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.

734 words.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. MM Schreier says:

    (Thank you for the TW!)

    This is a disturbing, evocative piece. I particularly found the small details telling – make sure to smile, ask the right questions, don’t chew too loud. All these tiny little self-defense measures, learned over time, make this very believable. Horrifyingly so.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Imaginings says:

    I agree with MM Schreier about the small details. I was unclear about the relationship between the characters, are they married, lovers, father/daughter? I would have liked a bit more emotion and motivation from the girl that leads her from a defensive wack to sending him over a waterfall. But maybe the numb, matter-of-fact narration works in another way, she seems to only be able to think of herself after he is gone when “her heart grew still”. I also love that phrase!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      One of the many things I had to edit out and should have kept in but yes, they are married.

      Like

  3. mixedbag says:

    I love how you’ve structured the narration here, the story unfolding, one layer at a time. I really liked the optimistic ending, although she couldn’t see the dingy go down and the rain washing off the crimson trail.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MichelleH says:

    I liked the slightly remote attitude to the piece. It seemed to be just the right tone for someone who experienced that much trauma. There were bits and pieces that I think another edit would catch – a question mark instead of a period, etc. But overall, it was a very nice piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. innatejames says:

    You know how to start a story with a bang, that’s for sure. The structure of this piece was solid; I was never lost in chronology. I wish I knew what was making the man angry. I know it doesn’t matter to Taylor—-he’s the type to always be angry—-but I wanted to know if it was something she did this time or something peripheral. Seemed like a missed opportunity for character development. I think the pacing of the story is affected a little by overexplanation of character’s actions and logistics. For example: in the sentence that starts: “He started throwing everything…” couldn’t that just say something like “He threw ashtrays, glasses, end tables, forcing Taylor back until she was up against the fireplace.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      My first draft of this story was almost a 1000 words, I had to scale it back, rewrite some stuff. A lot of his character fell to the cutting room floor because I thought Taylor was more important of the two and I tried to make that come across by the fact that I never give him a name, He’s kind of just a stand in for any man that behaves they way he does. Thank you so much for dropping by, reading, and taking the time to leave a critique! But this was a fun challenge – I’m already looking forward to next week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! This story really gripped me. I felt her tension and loved the little details about her coping skills and the ways she knows his moods. The ending was disturbing and perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great hook at the beginning. And you had so many little details like: She could tell by his footfalls across the floor that something was wrong. The pacing ramped up really well and worked with the “not chewing too loud” and the “smile that could diffuse”. Well done. You had a typo one “ran” near the end should have been “rain”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Ty – I looked for the typo but couldn’t find it – What paragraph was it?

      Like

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