In front of the mirror, Jenny carefully applied the makeup. Unlike most women, she wasn't doing it for beauty. That was already stolen from her. She brushed the foundation on, covering over the soft blue tinge on her face. Years of practice had made this a habit for her, yet each time she had to fight the tears. She could not understand what made her so ashamed, so afraid to just leave. Sam wouldn't know for least four days, after he came home from his tramp.
Staring back at him, Sam could see the tired bags under his eyes from the bar's mirror. He splashed water onto his face, trying to wake himself up. As much as the water cleansed his face, it didn't cleanse his mind. It wandered. What was Jenny doing right now? Sam hadn't been home in two days, lost in a world of hard drinks, and explicit nights. As much as he wanted to stop it all, the shakes in his hand reminded him. He couldn't.
Slowly Jen arose from her place and made her way to the kitchen. The sun was just rising and lit the room with golden warmth. Four years ago, this had been Jen's dream, a place where she and her husband, her hero, could talk, dine, and entertain. These days Jen saw it as a prison, safe from the world but not safe from those who disciplined her.
Coffee silently brewed in the corner, filling the room with a familiar aroma. Four years ago and her husband would have been here to serve her the coffee, and hold her in the morning glow. As she poured the coffee, she looked down. Under the clothes, she held her secret. Under the bruises, she smiled as she remembered. She was six weeks pregnant, a secret she had held from Sam for the past several weeks. In a night of remorse and passion, where Sam "repented", Jen has finally conceived. In a world of pain, she had joy.
A slow tear rolled down Jen's cheek; its salty taste surprised her lips. How could she bring a child in this house? Jen could bear her tears, but the cries of a child witnessing the rage of their father. Jen couldn't bear that; her child deserved more, real love, and a real father. Jen walked to the window, with the steaming coffee in her hand, and gazed out. The early morning was quiet except for the school bus, picking up kids. Jenny grinned softly as she saw a mother kiss her boy on the forehead, wishing him a good day at school.
The bartender slid the check to Sam, officially cutting him off. As he looked outside, he could see the sunrise. No longer was it a bustling joint, the bar now a barren place. The only sound that echoed in the room was the clanking of glasses, as the waitress cleaned them, getting ready for another night of drunkards and bad pick-up lines. Sam paid then headed into the sunlight.
Its light stung first, but it was a welcomed heat compared to the chill of the bar. On the sidewalk, small cafés were opening and the early morning coffee runners were picking up their brew. He glanced left then right, before beginning his trek down the pavement. Each step brought on a wave of guilt. Three days; he needed to go home. Jen would be there; what was she doing? Packing her bags? Making breakfast?
The guilt changed, growing into a rage. How could he be this way? How could she love him? Why couldn't he get over this? His anger was directed at himself. She would be the one to feel it though.
She was just finishing the dishes from her days of lonely suppers when she heard the garage door open. Jen spun, frantic. The same paralyzing fear of that first night came over her muscles. Panicked, she looked for a hiding place. Nowhere in this house felt safe anymore, but Jen rushed to the bathroom as she heard the door open.
Quickly she locked the door. After his binges, Sam never came home for love. Each of Jen's bruises recounted the number of times she had suffered her hero's wrath. Jenny huddled into the corner of the bathroom as she heard the footsteps. First into the bedroom, the hectic feet paced to the bathroom door. A small cry ruptured from her mouth as the doorknob violently shook.
"Jen, open this door!" Jen pulled herself closer in fear, as he slammed into the door. Jen began to shake, hot tears running down her face. She wept for her father, wishing she was with him. In his safe arms, as he worked on his latest puzzle.
"Hand me....that one." He pointed at a blue piece. Her small hands grasped the piece and handed it to her dad. Smilingly, he placed the final piece to the puzzle. Days had gone by, but the portrait was finally complete. Once a mess of cardboard pieces, it was now a radiant picture of a couple holding each other. Jenny rubbed her hand over the puzzle, feeling the connections between the pieces.
"Who are they?" Jen asked, noticing their odd clothes. She looked up to her dad's eyes as she sat in his lap.
"That, my peanut, is Romeo and Juliet. How romantic, two lovers holding one another, yet unable to truly be together."
"Well, peanut, they were a part of two separate families who hated each other. But Romeo loved her. So he risked everything to be with her, even to death," Her father placed Jen onto the desk, and stared in the face,
"Don't just give this to anyone," pointing to her heart, "Only give it to one who will love you forever, and will do anything for you. Okay, my love?"
Jen nodded firmly, and then a bright smile spread from cheek to cheek across her face.
Jen's hiding place became her cell. In a thunder of sound, the door broke up, smashing against the wall. Sam stood defiantly over Jen's trembling form. Jen wanted to move. She wanted to flee. Her entire body wanted to scream and launch at Sam. However her chains of fear held her fast to the floor.
"How dare you! You listen to me when I call for you!" Sam yelled at the small figure of a woman on the floor. Firmly he clasped her between his arms, holding her tightly.
"Think you can hide?" He whispered under his breath. It wasn't her hero's words. It was the words of her nightmares. Exhaling sharply, he pulled her up and threw her to the floor by the door. Jen groaned as pain flared up in her pervious bruises. As much as the fighter in her wanted to strike, Jen could do nothing but break down on the floor.
"Get up!" A swift kick to the rib make Jen scream in agony. Tears began to pour fresh down her face, but not for her life, but for the life inside of her.
"Quiet!" He crouched down by her face, forcing her to look at him. "We are the nice neighbors. Let's not upset anyone." The echoing sound of the slap was the last thing Jen heard as the world went black.
As she woke to the darkness, she could hear the faint sound of the T.V in the living room. Fresh bruises made Jen groan and wince as she stood. Disoriented, she stumbled along the way until she made her way to the living room. On the red sofa, Jen saw him, passed out with a bottle of Jack Daniels lying on the floor beside him. The TV droned on with the last sports news, and highlight reels.
The house was completely dark, beyond the flickering glow of the TV.
Under the silence of the night, Jen carefully grabbed a jacket and a set of car keys. Nervously, she opened the door, which sounded a loud groan throughout the house. Jen froze. Listening for any stirring of her husband, she slowly exited her prison. Fresh evening air jerked Jen's senses, and made her alert. A dog barked; a light switched on in the house across the street, and Jenny Parson snuck into the car in the driveway.
Before driving, Jen caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Blood was caked by her nose, and a new bruise marred her face. Terrified by her own image, Jen quickly brushed her hair with her hands, and used a wet napkin to clean her face. With a deep breath and strung nerves, Jen turned over the engine. The roar of the engine shocked Jenny, but she quickly shifted to reverse and pulled out of the driveway. Tears streaked her face as she drove into the evening.
God, help me.