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Alex watched out the window, peering into the night as the snow fell gently to cover the ground. It gave the dark barren trees a lovely coating of white. The pines, planted close to the house, wore the snow like white fur coats. Her grandma, from Scotland, used to say the pine trees looked like pretty maidens in green dresses on their way to the ceildh.

She sighed and it came up from the depths of her soul. At least it felt like it.

She gripped the urn in her hand tighter and opened the door to go outside.

It was time to put him to rest, past time to get him out of her life. Testing the wind one more time, she turned her back to the soft breeze. She pried the lid off and opened the urn.

Alex didn’t want to touch the ashes, didn’t want to take any part of this man with her.

The bruises were gone from her skin but the ones underneath, the ones in her soul would never heal. But she could try to make them hurt less by leaving him behind. It might take a while, a simple bandage wouldn’t heal something that deep.

This was a start though, a good start and a good ending.

Taking a deep breath, she turned the urn upside down and stepped back, making sure the ashes blew away from her. She watched the dark little cloud dissipate and drift away.

Gone from her now and hopefully forever, but the lessons he’d beat into her would remain.

Never trust your heart to anyone, they will rip it to shreds. Never trust your body to anyone, they will bruise it and abuse it. And never trust your soul to anyone, they will suck it out of you and leave you empty.

Sighing deeply again, she walked into the little cabin she’d purchased ten years ago. It had been her haven, her hideaway.

She would take a week or two here and there, sometimes just a weekend. Always when he was out of town and not so often that it aroused his suspicion.

This place had been a chance to get away from him and from the pitying eyes of friends and neighbors. They all knew what went on, they’d all seen the bruises and heard the pathetic excuses that she’d uttered.

So, she’d come here as often as she dared, and it gave her peace for a number of years. Until the day he found it.

Until that Monday evening, when she had just settled in for the week and he flung the door open, slamming it against the inside wall.

“What the hell did you think you were doing, hiding this place from me, Alexandria?”

She dropped her book and looked up, sure her eyes showed her fright. He took a step toward her.

“You know you’re gonna have to pay for this, right? You took my money and spent it without my permission.”

He stalked across the floor toward her and jerked her body up off the couch.

She stood there, shivering. Not really cold but afraid. Afraid that this would be the time he would totally lose control and beat her until she died.

And underneath the fear, she felt the anger stirring.

But it wasn’t strong enough yet. Not strong enough to get her away, just strong enough to get her into more trouble. So, she ignored it and stayed still, waiting for whatever would happen to be over.

She knew that if she pointed out she’d used her own money, money she made from selling her quilts and paintings, that it wouldn’t do any good. Probably it would make things worse. The hitting wouldn’t stop, her words would fuel it.

And he had beat her. He was careful, always, to make sure the bruises were few and far between, never on her face. He knew just how hard to hit her, made sure he didn’t break any bones.

Made sure she would never do something like this again. Made sure she knew this was his cabin now, no place for her to get away.

That was five long years ago. She hadn’t returned here until today

Because last week, things had changed. With that one phone call.

“Yes, this is Mrs. O’Neal.”

She listened intently to the male voice on the phone. It was kind and gentle and that never boded well.

“Yes, Jacob O’Neal is my husband. And that is his birth date. What is this about?”

The voice on the phone explained that there had been an accident and she should come down to the hospital. He asked her to bring someone with her, in fact, to let them drive her there.

She knew then that he was dead and it was so hard to act upset. She felt such an overwhelming sense of relief.

Years of pretending her feelings had prepared her for this time in her life and she’d muddled through.

He had been drinking, celebrating another big sale.

He was good at bullying all kinds of people, not just her. Intimidating them into buying something was another form of bullying in her book.

He’d been on his way to put a deposit on that high-speed fishing boat he had his eye on when he missed the turn-off. Lost control of his car and plunged into the river. They told her it was blunt force head trauma on the windshield. He drowned before anyone could get to him. Ironic really.

She hugged herself, pulling the blanket up around her shoulders, the fire crackling and the forest symphony muffled by the falling snow. This would be her last night in this house. She used to love it here, so peaceful.

But now it was filled with fishing gear and decorated with deer heads.

It wasn’t hers anymore, it wasn’t where she belonged.

Tomorrow, as soon as the service was over, as soon as all the hands had been shaken and the kisses floated, she would come back here, pick up her luggage and leave. Disappear.

They’d never had children, she hadn’t been allowed any friends, male or female and her parents were dead and buried.

She left nothing but memories behind.


I've been seriously writing since the flood of 1993. I have three books published. One under Emma Robuck and two under erotic pen name, EmmaLee Saunders. I live with my husband and my cats Barnes and Noble. I am a retired nurse


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