My Sister's Husband

My Sister’s Husband
by Matthew Pearce
She lifts her head despite the bruised cheek.
His fist slams hard into her nose
shattering the bone as easy as her sixth
birthday pinata.
She staggers to her feet like a drunk on their last dime.
She looks to him with clear, defiant blue eyes. He kicks
to her belly knowing the child growing within would never see her face.
She lies there beaten, bloodied, barely gasping for breath.
She wants to be able to punch back like a tornado ripping a house apart.
She wants to end him like he ended their baby Elizabeth.
She strangles him within her mind with the phone chord
he used to whip her with.
When he leaves for work she flees like a mouse stuck in a trap.
Wanting the cheese it could never have.
Out of state. Out of mind.
She hides.
It’s been several years. New husband. Three kids,
but on cold nights, drinking a little too much bourbon,
she tells me despite the healed bruises, straightened bones,
death of her first husband, she still wakes up in the night
afraid, rubbing her stomach for something lost.

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