Author : Jeff McGaha

John fumbled at the door, the alcohol hindering his coordination. His frustration, first directed at the keys, grew to include the lock, the door, the house and eventually Mary. His fury cresting, he pounded his fist into the door. “Mary…honey…open up. My goddamn key don’t work.” The beating of the door grew harsher and more insistent. The pummeling shook the whole house. John’s slurred words became louder and callous as his entry was denied. Dogs began to bark, but the neighbors didn’t involve themselves. They never did.

Mary sat silently on the couch. She shivered with fear. For nine years, this had been their routine. John would get drunk on a Friday night and Mary would have to wear sunglasses for a week. The same thing seemed to happen every few months. Mary was frightened, but prepared this time.

Finally, John kicked in the door. His face flushed with anger and whiskey. He spotted Mary quivering on the sofa. “You stupid bitch.” John strode to Mary in three steps, knocking over a lamp and coffee table in his path.

“St-,” was all that escaped Mary’s lips before John had his hand around her throat and began choking her. He was angry and going to kill her this time. Mary took her right hand and jammed her palm into John’s chest. He flew across the room and smashed into the wall. The house rumbled from the impact. With the wind knocked out of him, John rested on the ground gasping.

Mary’s nostrils flared and she wanted to cry, “You are never going to hurt me again. I’m leaving you. The door wouldn’t open because I had the locks changed. You’ll be receiving divorce papers on Monday.”

Still wheezing for air, John mumbled, “How – How did you do that?”

Mary just shook her head and shrugged, fighting back the tears. John, clutching at his chest, blinked a few times confused. Mary lowered her head and stared at the floor. Finally figuring it out, John gasped loudly, “Nooo. We can’t afford that. Where’d ya get the money?”

“Women Against Marital Brutality – they own a clinic where they can perform gene manipulation. I’ve been on their waiting list for three years. I think it’s time for you to leave.”

John nodded knowingly and pushed himself up using the wall, his breathing still difficult. He looked at Mary sadly, “Did – did ya have anything else done besides strengthenin’?”

“Just go.”

John hesitated and then left. Mary shut the door behind him. The door frame was shattered and the locks were completely useless. Mary turned and leaned her back against the door. She slid down to the tiled floor and began to cry.


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