A Lion’s Roar
by Hailie Andersen
Sofia was sitting by the window. She was alone in the living room. She could make out the lake in the interstice of the trees in the distance. It all seemed so peaceful outside. She wished she could collect some of that peace to replenish her heart. There was a war waging inside of her. She wished she could erase it all, and get back to things the way they were yesterday.
She wished she could change the events of the day. What had just unfolded was too much for her to handle. She tried to grasp the logic of it all, but as much as she wanted, she could not. How did they get to say those things to each other? They never fight. They talk about things. They exchange. They find ways to be happy together. Why did not it work that way today?
She shifted on the window seat, and hushed a squeal of pain. Her hip was still sore from when he had pushed her in anger. Her body went slamming to the wall in full-blown force. The next second she saw herself crumble down on the floor. She looked up, and saw his towering figure walk out the door without a look back.
She could not move. Her heart was racing. She heard the motor of his BMW throbbing. The way he would turn on his car always reminded her of the roar of a victorious lion you could hear in those documentaries on Discovery Channel. He loved to watch those. It used to make her smile.
She could hear the humming of his precious pricy possession fade away.
That is when she figured she must have passed out.
She remembers nothing after that.
Her mind went blank.
An hour ago she woke up. She could not speak. There was still this ball of stress and fear building up in her throat, and shutting down her pipes. She could not make a sound. She felt sore. She was shivering. The falling temperature in the lake house was probably, what had caused her to wake. Her left leg was numb. She could feel pins and needles from having lain down on it for what must have been hours.
She had never seen him act like that.
She still was not sure this had happened for real.
Could she have been dreaming it all? She could have.
She felt thirsty. She stood up. Her legs felt shaky and unsteady.
She moved away from the window and started making her way to the kitchen. When she felt a brush of air coming from the doorway. She headed to the hallway. The entrance door was ajar. The key was still on the lock. She locked it shut.
Then she headed back to her primary goal. A glass of water. She needed water. She felt so weak. She knew she would faint, if she did not swallow down a gulp or two of that salvaging liquid in the coming seconds. She forced herself to move forward. Each step a miracle. She reached the sink and grabbed the closest recipient sitting at arm length.
She turned on the faucet and collected the precious fluid in a tall glass. The sound of the pressured liquid flooding out of the plumbing was a relief from the daunting silence she had been immerged in for the past hour. She welcomed it as both a force and break from the previous mood.
She felt the exhaustion she had been accumulating still, motionless, sitting by the window, playing it all over and over again. She had felt groggy. There was a mist of shock clouding her mind. It made her feel like she was not really there. Like this did not really happen. This was some sort of nightmarish alternate reality.
The simple gesture of lifting the glass up to her mouth, felt as demanding as lifting a large bag of groceries up the counter. She took a shy gulp. Once the water hit her palate, she drew a deep restoring breath. It felt like she had been holding her breath until then. She lifted the glass up again. She drew another deep breath and took another gulp of the precious liquid, larger this time.
She had downed the glass. She poured herself another.
After three of those, she felt quenched.
She was starting to regain her spirit and a bit of her strength. She put down the glass. She could sense an intense pulse up there, vivified by the power of the water she had just ingested. She lifted her right hand from the counter and moved it up to her cheek. Her skin felt hot and sore. There was a bump too. It was swollen.
She did not dare move to a mirror to assess the damage.
The night was setting outside. She checked outside the window. There was no car out. He had not come back. She checked the windows and the back door. Then one room after the other she checked them all. The closets as well. Those large enough to contain a human being. The smaller ones too. She even kneeled down to check under the large pieces of furniture.
She felt oppressed and walked up the stairs.
She went to the bathroom. Brushed her teeth. Caught a glimpse of her distorted face in the mirror. Looked down and spat out the toothpaste. She rinsed her mouth with a gulp of water. Spat it out again. Looked up and took another look at her face. Opened the faucet to splash some water and soap on it. She grabbed her towel to dry it up. She looked up in the mirror, the towel covering the bottom half of her face. She could feel the loss and the distress in her own gaze.
She realized she was terrified.
She headed to their bedroom. She looked around. She went to the closet grabbed a pair of shorts, a large T-shirt and a hoody.
She did not want to spend the night in their room.
She moved to the guest room. Sat on the bed, about to change. Then she realized she could not sleep like that. She needed hot water. She needed to wash the day off her body as she had done on her face.
She closed the bathroom door and turned the lock from the inside. She never did that. She undressed, threw her old clothes in the laundry basket by the door. She stepped in the shower.
She could feel the relief of the hot water warming up her body. Freeing her from the tension and hurt that had been poisoning her blood.
She dried up her face and wrapped herself up in her towel. The mirror was veiled with vapor. She grabbed the hairdryer, plugged it in and cleared the mirror with its hot airflow. She saw her reflection progressively appear in the mirror. Same distorted face and absent expression she first laid eyes upon a moment ago. She combed her hair. Clinging on to her after shower-routine for anchoring. She grabbed the hairdryer again, and switched it on. Dry hair. Night cream. Lip balm. Out.
She headed to the guest room. Then decided otherwise. She needed to conduct a full check out of the house again.
She walked down the stairs. The doors were closed – keys in the locks to prevent opening from the outside. She moved a chair to the doors so she would hear it if anyone came in. The windows were closed. She shut down the electric roller shutters too.
There was no sound around. The house was sitting in complete silence. Except for the tick tock of the clock in the living room.
She looked at the spot where she had passed out earlier today. There was no trace of her hitting that wall. It was like nothing had happened.
She felt like she was about to suffocate. Explode from the inside out. She looked at the window seat where she had moved later that day to recollect her thoughts. The shutter was closed. Her favorite spot in the house would not provide her any relief this time.
She felt oppressed in this closed space that was to be her prison for the night.
She walked up the stairs.
She checked the rest of the rooms upstairs.
She entered the guest bedroom. She locked the door. Conducted another full check of the room. She removed her towel, hanged it on the door handle. She looked at her naked body in the wardrobe mirror.
She could recognize the familiar shape of her outline, but nothing else looked like hers. She had lost her charm. Her confidence. Her smile.
The reflection in the mirror was that of a wounded creature.
That woman looked nothing like her.
Yet it was her.
She had been doubting the reality of the events of the day. Yet the bruises on her cheek, hip and arm were all proof that it did happen. She checked herself in the mirror. Letting it all sink in.
She put on her shorts, her T-shirt and her hoodie. She grabbed her phone.
She sank in the painful comfort of the cool clean sheets caressing her sore body.
It was real.
It was time.
She dialed her mum’s number. She picked up.
‘ Hey Mom, I am at the lake house. Can you come pick me up tomorrow?’ She said in a trembling voice ‘It is an emergency.’
‘Of course sweetie, we will make arrangements. Are you okay? Is Jamie with you?’
Upon hearing his name, Sofia burst into tears. Her mum had to wait another hour to get a clear account of the events of the day.
She wanted to come right away but Sofia would not let her.
Sofia argued that she had locked the house. No one could get in. She was safe.
She said she would appreciate it however, if her mum would talk her to sleep and if she could keep the line on throughout the night.
Around 3:00 in the morning Sofia had stopped sobbing and had fallen asleep.
So had her mum.
The next morning around 8:00 AM, a car pulled in. The driver found all the accesses to the house closed. Sofia would not answer her mobile phone. The police was called to the scene to pry the entrance door open and check on the safety of the young woman.
At 10:00AM, the policemen discovered her lifeless body in the guest bedroom.
The coroner was called on to the scene.
The lake house was declared a crime-scene.
At 10:30, Sofia’s parents arrived on their property.
They saw Jamie’s BMW and the police and started shouting.
They had come to get their daughter home, and only found her body.
Upon hearing Sofia’s mother testimony, the driver was taken into custody.
The coronary report came in the next day. Sofia had died of a blunt force trauma to the head that caused internal bleeding. She had died in her sleep.
Estimated time of death: 4:30 AM.
Domestic Violence – Facts and Statistics
“[In the USA,] 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.”
“Women experience more intimate partner violence than do men: 22.1 percent of surveyed women, compared with 7.4 percent of surveyed men, reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.”
“1.3 per- cent of surveyed women and 0.9 percent of surveyed men reported experiencing such violence in the previous 12 months.”
“Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.”
“In France in 2014, 143 people died by the hand of their intimate partners, 118 women and 25 men.”