“Evie, how many times has this happened? You have to leave him before it’s too late.”
“I can’t, Mom.”
“You mean, you won’t.”
“No, I can’t! I have to stay for the kids.”
“Evie, take them with you. Go!”
“Oh sure, easy for you to say. Remember what happened last time? He beat me up, broke my jaw, threatened to take the kids away. It’s easier to stay. Besides, I love him. And he loves me.”
“Loving you means beating you up? Really, Evie.”
“Well, he does. He always apologizes afterward. Besides, it’s my fault. I do things that make him mad and then he loses his temper . . .” Evie shrugged.
“That’s his problem, not yours. Go to a woman’s shelter. You’ll be safe there.”
“There’s no such thing as a safe house, not from him.”
Evie’s sleeve slipped up as she drank the dark bitter coffee. Mona saw fresh marks.
“You’re using, aren’t you? Aren’t you!”
Evie slammed her cup on the table.“So what if I am? What’s it to you, anyway. Leave me alone, it’s none of your business.”
Mona clasped her daughter’s hand. “Leave him. Please! I beg you!”
Evie yanked her hand away and stood up. “No, I can’t. I’ll be fine. Good-bye. And don’t try to call.”
She stormed out the kitchen door, slamming it behind her.
“Oh please, dear God!” Mona stared at the door, then buried her head in her hands and wept.
That was the last time Mona saw her daughter – alive.
(This was my initial submission to Voice and Vision 2019 when I was paired with Melissa Bruglemans-LaBelle. I knew it was a difficult piece, both to read and to create art in response to it, but Melissa rose to the challenge. Her painting (using coffee and found media) captures the pathos, the tragedy and the horror of the story.)