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Ice in Her Veins

July 30, 2011

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.”

  1. July 30, 2011 15:50

    Is this true, Sue? It sounds true.

    Outside of an apartment complex I once lived in, a woman who had just given birth to a baby a few days before was splayed out on the lawn, baby to her chest, her husband sitting on her thighs trying to punch her face. I called out, said I was calling the police. He ran off, ordering her to follow. I begged her to come inside. I was broke as all hell but offered to let her stay with me. Instead, she went back home a couple of hours later. Heartbreaking.

    • July 30, 2011 16:01

      Yes, true. I wish I could have done more but that’s real life…you don’t always get the Hollywood ending.

  2. midlifenatalie permalink
    July 30, 2011 16:11

    Wow, gut wrenching. You did the right thing though. I’m sure she appreciated it even though she didn’t know how to respond to it.

    • July 30, 2011 17:37

      I had to do it for my own peace of mind. I hope she finds hers.

  3. July 30, 2011 16:45

    wow. maybe next time, she’ll be ready for someone to help.

    • July 30, 2011 17:38

      I hope so. Unfortunately, it takes most women many, many times before they get out.

  4. Elvie permalink
    July 30, 2011 17:52

    Bless you for trying.

  5. LindaSalem permalink
    July 31, 2011 07:21

    On behalf of that woman, I want to thank you. I was her. From this side (ten years of distance), I don’t know why it took me so long to get out and then I didn’t leave he did. I was sure I would die without him. After being separated for several years, he started stalking me again and I fell right back in to all of it. As awful as it sounds, I’ll never really be really free until he’s dead. Sigh.

    You mustn’t worry about me now because I’m with such an amazing man now and my life is so different and wonderful. I’ve had a lot of help from people like you.

    Thank you for me and for that lady. We will pray she finds herself before he kills her.

    • July 31, 2011 12:49

      Linda, I’m so glad you got out and found happiness. Yes, that woman needs prayers…and I hope she finds some support.

  6. mar permalink
    July 31, 2011 09:52

    Beautifully written. And frightening.
    Been there, but not brave enough to speak directly to the people involved. Called the police more than once on different domestic disturbances at my old apartment over the course of 8 years there, though.

    • July 31, 2011 12:48

      It’s hard to experience, even as a bystander.

  7. August 3, 2011 18:50

    Wonderfully written. The story itself is powerful and I love the discussion it has led to. But I am also loving the fact that this came from a writing prompt. I need to get back into doing those…..

  8. August 5, 2011 10:31

    You just never know, do you? You did the right thing, Sue. Even if the woman didn’t express her thanks or pretend to recognize what you were trying to do for her. Many years ago I was in the middle of a very loud argument with a boyfriend who was an incredible liar and a cheat. He wasn’t violent, but he made my life miserable. In the apartment underneath me was a loner named Doyle. We would see each other coming and going and I’m pretty sure he was a drug dealer, but he let me go my way and I let him go his.

    In the middle of the argument (my front door was open), Doyle appeared on my landing carrying a hand gun (This is Texas) and asked me in a soft voice if I was okay and did I need any help. I told him I didn’t…but thanked him. I’ve never forgotten how safe that one gesture made me feel because a stranger was willing to help me escape trouble with another man.

    I guarantee that somewhere deep inside, this woman felt the same way.

  9. August 10, 2011 00:06

    You are amazing.

  10. August 11, 2011 13:14

    This is my first visit to your blog and wow you are an amazing writer and such a strong woman! Most people would have just stayed inside. It’s always easy to say what you would do in any given situation but it really takes some guts to stand up for what you believe in when the time comes. Way to go! 🙂

    • August 14, 2011 07:35

      Thanks, Paula. My sis read the post to my mom and now they’re both worried about me LOL.

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