Ice in Her Veins
Photo by Denis Collette. Used under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.
I heard the pleading from inside the house. A woman’s voice, pleading. A man’s voice, too deep for me to understand, rumbling.
My house is back off the street. This wasn’t a normal conversation. It was loud enough for me to hear from 75 feet away.
I stood up from my work and opened the front door. I could see the silhouettes of man and a woman. They were in a car, an old white sedan with a crumpled and rusted rear door, the windows part-way up.
“Just get out,” she was saying. “Please, please, just get out. Go.”
She sounded more weary than afraid, but she sounded afraid, too. She sounded like she had been asking forever and like she didn’t have a lot more ask left in her. His voice was still strong, deep, insistent.
I didn’t want to go out there, but I had made a vow a long time ago not to leave a woman in danger. It wasn’t a vow to anyone but myself, but it was still there, a small quiet thing at the bottom of my heart.
I sighed deeply and got my cell phone, put it in the pocket of my apron. I opened the driveway gate and walked out and stood on the sidewalk next to the car, leaned over.
She was still repeating herself. He was holding her wrists. He was saying, “I just need to talk to you some more.”
“Hey,” I said softly. Their heads both snapped toward me. He was closer to me, on the passenger side. Dark hair and eyes, young, maybe 25. She was thin and blonde and had her hair in a messy ponytail pinned up on her head with a big chipped silver barrette. Her face was blotchy and her baby blue tank top was spotted with runaway tears, tears she hadn’t been able to wipe because he was holding both her hands.
“Do you need anything?” I said, looking past him to her in the driver’s seat. “I have a cell phone. You can come in if you need to.”
“Get out of here,” he said, not with any particular malice, but with a flat authority, as if he were used to being obeyed, as if he thought that was all he would need to say to make me leave them alone.
“Yeah, you should go,” she said, her voice wavering, full of water.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I said. I meant it for both of them, but mostly for her.
I knew I was on dangerous ground, with a young man I didn’t know and a distraught woman. He could be armed, he could be violent. He could crack open at any minute. But that was the point, wasn’t it? He could be armed and use it against her. He could be violent with her. Unless I stayed, no one would know that.
I wanted her to know that someone was there, even if it was someone she had never seen before. Someone who could provide another set of eyes on this man.
“Come on,” he said to her, tossing his chin forward and releasing her hands. “Let’s go.”
She wiped her hands on her pants and started the car. They drove away down my street.
I could suddenly hear the birds again and see wider than just the circle in front of my face. I stood there and breathed and watched them go down to the corner and make a left turn.
From a writing prompt by Stacy on IndieInk, “ice in his/her veins.”