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Authors: Christina OW

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BOOK: Star Bright
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Sleep here
with me please?” he sounded worried. Maria pulled him back and
stared at him. The only time he asked her to sleep in his bed was
if Ricky was drunk or he was scared, and there was only one thing
that frightened him, Ricky.

How long was she going to
let her family suffer in the hands of that drunken mad
man?

She nodded, getting into
bed and holding him tight against her, but it felt like he was
holding onto her. She held back a sob and wiped her flowing tears
away. She couldn’t let this go on much longer, she needed to find a
way out.


Mama! Mama!”
Michael shook Maria awake, yelling in fear. It only took the sound
of his voice for her to know there was trouble. She scrambled out
of bed and stood by her son’s locked door. She whimpered in fear as
she watched Edna lean against it keeping Ricky from knocking it
down. He was screaming for Maria, threatening to burn down the
house if she didn’t open the door. Maria looked at her scared
mother and her crying son, it took all she had to keep from
breaking down. She didn’t doubt Ricky would carry out his threat,
she needed to get them out of the house.

With trembling legs she
ran to the window and opened it wide. It was just a few feet to the
ground, Michael would be able to reach it. “Baby come here,” she
reached out for him, but he shook his head, “Michael please!” she
begged desperately, very close to crying.


Grandma
first!” He insisted. Maria looked at her mother and then at her
son. He wasn’t going to budge unless she went first. Maria picked
up his chair and wedged it against the door knob.


Open up you
bitch! If I get my hands on you I’ll kill you!” Ricky’s hoarse
voice rang from behind the door. The banging got harder and Ricky
got madder, scaring Maria even more, turning her whimper into a
muffled cry, she wanted to curl up in a fetal position and just
weep, but she pushed the thought away. She needed to protect her
son, if Ricky got his hands on any one of them he would kill them
for sure.


Mama, go and
take Michael with you!” Maria pinned her weight against the door
just in case Ricky managed to break it down. Edna went through the
window first, and then waited for Michael to help him out. When
they were both out, Maria ran for the window, jumped out and ran to
the car.

Ricky appeared out of
nowhere. He chased after them screaming and yelling. Maria ran
faster, her energy fueled by intense fear, catching up to Michael
and her mother easily. She scooped up her son and held him against
her like a football as she ran, “Mama run faster!” she called out
to Edna. She ran faster, reaching the car the same time as her
daughter. She was in pretty good shape for a forty three year old.
She cradled Michael while Maria drove like a mad woman away from
their house.

Ricky chased after the
car for a while before giving up. They drove for a few minutes,
then Maria looked into her rear-view mirror, she wanted to make
sure Ricky wasn’t following them anymore. When she couldn’t see
him, she pulled over and started crying. All the frustration,
anguish and fear she had been holding inside finally made its way
out. Michael quietly wrapped his tiny hands around her neck and
hugged her head against his. This only made Maria cry
harder.

Edna got out from her
side and went around to the driver’s side and opened the door,
“Scoot over.” Obediently Maria moved to the passenger side and
carried her son on her lap. He reached up and wiped her tears with
his tiny fingers and smiled at her. He was the strong one now. Edna
started the car and drove off fast. She gently touched Maria’s
cheek before she turned Michael to face her, “Tell your grandma a
joke.”

Michael’s smile widened,
already distracted by Edna, “Okay. Why did the chicken cross the
road?”


It’s a traffic
police chicken.” Edna answered with a smile.


No.” Michael
laughed. He let his lock on Maria’s neck go, but kept one tiny hand
spread on the side of her neck.

Maria reclined her seat,
leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to think
about Ricky, she wanted to keep her mind blank and try to forget
the scare they just had.


Honey what
other reason could there be?” They had all heard this joke before,
but there was no reason to steal the boy’s thunder, besides it was
distracting him and that suited Maria and Edna just
fine.


It crossed the
road to get to KFC.” Michael answered. Maria opened her eyes and
looked at her son. She had never heard this version of the joke
before.


Why?” Edna
asked pulling into Jane’s drive way.


Because KFC
was giving life insurance.” He answered with a beaming smile. Maria
and Edna laughed.


I have another
one.” Michael bounced up and down on Maria’s lap.


Go for it.”
Maria whispered her eyes glued on her son’s beaming face. She
wished she was like him, capable of blocking out all the bad stuff
moments after it happened. But was he blocking it out or bottling
it up?


How many
doctors do you need to change a light bulb?”


Two.” Edna
answered him.


None. It
depends on whether or not it has health insurance!” they all
laughed. Maria and Edna hadn’t heard that one before
either.


Do you get
these jokes from school or Sunday school?” Maria asked him still
laughing. She tried to remove his hand from her neck, but he held
on to her tight. She looked at him worried, was he pretending to be
fine just for her benefit?

The laughter died when
Jane stepped out of her house, with her baby in her arms. She’d
heard the car pull up in her drive way.

The reality of why they
were here in the first place weighed heavily on them. Maria got
teary again, but she held back crying until Michael was out of the
car. Edna got out behind him. She took Jane’s baby and walked into
the house with Michael in tow.

Jane ran to the car and
helped Maria out. She held her in a bear hug as she cried her heart
out again. Maria felt the familiar itch that always came when she
was touched, but she didn’t pull away, she wanted to be held, to be
comforted and protected from her life.

It was an hour before
Maria felt cried out. She sank to the ground and sat down, her back
against her Vitz, her head in her hands. Jane sunk next to her, and
began looking her over for any sort of marks.


What did he do
to you?” she asked bitterly.


Michael woke
me up crying... mama was barricading the door...,” she stopped. A
fresh trickle of tears ran down her cheeks. The thought of Ricky
succeeding on catching up with them made her shiver with fear, “I
can’t... I can’t take this anymore Jane, I just can’t.”

Jane stood up and pulled
Maria up, “You won’t have to. You are all leaving tonight.” she led
Maria into the house and bolted her door shut.

Maria stood anxiously at
the window keeping a look out for Ricky. She knew he had already
been to JJ’s and he was now out in the town searching for her. She
felt a little comfort that he wouldn’t dare go to Jane’s house. He
was too much of a coward to face Tom. Jane had asked him to stay
home that day just in case Ricky’s alcoholic ego convinced him to
stop by. Maria felt embarrassed about it, but Tom was too willing
to do it. He had waited a long time to give Ricky a taste of his
own medicine and he wasn’t going to miss his chance in delivering
it.

Maria picked up Jane and
Tom’s wedding photo from the table and stared at it with longing.
They looked happy and so much in love with each other, like they
were halves of each other that needed to be together to live a full
content life. She envied them, not in a way that would birth
resentment, but in an empty wishful way.

How she wished she had
something like that, someone to love her unconditionally with
respect and trust. Someone, whose hands would give her pleasure and
comfort and not unimaginable pain. Someone who would make love to
her with passion and not abuse her with sadistic enthusiasm like
Ricky did. How she wished she felt the same excitement Jane did
when she went home everyday to her husband and not the dread and
fear she felt when she went home to Ricky.

How she wished she was
someone else.


Maria lets
go.” Jane walked to the door and held it ajar. Maria looked at her,
tangling her fingers, too scared to put a foot out and have Ricky
attack her. “Don’t worry, Tom is keeping him busy in town.” a grin
crept over her face.

Maria smiled back,
understanding what Jane meant. She just hoped Tom would break as
many if not more of his bones as he did hers. But not even that
made her feel secure enough to leave her haven. She could feel her
nerves take control as a little voice in her head told her to lock
and fortify the door and not to be stupid enough to put a foot out
that door.

Jane gave her a gentle
smile, reading the fear in Maria’s eyes. She didn’t want to force
her to go back to the prison she called home for years, but she
needed help in moving all their stuff out and Maria needed to take
charge of her life, moving out was just the beginning. “Maria,
we’ll be in and out in five minutes, I promise.”

Maria nodded and pulled
her lips in a tight smile. She didn’t want to come across as a
coward, but that’s what she was, a complete yellow belly. She
fisted her hands at her sides and took a few deep breaths just to
rush some life into her frozen legs.


Let’s go.” She
walked out and went to Jane’s car. She wanted to get as much of
their stuff as she possibly could before Ricky came back. She had
some money saved up, but it wouldn’t last them long. The first
thing she’d have to do when they got to their new home was get a
job. She laughed at herself quietly, she was already planning a
future when she wasn’t even sure if they would be able to leave
their home, let alone the town, alive.


Wait, I’m
coming with you.” Edna appeared from the back of the
house.


Mama whose
going to watch the kids if you come with us?” Maria asked feeling a
little impatient. Tom may have Ricky busy, but she was still
anxious. She wanted to get out of Jacksonville as soon as possible,
while she still could.


They are
hiding at Grace’s. I thought it best just in case he came around
here.” She got into Jane’s station wagon. Maria felt a little
relieved that she had one less thing to worry about, but that
didn’t ease the anxiety she felt of going home and finding Ricky
waiting for her with a shot gun. She felt she should have kissed
Michael goodbye just in case they got home and did find Ricky
waiting at the door with a shot gun.

Jane drove fast, she too
seemed anxious and it wasn’t helping Maria stay calm. After what
seemed like ages sitting in the car jittery and biting her nails
they got to the house. She waited for a few seconds for Ricky to
spring out and run for the car, but nothing happened. She jetted
out of the car anxious to get in and out as fast as she could. Jane
and Edna were running behind her. Maria headed for her room, Edna
went for hers and Jane ran to Michael’s packing only the
essentials.

Maria ran to the kitchen
and took out the wade of money from under the sink. She might have
been a fool staying with Ricky for so long, but she wasn’t that
much of an idiot not to save for a rainy day, and the rainy day had
arrived. Edna came into the kitchen. She climbed the counter and
reached above the cupboards. She took out a heavy envelope and
jumped off the counter. She turned to Maria with a smile, “Get away
money. I’ve been waiting for this day for years.”

Maria looked at her,
unable to return the smile. She felt so guilty for keeping her
mother and son in the same hell hole she was in, “I’m so sorry
mama.” She choked out, blinking back the tears.

Edna put her hand on
Maria’s cheek, her eyes gentle and understanding, “Hush. You were
scared and what kind of mother would I be if I left you alone with
this monster?”


What kind of
daughter and mother does that make me, having brought the monster
here in the first place?” Maria let her tears flow freely, but Edna
wiped them away.


Maria, Edna we
need to get out of here!” Jane came yelling into the kitchen. That
only meant one thing, Ricky was back. Maria ran into the living
room and looked outside the window. Ricky was limping and all his
clothes were bloodied and he looked viciously angry too, with a gun
in his hand. Tom did a number on him and now he was going to take
it out on her.


Maria, I know
you are in there. You and that bitch Jane. I’m going to kill her
for what Tom did to me!” he limped faster towards the
house.

Maria retreated to the
kitchen, a cold chill running down her back. They couldn’t run if
they were all to get out alive. Ricky was a good shot, drunk or
sober.


Jane, you and
mama need to get out of here!” she gave Jane the money she had and
pushed them towards the back door with the bags.


No. We can’t
leave you.” Edna protested.


He’s got a
gun. I can’t risk him killing either of you. He’ll beat me, but he
won’t kill me,” Maria was sure of it. Ricky may use her as a
punching bag, but in his own sick way he loved her too much to kill
her, even though he threatened to do that a number of times. The
door came crushing in, making all of them jump, “Go, now!” Maria
pushed them out the back door then turned to face the kitchen door
way, scared, waiting for the inevitable.

BOOK: Star Bright
6.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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