Keri felt the air being siphoned from her lungs, swallowing she tried to breathe. Her head pounded as her efforts to filter out the background noise failed. The pain was the stinging kind you feel when something smacks you in the face. It even made her nose tingle. It was a surprise, so unexpected. The day had started out so great. She closed her eyes and willed it all to just stop, but the voice booming somewhere in the background was relentless. He was on one of his tirades about the way she’d looked when he’d said something or her tone of voice when she answered. She couldn’t remember. She didn’t even know if she knew. She usually didn’t. She would just apologize and even more recently, just leave. But she couldn’t today. They were in the car, and like so many other times, she just had to take it. And it would probably blow over, and she’d forgive him, and they’d pretend it never happened. She used to believe with all of her heart it wouldn’t, but now she had no doubt that it would. She pressed her forehead against the cold glass and stared out at all the other cars and wondered why everyone looked so happy.
At first, she’d yelled back but realized that she couldn’t make him hear her. There were no blows. Nothing physical about it, except for maybe when he yanked her arm. But that was not the pain she was feeling now. It was the humiliation and the shame. It happened more often, and lasted longer lately, and it exhausted her.
They’d been driving. It was a beautiful rainy morning. The drops tapped lightly above them as they’d lay on the floor reading the Sunday paper and ended up making love right there, on top of the funnies. Jack suggested that they go to Polly’s for breakfast. So they jumped in the car and headed to the beach. They’d just been laughing minutes before. And then like a ball in her face, things turned. Jack’s anger came out of no where. She’d learned lately that it didn’t have to take much. She used to blame herself because she didn’t know how to help him. She wanted to love him out of his pain. She even tried to make him believe that she loved him more than anyone in her life. She believed it. But, slowly she realized that it was not true. She did love someone more. Though he’d tried with all of his might to make her believe otherwise, she finally knew that she loved herself more. Enough to get out.
Keri clicked the period. And stared at the screen of the last page of her book. It was complete. She looked out the window massaging her neck absent mindly staring into space, still back decades, remembering. She’d thought that finishing her novel would feel different but it was anticlimactic. She forced her eyes to focus back on the screen and scrolled to the last chapter and reread it. She sighed. She was satisfied, after a few false endings, it was definitely a wrap.
This book had been a surprise in her life and much harder to write than she’d ever imagined. But she knew that she needed to tell her story. Not just for all the young girls out there that needed to be educated about abuse, but for her own closure. So much had happened in-between sitting down to write the first page and today. But she had no doubt about what she had to do next..
She found her editor’s address, attached her book, clicked on the file, and pushed SEND.