Liberty - short story

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                                                                Michael Calvert 

            Libby looked into her glass--looked more through it than into it really--staring.  She deftly swished the drink in her hand around, and the half-melted ice cubes did two quick laps before returning to their lazily bobbing positions.  The clinking noise they made was almost peaceful.  She lifted the glass to her mouth and took a heavy swallow, cringing at the taste--the fire in her throat.  She coughed twice, winced in pain-and drank again. 

Her eyes fixed once more into the amber liquid and she scoffed.  At what though?  Brian?  Herself?  'The situation'--as he would always call it?  Oh how she loved it when he would screw right up and blame it on 'the situation'.

           "It's not my fault babe, it's just the situation we're in," he'd say.

           "Fuck 'the situation' Brian --now we've got a 'situation'," she said, but nobody was there to listen to her. 

           She downed the rest of her drink.  Libby slowly reached for the bottle of scotch sitting on the littered coffee table--Brian's scotch, his best scotch; the two-hundred-dollar bottle he'd bought four years ago.  Nobody was allowed to touch his 'baby'; even he'd only drunken out of it twice a year.  As her fingers wrapped around the bottle's neck, she stopped. 

           Her right wrist was bruised so darkly purple that it looked like someone had tattooed a three-inch-wide bracelet on her arm.  Another going away present from Brian, damn that man was strong.  She needed more scotch.

          "Here's to you Brian, wherever you are," she said, and raised her newly filled glass in the air, pouring a sip onto the living room carpet.  It needed to be replaced anyway--she was bleeding all over it.

           Libby finished the rest of the glass, the burning in her throat more distant now, and held it up for inspection.  Satisfied she had left none of 'baby's' precious drops behind in it, she angrily flung the glass and its two ice cube passengers at their wedding portrait above the mantle.  It shattered on the newlyweds.  The framed photo fell from the wall, knocked one of her prized masks from its stand, and together, along with the shattered glass, they crashed onto the fireplace's slate base.

          She put her head in her hands and cried. 

          She told herself she wouldn't cry--not for that bastard, but it's the booze now and she can't hold back.  If she was such an expert in masks then why the hell couldn't she see through the ones people wore on their faces everyday?  Three long-term relationships--and three big-time losers.  None of them were ever abusive or anything--not in the beginning.  It was always the same: at first she forgave, then she tried to forget, but she always ended up being afraid. 

         She was bullied once as a child and her grandfather had found her crying.  When she explained what had happened, he told her that she had to stand up for herself and not take the crap that people handed out to her.

        "Yeah, like that stuck, gramps," Libby said, and chuckled.

        She grabbed 'baby' from the coffee table, and she drank straight from the bottle. 

        She had to get up; get to a phone, but her chest was on fire--he'd cracked one of her ribs, maybe two.  Not broken though, she'd been through that before.  It was her bleeding leg that needed medical attention, she thought, and sooner than later.  The scotch was helping kill the pain--all the pain.