Dark Prison

By: Aniqah Huda binti Ahmad Zamri

Harvard Avenue is a quiet street, well usually. But that night it was filled with the noise of shouting and glass shattering. Even though the noise was deafening, no lights were turned. The noise is a part of the Harvard Avenue resident’s daily routine. The Carter’s house, from which the noise originated from was now quiet. The only noise that could be heard was the soft weeping of Rosalind Carter. The angry red welts on her arms and forearm left by Ethan Carter’s belt could be seen from afar.

” I told you that when I get home, all I want is a hot meal and a drink.” Ethan’s face was red with anger.

”But you’re home so late.” Rosalind was cowering and trembling before Ethan.

“I don’t care! You’re my wife, so take care of me, you imbecile.” With a scowl on his face he stomped up the stairs, the sounds of his heavy footsteps echo through the empty house.

Rosalind picked herself off the floor and shuffled towards the bathroom. With shaking hands, she opened the medicine cabinet. Trembling, she applied iodine to her wounds. Once in a while a small gasp would escape her. After bandaging her wounds she headed to the re-heat the previous night’s dinner. She was about to place the plate on the table, Ethan walked into the kitchen and snatched the plate from her.

”Is this all? Pathetic.” Without looking at her, he walked to the living room and flopped onto the sofa. He then proceeded to watch Law and Order: SVU.

When she was sure Ethan was out of sight, Rosalind let out a sigh of relief. She climbed the steps with as much stealth she could muster as to not disturb Ethan. When she reached the bedroom, Rosalind slid down the walls and buried her face in her hands. She was thinking of ways to make the problems go away, to make it all stop. With these thought racing through her head, she and climbed into the warmth of the bed. As she was falling asleep, these thoughts were still there, just buzzing and constantly bugging her wanting her to find a solution.

*****

Rosalind woke up to the glare of sunlight on her face. Ethan’s side of the bed was cold meaning that he was long gone. She rose from the bed and crept down the stairs. Rosalind fixed herself some breakfast. While eating she just stared of into space. Finishing up her meal, she decided to go shopping.

At the supermarket, Rosalind wore a long sleeved blouse and some concealer to hide her welts and bruises but that didn’t really help. Whispers and stares still followed her wherever she went. All the residents in the town all know who Ethan Carter is, and what he does to his wife. While she was picking out vegetables, a policeman approached her. He asked her about her bruises and Rosalind just answered that she bumped into the side of the kitchen table. The policeman looked at her sceptically, then excused himself.

Rosalind just bowed her head and walked to the cashier. Even the cashier himself was eyeing her with apprehension, maybe just waiting for her to have a mental breakdown. Rosalind hated all the attention that she received. She just cursed Ethan in her heart for all the attention he brought. Ethan was always an attention seeker. Rosalind remembered the first day she saw him. He was “attention seeking” at the time.

Rosalind was sitting on the lawn of the university campus when suddenly she heard a roar of cheers coming from a group of students on the other side of the lawn. In the chaos, she saw one face clearer than others. He was handsome, with short wavy brown hair, green eyes with that twinkle of mischief that every girl desires. The boy was currently trying to arm-wrestle a guy much bigger than him. As Rosalind was staring, she realized with a jolt that the boy was staring back at her with a smirk on his face. Rosalind blushed and continued the conversation she was having with her friends, ignoring the heat of his eyes on her.

Rosalind was woken out of her reverie when the sound of a car’s horn brought her back to the present, back to reality. She shook her head and opened the bonnet of the car. When she was loading the bags in, she saw the edge of the carpet was peeled off. Rosalind thought nothing of it and just drove home. As Rosalind was approaching the driveway, she could see Ethan was waiting for her. She could already feel the fear growing in her heart. Looking down she walked towards him, treading with cautious steps.

Without warning, Ethan grabbed a fistful of her hair and dragged her into the house. Screaming and kicking, Rosalind resisted with all her might but it only made Ethan pull her hair harder. Ethan dragged her to her feet. Her face was levelled to his. Rosalind could smell the alcohol on his breath. He asked her where she went. With quivering lips, Rosalind said she went to the supermarket but her voice was too quiet. Ethan got angry and slapped her in the face. Rosalind was shocked. She raised her hands and gingerly touched the red mark on her face.

With a final push, Ethan left her beaten and bloodied on the floor. This time Rosalind didn’t feel anything, just numbness. Her heart was devoid of any emotions. This was all too normal for her. Just another day for Rosalind Carter. All Rosalind could was look at Ethan’s receding figure, imagining in her head what it would feel like to kill him.

Suddenly a pair of feet was blocking her view. Rosalind lifted her head, Ethan’s face was only a few inches from hers. He whispered something in her ear. Rosalind didn’t really catch what he said because his words were slurred but she got the gist of it. He was going to the local pub to watch today’s football game with a few of his mates. Rosalind only nodded her head silently. If Ethan was going to the pub it would usually mean he would come home late hungry and very pissed off.

*****

Rosalind would constantly glance at the watch nervously, anticipating Ethan’s arrival but it was already 2.30 in the morning. Rosalind just concluded that he was staying at one of his mate’s houses. She ascended the stairs and walked to her bedroom. Climbing into the sheets she slipped into a fitful sleep. Rosalind’s sleep was plagued by nightmares. But Rosalind also dreamed something that she would remember till the day she dies. The dream that she hopes would never come true for various reasons.

Ethan was kneeling in front of her, tears streaking down his cheeks. He was begging for me not to let him go but there was no mercy in her eyes, just pure anger and hatred. There was another emotion in there too but Ethan couldn’t really put his finger on it. Was it malice, sadness or happiness? Ethan finally realized what it was. It was glee, glee at seeing him suffer. She said he had already signed and so had her. All Ethan could do was gape at her, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. As she passed him on the way to the taxi, which was already waiting, she whispered in his ear. Upon hearing those words Ethan’s face paled and blanched. He slid down on his knees and tilted his head up, eyes closed. A figure blocked the sun, he opened his eyes and got the shock of his life.

*****

Rosalind jolted awake when she felt a pair of hands wrapped around her ankle. She gave a small cry when she was suddenly pulled off the bed and landed on the bedroom floor with a thump. Dazed, Rosalind opened her eyes to see a very pissed of Ethan looking at her. Ethan grabbed her face, his fingers bruising her face. He repeatedly slammed her hard into the floor. Rosalind was now howling in pain. No words were said only gasps of pain. A single tear rolled down Rosalind’s cheek but no sobs were heard. Just a stream of tears rolling down her cheek. Ethan finished off with a hard slam of her head onto the floor. Kicking her body and spitting on her face, he stepped over her body and went to the toilet to shower.

Lying on the floor, Rosalind looked up at the ceiling, a pool of blood steadily growing around her. She was trying to remember the day Ethan became who he was at that time. She remembered it like it was yesterday.

*****

Rosalind was busy chatting with her friend, Lucas from her economy class. What she didn’t realize was a jealous Ethan watching from afar. He didn’t see that they were discussing about an assignment. In his mind, he saw that Rosalind was trying to flirt with Lucas. All he wanted to do was storm over there and punch Lucas in the face. After that he would teach Rosalind a lesson. Serves her right for flirting with another man. He drove off with anger still boiling in his blood. When he arrived at home, he was drunk and aggravated. That is usually not a good combination. He banged the door open and the first thing he saw was Rosalind watching television. With drunken steps, Ethan walked to the sofa and gripped on Rosalind’s upper arms tightly. Shaking her, he asked her why she was flirting. Rosalind was bewildered, she didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. With a grunt Ethan threw her on the floor and went upstairs.

That was the first of many incidents. The incident that sowed the seed of fear in her heart.

*****

Rosalind was blanketed by a thick blanket of deep sleep, with the help of sedatives. Rosalind opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was the blinding light ahead of her. She could smell antiseptic and drugs in the air. Being a person who had made many trips to this place, Rosalind was sure she was in the hospital. She turned her head to the left and saw a kind-faced doctor walking towards her bed. The doctor asked her how she was feeling. She said she felt a bit dizzy but other than that she was fine. The doctor said police was here to see her. Rosalind was not surprised, with her head currently in bandages and lying here in a hospital bed, someone was bound to call the police.

The doctor said that a few of her neighbours, who usually ignored her abuse, reported to the police when they heard the repeated banging of Rosalind’s head on the floor. Then the doctor was replaced by a concerned looking policewoman. She asked her to give a statement. Rosalind gave her the story of her life, since the day Ethan first laid a hand on her till the sequence of events that led to her lying here. The policewoman was a faithful listener, writing everything the little note book of hers. Rosalind wrapped the story-telling with a sigh. With a nod, the policewoman stood up and clasped her hand on Rosalind’s shoulder and said she was sympathetic.

*****

The next few weeks were a flurry of visits from different people. First, reporters came in mobs, all eager to get the first scoop of this juicy story, which happens to be Rosalind’s entire marriage. Then came the sympathizers, they came in hordes, all supporting her. All these events just passed me by like blurs, all insignificant. Then the most anticipated day came, the day of the Ethan’s trial.

*****

Rosalind arrived at the courthouse with a police escort, shielding her from the flashes of the paparazzi’s cameras. Rosalind waited nervously for Ethan to arrive. Her breath hitched when she glimpsed Ethan in an orange jumpsuit. It looked fitting on him. The trial flew by and finally the time for the verdict to be announced arrived. Ethan was convicted and sent to 7 years in prison. She watched his face as he was led through the heavy oak door. The door closed with a bang.

*****

The sound echoed through the courtroom. Rosalind was having mixed emotions. She knew that this was only a temporary solution and when his 7 years was up, the first thing Ethan would do is to exact his revenge on her. The fact that scared her the most was that he would try to take the one thing that would become the centre of her world, the baby currently growing inside her.

***5 years later

The sound of running footsteps could be heard inside the house of Rosalind Daniels. 5 year old Matthew could be seen running butt-naked through the house, trying to get away from his mother. Rosalind is now single mother, having finished her divorce to Ethan 4 years ago. She caught her son in her arms, Rosalind tickled him and pulled his shirt off. She ordered her stubborn son to take a bath. Matthew made a sour face and stomped off to the bathroom. Rosalind just laughed, her eyes trailing Matthew’s retreating figure.

*****

Suddenly, her cell phone rang. Rosalind picked it up off the table and saw that it was an unknown number. She picked up with uncertainty. Rosalind had a short conversation with the person on the other side of the line. Rosalind hung up, tears rolled down her cheeks. The person who called was the prison where Ethan was incarcerated. They informed her that Ethan had died this morning. Rosalind was filled with different emotions. She slid down the walls.

*****

It was like a weight was lifted off her shoulders. But in truth she hoped that Ethan would make it out from prison alive because there was still a bit of her that loves Ethan. But deep down in her heart, Rosalind knew that Ethan wouldn’t change. Like the saying ‘Once a thief, always a thief’. Besides that, Rosalind had enough with men and marriage. Once bitten, twice shy. Rosalind was happy being a single mother.

Rosalind felt a small hand wiping the tears from her cheeks. Rosalind looked up and saw Matthew, with a look of concentration on his face wiping her tears with his pudgy hands. He asked if everything was alright, concern clearly evident in his voice. Rosalind let out a little laugh and hugged Matthew tightly in her arms. While she hugged him, she whispered in his ear that everything was fine now. They’re finally free.