A story I wrote for a Young Writer's Contest. It did not come up as a short-listed piece. I would love feedback in the form of suggestions - grammar- and thoughts on the dynamic between the couple, and the crowd.
Note that this is (C) of Blair Mirth 2014.
The protestors stood outside, striding up and down the footpath. Painted signs raised high above their heads, their voices loud; a war cry that got everyone peeking through their curtains.
Birds fluttered by, a flurry, and then a blur amongst the people daring to inch closer towards the gate.
Sarah stood behind her own purple shades, pulling back the fabric just enough to see the crowd outside her house. Her heart thumped wildly, a dangerous tribal beat that resounded in her ears.
“Stop looking” was that what he was saying?
Caught between the fear of looking away, and the anger that radiated throughout the lounge room, Sarah legs locked up, and her muscles ached.
“Get away from the window,” her husband hissed.
She felt his hand reach for her soft sore flesh, his fingers wrapping around her wrist. In a sharp tug, he pulled her across the room, and into the sparse living room. Hairtickled her underneath the shawl that was falling quickly down her shoulder. She looked down; glad his wedding ring was now hidden behind the only piece of clothing she had left.
Her eyes rose to the clock. It had been three hours since they had arrived home from the clinic. In a flash of remembrance, she pictured herself going back in time, the hands on the clock moving faster. His hands letting her go, falling, falling back to the cigarette she had lit for him before crossing the threshold into her child’s death camp.
Air drifted in and out of her body, giving her life, and taking her child from within, her hand went straight to her stomach; Vacant. She looked out the curtain. Now she had to deal with two armies. One who wanted to cast her aside, and the other who had bullied her into it.
“Say no to abortion!”
The chorus of cries was getting louder.
“Abortion is an abomination!”
Sarah rubbed her belly. The ache that rose once the procedure had finished was fresh in her heart. She longed to cry, to run, to lock herself in the downstairs bathroom with the hot tap turned up high, cleansing herself of the day, of her life, until the water went cold, and her fingers turned wrinkly.
“Sarah,” he growled.
Snapshots of the afternoon scattered her mind.
His face as he eyed the nurse.
The tears he had silenced with one look.
Don't embarrass me or you'll be sorry.
She saw the medical posters on the walls, all depictions of the human body, parts of herself that she would soon be removing at his wish. Parts she wanted to keep forever. Her autonomy disappearing between the doctor, and the clinic door.
She wished she could have stayed in that chair, letting her body sag into its molded cushion, and never leave.
“Don’t make me hurt you Sarah,” her husband's voice cut through her reverie. “Get away from the window right now”
Sarah looked around to see her husband advancing again. She moved out of his way, obeying his commands, listening to the numbers being punched into the phone, and the protesters voices getting closer.
“What are you doing?” she dared to question. Casting a look across the room to where he stood holding a glass tumbler filled with amber liquid.
“Calling the police you idiot,” He yelled.
With eyes blotted, Sarah took a deep breath inwards. Dizzy, the snapshots returned. The sight of her baby removed from her body, Coffee falling from her shaking hands, down onto the streaked cold tiles beneath her, pooling in a mess around other women, mothers waiting to terminate too. Words written in deadly Red across the cardboard protest posters:
“I don't know how they found out where we live. They must have someone working inside the building – No my wife doesn't know anyone inside the building - I want this to end right now- I just told you I don't know why they are here- bunch of bible bashing bastards- if you don't stop them I'll take a shot gun to them all – well you better get your lazy asses down here right now.”
Sarah watched the cordless house phone travel through the space between them, smacking into the wall, smashing in half against the panels. Her eyes flared. Her breath escaped her, constricted once again; his feet pounded on the hardwood floor in time with the blood rushing to her temples. She let a breath out when they were nose to nose. The guttural sound that came out of his mouth set her hair rising, and her heart raging. “This is your fault.”
She winced as he wound her hair around his fingers, yanking her to him with his fist. “Now I've got to go out there and sort this mess out. Who did you tell, Sarah? Why did you open your mouth?” The slap echoed in the room. The ticking clock music to her death march.
Sarah felt her skin burning. The blood rose to the surface. She became dizzy. Her eyes watered, beads of tears mixed with sweat moved down cheeks as the pain in her head seared. Her lips stung, she ran her tongue across them, caressing the skin that had been ripped from the impact of their wedding ring.
“I should have just done it myself,” her husband said. He yanked harder, this time ripping some hair, his free hand coming up to her throat. His fingers gripped tight, wrapping around her, and suffocated her breathing, strangling her enough to cut off her speech, but not enough to cut off her breath. “It’s unfortunate that I cannot.”
Sarah choked back saliva.
“I am only going to tell you this once. Go to the bedroom and pack a bag. You have 15 minutes. Be quick, or you will live to regret you ever breathed a word to anyone.”