Wasn’t going to listen anymore. His ears had grown deaf to her voice. Her shrieks and hollering was too much. It would begin in the morning with yelling at high decibels. Nothing was ever good enough. She blamed him for her downfall. My parents raised me better than this, she screamed. I deserve better, she told him. He’d light a cigarette and cover his ears. He knew she was telling the truth.

He’d leave her in the morning. Sometimes in mid-sentence. Most days he’d just fill his Thermos with coffee and head on out the door. Didn’t used to be that way. There was a time when they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. The young man would walk up behind her as she washed dishes and swat her behind. He’d grab her with both arms and kiss the back of her neck. She fell back against him and let him catch her. They’d make love right there in the kitchen. Shades open, lights on, up against counters and the kitchen table. Early in the marriage that came to a stop. So did a lot of things.

The first miscarriage happened one night when he came home drunk and an argument took place. Arguing turned into fists flying. She threw the first punch. And, the second. Accused him of cheating on her. She was always kind of paranoid about that. He swore he never did. She wasn’t buying it. He got a couple of hits in as well. Struck her across her freckled face, pulled on her blonde hair, and swung hard into her belly. They told the doctor she fell.

Her second miscarriage came in a car wreck. The two of them were yelling about who was at fault for her pregnancy. He blamed her and she blamed him. Screams became blows. She pushed him and he pushed her. He did not see that the light was red. Never saw the truck in front of him. They both bounced off the dashboard. Cuts and scrapes on him. Broken ribs in her. Another child lost.

And now they didn’t talk. She yells and he watches TV. At night it’s silent. He sleeps on the couch. She cries in the bedroom. He knew she deserved better than this.

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