The Race

Mountains facing her, with a blue October sky. Frantically driving away from the daunting figments of her life. Evading the chances of an inevitable death. She runs from the constant fear and the darkness that never ceased to overwhelm. Sitting in that car, breathing harshly and hardly, checking the rear view for an unleashed demon, blood dripped from a fresh gash above her eyebrow, bubbling over with the heat from a fight she swore would have to be her last. A fight that was bound to win eventually. Andrew’s problem in life was that he had no self-control. He didn’t believe there was a limit to anything and once his excitement took over, there was no telling how far he’d go. The bottle, nor the needle was never what stole his soul, just his knowledge of power and how to use it. Meeting Andrew three years ago in a little bodega at Quincy’s Market, she never envisioned that bruises and death threats were what would follow. Nowhere in his bright eyes did she see the future that lied ahead. Carrying nothing but her wallet, phone and a bottle of water, Carrie ran yet again from the one thing in life she’d ever regret; remaining in the relationship after the first time he struck her.
They’d just gotten home from their daily 3-mile bike ride, and Carrie undressed while walking simultaneously, en route to the bathroom for a cold shower. Andrew, turned on by the naked site of his wife, walked over and wrapped his arms around her. “Andrew, I’m hot and sweaty,” said Carrie once he embraced her. She appreciated his affection, but deemed it the wrong time for anything intimate. Andrew persisted and continued to amuse himself, kissing her neck and running his hands along her breasts. Carrie forcefully pulled his hands off her body and spat out, “Andrew, we’re not doing this right now. I’m serious.” Thinking the conversation was over, Carrie walked over to the shower and began to close the bathroom door, when Andrew forced it back open, causing it to smash into Carrie’s forehead. Loudly screaming obscenities, Carrie clutched the impacted area as unwanted tears forced their way out of her eyes. She was tired of crying, tired of proving her weakness. A confused look rested in her eyes as Andrew walked over to where she was. He grabbed her face and stared coldly into what he used say were the meeting point of perfection and simplicity. “You shouldn’t have been standing that close to the door,” he says coldly in a voice so raspy, she knew had to be painful for him. Releasing her round face from the hard grasp of his callously dry hands, Andrew leaves the bathroom to go watch TV in the living room. A bleak year and some change passed since that morbid incident, but things had only gotten worse. Now, on her 29th birthday, Carrie ran away, once again, from the only enemy she ever truly feared. It’d been a week since he hit her and though she knew it wouldn’t last long, Carrie couldn’t help but wallow in the appeasement she so often longed for.
Driving down the 212 and passing signs for Clinton, Carrie replayed the events over and over in her throbbing head, causing her consciousness level to dangerously decrease. She dodged cars like they were the bullets Andrew shot. Her vision was blurred by tears, all the while speeding for her life to get away from what she hoped to be her past. Carrie rode in and out of lanes, meriting honks from cars swerving to get out of her way. She almost hit a few cars, but she’d hit them all if it meant getting away from Andrew. Her hair plastered to her face, Carrie reached up to wipe her tears and push her hair back. She failed to see clearly because the road before her was an image of mountains and houses up on the hills, then interrupted by flashes of glass shattering and face painting. It always boils down to the one thing Carrie shouldn’t have done, the one thing that could have possibly avoided the out lash of a raging mad man.
She knew he was going to bring a custom made cake home from the little bakery where they first met like he did every year since the first birthday he spent with her. They even got the owners of that bakery to make their wedding cake just a year before. She sat at the dining room table and waited for the sound of his key poking around in the keyhole of the front door. When she finally heard his arrival, a sound more awful than sharp nails on a chalkboard, the hair on the nape of her neck rose up and gave way to the goose bumps that tread her forearms. Carrie waited for the keyhole confirmation, but instead heard three, loud and piercing doorbell rings. Annoyed at the fact that he rung it three times, Carrie opened the door looking neutral and bland. Andrew stood there holding a box decorated with a pattern she could see in her sleep, a bouquet of Baby’s Breath, and a bottle of champagne. His smile was big enough to make her forget the real person standing in the doorway, making her giggle and washing away the frustration that once consumed her. Carrie widened the door to give him room to walk inside and grabbed the bouquet out of his hand, getting a whiff before closing the door. The moment was nice. It almost seemed normal. She was so taken by it that she went over to the table and placed the flowers down so she could grab him and kiss his lips tenderly. He put his hands around her waist, hoisted her up and whispered, “Happy birthday, my love” in her ear. Once her feet were once again touching the ground, Carrie skipped over to the kitchen and grabbed two champagne flutes from a dinner set they only used on special occasions. For the first time in a long time, she anticipated a good night with her husband and didn’t see what could wrong.
Abhorring her naivete, Carrie shook her head in an attempt to shake out her thoughts. Dashing through an abandoned road she learned about months ago when she was in search of peace, Carrie’s car lurched forward, threatening to break down. She rubbed the dashboard and said in a whimsical tone, “come on, baby, you’re awesome. Be awesome for mama. We can make it, baby, can’t we?” She switched gears and pressed down on the gas, urging the car to go faster; urging it to take her further away. Finally getting in the zone and feeling safer without any other cars around, Carrie’s cell phone vibrated and started dancing around in a circle on the front seat. The words on her screen seemed to be in big, bright red capital letters. In bright, whimsical white letters, almost mocking her despair, were the initials of her beloved. She looked at the contact name, AJ, a childhood nickname given to him by his deceased mother, and shivered. Squaring her jaw and bracing herself for the next few calls she knew he’d make. Carrie’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest and paralyzed her brain momentarily. Coming back to life at the sight of headlights in her rear view mirror, Carrie glanced at her phone again to see his name reappearing on the screen. Whenever she left the house for a few hours, Andrew would call and leave apologetic voice mails claiming that he worried about her safety and demanded her to return back to their home. He’d never try to find her, he’d never cause a ruckus, just simply wait for her at home with a hug and hot bath running. The reflection of the headlights glared at her, bringing her hope for peace to a solemn end. Carrie tried to shut off her phone and even throw it out of the window, but her attempts were sabotaged by the car behind her crashing into her back bumper. Carrie’s body lunged forward and her forehead collided with the steering wheel. She let out a weak shriek and tried to maintain her composure, then laughed at herself for trying to fight a battle that was never hers in the first place. Carrie’s phone went off, breaking the silence in her that was deafening the chaos. She reached over aggressively to finally just break it in half, but this time, she answered it. Peeking at the road to make sure she was on course, despite the frequent run-ins, Carrie clicked the answer button and put her ear to the phone. At first, neither of them spoke. They sat in an eerie silence, except when he’d run his car into hers and she’d hear him grunt. When he finally hit her hard enough that she almost ran into a tree and she screamed, he chuckled for a brief moment and then returned to his silence. Then finally, in a voice darker than the night embracing their horror, he said, “how far did you think you would get?”


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