“Survivor” – A Short Story

Today, I want to share another short story I wrote a few months ago. Readers beware, this story has some violent content. This is an adult story meant for an adult audience. Please proceed with the appropriate caution.

Click.

                I felt the metal move against my temple before I heard the click of the bullet entering the chamber. Instinctively, I wanted to scream, to beg, to plead with the madman whose hand was clutching the trigger. But it wouldn’t do any good, and I knew it would only propel him to move sooner. Instead, I forced myself to breathe evenly, keeping my outside cool and relaxed. I felt my chest rise and fall with each elaborated breath. As I focused on my breathing, I felt his slow as well. His heart, which I could feel through my back where his chest was pushed against me, slowed from its rapid thumping to a more normal rhythm. His other hand, cupped under my chin and gripping my throat enough I couldn’t risk moving, twitched minutely as he calmed down.

                This wasn’t the first time he had tried to strangle me, but this was the first time he put a gun to my head. Trevor had a tendency to be violent, but I had never, before this moment, feared for my own life. I wasn’t even sure what had caused this explosion. Truth be told, I probably never would know. When it was over, we would pretend it didn’t happen until the next time. As Trevor’s heart slowed and I focused on my breathing, I thought back over the last six months and tried to figure out why I was in the position I found myself in.

                The night I met Trevor, he was an unknown, a stranger in my small town, passing through on his way to deliver a load in his semi. I was waitressing at the only truck stop in town, third shift, so I could attend community college in the mornings. When he stopped in for breakfast at three a.m., I thought nothing of it. We flirted, and he left me a phenomenally large tip. When he left, I assumed I’d never see him again.

                A week later, he reappeared and asked me out on a date. He was handsome, six feet tall, with short and spiky caramel brown hair and the build of a football player. I suspected he weighed in at about two-fifty, and when he smiled at me, he reminded me of a teddy bear, big and fluffy. Later I would compare him to a bear as well, only big, menacing, and volatile like a grizzly.

                He swept me off my feet, bought me expensive meals, and took me on elaborate dates. He even rented a place in town and stayed to be with me. I didn’t see the red flags waving at the time because I didn’t know enough to look for them. I wasn’t even twenty-one yet when I met him, and I didn’t know much about the world outside my sleepy hometown.

                The first couple of months with Trevor were amazing. When he was off at work, I worked and went to school. When he was home, we spent all of our time together at his place. I moved in with him on our three-month anniversary, a decision I have regretted every single day since.

                Once I moved in and let my apartment go, Trevor convinced me to quit my job, too, since I didn’t need money from him. He paid for everything I wanted, so I agreed. At his insistence, I stopped spending time with my friends and family, too. Everything revolved around him.

                And then, two weeks later, I burned dinner. I wasn’t an experienced cook, having mostly eaten at the truck stop or at my parent’s house. Trevor wasn’t amused. Until that moment, I’d never seen him angry. I’d never even heard him raise his voice. But, when the smoke alarm went off, and I panicked, he came barreling into the small galley kitchen, screaming at me and thrashing around. He scooped up the pan from the stove and threw it into the sink, food still inside of it. Once it was in the sink, he turned to me and backhanded me. I fell backward into the wall. When I tried to get up, he kicked me, and I screamed. He growled at me when I tried to get back up, so I stayed on the floor. He stomped out of the room and left me home alone, but I was too afraid to even move. He returned home a half hour later with takeout for him then he went to bed. I fell asleep on the kitchen floor.

                Sometime in the middle of the night, he came out and woke me up, carrying me to the bedroom. He put me into bed, then snuggled up to me, apologizing for his temper and telling me how much he loved me.

                It’s been like that ever since. Every few days, I do something that is wrong, and he loses his temper. Sometimes I black out, and sometimes I don’t. The day after a tantrum, he always did something amazing for me. Hotel stays, waterparks, shopping sprees, and anything he could spend money on to make me forget about how much pain he caused. After an especially violent night, I couldn’t attend school due to bruises, and he pushed me to drop out. He told me it was better this way since he needed me to be home to take care of things. I had been completely alienated from everything that had once been important to me.

                Tonight, things had gone up a notch. I’d been home watching television and waiting for Trevor to return from an over-the-road trip. The house was clean, dinner was prepped and waiting in the fridge, and I was pacing the house like an animal in a cage. When I heard his truck pull into the driveway two hours earlier than expected, a stone settled into my stomach, and I braced for the worst.

                He’d been gone for a week this time around, and before he left, he’d attacked me, accusing me of cheating on him. I’d spent most of the week in bed, recovering. Earlier today, though, I’d gone out to pick up groceries and made an extra stop to see a very old friend. My special purchase was hidden in the bathroom inside a box of tampons, the only place I knew he wouldn’t look. I didn’t plan to use it unless I had to, but the fighting had gotten more aggressive, and I’d had a bad feeling the whole week he was gone.

                When he came inside with his overnight bag, he’d been sweet to me, offering to take me out to dinner instead of cooking. While I’d gotten changed, he’d taken his bag to the laundry room and gotten cleaned up.

                When I was ready, I went to the living room to wait, wandering around and straightening the already clean room. My nerves were on end, tingling like lightning, and my stomach was orchestrating an elaborate flipping routine I couldn’t stop. I was looking at a bookshelf when I heard Trevor enter the room and walk up to my back. I didn’t turn, expecting him to wrap me in a hug. Instead, he wrapped his left arm around my neck and squeezed my throat with his hand. It was then that I felt the cold metal push into my temple, and I froze.

                “Jillian, I’m only going to ask you one time. Do you understand?” His voice was deep and menacing, not his normal voice. This voice was the one I was most familiar with, the one that meant that if I didn’t tread lightly, I wouldn’t remember most of my night. Nothing good ever happened when his voice sounded like that.

                “Yes, I understand,” I whimpered, trying to keep my voice from breaking.

                “Where did you go today?”

                “To the grocery store. I had to buy stuff for dinner. It’s in the fridge.”

                “And where else?” He growled at me, putting pressure on my temple.

                “I stopped at the library. I needed a new book to read. It’s on the desk if you want to look at it.”

                “Nowhere else?”

                “No, of course not.” He was quiet, and I could feel him breathing heavily on my neck. Slowly, he lowered his hands and stepped away from me. I turned toward him and watched as he inspected the book and receipts on the desk. I was careful today to save receipts with their time stamps. He’d never know that my friend had met me at the library. I had been so careful to avoid anyone he might know.

                “Why didn’t you just buy the book at the store?” He looked up at me and set the gun on the desk.

                “I don’t know. I’ve never read it, and I didn’t know if I’d like it.”

                “Do you think I can’t afford to buy you a book?” He asked. His voice was back to its normal softness.

                “Of course not,” I said. I could see the tension leaving him, and I knew, for the moment, the danger had passed.

                “I told you to buy what you needed from the store. If you want a book, you buy the book. If you want clothes, you buy them. It’s an insult to me when you act like I can’t provide for you.”

                I stepped toward him, knowing the violence had been avoided for now. I knew it would happen eventually, later tonight or tomorrow, when he couldn’t bring himself back down. I hoped to be gone by then. All of the pieces were falling into place, but I had started too late in his trip, and now I was forced to wait for his next trip. But I hadn’t been prepared for him to have a gun. I wrapped my arms around his stomach and gave him a hug, showing him that all was forgiven. I whispered an apology and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

                Instead of leaving for dinner, Trevor called an order into my favorite Italian restaurant, and we ate together in the living room, watching a crime television show. At bedtime, we made love, and he passed out quickly. I went to the bathroom once he was soundly asleep and took out my special box. Inside was a disposable cell phone and a handgun.

                I turned on the phone and sent a message to Sabrina, telling her what happened before dinner and asking her to keep my secret. Then, I told her I couldn’t take anymore, and I loved her. I pushed send and turned off the phone, tucking it back into the box.

                The next few days were tense as I walked on eggshells around Trevor, trying to keep from setting him off. His next trip was a short one, just scheduled for an overnight. I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough time, but I tried hard to keep my anxiety from showing.

                Trevor left on Saturday evening, and I started packing. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach, so I didn’t wait long once he’d left the house. I had just finished tossing my clothing into a box when I heard the front door open, and I panicked. Seconds later, I heard footsteps behind me.

                “What do you think you’re doing?” Trevor asked from the doorway.

                “Um…” I didn’t get any farther in my explanation when his fist connected with my jaw, and I felt myself falling. He hit me again, and I tried to move away, crawling to the side. He grabbed my hair and dragged me to the living room, where he threw me into the coffee table. My head exploded in pain, and everything went dark.

                When my eyes opened again, it was because something ice cold had just hit my face. As I sputtered and fought to regain consciousness, I realized he had thrown ice-cold water on me. I screamed and begged him to stop. It took several minutes of begging to reach him and get him to stop hitting me. Finally, he stopped, and I curled into myself on the floor, drenched and crying.

                An eternity later, he fell asleep on the couch where he had been sitting, staring at me in the corner of the room, hiding from him in plain sight. When I was sure I could stand, I got up and started walking toward the bathroom.

                “Where do you think you are going?”

                “I need to pee,” I say as innocently as I can manage.

                “Hurry up.”

                I went to the bathroom and washed my face, gathering my strength. I looked at myself in the mirror, getting an inventory of the injuries already turning purple on my face and arms. I took a deep breath and reached under the sink into my special box. I slid the phone into my back pocket and clicked the safety off on my handgun, sliding it into the back waistband of my pants. I flushed and washed my hands, then opened the bathroom door. I could hear snoring from the front room, and I relaxed. I knew I could do this.

                I took measured steps into the living room, listening to rhythmic snoring from Trevor. Tears started sliding down my cheek as I resolved to do what needed to be done. Nothing was ever going to change, and now I knew, without a doubt, that I could never leave. One of us would have to die to get out of the relationship, and I was finally strong enough to take the leap. I stepped into the doorway, looked straight at Trevor’s peaceful sleeping face, and raised the gun.

                I cocked the gun. The noise caused Trevor to startle, and his eyes opened. He stared at me, trying to understand.

                “It’s over, Trevor. Goodbye.” As he tried to stand up, I pulled the trigger. As the bullet entered his chest, my arm pulled back sharply. Without giving him a second to recover, I cocked the gun again and aimed at his head, pulling the trigger and hitting the dead center of my target.

                As I watched the blood drain from his body and soak the couch, I contemplated my future. It only took a few minutes to realize I couldn’t go to the police. Trevor was best friends with several guys on the force, and I didn’t think they would listen to my side, despite the bruises covering my body.

                Hastily, I packed several bags of my stuff and threw them in my trunk. I turned on the cell phone and sent Sabrina a message.

                I shot him. Oh god. I shot him. I gotta get out of here. I love you. I’m sorry.

                Inside, I took all of the money out of Trevor’s safe and counted it. Nearly ten thousand dollars in cash and several baggies of a white powdery substance that I assumed was a drug, which I left in the safe. A drug habit would explain his erratic behavior. It was too late for excuses, though.

                I stuffed the money into my purse with the gun and the small number of bullets I had left, then grabbed my keys and took off. I didn’t know how long it would take for someone to find his body and start looking for me, and I didn’t care. I gassed up at the truck stop and hit the highway, heading toward the east coast.

                I stopped at a grocery store about four hours later, where I purchased a pair of scissors and a black hair dye. I checked into a motel at sundown, where I chopped my long red hair down to a messy pixie cut and dyed it black. Late in the night, I drove a few miles away and parked the car in a river, then walked back to the motel. The next morning, I walked to a nearby car dealership and bought a three-thousand-dollar car that I drove off the lot. At the motel, I transferred my stuff from the room to the new car. When everything was loaded, I left my room key on the dresser and took off, disappearing into the morning.

                I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do when I got there. All I knew was that I finally felt free. Eventually, I would turn the phone back on and pray that Sabrina would forgive me for what I’d done. I didn’t know when that would be, either. I didn’t know a lot of things at that moment, but I knew one thing for sure.

                Nobody would ever put their hands on me again.  

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Well, what did you think of this one? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Until Next Time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Published by cathymariebown

I am a writer and student looking for my place in the digital world.

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