First Road Trip
By Shari Held
hundred miles. Just one hundred miles to the relative safety of a safe house in
Ohio. I glance in the back seat at my son fast asleep in his car seat,
blissfully unaware of the drama taking place. Am I doing the right thing? Could
I have done something differently? Doesn’t matter now. There’s no going back.
wonder how it ever got to this point. I should have confronted you when things first
turned ugly. Our relationship used to be sexy and fun. Your handcuffs were an
exciting turn-on, adding novelty to our sexual escapades. Even your cop’s odd
work schedule was a turn-on. I loved it when you’d sneak into bed in the early
hours of the morning and surprise me with a fast and furious round of pleasure.
being privy to the interesting details you entertained me with when you came
home from work. The ‘bereaved’ widow who was messing around with the next-door neighbor.
The man who shot his wife because she bought the wrong brand of butter. Juicy
tidbits that increased my popularity with my colleagues in talks around the
never forget the day we decided to marry. We rushed to the altar like two giddy,
starstruck kids. The next few months were heaven.
your life at the department turned sour. You were demoted. Your career on the
skids. Bitterness accompanied you home. From then on you reveled in describing
the gorier aspects of your homicide cases. How the victims had been tortured.
How long it had taken them to die. How the weak deserved what they got. It
alarmed me that you condoned the behavior of the bad guys rather than showing
pity for the victims.
should have left you before Billy was conceived. I hoped his birth would mellow
you. That you’d revert to the person I’d once been so attracted to. I wanted
you to love him as much as I did.
after Billy was born, your sadistic side took over. I’d come home to his raw
staccato cries. You hadn’t fed him or changed his dirty diapers. If I took you
to task for it, you stormed out and spent the evening at a bar with Jack
you introduced your gun and knife into our sex life. Without saying a word, you
ran that hard steel blade up my body while I was handcuffed to the bed. Every
hair on my body stood to attention. I didn’t dare move. You laughed when you took
the gun from your holster, put it to my forehead, and pulled the trigger. Later
you said you knew it was an empty chamber. But I wasn’t so sure. That was it. I
had to protect myself and Billy.
couldn’t report you. Fat chance your department would do anything about it—even
if they believed me. Cops close ranks on their own. Plus, there was the shame.
Spousal abuse. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. No one wants to admit
it when it does.
only recourse was to take Billy and run. After you left for work, I threw a
couple changes of clothes, juice boxes, and graham crackers in a duffel bag.
Tossed Pooh Bear and my computer in a Whole Foods bag. Filled the Subaru’s tank
and withdrew the max allowed from an ATM. Then we hit the highway, leaving our
old life and you far behind.
we’re now hundreds of miles away, I still hear your voice in my head. Your
shrill laughter as you slid a knife down my chest, daring me to defy you so you
could sink it into my skin. I may succeed in leaving you, but will I ever be
free from your voice, your menacing laughter? Will the memories of what I
became ever leave me? And how will I explain everything to Billy?
reach back and touch his tiny hand. This is all for him. Another hundred miles
to the next state. You have no jurisdiction there. And the people at the
shelter will help us. But we’ll never truly be safe unless you get knocked off
in the line of duty. And God forgive me, I pray for that every day.
home will be a fear-free zone. A place of refuge rather than terror. That’s
worth the risk I’m taking now. My shoulders start to relax as I think about
life without you. No insults. No debasement. No threats. No danger.
sound in the distance. Could they have found us this fast? My heart sinks to
the soles of my feet as the flashing lights race toward us. I pull over. Billy
awakens and shrieks at the strobe lights and high-pitched wails.
alarm. The caravan speeds by, and tears of relief overflow my eyes, travel down
my face, and dribble off my chin as we are left in inky silence once more. I
drop my head to the steering wheel and rock back and forth. My Jell-o knees tremble
and I don’t trust my ability to press my foot to the pedal.
to give Billy’s little foot a reassuring squeeze and I’m relieved to see he’s
asleep once again. He’s too young to remember his first road trip. The night we
escaped, leaving his mother, Police Sergeant Teresa Merriweather, far behind.