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An Old Remedy
by Jennifer Mobbs
3/19/2013 / Short Stories
The sun was streaming through the bedroom widows when a faint gentle whine woke Kate. It was Mattie, her dog. Kate's husband had left for work over an hour ago. As Kate rubbed her eyes sighing, "Oh "Mattie, I don't want to get up yet, I want to sleep, forever." These days the only peace Kate had was when she was asleep. She glanced over at Mattie, happily wagging her crocked shaggy tail. "OK Mattie, I'm coming, just give me a minute." The moment Kate's feet hit the floor, her head began to pound, her eyes felt like sandpaper. She dressed quickly, and as she bent over and pulled on her walking shoes, she felt the pain in her back and side, she shook it off; leashed up Mattie and out the door they went.
It was a hot summer day and the humidity seemed to make every pain and ache Kate had feel even worse. Almost instinctively Kate tugged at the back of her shirt lifting it just enough touching the old scare on her back. Even after all these years that scar was still so prominent, it felt different from the smooth skin around it. Every time she touched it she remember that day she "earned" that scar, the day that changed everything about her life. When all her dreams died and she learned the truth about the man she had married. That scar was like an old friend to Kate, a reminder that kept her in her place.
As Kate and Mattie reached the park she stopped to tie her shoelace trying to hold Mattie still, she was jumping ready to run and play. Kate looked down at the latest "accident" on the side of leg near her knee, a 2-inch gash, surrounded by black and purple bruises. It looked worse then it felt, but it was just too hot to wear her sweat pants. Kate glanced around the park, thankfully no-one was there, it was still early, besides she had the perfect story to explain the injury should anyone ask. Kate let Mattie off the leash smiling at how happy Mattie was leaping and jumping in the air; it was like pure freedom; rolled into a furry, silly looking dog. "Freedom", Kate whisper the word to herself it was something Kate had lost a long time ago, and she didn't dare allow herself to think about it now.
Kate was deep in her thoughts when Mr. and Mrs. Pierce walked up with their dog Buddy. "Well, Good Morning Kate." Mrs. Pierce said. "We haven't seen you at the park in a while, looks like Mattie is happy to see Buddy." "So how have you been Dear?" "Oh, I've been well, just busy the last few weeks, Tim is working out of town quite a bit these days, you know how that can be." "Oh my goodness Kate, what happened to your leg, that looks awful?" "Are you OK?" Kate responded quickly, it was show time for her and she didn't even hesitate. "Oh that?" Kate said, waving her hand as if it were nothing. "We were changing out the carpeting in the guest room, we decided to save a little money by removing the old carpet ourselves. My hand slipped when I cutting a big piece and I hit my leg." "It's really not as bad as it looks, it doesn't hurt much." "Gosh Kate, Mr. Pierce spoke up, next time give me a call first and I'll be happy to help you and Tim out, funny, I have never seen a cut like that bruise in such a strange way, what type of tool did you say you were using to cut the carpet?" "Oh, I was using one of those, Oh No, here comes that big black lab, you know Mattie is scared to death of him, I better get her on the leash before he gets any closer, please excuse me." Kate started to hurry toward Mattie, she called back, "Have a great day Mr. and Mrs. Pierce, I have to get going, see you both soon."
Kate quickly caught up to Mattie calling her to come. That was close, she thought I hadn't anticipated that question I don't anything about tools. I should know better by now, I am so stupid. Kate shook her own fist at herself. She put the leash on Mattie and took the back way home; she didn't need to run into any other curious neighbors.
In the early days of their marriage Kate use to stand up for herself when Tim would start on her with his insults about how she dressed, or the way dinner was prepared. Every aspect of what Kate did had to be learned the right way, Tim's way. Kate couldn't even wash lettuce without Tim's approval. As the years past Tim's "lectures" became more violent. No matter what Tim did to Kate, he always said the same thing to her. His words were etched in her brain, "you know this is all your fault, I didn't mean to hurt you, you always bring these things on yourself, why don't you take responsibility for your part and stop trying to blame me."
Kate took all these "lectures" and locked them away in her heart. It was the only way she knew how to keep on going until she could plan her escape, like the women did in the movies, but this wasn't a movie, and Kate felt hopeless and alone. Tim had isolated her from all her family and friends; all she had was Tim and Mattie.
It was Sunday and Kate decided to make a special dinner, hoping to make Tim happy. He had just come home from being out of town for a week. Kate was in a hurry and set the table, she had already called Tim to come down stairs and eat. She was grabbing the dish from the oven bending down with her back toward Tim as he came in the kitchen and sat down at the table. Kate turned around with a big smile on her face holding out the dish for Tim to see, his favorite. As she looked up, Tim was holding his fork up in the air with a look of complete disgust on his face. He stood up kicking the kitchen chair back so hard it fell over. He started towards Kate. She was still holding the hot dish, she stepped back bumping into the oven door, the next thing she heard was glass shattering as she dropped the hot dish on the floor, the glass dish exploded sending hot food everywhere, burning her foot and splashing food on Tim's shoes and pants. Tim's face turned red, "You Idiot!" Tim screamed at her, "Look at what you have done, you have ruined my shoes and pants." "Look at this mess!" "You can't do anything right, you can't even put the proper fork on the table much less cook a decent meal I could enjoy, you ruin everything!" He stormed out of the kitchen, kicking the chair again on his way out, cursing and shouting all the way up the stairs.
Kate hadn't realized she had been holding her breath the entire time Tim was screaming at her, she looked down and that's when she felt the pain of the hot food that had spilled all over her foot. It felt like fire burning her skin. She had to push aside the pain for now she knew she better clean up the kitchen first, it took her over two hours to clean up the mess. She heard the front door slam shortly after Tim left the kitchen screaming and cursing, so she knew he would be gone for the rest of the evening. Kate got some ice out of the freezer and finally began to address the burns on her foot. Her skin had bubble up; it looked like something out of a horror movie. She knew she should go to the emergency room, but if she left and Tim came home while she was gone, there would be another "lecture" waiting for her. Instead Kate hobbled upstairs and looked through the first aid kit. There was a small tube of burn cream, she applied it as delicately as possible, she laid back on her bed thinking about the park a few days ago, about Mr. and Mrs. Pierce and Mattie. She called Mattie; she was hiding under the bed. Whenever Tim started yelling, Mattie hid. Mattie crawled out; Kate patted the space beside her on the bed. Mattie jumped up and leaned against her. "It's OK Mattie, one day we will escape, we will be free." Kate was so exhausted from the pain she closed her eyes and fell asleep. "Kate! Wake up." Tim shouted; he was standing over her looking down. "My God, what have you done to your foot?" Tim shrieked at her. Kate could smell the alcohol and the perfume all over Tim. "Did you do that when you dropped my dinner all over the kitchen floor?" "You really are such an idiot?" He said sarcastically, "I guess that means you aren't going to be able to do much for the next couple of days, well that's just great!" He started pacing back and forth. Mattie jumped off the bed to hide underneath. "And what on earth is that dog doing on the bed?" "I have told you repeatedly that I didn't want that mutt on the bed." "Why can't you do anything I tell you." Tim yelled as he stepped toward Kate grabbing both of her arms. Kate instinctively pulled her legs toward her chest. "If you would only do what I say, you just can't seem to learn a single thing" Kate tried to pull her arms back, "What do you think your going to do now, I own you; I control your every move." Tim dropped her arms. "Well it doesn't matter, because I am going out of town for a few days, so I won't need you."
Kate cleared her throat, "Oh, um where are you going?" Kate said softly, not looking up at Tim's face. He was still pacing. "You should know better then to ask me questions, I will tell you what you need to know, but since you are insisting, I have a business meeting in Pittsburg." "I, I wasn't insisting, Tim I was just wondering I'm sorry." Kate felt her face turning red. "Just go to sleep Kate, that's probably the only thing you can right." I have to pack and leave early in the morning, I'll try and call you if I get a chance and let you know when I will be home." "Do you think you can manage not to kill yourself while I am gone?" Tim laughed as left the bedroom mumbling, "What a waste!"
Kate finally drifted off to sleep again, but she was tormented in her dreams all night. She woke up when she hear the front door slam, glancing at the clock beside the bed, it was 5:30am. She sighed, "freedom, for a few days. What should I do?" I need to get to a Doctor she thought to herself; but how could I get there, I am not sure I could drive and I have no one to call. I could call a Taxi, first I have to call the Doctor and see if I can get in. She grabbed the address book off the nightstand and thumbed through it to get the Doctor's phone number, a small business card caught in the pages fell right into Kate's lap. It was from Reverend Joseph Black, of The Christian Community Fellowship Church. "Reverend Black was such a nice man, she said to herself." She held the card in her hand like a diamond. "I could call him, he could help me," she said to herself in a voice that sounded like a child instead of a grown married woman.
Kate had only met the Reverend a few times before Tim decided that church was a waste of time and not logical. But the Reverend seemed to see into Kate's soul, she remembers the time they were leaving after the service the last time she was at the church. Tim had walked ahead of Kate, he couldn't get out of the Church fast enough, almost slamming the door in Kate's face when the Reverend stepped in front of her and extended his hand, Kate took his hand and held on just a little longer than normal. "I hope you will come back again," the Reverend said looking directly into Kate's eyes. "That is a bad bruise on your arm, my Grandmother used to have an old remedy for bruises just like that one you have." Kate was still holding his hand; she felt her face start to flush, stammering a bit. "Oh, really, Reverend, what is that?" The Reverend stepped just slightly closer to Kate looking directly in her eyes. "Freedom, that is the remedy." Kate looked down embarrassed. She turned to leave, releasing Reverend Black's hand. "Please, take my card, call if you ever need anything and please take care of yourself and remember what I said, about the old remedy."
Kate stared straight ahead looking at the open closet door. Tim had left one suitcase behind this time. Kate saw her chance, but she didn't know if she was strong enough to take it. She closed her eyes and bowed her head, "God, I don't really know if you remember me, I'm Kate, I use to talk to you when I was a little girl." "I need Your help, Please, Please God tell me what to do, give the strength I lack, Please God, can You free me from this nightmare?"
The taxi honked outside, Kate grabbed her suitcase holding the Reverend's card she looked down at Mattie, holding her leash. As she touched the door handle, she looked down at her burned foot, wrapped up in white gauze. She whispered to herself; "I can do this." Mattie looked up at her impatient to leave the house.
Forty minutes later the cab pulled up in front of The Christian Community Fellowship Church. As Kate stepped out she realized she had no money to pay the taxi driver. She started to panic, when a hand came around her shoulder and handed the driver some money. Kate looked up and saw Reverend Black and his wife Marilyn. Kate didn't say a word. The Reverend took Kate's suitcase and Mrs. Black wrapped her arm around Kate and led her and Mattie toward the church doors. This was the first time Kate noticed the sign on the other side of the church doors. "Women's Crisis Shelter." She looked up at the Reverend and Mrs. Black tears filling her eyes,"I never knew, I didn't see the sign before." "Kate, we saw the signs" Reverend Black said, "and we have been praying for your freedom ever since." "Come inside, everything will be different for you from now on and we can promise you no one here will ever hurt you."
Soon Kate was surround by a few more women, they embraced her each one as if she was a sister to them. Mattie made all the women smile, there had never been a dog at the Shelter before today and Mattie loved the all the attention. One woman stepped forward. "Hi, my name is Jena, and you and I and Mattie are going to room mates." "So, come with me and I will show you where to put your things and take you on a tour of your new home." "You may not remember this, but I met you one Sunday." Kate looked a bit surprised, "I am so sorry, I don't remember it," "Don't worry, I understand, this is a bit over whelming, but I truly understand." Jena's words cut right through Kate, she knew instantly that Jena had suffer just like she had. "I am in the choir, I was running late that Sunday and I saw you, as I passed by you I heard you singing one of my favorite hymns, your voice, you sounded like an angel." "I couldn't keep from watching you throughout the entire service." "I remember thinking you should be in the Choir, but I could see the fear on your face when you looked at the man sitting beside you, and I knew in my heart what you must have been going through, I had that same fear once." "I didn't know your name but I started praying for you that very day, hoping and praying and God answered me and now you're here!" "Kate," Jena said with such kindness in her voice, "now you are no longer a slave or a hostage, you are no longer a piece of property." "Here you are God's Daughter, and through God and His Son Jesus you will find your Freedom." Kate felt tears rolling down her cheeks, she didn't whip them away; these were tears of joy. Kate and Jena began to laugh as Mattie jumped up to be included in the joy. "Freedom," Kate said out loud. "I found the remedy!"
I have been writing all my life, I just didn't realize it until I was my late 40's. I hope my experiences can help others who have gone through similar trials.
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