A to Z 2016 : ERIN

"And what about our daughter? How do you think this would make her feel? What kind of a father puts his child in that kind of position?" Her voice was shaking. She was sitting on the couch, hunched over, trying to fight back the stream of tears. Staring at the floor, awaiting a response, flowing, blonde hair masking her face. "What..." she got choked up, inhaling sharply, her body convulsed as though she had been trapped in a meat locker for hours. Cold, fighting for warmth. "What kind of father does that to his little girl?"

She thought she heard him mutter something.

I'm such a mess. Knowing this made it difficult to face him. Knowing her makeup was running, mixing with tears and snot. It wasn't exactly the image that would entice someone to stay, quite the opposite, but there wasn't much she could do about it. Except have hope. There had to be a way to make this work. To fix everything. She slowly lifted her gaze, still quaking from her ongoing breakdown.

The living room was dimly lit by sporadic candlelight, and though she couldn't smell, she imagined there was a pleasant aroma drifting in from the kitchen. It wasn't a complicated dinner, just stew, but it had been simmering all afternoon. And it was his favorite. It was important to get things right, if she was ever going to convince him to stay.

She attempted to wipe away some of the mucus-mixed concoction on her face, but all it did was smear, now bearing a red tint. "Brandon?" Her watery, puffy eyes made it difficult to see anything, but eventually the blurred scene came into focus.

First the coffee table, a solitary candle centered on it, it's flame constant, shifting only slightly. To her right, small shards of glass were sprinkled across the edge of the table, surrounded by a wetness. The pieces sparkled like diamonds. On the other side of the table was her husband, silent, slumped back in a chair that would normally be placed at the kitchen table.

She inhaled sharply at the horrific details unfolding before her, her left hand raised to cover her mouth. Her husband's face was cut and gouged, head lolling to the side, baring deep cuts in the side of his neck. Blood still seeped from the wounds, but most of it was already dispelled across the living room. His jugular must have been hit. What hadn't been ejected out in the immediate gory spray, drained down his torso which was also ripped open, drenching his slashed navy blue, cotton t-shirt. There was blood soaking into both the carpet and the family rug the two of them had picked out together just last summer, after a fairly inexpensive, but needed, remodel. It was a highlight at the ti... Her eyes rolled back some before refocusing. Her mind was beginning to drift.

Brandon's arms and legs were haphazardly bound to the chair with duct tape, which she assumed came from the utility closet, but couldn't recall. As this new realization began to seep in she was struck by another bout of convulsions. Her mouth was still covered, but agape in shock, thin strands of saliva and snot dripping and pooling in the corners. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't speak.

When she removed her hand and slowly reached out to her husband's motionless body, she saw the blood covering it. Splayed across it, running up her forearm in streaks, surrounded by small, individual red droplets. She heaved, feeling her stomach clench as it demanded to eject whatever contents still within it. There wouldn't be much, she hadn't eaten anything all day, waiting for stew and...

And with that single, diminutive memory, another came along with it. She raised her other blood-soaked hand. It had a death-grip on the neck of a bottle of wine — a middle-of-the-road Shiraz. Half a bottle of Shiraz. Midway down the bottle, the thick glass was broken, creating an uneven circle of makeshift teeth. Teeth that had been hungry and had been fed. Red and small chunks of meat clung to the glass.

She vaguely began to remember breaking the bottle along the edge the table. That... that had to have been after I... I struck him from behind. But definitely before I... Her breathing slowed as she concentrated on the details of events. Her eyes dried up, her body stopped attempting to debilitate her. She was beset by an odd calmness.

Somehow she knew she could still fix this, once she could fully channel her inner peace. Once she could identify what the problem was. Everything's going to be okay. We're going to be okay. This is just a small setback. The jagged bottle fell soundlessly to the floor as she scooted back on the couch, bringing her legs up and wrapping her arms around them. We are just having issues communicating right now. It's not big deal. It happens to the best of us.

Her mind raced. And as she began whispering thoughts out loud to herself, she rested her head gently against her knees. Closing her eyes, channeling her inner peace. Knowing everything would be fine. Knowing she would be able to find a solution.

She was good at things like that.

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