We were on the local bus, and it was about seven-thirty. They were probably on their way to school, and I was off to start my second week as a movie theatre clerk. Unfortunately, I had to bounce from bus to bus to get there, and even leaving home at seven often resulted with me being late. My attention was turned to the video. It was rude of me to look at the screen over their shoulder, but when I heard the solemn violin music playing I had to check it out. The two kids in front of me—really young adults of about sixteen—had their iPhones out, giggling from video to video. The title of the video displayed in a bold red “This Ad Has a Powerful Message About Domestic Abuse.” It was some breakdown video about how an advertisement had tried to humanize the abuse victims.

Maybe it was the cynic in me, but it seemed to fall flat. I mean, how is it that all the victims are the hourglass figure girls? Aside from their black eyes and bruises, they all had perfect skin. Which was ironic, since the ad was for swimsuits, and the women all didn’t want to be seen for their bruises. Of all moments to talk a realistic body issue, a self-conscious swimsuit girl wasn’t a good moment?

I was spurned from my thoughts as my second change of buses came. I left the two kids to their laughter. The second bus was busier and I had to stand. The soles of my feet would ache from the swaying and speeding by the end of the trip, but aching was something I had grown used to. The freeway flew by as we sped down the road to our destination, and eventually I was lost in my own thoughts. I felt my eyes glaze over, as I looked around at a room full of mothers, daughters; sons, and fathers. How many of them were abused?

My mind turned back to the video. What had been that “powerful” message? Oh yes, that women shouldn’t stand for domestic abuse. Duh. More specifically pretty women. But how else does a company sell bikinis if it can’t use perfectly rounded butts and a body devoid of stretch marks?

Still, my mother was battered and beaten by her father, and then again by mine. I remember the welts, the lumps, the black eyes, and the shuddering tears. I remember the cold embrace of her arms as she told me it would be alright. I remember the night it became too much for her; the night she hung herself from the rafters. Her body was limp, listing about slowly. She had bitten through her tongue when the rope had snapped her neck, and it had left a dribble of blood from the side of her tired mouth.

The beam she had tied the rope to had sagged beneath her weight, and looked as though it may break. Her well-worn face looked tired, yet calm, in the way that a child looks fatigued as it naps after a long bout of crying. But the only tears shed that night were from me. My father was out doing…whatever it was he did after his night of drinking.

But we never talked about the middle-aged woman, with her wide torso and blotchy face. The judge never questioned her suicide when my dad came through the doors crying. No one listened to the five year-old child’s wails about the evil man her father was. They just saw a pathetic woman, a noose, and a broken family; who were just like the thousand they had seen before.

It stung to get off the bus that day, and see the glorified posters of happy families and perfect couples as I walked into the theatre, but life is never without its stings. I was lucky to be on time today. Mine vices—past, present, and future—were just another mark on the list of what people experienced every day.



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Published by Cassady O'Reilly-Hahn