“Looks can be deceiving,” Amber snapped with tears in her eyes.
Regretfully, Karen remembered her friend’s vehement response after she had enviously stated, “Amber, you should be thankful to have so much, while other people struggle just to make ends meet!”
“You are the one who should be thankful. I would give anything to enjoy the quiet, boring life you describe.” Amber continued bitterly, “You have no idea how I long to be rescued. Do you think my life is a fairy tale? How would you like to constantly worry about your appearance, fearing that if you don’t look your best, your “wonderful husband”, admired by everyone, may use that as an opportunity to beat you? How would you like to be told everyday that you’re stupid and worthless? Would you enjoy being raped by the one who just broke your arm, or beat you to a bloody pulp?”
“Amber, I had no idea — I — I’m sorry,” Karen stammered, as the horrible image of her friend’s “ideal marriage” sank in. “How can I help you?” she whispered to Amber as they wept together.
“Just pray for me,” Amber said hopelessly. “If I leave him, he’ll take my kids away. Either way, he’ll eventually kill me. And he has enough money to get away with it too. It’ll be another case like O.J. Simpson, where the abuser gets away with murder, and the victim’s reputation is dragged through the mud. Karen, the only way I’ll ever be free from Jared is when I go home to rest in my heavenly Father’s arms.”
“You could tell the authorities, like you told me,” Karen pleaded.
“It’ll just be my word against his. You know how everyone idolizes him, Karen. You even idolized him,” Amber stated flatly. Taking an envelope out of her handbag, she handed it to Karen. “Listen, I’ve kept an online diary of everything he’s done to me. I’ve also included medical documentation, and my username and password are in a safe deposit box. The key is in this envelope, along with the name and address of the bank, and you’re the only one authorized to open it, other than me. If I die suddenly, you’ll know Jared has murdered me. Promise me that you’ll open this box and take all of the information to the authorities, and fight to get my babies away from him. I want them to be raised in your house surrounded by your love of God and mankind,” Amber grabbed Karen’s hands, desperately squeezing them, as she trembled in fear for herself and her children. “Please!”
“Of course I’ll honor your wishes, Amber, but please, don’t talk like that. Please, go to the authorities for help before it’s too late.” Karen looked at Amber’s hands clutching hers, marveling at how pale she was. Amber was her best friend, yet she had never noticed her pallor before now. Why had she never picked up on the obvious signs of Amber’s abuse? Now it all made sense… the scarves and turtlenecks around her neck, and long sleeves covering her arms, even during the hottest times in the summer… the way she spooked so easily… And what about all of the “accidents” and “clumsiness” she had suffered from since she had married Jared?
Karen remembered how she had been awe-stricken by Jared, and God forgive her, how she had envied Amber for attracting this seemingly perfect man. What a kind of a friend had she been to Amber? Instead of noticing the telltale signs of abuse in her once vivacious friend, she had coveted Amber’s lifestyle. Instead of appreciating her own husband, who treated her like a queen, she had felt cheated because he couldn’t afford the luxuries Amber enjoyed.
Through the impending darkness of twilight, as she stood beneath the barren red oak tree overlooking her friend’s tombstone, Karen placed a single blood red rose in front of her marker. Then, for the umpteenth time, since her friend’s body had been discovered in her bedroom by her “grieving” husband, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Karen prayed, “Arise, O Lord, and show Yourself strong on Amber’s behalf! Her blood is crying out to You, Father, for vengeance. Please don’t allow her children to remain under Jared’s roof any longer, and grant Dan and me custody of them so that we can raise them up in the way they should go, according to Your will and Amber’s wishes! In Jesus’ name I pray.”
Cheryl A. Showers
This post was written for SPEAKEASY #153 Challenge.
Here are the Challenge rules:
- Submissions must be 750 words or fewer. My post was 746 words.
- Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
- You must include the following sentence as the FIRST line of your submission: “Looks can be deceiving.”
- You must also include a reference to the media prompt (pictured at the top of the page).