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They were cuddling on the couch watching the 11 o’clock news. The house was silent, except for the TV, kids tucked in hours ago.
“There’s that woman.” She said straightening up. ”Her husband shot her three times in the head and she played dead. For seven hours she just lay there.”
“What did she do to deserve it?” He asked.
I watched her telling me these things, wondering if today would be the day she would spill her secrets. The morning was bright, the sun streaming in across the table of the breakfast joint we’ve frequented every first Saturday of the month for 12 years now. She slides her cell phone across the table, a brave smile trembling on her lips.
“He’s keeping track of me. Wherever I go, he knows.”
I glance at the text she had received from her carrier, a text telling her that another number is keeping track of her phone’s location. Her eyes glisten and she wiggles her nose to keep the tears away.
“I just want you to know. Just in case. I know you write about these things.”
I know better than to ask what he does. There are things she cannot bring herself to say, even to me, one of her closest friends. And I know better than to ask why she stays. I know the church she is part of. Her family’s reputation within it. The fact that no matter what, she would be found at fault and not he. And then of course, there are the children. It goes without saying.
I had an inkling that things weren’t what they seemed. A certain wince she’d quickly mask with a smile whenever I’d hug too tight. A sad look in her eyes when the subject of husbands came up.
The things that happen behind closed doors. Who can tell? Sometimes the children wake up with nightmares of things real (and imagined, to be sure), in their pretty princess and cowboy bedrooms, their little hearts heavy, their spirits dragging. Wondering if it was something they did. Feigning sleep, and praying for it all to stop. And you go driving down the street of beautiful homes, manicured lawns, luxury cars in the garage, and think how perfect it is, and how you wished you lived right there, in that particular home with the silk Bergere chairs framed by the leaded window, and Savonnerie rugs throughout the house. The lamp left on in the downstairs hall has such a welcoming warm glow. But you don’t know. You have no idea at the horror the pretty things are masking.