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Authors: Leddy Harper,Marlo Williams,Kristen Switzer


BOOK: Hindsight
3.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

March 3
, 2015


You always hear about the moment right before the end when you see your life flash before your eyes. Some people have even said they had experienced heaven as they headed for the bright light in that one split second before everything went blank. But there isn’t a way to know if they spoke of the truth. Not until you’re actually there, in that moment, that one moment just before the curtains of life are drawn closed after what becomes your final act.

I can tell you firsthand if that is true. I experienced it. Taking my bow as the curtains slowly closed. I tried to stop them, but it was useless. It’s weird, the roller coaster of emotions you go through when you’ve reached your journey’s end.

As I lay on the cool tile, random thoughts ran through my mind. They astonished me, considering the seriousness of my situation. I had no idea where the random thoughts even came from. It was probably because I knew I was fading. I could tell by the blood that formed in pools around my body. My time on earth was coming to a close.

Across the room, in front of the closed bathroom door, I could see my phone. I knew without a doubt that there were words of love typed on the screen. I knew this because I had typed them for the man I loved so dearly I could not imagine my life without him. I tried to focus on that, on those words in hopes that they would give me strength. But all I could focus on was the red on the top of the screen, suffocating the heartfelt words I had taken time to type out.

So much blood.

So much pain.

So many regrets.

My eyes closed and then I frantically fought to open them again. I wasn’t ready to go just yet. They slowly opened and then fell upon one of the grey shag rugs that lay neatly beside me. I remembered the time when I had meticulously picked out every single item to decorate this bathroom, the master bathroom of my home. It had seemed so important at that moment in time. It had taken me weeks to match the color scheme perfectly. Weeks I had just fucking wasted. That seemed so insignificant now. The upper-class neighborhood we lived in was desirable by many, yet obtained by a select few. It was practically a requirement to have a nicely furnished home. I doubt anyone had ever died here, especially in the gruesome manner in which I was dying.

My life had been so simple once upon a time, but complications had led to illegal activities, which eventually led to my current situation.

I tried to think back to the simpler times. Would I rewind things and begin again?

I moaned as the pain reached a new level. I tried to reach my hand up and realized it, too, was covered in my blood. There was so much blood, too much. I couldn’t believe I was still alive with so much blood lying on the outside of my body.

I was so cold.

Would he find me? Did I want him to find me? Where was he?

My eye caught the crystal vase that was lying beside the toilet on the floor, wedged between the floorboard and toilet tank. It had cracked and that, for some reason, upset me. That vase held so many memories. I didn’t want its life to end with mine. I wanted it to live on and provide new memories to someone else.

I laughed, or tried to at least. It came out as wheezing. I must have really been losing my mind if I was thinking about a vase living on. It’s just that it once held precious memories to me. My mind was whipping through prior memories like you flip through pictures in an album.

My breathing was getting shallower. The time between the breaths was getting longer and longer. My body was working harder to take each breath. It wouldn’t be long now.

I fleetingly wondered if I should try to make it to the phone to call someone for help. I wouldn’t make it. My energy was dissolving and wouldn’t carry me the way I needed it to. I hadn’t thought of the distance from where I was to the bathroom door as a long one, until now. Now it seemed like miles away.

I wondered if I had remembered to lock the bathroom door behind me and fleetingly looked up to the knob to see if the lock was turned in the vertical locked position. It wasn’t. The fact that I had stupidly left the lock on the door unlocked made my breathing grow heavy in fear. I didn’t want him to come in here and find me. Now what would I do?

I tried to move my body, but it was no use. I couldn’t move a muscle. I wondered how much longer I had. My breathing hitched at the thought of death crawling closer. I wondered if I would end up in heaven or hell. I was good, or at least strived for goodness my entire life. This, the way I ended up, wasn’t my fault.

I stopped breathing for a moment at a sound I thought I heard downstairs. It was weird how I could hear things down there while being all the way up here. But I could hear sounds and knew which ones didn’t belong in my house.

I started breathing again and felt relief that my time wasn’t over just yet. I thought of all the times during my life that I had wished for death. I didn’t know why I was trying to hang on now. After everything that had happened. I suddenly wanted to fight again and live. It was strange how those feelings continued to battle within me. I wanted one more chance to live my life the way I wanted, without regret and the loss of the love of my life. One minute, I was ready to fight for the life I was losing, and the next minute, I was prepared to let go. Thinking it was best.

I tried to imagine how all the people in my life would react to my death. Moreover, would they even realize the facts of what led to my demise? Upon my passing, I could think of quite a few people that would not mourn me one bit. A couple of people, who would call themselves my dear friends, may even find themselves relieved.

I heard someone pound up the stairs, the footsteps distinctly running or moving quickly. Someone was looking for me. Fear found its way back in. The same fear I had felt for years, only worse. It was worse because after the love we shared, the hate was worse. And I feared what he would do, how he would act, and what would happen to me.

Did I want to live?

Did I want to die?

I took a breath in and slowly let it out as darkness met me.

So did I experience it? The flashing of life or the whiteness of heaven? Not in the way people have made it sound, but I did see it. It served the purpose of showing me where it all went wrong. It proved to me why I was alone and cold, dying on the bathroom floor. It reminded me that as humans, we make choices, good or bad, and we must live with the consequences.

I didn’t see heaven at all, nor did I see hell. I saw
—his face, his hands, his eyes, his smile.

Hindsight. They say it’s twenty-twenty.

That’s the truest statement I had ever heard. Moments of my life flooded my mind, all of them going back in time.

Slowly scrolling backward, back to a time when it all started. It served as a roadmap to the beginning.

March 2
, 2015


Everything was coming to a head. My fear had reached an all-time high, and my anxiety was through the roof. Every sound I heard made me jump and I constantly heard strange noises coming from outside as soon as the sun went down. Shadows danced around the room as I stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, waiting until sleep deprivation finally took over.

I sounded crazy, and had even questioned my own sanity from time to time. But I knew I wasn’t insane. I was a product of my environment. An environment that had encompassed my house being broken into, a husband that hated me, but who hated to be without me even more, and a man that I loved more than life itself that wouldn’t listen to me. He wouldn’t talk to me, be near me, or even answer my calls. That had hurt more than anything else I had ever been through.

It literally felt as if he took a knife and opened my veins, letting everything inside spill out until I was an empty shell of nothingness. I was nothing without him. But I had faith that we would find our way back to one another. I had a plan.

My phone rang next to me, making me jump a mile and pulling me from my inner thoughts. My heart slammed against my ribcage as adrenaline pumped through my veins. Even though I had called him numerous times, I hadn’t seen his number show up on my caller ID in over two months.

My hands fumbled with the phone as I attempted to answer it before it quit ringing. I was scared at what would happen if I did answer the phone, but even more terrified of what would happen if I didn’t. I wasn’t sure how long I had sat there, staring at the number, but I knew it was a while.

“Hello?” I asked timidly, unsure of why he would be calling.

I heard a breathy sigh through the line and tears sprang to my eyes. My emotions were all over the place and I couldn’t control them. All I could do was sit and cry, sleep and cry, or just plain old cry.

“Don’t cry. Please, Char, don’t cry. I don’t think I can handle that.”

That only made me cry harder.

“Did you get a lawyer?” he asked.


“So it’s really happening?” His voice changed octave.

“Yes.” I couldn’t come up with anything else to say.

There was a pause on his end of the line and it made me quit breathing.

“Are you changing your mind? Did… did you change your mind?” I asked.

“No.” He sounded upset, emotional. “I didn’t change my mind. Did you?”

It was my turn to let out a deep sigh. “God, no. This is what I’ve always wanted.”

Our tones were both so disturbing it was hard to gauge where the conversation was heading. It was as if we were both whispering into the phones, scared of being overheard. We’d had so many hushed conversations in the past, but I thought we were past those. Maybe we were just used to whispering when we spoke to each other. No one could hear me. Could someone hear him?

“Sean, are you alone?” I had to ask. After everything I had been through in my life, I had to know. I didn’t think for one second that he would be entertaining a guest, specifically a female one, but the tiny voice inside my head made me ask.

“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know. You’re just being very quiet.”

“Char…” he said and his voice cracked. He paused for a moment and cleared his throat. I knew if I were in front of him, his eyes would be moist from tears. I had seen him like that once before, and the sight had nearly killed me. I didn’t even want to imagine what he looked like at that moment while on the phone with me because it would be devastating. I could picture him in my mind’s eye and that was enough for me. I knew he was sitting there with his hair soft, unmanaged, light brown hair that would flip up at the ends after he finished running his hands through it numerous times. His eyes had to have been puffy from lack of sleep; that much I could tell by the gravelly tone of his voice. I could only assume he was wearing a faded tee shirt and house jeans; if he was feeling as low as he sounded, he probably hadn’t left his house. I knew him so well, I could bet he was barefoot and laying on his couch with his feet dangling off the side. I knew all of that just by the sound of his voice. There was no one I knew better than Sean. I loved him so much that thinking about him in pain nearly ended me.

“Charlotte, I’ve been so worried that this day would never happen. I honestly thought we would never get here. I don’t even know what to say right now.”

“Are you happy?” I nervously asked.

“More than you’ll ever know.”

I took in a breath, and it felt like my very first breath of air. I felt reborn and able to live again. My life was starting over, fresh and new. No more broken bones, no more black eyes, and no more fear. Just love. Pure, unbreakable love.

“I love you, Char,” he sounded distraught, as if his words were so heartfelt he could hardly bear it. I knew exactly how he felt. I had been reeling from it for the last couple of months myself.

“Are you okay?”

“I just…” He cleared his throat again. “I just didn’t think this day would ever come. I didn’t want to call you for fear that you would tell me you hadn’t called the lawyer yet. And to be honest with you, Char, I couldn’t handle one more thing. I told myself, if one more thing happened, or didn’t happen, I would be done. I love you so fucking much. More than you’ll ever know, but I wouldn’t allow myself one more thing to hurt me. So I’m relieved. I’m so relieved I don’t think I can breathe yet. You have no idea how scared I was that you were going to tell me you hadn’t hired a lawyer yet. God…” He blew out a breath and it felt as if it went right into my ear. “I’m so relieved.”

The tears from my eyes fell even harder. Hearing him say out loud that he wouldn’t have stuck around gutted me. I knew I was pushing my luck, stringing him along for so long. But just hearing him admit that he was that close to backing away made my heart clench tight in my chest. I couldn’t handle the emotions running through me.

“I told you it would happen once the trial was over. I had a plan all along. Now that the trial is over, I’m free.” I sobbed the words out. It was hard to believe that I was finally free.

“Don’t cry, Char. We’re good now. Everything is fine. I’m going to come by and pick you up tomorrow. We’re going to get you out of that house. I’m going to take you away where no one will ever hurt you again. Just me and you, forever. Always, just us. I love you so much, Charlotte.”

“I love you, too, Sean,” I replied through sobs. My heart filled with so much emotion. So much love. “I’ll be waiting with my bags packed. Take me away, Sean. I’m so ready.” Part of me wanted to beg him to rush over right then and there, but that was ridiculous. We could wait until morning. We had already waited this long.

There was more silence between us, but I think it was just both of us absorbing the situation. So much had happened between us. So much good. So much bad. But I knew that this was right. I knew that going away with him was what I was meant to do. We chatted happily for a few more minutes, elated about the promise of our future together that was now for certain. Everything I had ever wanted seemed so close, I could touch it with my fingertips and it was almost within my grasp.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Char. I love you.”

“See you then. I’ll be waiting.”

And then we hung up.

I curled into a ball on the couch and finally allowed myself to cry. I needed to get it all out, because once Sean came to take me away, there would no longer be a need for additional tears. He was all I ever needed. All I ever wanted. And
was coming to make my dreams come true. Every single one of them.

I was finally going to be free and safe.

My phone began to ring again, and my heart leapt in delight. I answered it without looking at the screen. I knew it had to be Sean again, so I pulled my phone up to my ear and waited anxiously until the phone answered the call. I was so elated that he had called me again. I had almost called him back myself. Our conversation hadn’t been long enough and I wanted to be with him now! Maybe he would come over and pick me up tonight after all.

“Hello?” I asked, trying to make it sound as if I hadn’t been sitting on the couch still crying.

“Baby, thank God you answered the phone. I thought you were going to send me to voicemail again.”

My stomach rolled from the sound of his voice. He made me so sick I thought I would throw up. Why hadn’t I looked at the caller ID screen before answering? I should have known better. His calls were coming in more and more often. It was turning almost obsessive as the end neared.

“What do you want, Tony?” I asked, holding my stomach after feeling a particularly heavy wave of nausea roll through it. He had a way of striking such intense fear into me that it could literally make me physically ill. I would not miss that.

“I want you,” he admitted in a tone softer than I thought he was capable of uttering. “I miss you, baby. Let me come home. Please. I promise; it’ll be different. I swear it. It was the trial that made me so crazy.”

I had heard that line more times than I could count. His apologies no longer meant anything to me. They were just words, lies spoken from a pathological liar with no intention to follow through. The only thing Tony could follow through on was a backhanded swing. And not the golf kind. No. The kind of backhanded swing that involved his hand connecting and causing damage to my face.

“Charlotte, baby… are you there?” His tone was calm, but I knew better. His tone caused my arms to break out in goose bumps.

“I’m here. But if you’re just going to beg me to forgive you and let you back in, you’re wasting your time. It’s not happening, Tony. I’ve already told you this. I mean it this time.”

“You don’t mean it,” he said relentlessly. He wasn’t going to give up.

I didn’t want to poke the sleeping bear, because at that moment, that’s what he was—a sleeping bear, and it was better to just leave him be. I had seen it many times before. He acted sorrowful, and made it seem as if he couldn’t live without me. But the second I gave in, the monster within him awoke. He was the proverbial Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Except, I hadn’t seen Mr. Hyde in a very long time. It would have been entertaining to watch him come out and play, but I wasn’t in the mood to play his games any longer. I was ready to move on and be happy.

“I do mean it, Tony. I won’t do this anymore. A person can only be beaten down so many times before they cry mercy.”

“I will go to anger management classes. I’ll seek professional help. I’ll do couples counseling with you, whatever you want me to do. Just please, let me come home. I love you so much. I want us to go back to where it all began. I just want to be with you, baby,” he pleaded.

Hearing him tell me that he loved me and using endearments meant for lovers, after hearing Sean tell me the same thing, didn’t do anything for me. In fact, it had the opposite effect. It made my stomach turn more. There was a clear difference between the two. Sean’s admittance held so much conviction, so much emotion, so much
… Whereas Tony’s was empty, void of meaning, and would be followed up with abuse.

“I’ve heard this all before. Why should I believe you now?” I wasn’t sure why I was even entertaining the idea to let him argue his point. I guess I just felt it easier to get it out of the way. I had been ignoring his calls for weeks.

“I’m a changed man… or at least I want to be. I want to be better for you. I want to do right by you. I want us to be the way we used to be. You remember that, don’t you? When I picked you up at the grocery store?”

I couldn’t help but smile at that. Then I scolded myself.

“Don’t you remember, baby?”

I hated it when he called me baby. He only ever did that when he was trying to win me over. Once he had me, it went right back to the derogatory and vicious name-calling. Just hearing him call me baby sounded like venom to my system and made me instantly nauseous.

“Hmm? Charlotte? Do you remember?” He almost sounded like he was taunting me, but I couldn’t be sure.

“Yes, Tony. I remember,” I answered, trying hard to keep the annoyance from being evident in my tone. I didn’t want to make him angry. If I provoked him, God only knew what he would do. I already knew what he was capable of and didn’t want to push him. I just wanted him to go away.

“Then tell me. Tell me how we met.”

“I don’t want to do this with you, Tony. I’m done.” I didn’t want to relive the few moments our relationship had meant something to me. I was ready to move on. Why was he insisting I do this?

“Please!” His voice cracked. Was he crying? “Please tell me. I need to know that you remember it the same way I do.”

I was pretty sure I didn’t, but I relented and told him the damn story.

“I was in the bread aisle, looking at the difference between two loaves and you walked up.”

“Whole wheat and whole grain,” he interjected.

“What?” I was momentarily confused.

“That’s the bread you were looking at.”

How did he remember that? He had spent years hating me. Why would he remember what bread I was looking at the day we met? That had been six years ago. What the hell?

“What, you didn’t think I remembered?” I could hear the smile on his face. “I remember everything, Charlotte. You were wearing a pair of stylishly ripped jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and those hideous boots with the fur on the inside. Your hair was long, all the way to your waist, and you were wearing those black-framed glasses. The ones you never wear anymore, but always looked sexy as hell on you.”

BOOK: Hindsight
3.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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