16
Jul
08

Eleven Months of Hell

Chapter 1

“What did you call me, huh? Speak up bitch!” Mercedes commanded. Terri shivered under the knife Mercedes had placed on his throat. This was different from the way he acted thirty seconds ago. His whole body trembled now; he realizes that he went too far. He couldn’t believe Mercedes would step to him like this. She was usually so calm and relaxed. She hated violence. Right before his eyes, she had snapped into another woman. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He shut his eyes and prayed to God to spare him his life.
Mercedes’ heart was beating loudly as she watched Terri close his eyes to pray. She turned to look towards her bed where she saw her bible faced down on it. Shame washed over her. She dropped the knife. Terri broke loose and ran downstairs, falling as he went. He disappeared into his bedroom, slammed, and locked the door. She could hear him moving furniture in front of the door. “Lord please, forgive me!” She cried. Mercedes fell to her knees and begged God for forgiveness. She praised Him for stopping her from slitting Terri’s throat. Just seconds ago, she almost committed an act that could have gotten her locked away for a very, very long time. Her mind drifted to earlier that night, to the thoughts she had formulated about Terri and their marriage.

***

Mercedes listened as Terri unlocked the back door and walked into the house. He had just gotten off from his shift at the post office. She could hear him walking around downstairs as if he was inspecting the place. This was his nightly routine. She cringed when she heard his foot settle onto the first step. He was coming upstairs to harass and abuse her, as usual. Everything was the same as it had been for the last eleven months, but tonight it would be different. Mercedes had made up her mind…tonight would be very different.
Terri swaggered into Mercedes’ space, his eyes glued on her as she sat reading her bible. He smirked, sniffed, and cocked his head. He started in with his usual assault.
“I was just downstairs and I don’t see one chore I instructed you to do complete! What’s wrong with you? Are you too stupid to even know what needs to be done around this house?”
“Look! I’m telling you Terri, I’m not in the mood for this mess tonight. If you call me stupid one more time, I swear, I’m not going to be responsible for my actions.” Mercedes’ heart pounded; she could feel adrenalin coursing through her body. She was tired of Terri’s verbal beatings and meant for this to be the last time this man called her out of her name. Terri considered her words an idle threat. Mercedes had said that so many times before but never did anything. Instead, she’d make up with him. Then when she wouldn’t comply with his demands he would start calling her names again. Mercedes kept on reading her bible. She was trying to regain her spiritual composure and become herself again. Terri smirked and started in on her again.
“You’re the stupidest woman I have ever met in my life! You’re sitting up here reading the bible and you don’t even understand what the Word is trying to say!” Terri bellowed.
Mercedes leapt from the bed, jumped in Terri’s face, clutching the butcher knife in her right hand she went for his jugular. She held the cold blade to his flesh. Her head throbbed, her eyes ached, she could hear her heart pounding wildly in her chest.
“What did you call me bitch? Say it again bitch! You said I was what? Huh? What is it you’ve never met before? Huh? Speak up bitch! You so damn smart! Say it bitch! You’re so bad. You a man, right? Say it bitch!”

Terri was shaken. Mercedes was dazed too, but she stood her ground. She never wanted to hear stupid come out of Terri’s mouth again. But even after asking him nicely and politely to stop, he’d refused. So she lost it. She felt something shaking and realized it was his knees. This gave her more nerve; she felt powerful, even invincible. It felt good to see Terri behave like the coward she had always known him to be. She looked him straight in the eyes and waited for him to call her stupid again. Tears slid down his cheeks. She didn’t know if he was sorry or scared. She concluded that he was scared since he didn’t think women ever deserved apologies. His eyes were turning beet red; he looked pitiful. She started feeling bad, but something in her would not let her stop. Mercedes’ eyes cascaded over the bed, where she had laid her bible. Something in her shifted; suddenly she felt an inner peace. Slowly she lifted the knife from Terri’s neck and lowered her arm. When she dropped it, Terri scurried down the steps like a girl, ran into his bedroom, and locked his door. What had become of her? How had she gotten to this place? She’d never hurt anyone in her life. Nor had she ever desired to hurt anyone. In the military she had been trained extensively to protect and defend self and others, yet she never once thought she’d use such measures on a member of her household. Mercedes didn’t consider Terri a husband—although she was legally married to him—she just thought of him as a person who happen to live in her household.

This man took me there. A place I thought I’d never go. Mercedes threw her hands up in praise, thanking God for bringing her back to her senses. Had she cut this man, life would have changed dramatically for her. Now she understood what it meant to commit a crime in the heat of passion. At least, in her case, what it’s like to come dangerously close to doing it. Funny though, she always thought a crime of passion had something to do would love. But Mercedes did not love this man. She didn’t even like him, yet there she was in the heat of passion, poised to commit the worst sin of her life. “Thank you Jesus!” Mercedes cried out. She knew this was the last time this man would ever call her stupid. Her body heaved a sigh of relief.

Mercedes phoned her sister.
“Hello.”
“Hey Pearl, how are you?” Mercedes spoke as if everything was normal.
“I’m good, just dosing in and out of sleep. Is everything alright?”
It was then that Mercedes realized it was past midnight, and it was unusual for her to call her sister so late at night, especially on a weeknight.
“Yeah, everything is fine. No, let me say everything is the same. But I’ve got to get out of this house, immediately,” Mercedes added.
“You want me to come get you now? I can get Max, gas up the car and we’ll be right down there, just say the word!”
“No, I haven’t made arrangements yet, but I’ll do it tomorrow, and we can do this on Saturday.” Mercedes thought about her son Max. She knew he would be ready to round up his boys, come to [name the town/city] and kick Terri’s butt. Mercedes kept most of the abuse and what she was going through from her sister and son because she didn’t want them to worry. Still, Pearl and Max had witnessed Terri’s craziness; they’d often asked if everything was all right.
“Well, you just get everything straight. If you need me to do anything for you, don’t hesitate to tell me what you need. I’ll kick him dead in his mousy mouth!” Pearl said, making Mercedes laugh. “We’ll be down there on Saturday, so don’t you worry about that foolish old man! We’re here for you and if you want us to come right now, we’ll be there. There’s nothing more important to us than you Mercedes.”
Tears cascade down Mercedes’ brown cheeks. She needed to hear the love. She inhales deeply, looks up at the ceiling with a pause before responding, “No, everything is going to be just fine now.”

When Mercedes got off the phone, she reflected on how she got into this situation. She wasn’t a violent person. She cringed at the thought of killing a mosquito, but here she was ready to slice a man’s throat! She was tired of the madness. For eleven months, when Terri’ was present, Mercedes could barely remember her name. He called her stupid repeatedly. One time he leveled stupid at her forty two times in an hour and a half. The only reason she kept her composure was because they were in a car and he was driving. But, in that moment, the rage had started to mount.
It wasn’t always this way. Mercedes had gotten into a relationship with Terri because she was lonely and broke. She had grieved too long for her deceased ex-husband; she wanted to go on with her life. Although her ex-husband was not perfect, nor did they have the perfect marriage, he treated her like precious glass, compared to Terri. Her ex-husband was her best friend. She was not thinking straight when she got with Terri.
Mercedes never imagined she’d be in a place such as this. The next time, she thought, she would be sure before she hooked up with a man. She’d be in the right frame of mind. She wouldn’t let finances or loneliness choose for her. She would be stable. She could start this story just the way she started her relationship with Terri, but she won’t. Instead she’ll go back to the beginning, so you can understand how she got to this place.


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