“You need to go to the police, Skylar. If you don’t, he won’t stop and if he doesn’t stop…”
The fear in her mother’s voice was palpable. “You have a son to think about, too.”
“I know, Mom, but I can’t go to the police. It’s too dangerous,” she told her mother.
“Skylar, that makes no sense. Doing nothing is too dangerous. Doug’s abusive and he needs to be arrested and go to jail. What about Benjamin, for goodness sakes?”
She’d tried explaining this to her mom before. She’d tried calling the police once, a mistake she’d never make again. They’d dutifully come right out to their modest home in Buckley, Washington, and separated her from her husband.
Doug Lawrence had become controlling soon after she married him, but had only recently became abusive as his heavy drinking had gotten completely out of control. The officers had taken their statements individually and she was told this was a case where it was her word against his. The female officer who spoke with Skylar told her, “You can get a restraining order if you like, but keep in mind it’s only a piece of paper.”
“I’m afraid,” Skylar told her. “I’m afraid of what he’ll do when you leave.”
Skylar Andrews-Lawrence had good reason to be afraid. Her husband of ten years had recently been fired from the mill where he’d worked since being discharged from the Army, and he blamed everyone but himself and his drinking for being let go.
He’d been controlling, but never physically violent until about a three months ago after he’d gotten drunk and pushed Skylar up against a wall, poking her in the chest hard enough to leave marks. The next day, after he’d sobered up, he barely remembered what he’d done and half-heartedly apologized before getting drunk on his ass again that evening.
Since then, he’d slapped her face so hard she really thought she was seeing stars. This latest time he’d grabbed her and shaken her like a rag doll for over a minute. She’d been wearing a long-sleeved sweatshirt so the marks on her wrists were too faint to be conclusive. There were no bruises to serve as evidence of her claims, and Skylar was now very afraid for herself and for her two-year old son who’d screamed the entire time his father was hurting her.
She no longer felt just afraid. She now felt—desperate.
“There’s a battered women’s shelter in Seattle and another in Tacoma,” the officer had also told her. “And if that doesn’t work for you, have you given any thought to trying to put away enough money to get out of town? Do you have anyone you can trust to stay with who doesn’t live anywhere near here?”
She saw the fear in Skylar’s eyes and said, “Look, I’m gonna be brutally honest with you, Mrs. Lawrence. Nowhere is really safe if a man like your husband has the time, money, and interest to find you. So unless you can get him arrested and convicted, this threat won’t just go away. And even if that happened, you could face the same problems when he gets out. I can’t tell you what to do, but I know if I felt afraid for my life, I’d leave. Well, in my case, I might shoot his ass dead, but…”
Her husband heard Skylar laugh nervously and glowered at her causing her to break eye contact.
“Seriously, you should have an escape plan. Beg, borrow, but please don’t steal—I don’t want to have to arrest you—whatever money you can get your hands on,” she joked trying to lighten the deadly serious mood. “Do that then have a plan to get free and clear of him. That may not protect you forever, but it will buy you time, and it might just be enough to discourage him and cause him to give up. I’m sorry there’s nothing more we can do, but without physical evidence or an eyewitness, this is it.”
She handed Skylar a card and said, “This also has my personal number on it. Call me anytime, day or night, okay? And good luck.”
The house was very quiet after the police left and once Benjamin fell asleep. The only noise was her husband opening cans of beer, the occasional belch, and the sound of an aluminum can being crushed. Skylar slipped upstairs and got into bed but couldn’t sleep knowing he could be there in an instant and do pretty much anything he wanted. He was well over six feet tall and weighed well over 200 pounds—the last 25 added largely thanks to someone named Budweiser. Skylar was 5’6″ and 115 pounds, and without a gun, something she didn’t own, she was no match for her angry, drunk husband.
She thought back to how handsome and charming he’d been in high school when he was a star athlete and she’d been a cheerleader. His lifestyle choices had exacted a very heavy toll, but having known him so long, Skylar could occasionally still see a reasonably good-looking man in spite of the beer gut.
Skylar was still a very attractive woman and pretty enough to be flirted with anytime Doug wasn’t around when she went out somewhere. They’d dated during their senior year then lost touch when he joined the Army for eight years. She’d almost gotten married once but felt so happy and so lucky she hadn’t when Karaköy escort Doug returned home and asked her out. A year later they were married and four years ago she’d gotten pregnant with Benjamin. At 35, she was now afraid for her life, and the life of her three-year old son from the man she’d once loved and trusted.
It was just after midnight when he stumbled into the bedroom and turned on the light.
Out of nowhere, after a very calm, quiet evening, he slurred, “You fuckin’ bitch!”
For the next ten minutes, Skylar suffered through the worst verbal haranguing of her life. He called her every name in the book and threatened to kill her if she ever called the cops again.
He was drunker than she’d ever seen him before, and she was shaking the entire time. Suddenly, he grew calm and started undressing himself nearly falling over when he removed his pants. She felt sick as the smell of beer and sweat filled their bed and she thought she’d vomit when he got on top of her.
“I love you so much, Skylar,” he said nearly crying now and barely able to pronounce the words, his mood having done a ‘180’.
“Sometimes you just make me so angry. You’re so beautiful and I hate when other guys look at you.”
Nothing he said logically followed anything else, but that was the way drunks talked.
He had her wrists pinned against the bed, and he was using his knee to push her nightie up. The thought of him even touching her made her sick, but it wouldn’t be the first time she’d endured what was essentially a rape to make him fall asleep and leave her alone. She knew she couldn’t get him off her so she closed her eyes and prayed.
She felt him fumbling around with her panties as tears fell from her eyes. She didn’t fight him but she refused to make it easy for him as she forced her legs together as much as she could.
“You like it when they look at you, don’t you, you fucking whore!” he slurred heavily now very angry again.
He opened her legs again, and she felt him trying to push, but there was nothing there. He was so drunk he couldn’t get it up, and after several attempts he gave up without another word. He literally fell over beside her and within seconds was out and snoring loudly.
And that’s when she made her decision. She too, was going to be out—out of this house, out of this state, and out of his life. She didn’t yet know where she’d go or how she’d get there, but she was going and the sooner the better.
The problem was she didn’t have enough money to leave. In fact, she had no money at all. He controlled the checkbook and had taken away her bankcard along with a threat of violence if she so much as thought of taking money out of the bank. That had been a month ago when there were still a few dollars left in their account. That money was now long gone, and they were living on credit cards which were nearly maxed out with no income to pay the bill when the statements came due.
The following evening, Skylar looked for something to feed her son knowing they were extremely low on food and milk.
Benjamin was hungry and started crying. “Shut the damn kid up, would you!” Doug hollered at her.
“He’s hungry and we don’t have anything to feed him with. I need to go to the store and buy…”
“Like hell you will!” he roared. “You think I’m stupid? If I give you money, you’ll leave!”
“Fine, then you go, but he needs food and milk!”
He was drunk again and in no shape to drive, and her reply set him off. He towered over her and pulled her out of the chair she was sitting in. His powerful hands grabbed her under her jaw and he lifted her off the ground and slammed her head into the wall.
“Don’t ever tell me how to raise my son!” he spat. “You hear me?”
Skylar’s eyes were wide with fear and as his thumbs wrapped around her neck she found it hard to breathe.
“Please!” she said as he choked her. “He needs food. Just…”
Without warning, he let go and Skylar fell in a crumpled heap to the floor.
She saw him pull out his wallet, open it to see how much cash he had left, then say, “I need more beer anyway. You sit your ass right there while I go to the store.”
When he picked up Benjamin she wanted to scream, but knew better than to make him even angrier by doing so.
“You won’t be goin’ nowhere as long as I got the little man here with me,” he snorted over Benjamin’s loud cries.
The moment he left, she called her mother. Her battery was low and she knew the phone would be disconnected for non-payment any day now.
“I’m afraid,” Skylar told her. “I’m afraid of what he’ll do when we leave.”
“Then what are you going to do, honey?” her mom asked.
“Mom? Can you loan me some money?” she asked her voice still shaking with fear.
“How much do you need, and how am I going to get it to you?” she asked.
Her mother lived alone since her father passed away six years ago and although she had money, she didn’t have a lot of it. Skylar knew Kayaşehir escort bayan that most of what she did have was tied up in a certificate of deposit and breaking it was out of the question except as a last resort. And yet Skylar was so desperate she knew she had to ask.
“I don’t know, Mom. As much as you can spare. I have to get Benjamin out of here as soon as possible and as far away as we can get.”
It was quiet for moment before he mother said, “You’re taking my grandson away from me, aren’t you?”
Skylar felt like she’d shake apart as she cried. “I’m so sorry, Mom. I know how much you love him, but if I don’t…”
“No. Don’t apologize, sweetheart. You have to get him…and yourself…out of there. Listen, I almost never drive your father’s car; just enough to make sure it still runs. I’ll leave it a block from your house this evening by that empty house on the corner, and I’ll get as much cash together as I can. It’ll be in an envelope in the glove box. The car key will be under the left front fender in one of those magnetic things your dad always used. Wait until you-know-who passes out again then you take your son and get the hell out of there. And Sky? Two more things. I’m buying you and me phones from WalMart so we can communicate. And…you know you can’t tell me where you’re going, right? At least not now.”
Skylar was still shaking and began heaving sobs knowing her mother was right. It would be too dangerous. Doug would undoubtedly threaten her mother and might even physically harm her to force her to talk. Skylar also knew her mother loved watching CSI and detective shows and had undoubtedly learned about ‘burner’ phones from some TV show she’d seen. She wasn’t a very well-educated woman, but she was as smart and as tough as they came.
“Okay, Mom. Thank you and…” Skylar said as she struggled to breathe so she could speak. “I love you so much!”
“I love you too, honey. And I love that boy of yours. Just go and make sure he’s safe. When he is and when you feel you’re safe too, then you can call me, okay?”
Skylar quickly packed two bags for her and her son. She’d have to grab his carseat from their vehicle. She could carry the two bags plus the carseat and Benjamin could walk the one block beside her. She staged them outside under the porch then went back inside and washed her face before sitting back down where she’d been when he grabbed her.
Benjamin had stopped crying on the way in and he was happily poking french fries into his mouth.
“Daddy bied me fren’ fries!” he said as he held one out to his mother.
“No, you eat them, sweetheart. Mommy’s fine,” she lied. She was hungry too, but she could go without the rest of the day as long as her son had something to eat.
Her husband stumbled in carrying twelve-packs in both hands.
“Put those in the fridge for me,” he barked at her as he opened a can from one of them and started chugging.
“And don’t ever say I don’t take care of my son,” as he reached out and grabbed most of the fries left in the paper bag Benjamin was clutching and ground them up in one bite.
Around 8pm Skylar grabbed Benjamin while her husband was still alert enough to ask where in the hell she thought they were going.
“He needs a bath,” she told him truthfully. She would bathe him and get him dressed then shower herself, get ready and wait. Hopefully, the hot water was still on.
Doing so didn’t take long. She was finished by 8:30 and by 9, Doug was slumped over in the recliner with a dozen empty cans around him.
Skylar grabbed her purse then told Benjamin, “We’re going to play a game, okay?”
He nodded happily.
“We have to be very, very quiet, okay? The quietest person wins. Can you be really, really quiet?”
He nodded again. Benjamin was already dressed so all she needed to do was put on his shoes and coat then get hers.
“Okay, now we have to go outside without any noise, okay?”
The door squeaked loudly and sent a wave of fear through Skylar, but her alcoholic husband never even grunted.
Just as carefully, she closed the door behind them then set her son down. “Did I win, Mommy?” he asked loudly.
Panicked, she shushed him again with a smile.
“Not yet, baby,” she whispered. “Now we’re going for a walk. But we still have to be quiet. Can you do that?”
One more nod.
She grabbed the carseat, threw on the backpack, and picked up the bags. Five minutes later they were at her father’s car, his beloved Buick Regal, and she silently prayed no one who knew them saw her carrying bags and accompanied by her son at that time of night. She dropped the bags, found the key, and unlocked the car then popped the trunk. She tossed the bags in it then got Benjamin’s carseat ready.
“Can we talk now, Mommy?” he asked.
“Yes, yes we can, sweetie. You did SO good. Mommy’s very proud of you.”
“I’m hungry,” he said.
The few fries he’d eaten had temporarily killed the Escort Küçükçekmece hunger pangs, but they were back. Skylar had been hungry all day, but now she wasn’t sure she could eat. She was nervous, scared, and excited beyond belief.
“We’ll get something in a couple of minutes, okay?”
She buckled him in, closed the door, and got in herself. She opened the glove box and found a thick envelope, a cell phone with a cord to recharge it using the car, and a note.
“Dear Skylar, This was all I could get on short notice. I hope it’s enough. Don’t worry about me, just take care of my grandson and yourself. This is my new phone number. (206) 555-9253. Call when it’s safe but not before. I love you two more than anything in the world, Mom.”
She entered her mom’s burner number into her new phone then checked the envelope which contains nearly $1,500. Satisfied that everything was on track, she looked at Benjamin sitting sweetly in the back seat then started the car.
“You ready to go on a trip with Mommy?” she asked smiling for the first time in weeks.
His head was nodding up and down again as she put the eight-year old Buick with less than 20,000 miles on it into gear. She smiled when she saw it had a full tank of gas as she drove off to start their new lives.
Two days later in Billings, Montana
Skylar stopped only to buy gas or go pee, and to get something to eat. Benjamin slept in his car seat the entire night like a real trooper once he’d gotten something to eat and drink then spent the entire next day in it, as well. During the day, he stared out the window quietly watching the scenery (or just the plain old traffic) along I-90 pass by. His mother had thrown two of his favorite children’s book in a bag and he looked at them many times during the long ride.
Skylar had no specific plan as to how far she wanted to drive or where she’d eventually end up. It was late afternoon on the second day and she had to get some sleep and knew her son couldn’t spend another night in that car seat. They’d just entered Billings, Montana, the largest city in the Big Sky state, and she pulled into a restaurant to get them both something to eat.
This was the first time they’d had anything but fast food and Skylar now felt safe enough to sit down and relax. So far she’d spent just under $70 total on food, gas, and drinks and hoped to get dinner for both of them for under $10 if possible.
An older woman whose name tag read ‘Sherry’ seated them and said to Benjamin as she put a booster seat under him, “Ain’t you just the cutest little thing ever!”
She poured Skylar a cup of coffee then asked what she could get them.
“Anything filling and cheap,” she said.
“I can bring you meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans for $8.49. Will that handsome feller eat that?”
“Yes, he will. Thank you. That sounds perfect.”
She came back 15 minutes later with a regular-sized plate for her and a small one for Benjamin then set some warm bread down beside hit.
“These are for cutie-pie to take with him,” the woman said as she put a bunch of crackers in front of them.
The little man began gnawing at the bread as his mom put some of her food on his plate.
“Can I get you anything else?” Sherry asked.
“We need a place to stay tonight. What do you recommend?”
“Just for tonight, hon?” the waitress asked.
“I guess. Well, I suppose we could stay longer. Why? What did you have in mind?”
“Hold on a sec, okay?”
She called out to someone in the kitchen and an older man came around then stood next to her.
“Have you rented out that other cottage of yours yet, Vern?” she asked him.
He looked at Skylar and her son then replied, “No, not yet. Is this young lady looking for a place?”
“A place and a job,” Skylar said pensively.
“Well, we could really use another waitress around here. Can you wait tables?” he asked.
“Sure. I did that for a year after high school. I’d need daycare for my son, though.”
“This is your lucky day, hon,” Sherry said as she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number.
“Hey. It’s Sherry. You got room for another kid at the Honey Tree? You do? I got the cutest little boy here, and I’m gonna give his mama your number, okay?”
Before she left, Skylar had an offer for a full-time job, the name and address of a daycare center less than a mile from the restaurant, and was headed to check on a cottage the owner, Vern, was renting that was just a couple miles passed the Honey Tree Daycare Center.
She’d never been to Montana before, let alone Billings, but it was beginning to look a lot like home. Skylar hadn’t been to church since she was ten, but she sent up a prayer of thanks as she followed the directions to the owner’s house where Vern’s wife, Hattie, was expecting her.
The cottage was just that. A tiny little cottage. It was very, very small and looked to be somewhere around 450 square feet. But it was warm, cozy, clean, and comfortable, and best of all, it was furnished.
“How much?” Skylar asked.
“Four-hundred a month and that includes utilities,” she told her. “But Vern said to tell you he could take the money out of your check the first couple of months if paying upfront was too much for you today.”