Sixteen-year-old Audrey is pregnant and scared to death. What she chooses to do next will change her life forever.
IN THE SILENCE
Seven days without speaking with three days left to go, and when it comes time to leave a new life awaits me.
On the deck of my cabin, I sit on the swing chair and rub the gold band on my left hand.
My chest rises and falls to the thrum of cicadas as the ball of orange sinks in the sky. A blackness devours the towering gums and hoop pines, transforming them into inky giants that roam the land.
Hidden deep in the forest at Eastern Silent Retreat, the monotonous cycle of working long days, sitting in commuter traffic and drinking gin until I’m numb has been broken.
Comments on Twitter, rising fuel prices, unaccountable world leaders and the need to please him are worries I’ve left behind.
It’s been eight days since he last told me I was useless, eight days since he checked up on me at work to make sure I was there, and over a week since he put his hands around my throat and squeezed.
A mosquito buzzes and lands on my arm. I squash it with a hard slap and its blood smears across my damp skin—I will no longer be a victim.
A warm breeze blows my hair across my face. I tuck my newly cut and coloured, shoulder-length hair behind my ears. A new name, a new look—a meticulous plan. He’d never think to look here.
Wrapped in the arms of mother nature, I’ve given myself a ten-day breather and a week and a half to break old habits.
Yet, in the dark shadows of my mind, he still lurks; deep trenches cut across his forehead, his jowls sag, and his sunken eyes are red and glazed—an aging tormentor.
A symphony of cicadas rises like a tidal wave and my heart races.
My throat aches as I contemplate the years I’ve spent pleading and explaining—two decades spent trying to please.
But no more.
I stand and beads of sweat slide down my torso.
I pull off my wedding ring and throw it into the darkness.
The forest gasps at my determination to be free, and for one liberating moment, there is nothing but silence.
© Michelle Upton