magpie 27

Author: angiem, 08 13th, 2010

Ella married the plumber at seventeen.  By the time she turned thirty, she already had eight children and was pregnant with her ninth.  The plumber was not anyone’s sexual fantasy.  Perhaps he had been when he was single and hitting the gym daily, or perhaps it was just his family’s money and the convertible Firebird he raced around town that had the girls swooning.  Ella, herself, had been one of the prettiest girls around.  But you would be hard pressed to find that beauty in her now. Her housewife ponytail is more white than black, and the curls that used to cascade down her back, just create a halo of frizz.

Ella shouldn’t have married the plumber.  God knows, there were plenty of guys around who wanted her.  And not just in their church community.  But Ella fell in love with him and with the holiness his family portrayed, not thinking for a moment that life could be anything other than wonderful.  And it was wonderful for the entire honeymoon period. She knew she was expected to get pregnant and procreate until menopause set in. She knew she would become her husband’s property.  She just didn’t think it would be so difficult.

It was his controlling behavior that got to her.  She wasn’t allowed to speak with her mother and sisters, nor have any friends.  And then, of course, his beatings. The ones in secret were her shame alone.  But when he took his frustrations out on her in front of others, she wanted to die.  A few times he had slapped her face in public, and once, when his parents were over for dinner, he hit her over the head so hard, her head slammed against the wall behind her.  She could never remember the reason why, but it didn’t matter anyway. He didn’t really need a reason. Last summer, in full view of the neighbors, he whipped the water hose across her back. To teach her a lesson, he said, but a lesson about what, she had no idea.

Ella often thought about taking her kids and leaving.  But she didn’t, of course.  She didn’t drive anymore. And she had nowhere to go. On top of it all, the kids were all on his side.  They were his little spies, bribed with candy and sugary drinks.

But on the day before her birthday she found the perfect gift to give herself. It had been under her nose all along.

Ella settled herself on her bed. She covered herself with the quilt, arranged her scraggly hair on the pillow. She wanted the kids to think she was asleep. Ella unscrewed the bottle of sulfuric acid her husband used to unplug pipes. It smelled rotten and she almost gagged. She forced herself to swallow it down, her still dainty nostrils held tight by her fat fingers.

For a moment the acid burned so horribly, Ella was certain her body was consumed by the fires of hell. But then numbness set in, her head fell gently against the pillow, the bottle dropped from her fingers, and Ella closed her eyes for the last time.

This is a work of fiction. I have no idea what sulfuric acid is used for, but it seems like it should be used in plumbing. For more great readings head to Magpie Tales.


40 Responses to “magpie 27”

  1. She Writes Says:

    Nicely done, Angie! I miss you. Sorry so busy!

  2. Susan Tiner Says:

    Stopped my heart. I think you nailed that sulfuric acid is used to cleanse metal of residue so it’s believable that a plumber would have this on hand.

    The sentence “Yet until then, until judgement day, years and years may come and go” just makes it so clear what she must do.

    Thank you for another beautiful story!

  3. Janice Says:

    Such a sad tale… so beautifully written.

  4. Susan Deborah Says:

    Awww. That was sad! The baby within her. Angie, you get us so involved in the course of the narration. I still can’t get over the fact that two humans were dying and Ella’s birthday and death day have to be the same :(

    Hope you have been well dear Angie. Time seems fleeting these days.

    Joy and peace,

  5. Stafford Says:

    This tale is so horrific, I find it hard to not say something about the disempowerment of women by dictates of religion. I know it was fiction, but it isn’t for many. Good clear statements and a good read.

  6. Jeanne Says:


    I think I have started breathing again. What a story. So sad and tragic but we all know there are people who live this existence. You have done well with Magpie 27… now I am off to the next.

    Jeanne :) xx

  7. Stephanie Says:

    Oh how sad and telling, so much the harder for the fact that these things happen in real life. You really immerse us in the story, my friend.
    Have a great weekend!

  8. Sj Says:

    Ms Angie -it’s been too long! I hope you and your family are well. I won’t be making it to Oregon until maybe October, but of course when I do, I will let you know.

  9. Mary Moon Says:

    I have to say that I think Ella gave herself a good birthday present. Is that bad? Release.
    Of course, she should have killed HIM.
    Angie, I love your stories. Love them.

  10. Patience Ray Says:

    this story had me hooked (but sad) from the start. I’ve seen relationships like this and it breaks your heart. great story telling, i just wish this stuff didn’t happen. awesome magpie.

  11. Ava Says:

    Angie you know this story breaks my heart. Having been a victim of abuse myself, the feeling of wanting to die is all to real. I am so so sorry for the women out there who experience abuse at the hands of their partners. I pray and hope for their deliverance from it. I hope they know that they are deserving of so much better and get out.
    By the way, I like that your character’s name is Ella. Isn’t that Latin for “she”? Really, it could be any woman.
    Thank you for writing about this. I am always in awe that you don’t shy away from difficult subjects.
    Missed you!!!
    xoxo ~Ava

  12. Paul Andrew Russell Says:

    So sad and so powerful. My heart sank when I read this.

  13. Francesca Says:

    So sad, so desperate! Can that (ever) be the only way out?

  14. Helen Says:

    Your Magpie is riveting ~~ dynamic, frightening, powerful. Well done.

  15. Carrie Burtt Says:

    Angie this was such a compelling story….very well written….yet very painful as well. Look forward to more of your writing. Thank you for visiting me over at my blog. :-)

  16. Lyn Says:

    “Husband’s property”, really shakes me up. I’m trying to understand losing oneself to that degree..Poor Ella..choose life!!!

  17. brian Says:

    woohoo…i am not the only creepy one today…lol. her life seems pretty bleak…i cant help but think about those kids finding her or the one in her belly…whew.

  18. TERI REES WANG Says:

    …sulfuric acid will eat the scum off of anything! Pools, bath tubs, and pipes.

    Right on the mark.


  19. Jena Says:

    Well hello Miss Angie!!! Wow what a story! Men like that make me sick! She should have killed him!
    Anyhoo missed you! We’ve been gone up north for the summer and the Internet connection was crap.

  20. lisagolden Says:

    That’s very powerful writing.

  21. Weasel Says:

    A sad yet powerful piece. Excellent magpie!


  22. willow Says:

    Tragic. And incredibly sad.

  23. suz Says:

    This was a horrific story of a woman who made many bad choices
    and suffered because of them
    but her children
    what is to be their fate
    Her husband should be locked up forever

  24. Julie Says:

    Another fabulous story Angie.. although I was hoping she would find a better way out… I agree with Jena.. she should have killed him… maybe slowly poisoned him each day.. a long lingering death.. hahaha

    Have a great weekend.. xxx Julie

  25. jane jones Says:

    Dear Angie: Why was I laughing? Am I a sicko! I mean I kept seening this plumber with his pants hanging half way down and I kept thinking 8 kids! This is funny but then when you got to the part with the sulfuric acid I go “Egad!” That’s funnier! No not really, but I have to make it funny or I’d be crying and I dont want to cry! Well written piece which I’d love to see as a comedy, but no tragedy is too often the case. Not all plumbers are evil. They make scads of money! Especially when you need them like yesterday!

  26. Miss Nikki Says:

    isn’t it just fascinating what comes to mind from the simplest of pictures? this story is so well said, i hope ella is in peace. wonderful way with words!

  27. Ligia Olvera Says:

    Good job Angie,
    Fiction in this case, but is a truth story I have heard many times… so, writing about this may be a responsibility to create awareness, sensibility, reflection and maybe some action… good job…

  28. Diane Says:

    Too bad she couldn’t find a way to pin it on him before she went….. :O)

  29. brigid Says:

    Great story, with great pace and a sad but common story, unfortunately.
    The pipes seem to have a dark influence on us this week.
    This was an excellent read, hope Ella found some peace.

  30. Lori Says:

    Haunting. I have been obsessively thinking of people who kill themselves ever since reading in the news about Madalina Manole (I don’t know how much you know about her, but it was a big thing in Romania).

  31. La Belette Rouge Says:

    Heart breaking. You, my friend, can tell a story! Love your voice…it burns in the best way.

  32. Stephanie Says:

    Ouch, this hurt in more than one way. Well done!

  33. Tumblewords Says:

    Powerful and heartbreaking. Sadly, I can imagine this being true…nice writing.

  34. Elizabeth Says:

    Incredibly creative, with just enough detail to create a whole image, but not interfere with the vivid story told through her thoughts. Poweful piece, and meaningful in so manner ways.


  35. Linda Says:

    A well-written tragedy. I could feel her desperation.

  36. Holly L Says:

    I was cringing for Ella and then oh so sad for her…to be trapped in a life. Beware men in Convertible Firebirds.

  37. audrey Says:

    my dear you are back!! i did miss you… hope you are feeling well.

    in the story, when she was thinking of what was in the garage i truly had the idea that she was going to get in the car and drive away!! away from all the pain and abuse.

    this is an incredibly powerful and heartfelt story. you have written it well… it breaks the heart.

    hug you!

    …oh, i’m back to blogging, please pop in when you have time. your words are a blessing to me:)

  38. Tina Says:

    Hi Angie,
    This is my first visit. I’m pretty new to magpie, and can’t read all of them AND homeschool at the same time, so I randomly hop around. So glad I found you! The way you told this story is so well done. And even though it’s fiction, there are many more Ellas out there. As to the sulfuric acid, loved your disclaimer :-)

  39. angiem Says:

    Thank you, dear friends. Your comments are read and re-read, and greatly appreciated.

  40. Christie Says:

    So glad she went to heaven, she deserved it!

Leave a Reply