawl out the narrow window up to her waist as Tim kicks in the wooden door. Beth is half out the window with the goal of reaching the ground head first and maybe rolling under one of the cars parked on the apartment complex lot until police arrive. She is screaming and kicking her legs with all her might while Tim tries to pull her back in the window. One foot is firmly braced against the tub and he has a firm grip on her ankles and is pulling her back into the tub. Beth is trying desperately to find something to hold onto to help pull herself out the window. Her throat is raw from screaming but she knows this is a fight for life which she may very well lose if Tim pulls her back into the bathroom. An unbearable thought of her mother having to identify her beaten and burned body caused her to scream louder and kick harder

          Tim’s grip tightens around her left leg as he releases her right leg then quickly grabs the waist band of her belted jeans and suddenly pulls her off the window sill and into the tub. Her head hits the tub with a bang followed by the bang of Tim’s fist. She hears the sound of her nose breaking and feels the blackness washing over her. Fighting to hold onto the fading light, Beth hears the sound of the cap being unscrewed from the gas can. Somewhere in a dark tunnel she feels wetness and smells a strong odor of gas that takes her breath away. She thinks, please God not like this. Please don’t make my mama and daughter have to identify my body like this. Then sweet darkness.

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