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The Woman On the Telephone
Her head hurt, her arms hurt, and her heart hurt. Every part of her body, inside and out, ached in pain. She knew what she had done, it was ripping at her slowly as the telephone rang. The woman breathed deeply and stared at the sounding device for a moment, debating whether or not to pick up. Finally she gave in, slowly reaching for the phone her pulse grew faster and faster.
“Hello,” she said weakly.
“The deed is done,” a man’s voice replied mysteriously on the other end.
The woman swallowed hard, her heart skipped a beat, “I understand, thank you.” She hung up the phone quickly and stared blankly at the ceiling. Her mind was racing with what she had just done.
Several years before, a young couple by the names of Millie and Pete fell in love. The two were married fairly young and seemed happy to outsiders, but what people didn’t know was how miserable it was being in that house. If one listened hard enough, they could hear the cries coming from Millie. Her scars and bruises were commonly covered by long clothing and makeup, but everyone knew something was off. A once cheerful, outgoing girl was now always hiding in the shadows. The abuse that filled Millie’s body went on for a few years until finally she broke. Every inch of her body began to collapse in fear, that is until she made the call.
It was too much for too long, Millie was hurting mentally, physically, and emotionally, and all she wanted was an escape. Ultimately she decided to make a call to discretely find someone to help her put a stop to the never ending pain. She sobbed on the phone and asked him to do anything he could to give her the freedom she once had. All it took him was three days, and a truck.
As Pete was walking across the street, his short brown hair blowing in the wind, the truck came out of nowhere and squashed him like a bug. Millie knew what she asked the man to do, she knew that Pete had to be murdered but she was dreading the call that she would get. When she received the information of Pete’s death, it was both a relief as well as adding another layer of fear. Yes, he was a violent partner but Millie couldn’t help but feel sick to her stomach of what she had done.
As she sat at her desk staring at the phone before the call, Millie remembered the most horrific event in her life. It was the first time he hurt her. Right after they got married she got home late from dinner with some friends. Pete had been drinking and he was less than thrilled she was coming in so late. He started by screaming at her, which was normal for the two of them, but then the screaming escalated. Pete came after her, beating her down. She was crying and yelling but the cruelty didn’t stop. After what felt like hours of abuse, the whole world seemed dead silent. The next morning, Pete apologized and naively Millie forgave him. This vicious cycle was repeated month after month. Besides the distant memory, Millie had a scar across her shoulder to remind her of his violence.
Millie brushed her blonde hair over her shoulder and was inspecting the scar when the phone rang. Once the message came across that Pete was dead and she had hung up the phone, she waited in silence for the sound she knew would be following. Just minutes later a knock came at the door. Millie stood slowly and made her way to the door, she composed herself as she opened it. Standing before her were two police officers geared up in their uniforms.
“Mrs. Lawrence,” one police officer began, choosing his words carefully. He was a tall lean man with a sparkle in his eyes.
“Can I help you?” She responded in a quiet voice.
“Your husband, he was found early this morning dead on the side of the road.” The man said this as if he were speaking with a child, slowly and articulating every syllable.
Millie gasped and began to cry. Although she wasn’t sorry for having him out of her life, she was apologetic it had to end this way. The tears fell down her face rapidly and the cops stood there in silence not knowing how to react.
Finally the second man stepped forward, “Would you like to come with us to identify the body?” This officer was slightly shorter with broad shoulders.
“No, no,” she tried to collect herself. “I can’t be put through that. I’ll take your word that he’s gone, as it is I’ll be reliving this moment constantly and I don’t need anything else to be floating around in my head.” She wiped her tears off her cheeks and breathed deeply. “Is there anything I need to know?” She asked meekly.
“Not at the moment,” the taller policeman said. “We’ll call with any other information. As of right now all we know is that someone in a truck ran him over. Whether the driver was aware or not is still to be seen. The driver left the crime with no evidence showing they stopped the truck to see the body, they just kept driving.”
Millie shut her eyes tightly and shook her head, it was all surreal. She bid the officers farewell and shut the door gently. Her head was swirling was every possibility. What if they link the crime back to me? How would I respond in court? Do I say it was self defense? Do I say-
Her thoughts were cut off abruptly by the phone ringing once again. Puzzled, Millie picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“It’s me,” the man’s voice indicated, sending daggers up Millie’s back. “The money you paid me isn’t enough. They’re on to me and I need assurance that I’ll be safe. I need ten thousand more dollars by tomorrow night, we’ll meet at midnight at the bus stop on North Ridge Avenue.”
“I can’t give you anything else,” Millie stammered. “I gave you everything I have, I don’t have anymore money.” Millie felt her face getting hot and she had to take a seat.
“If you don’t bring me ten thousand more dollars I’m turning you in, I’ll tell the police you were driving the truck and that I saw you. After all, you have more motive than anybody,” he said this sternly.
She could tell the man was smirking on the other end and she felt faint. “Fine I’ll have the money and bring it to you tomorrow.” She wanted to kick and scream and throw the phone out the window and confess, but she sat in her chair holding her breath.
“I thought so,” the man replied and hung up.
Millie smashed the phone on the table and held her head in her hands. She was up almost all night trying to figure out how she was going to come up with the money, fearing if she couldn’t find a way to pay him, he’d turn her in. While she was searching some drawers she fell asleep right on the ground.
The morning approached quickly and a sound was in Millie’s head, beating like a drum. First the sound was soft but gradually got louder until finally she jumped up realizing the sound wasn’t in her head at all. She hurried to her front door and opened it widely and standing on her front porch were the same two police officers from the day before.
Millie gulped and knew what had to be coming. Surely they were going to tell her they knew it was her the whole time and they were just waiting for her to confess, or that the man had turned her in saying, “it was all the woman on the telephone’s doing.” She’d definitely be going to jail.
“We’re sorry to bother you at this hour but there’s been an advance in your husband’s death. His murderer was found.” The police seemed pleased with what they were saying. Millie just stood there hoping they wouldn’t say what she thought they might. “A man by the name of Earl Steward got in a terrible car accident last night. He was driving drunk and crashed into some trees, unfortunately the man didn’t survive. However, a person walking by recognized the truck and knew it immediately to be the one that ran over your husband. This person was just a few yards away when Pete was killed and we’re so grateful they recognized the truck.”
“So what now?” Millie asked carefully.
“Case closed,” one of the men said happily. “You can now start to move on from this horror and live your life. The culprit was identified and he got what he deserved, now it’s up to you to let go.”
Millie blinked quickly to hide any tears and nodded to acknowledge what they were saying. “Thank you for being so efficient in my husband’s case, I really appreciate all that you’ve done.” Once the officers got that they weren’t needed any longer, they left Millie speechless in the doorway. She was safe.
She never thought it was within her capability to commit such a crime and get away with it, something that would end Pete’s hostility for good. Neither man could hurt anyone ever again. She felt as though the world was lifted off her shoulders and she had finally regained her freedom.