A few moments passed and Brianna started to hear James rummaging up the stairs. “I swear to God, Brie, if that door’s locked,” James managed to say between slurs. Brianna knew that James was strong and that no amount of alcohol could bury his strength. So, she moved her bed up against the door enforcing its locked state. She glanced for other objects in the room to sturdy the lock but there was nothing. James never let her use a desk to write or draw, he didn’t give her a computer either. All she had was her bed and a window. “Brianna, open the God damn door,” James said as he started to bang on the other side. Brianna started to panic, James would kill her if she didn’t open the door and even if she did now, she’d be paralyzed by morning. To steady her breathing she covered her mouth and tried to focus on something else. The banging steadied and moved over to the wall. “Brie, I’ll smash this wall through and make you pay for the repairs,” he added with a shrill chuckle. Brianna sat in the far right corner of the room shivering and thinking of the quickest escape. She didn’t have long; James would take a hammer to the wall if he had to. Brianna made her way to the window and quietly pulled the drapes away. “Brianna,” James said, “I won’t hurt you anymore if you open up. I just want to have some time alone with you,” he continued.
At these words, Brianna started to cry. James was once the nicest man. He surprised Brianna daily with flowers and chocolates and would come home early from work just to snuggle. Then, when he was fired from his family business, he began using his hard earned money for alcohol, which lead to anger issues and now this. All because of work Brianna always thought, the things people would do for money. The sex went from passionate and beautiful to rape in only a few months. The violence didn’t stop there, though. James then got a job at a nearby motel as an office clerk but that wasn’t enough for him. He’d come home daily and blame Brianna for his lack of success, hit her, harm her, rape her, and drink until he’d keel over. Briana could never leave, though. If she did, where would she go? Her mother disowned her when she agreed to move in with James, her father had passed away a year ago, her sister never called, and she had nothing but a grade eleven education. I might as well live with someone who gives me some sort of attention, she always caught herself thinking.
Brianna couldn’t stop her tears from storming down her cheeks. She began contemplating her escape through her bedroom window. Just as this thought crossed her mind, she heard James throw himself down the stairs. “Fuck,” he screamed. Brianna didn’t know why, but she felt sorry for James at that moment. She wanted to run out of her room and help him up because he could have been hurt. “How many times have I helped you, Brie,” James started to yell. “I can’t believe you aren’t helping me up,” he slurred. She heard him stand up and thrash down the hallway to the kitchen. He opened a few cabinets until he let out a sigh, like he’d found what he was looking for. Brianna knew that it was either a knife or a gun, either way she’d be dead. To save herself for once, she opened the window with as much force as she could without thinking. She managed to step through easily and was resting on the windowsill. With one step on the roof now, and the other on the ledge she let go.
She let go of her past life and was heading for her new one. She jumped to the left of the roof because the kitchen was to the right. She landed perfectly, something her dad had taught her to do after being stuck in her tree house as a child. She ran. She ran and she ran until she reached the end of the street. Her heart was racing, her tears were streaming, and she had nowhere left to turn. She didn’t even have any bus money. That didn’t stop her; she caught her breath and took off as far as she could. She passed the liquor store, the gas station, and the grocery store. She had to keep going. When she reached the edge of town, she thought it would be necessary to call for help however; she did not even have twenty-five cents in her pocket. Lucky for her, there was a bar up the road. James hadn’t passed her in his car yet, so she made her way in cautiously.
“Hi, welcome to Jimmy’s” said the young man at the front of the restaurant.
“I need a phone,” she cried.
“Okay, Ma’am I can’t let you use the telephone without evidence of a purchase,” he argued.
“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” she said as more tears streamed down her face. “I could die in three seconds if you don’t let me phone someone!”
“I’ll have to get my manager,” the guy said as he turned to the right and made his way to the back. Brianna just grabbed the phone and dialed the only number she knew, her mother’s.
“Hi mama, it’s Brianna,” she said in a panic.
“Well, I’m not ready to talk to you,” her mother said almost ready to hang up.
“Mama, don’t hang up yet. I know you hate me but you have to understand. James is out to get me and I need somewhere to go,” Brianna said.
“He’s always after you, that boy, ain’t he? I’m sick and tired of your stories, Bri—“ her mom said.
“Mama, meet me at the corner of 43rd and Main, I’ll be there in thirty minutes,” she said and hung up. Brianna left the restaurant before the host came back.
Just as the door closed behind her, she heard heavy footsteps following her. Brianna refused to turn back and look, if she did it would be more valuable time wasted. She kept running until she heard, “Brie, don’t move another inch.” Brianna froze in her tracks. It was James’s voice. How did he get here so fast? How did he not collapse already? Brianna couldn’t steady her breathing as she heard the footsteps approach her more closely. James wrapped his arms around her waist tightly, in a threatening way. In his hands was a flower. “Don’t leave me Brie,” he coughed up. She couldn’t speak. “I love you. You’re all I’ve ever wanted. Without you, I have no reason to come home,” he slurred. His mouth was approaching her right here and the stench of his breath made her want to gag. One of his hand let her waist loose as the other one held her stronger. James reached for something in his pocket. He touched Brianna’s spine with it gently. She squirmed. It was something sharp. This was it. Her life was over. She would die before she saw her mother, she would die with no such thing as real love, and she would die a victim and an idiot. “Don’t be scared, Brianna, I’ll only kill you if you refuse to come back to me,” James said. This was the first time he ever showed signs of violence in public. Of course, no one was around at this time of night. Brianna couldn’t steady he breathing. “What do you say, come back to James? It’ll be you and me, forever and ever and ever,” James said.
Brianna drew what she thought would be her last breath and said, “No.” The second the word escaped her mouth she heard her mother’s voice screaming, “Brianna, Brianna, Brianna,” and the sounds of three large sirens. Then it went dark.
For what felt like months later, Brianna opened her eyes and was in her mother’s home connected to wires and I.V. Her eyes were blurry and she began to feel queasy. Her breathing began to pick up and she let out a cough. A millisecond later, her mother came in the room looking paler than ever. “Oh my dear Lord, I’d never thought I’d live to see the day,” her mother said. Brianna’s eyes steadied now.
“What happened, how did I get here?” Brianna asked.
“Shh, now’s not a time for story telling,” her mother said in a tone Brianna hadn’t heard since she was a child. Her mother sounded happy.
“Where’s James?” Brianna managed.
“He’s finally behind bars,” Brianna’s mom said.
“You took me back?” Brianna asked, starting to tear.
“Do you expect me to let my daughter suffer?” Her mom asked.
“It’s not like it’d be the first time,” Brianna said with anger.
“Shh,” her mom said, “When you’re all better we’ll have a nice chat about all of that. The doctor’s on his way. I refused to let you stay in the hospital because you hadn’t been at home for so long.”
“Home?” Brianna asked.
“Yes. Brianna, welcome home,” Brianna’s mom assured. “Now, catch some shut eye while you can.” Before her mother could finish, Brianna was sound asleep wound up in her mother’s sweet smelling bed sheets.