04. “I took care of it”

“Here, drink this” Robert said, setting on the table a cup with a dark liquid within it.

With trembling hands, Rebecca picked it up, bringing it to her lips. It was warm and she suspected it contained alcohol. A sip confirmed her suspicions: her brother had mixed rum with apple juice, to mask it’s bitterness. Rebecca was not really fond of alcoholic beverages, unless they were mild and made very sweet. Robert knew her better than anyone. Better than her own husband. This realization, made her shiver.

“You’re cold? Want me to fetch you a sweater?” Robert inquired, a worried look on his face.

Rebecca shook her head, holding to the cup as if her life depended on it. The remembrance of her husband brought in a flood of disagreeable memories. A reminder of what had happened; what had lead her to seek refuge at her brother’s place. She took another sip, and another, her hands shaking more and more. Robert extended his forearm and placed a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it slightly. This contact was supposed to be comforting, but it only sent a discharge throughout her arm, making her pull away brusquely, pain crossing her lips.

“Are you hurt?” Robert inquired

“No, it’s nothing. I just hit my shoulder against the bookshelf and bruised myself” she lied.

Robert didn’t seem to buy it. After all, he knew her better than anyone.

“Show me,” he ordered.

Rebecca knew that her brother was not easy to dismiss, and he would see it one way or another. She let out a sight, resigned and set the cup back on the table, pulling carefully her arm out of the sweater she’s been wearing. A quick look at his face, told her that he was horrified by what he was seeing. Her arm was very badly bruised, but not in an accidental way. Robert took off his eyes from her arm, long enough to ask her the question she knew was coming.

“Did he do that to you?”

She nodded, pushing away the tears that were coming to her eyes at the thought of what had happened.

“That bastard!” Robert shouted “I’m gonna kill him!”

“Don’t” she said, trying to regain control of her shivering body.

“Don’t? Jesus, Becca, look at your arm! And from what I can see, it is not the only thing that you have bruised. How long has he been doing this to you? And why didn’t you tell me? I swear, if I get my hands on him… I will make him regret ever setting his eyes on you!” he was fuming.

Rebecca looked around the small kitchen. She came here to escape everything that had happened. She’d hoped, like a fool, that her brother would have never found what was happening to her, or at least had happened. She’d hoped that she could pretend that she had just had a bad dream. But Robert wasn’t going to let it slide, not if she did not tell him the full story. She had to tell him, before he made a stupid move. Inhaling she finally resolved to speak.

“I took care of it” she finally said in answer to her brother’s questions.

“You took care of it? By running away? Jeez, Becca! You can’t run away from your husband. We have to contact the authorities and have him arrested and as soon as he is behind those bars, we can get you out of this marriage,” he was going on and on.

“I took care of it” she repeated, over and over, like a mantra. She was staring beyond Robert. Robert who now looked more mortified than worried, and who kept calling her name. But he seemed so far away now. So out of reach. Rebecca only saw her husband at this moment. They’d fought that morning. He’d hit her repeatedly as he had done before, and she was trying to protect herself from his assaults. She started counting, waiting for him to stop. When he’d finally left, she found herself unable to get up, tears rolling down as she lay helpless. Later that night as she lay down on their marital bed, she’d pretended being asleep, afraid that he’d do something to her in her sleep. She had hidden a knife underneath her pillow. Just in case, she’d thought. She wouldn’t be the victim anymore. She would fight back. Only a fight never occurred. She had taken care of him in his sleep. Before she knew it she’d slit his throat open, watching him bleed out. And now he stood in front of her, while she repeated over and over her mantra.

03. The Void Space

The room was cold. The walls had been stripped off the frames that had been holding the memories of its previous inhabitants. A thick layer of dust covered the surfaces like a warm blanket meant to comfort. But there was no comfort to be sought within the premises. The sun was slowly setting down, casting its last sunlights on the southern wall which faced the fireplace, which had not been cleaned in ages from the look of it. Then again, the place hadn’t been for a while. Hayley brushed her hand over the dusty surface of the work desk in the corner of the room, while trying to figure out what it is that she was doing here. She’d been on the lookout for a place for her photoshoot, and somehow had ended up on this abandoned side of the tracks. Few were those who adventured themselves on this part of town, and the reasons were many. According to her grandmother, this side of town used to be the home of many colored families, back when segregation was a norm. After it had been lifted, many where those who took the opportunity to leave the tracks and seek a new life far from the constant reminder of their misfortune. Those who wouldn’t move away were soon forced to when the local plant shut down, leaving its employees out of jobs. It was a very dark period for the town. It didn’t take long before this side of town was deserted, young people preferring the hype of the big cities, and old ones trying to move closer to the new jobs to save on commute.  Now the “tracks” as they were called were mostly a ghost town. Hayley didn’t know what she hoped to find here. She mostly felt the sadness of this place. To think that once upon a time there used to be a family sitting around this fireplace, telling bedtime stories and sharing a good laugh around a good meal… She could picture it. Before she knew it, Hayley had her camera out and was snapping some shots. Suddenly the place did not feel cold or empty; she could sense the auras of its owners, see the history unveil itself before her eyes. Soon, each abandoned item had its own tale to share. Soon, she was drawn into the midst of this storyline.Once the sun had completely set, Hayley felt a sudden calm come down on her, a comforting hand that sat on her shoulder, telling her that everything was going to be okay. As she was leaving the premises, she stopped one more time, glancing at the emptiness of the now dark home, a smile slowly drawing on her lips. She had come to the void spaces and was leaving with so much more.