Sometimes a man has to stand by his beliefs, no matter how much it hurts.
The resounding slap echoed through the room and all Richard could do was stare dumbfounded at his wife. Honestly, he wasn’t even sure what had prompted the bitch slap that his face was still stinging from; all he knew was that his wife was pissed.
“How dare you!” Jennifer raised her hand to strike him again and he grabbed her by the wrist before she could make contact a second time.
“Do… Not… Slap… Me… Again.” He released his grip and her arm fell to her side. “Now, why don’t you calmly tell me what it is that I was supposed to have done.”
“You know damn well what you did!” Jennifer reached up and placed both hands on his chest and shoved.
“That is obviously debatable.” Richard closed his eyes and took a deep breath in an effort to calm himself. He had to keep repeating to himself that hitting a woman, especially his wife, was against everything he stood for.
Once he felt he had himself completely under control he opened his eyes and stared down at his petite wife. He knew what he had to do, and as much as it hurt to follow through, he would stick by his beliefs.
He shook his head sadly as he walked by Jennifer and headed down the hall to their bedroom. He knew she was following him but refused to look at her, afraid that it would weaken his resolve. Once in the bedroom he headed straight to the large walk-in closet and pulled his duffel bag off the top shelf and started shoving shirts and jeans into it.
“What… What are you doing?”
He could hear the panic in her voice as he opened drawers and pulled out enough socks and underwear to get him through the weekend. It was killing him that it had come to this, but a man was only as good as his word. He zipped the bag close and walked by her, again without looking, and headed into the computer room.
It didn’t take long for him to pack his laptop into its case and grab his important papers from the drawer of his desk. The picture of them on their wedding day seemed to taunt him from its place of honor on his desk. They’d been so happy then, but he’d made a promise to himself.
“Richard? Please talk to me.” Jennifer stood in the doorway and blocked him with her body as he tried to leave.
“I don’t think there’s anything to say.” Richard set both bags on the floor and crossed his arms across his chest as he looked at her. “Do you remember the two things that I told you that would make me leave you?”
He could see the moment realization dawned. Her shoulders slumped and her body began to tremble. Everything in him called out for him to comfort her, but he couldn’t. She had known the score and had chosen her path.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Jennifer pleaded with her eyes and reached for him.
He stepped backward and sighed. Did she really think this was easy for him?
“Yes, you did mean to. We both know that. You knew that doing so would signal the end of our marriage, but that didn’t stop you.”
When she didn’t move, he finally forced himself to reach out and clasp his hands around her waist and move her bodily from the doorway. After picking up his bags he headed to the front door, only stopping long enough to grab his keys and slip his feet into his shoes.
“I’ll be back this weekend to clear out the rest of my things.” Her quiet sobs tore at his heart but he forced himself to walk out the door and head to a hotel.
It wasn’t until he was standing under the shower of the hotel, the water pounding down on him, that he realized his marriage really was over. It wasn’t that he couldn’t take a slap, he could, but that wasn’t the point.
He’d heard too many stories of spouses of both sexes being abused and had sworn to himself that he would never find himself in that position. Sure, this time it was just one slap, but each time Jennifer would find it easier to strike out at him physically. It wasn’t just the stories though; it was something that he’d dealt with on a very personal basis. His sister, Ali.
Ali’s marriage had seemed perfect at the start, but suddenly she had started showing up with black eyes, a broken rib, even a broken arm. It had taken a long time to get the story out of her, that her husband was abusing her, and even longer to convince her to file charges and leave the bastard.
The abuse had left both physical and mental scars, but Ali was finally beginning to heal from her ordeal. He had sworn to himself that he would never allow his mate to strike him out of anger, and that if she did, he’d leave. He wasn’t going to listen to the many excuses that so many abusers came up with.
If he was completely honest with himself, the big part of it was, if Jennifer could hit him in anger, what would happen if they ever had kids together? Would she be able to control her temper or would she strike out at them the same way? He wasn’t willing to put any child through that, even if it meant leaving the woman he loved. At least no kids were going to be dragged through this mess.
He finished his shower and wrapped a towel around his waist before moving to the bed. He sat for a minute and stared at the phone before picking it up and dialing a number that was as familiar to him as his own. It only took moments before it was picked up on the other end and he was surprised his voice didn’t tremble as he spoke.
“Hey Ali, it’s me. Can I come stay with you for a while?”
This short story was prompted by Writing Prompt #2: Writing about the things you are passionate about help you write deeper, more meaningful, stories. Create a list of a few things you love and then pick one thing and have a character like it as well. Write one page on this loved object from your character's point of view. Try to make the character distinct from your own personality so the views are not quite the same as your own. If you're a woman then write as a man, if you're a teenager write as a middle aged person or pick a character from a story you've already written. Get into the mind of your character and make it was vivid as possible.
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