The Crimson Trail

*Trigger warning – Domestic violence

Taylor sat on the pier and stared into the deep forest that surrounded the river. She squinted her eyes and waited, hopeful to catch a glimpse of the moment the dingy went over. He would still be alive when the current pushed him over Aurora Falls, hopefully, aware of his impending death.

Before Taylor ever made it to the river. Before she dragged his limp, unconscious body through the woods, she was making dinner. She could tell by his footfalls across the floor that something was wrong. Taylor learned how to tell the differences in his moods, the tiny clues that he left like Easter eggs, that told her she would not be safe tonight. There was only a finite number of times she would endure him. Tonight, Taylor would cross that line.

She plastered a smile across her face and entered the living room with his favorite drink in her hand; sometimes a smile was all that was required to defuse the bomb inside of him always ready to explode.

“How was your day,” Taylor asked? Immediately after the words left her throat, she knew it was the wrong thing to say. She watched his anger rise as he recounted every slight, real or imagined.

“I’m sorry you had such a rough day,” Taylor said and sat on his lap. She lingered there in his arms for a moment before realizing dinner was burning. As she tended it, Taylor watched him make his way to the liquor cabinet and saw him drink from the bottle.

She ate in silence, chewing her food slowly because the sound of her chewing would sometimes annoy him.

“You don’t love me,” He mumbled piercing the silence with his slurred words.

Taylor knew what would come next. No matter how many times she said, “I do. I love you,” it wouldn’t matter. The alcohol wouldn’t let him believe her. The whiskey painted a portrait of lies to which he felt compelled to act.

He stood up from his chair so fast that it fell over. Taylor froze in her seat, trying to decide if now was the time to run. Before she could, he grabbed her by the hair, pulling her from the chair and dragging her back into the living room.

Every hair follicle on Taylor’s head screamed in protest as they fought to bear the weight of her entire body. When he let go, Taylor immediately pushed herself backward and out of his grasp. He began to yell about things she could barely understand. He was speaking in English, but his reasoning didn’t make sense. He started throwing whatever was around him to grasp, glasses, an ashtray, the end table and all the while Taylor pushed herself farther away until the fireplace stopped her.

He charged at her, Taylor grabbed the fireplace poker and swung. The crunching noise it made as it hit his head astonished and sickened her at the same time. She watched as he dropped to the floor in front of her, the poker dislodging as he fell to the ground. She dropped it and went to his side, trying to stop the blood as it poured into her hands and onto her lap. He was unconscious but still breathing, Taylor sat there collecting her thoughts. She wanted him gone, out of her life for good.

She wrapped his head in towels to catch the blood. Opening the door, she dragged him through the woods behind her house to the river. The ran fell heavy and hard upon her as she struggled through the mud. It took hours to reach the river, and when she did, she collapsed onto the pier.

“Not too much more to go,” she said to herself when she saw a dingy attached to the side of the pier. Taylor removed the towels from his head and rolled him into it, the dingy swayed under his weight. She removed the rope and gave it shove, the river’s current would do the rest.

Taylor couldn’t see the boat go over, all she could hear was the faint splintering of the wood on the rocks below over the roar and rush of the river. The pace of her heart grew still as the sun made its way over the horizon, the first cracks of bright gold blazed forth. The rain had cleared but not before cleansing away the crimson trail from the night before.

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