Chapter 1

    "Damn, you're stupid! You can't do anything right!" He yelled, throwing a cup at the wall behind her. As the cup shattered just inches away from her face, he jeered. "I wish it would have hit you in the face, dumbass!"

    Burying her face inside of her hands, Leila begin to sob uncontrollably. She tried for many years to leave her verbally abusive husband. But as always, she ended up going back to him. 

    Picking the cup up from the floor, she dabbed her eyes dry as he continued to hurl insults at her. 

    "What's wrong with you? You're one dumb bitch! Do you know that?"


    "Please stop yelling at me, Calvin! I'm sorry dinner wasn't ready when you came home!"


    "I don't know why? It's not like you do anything all day!"


    "That's a damn lie, Calvin! I cook for you; I clean for you... I do everything for you!"

    Marching towards her in a fit of rage, Calvin stopped dead in his tracks when his cellphone rang. 

    "I'll get back to you later, Leila. In the meantime, pick this shit up!" he commanded harshly as he took the phone call in another room. 

    Leila and Calvin had been married for fourteen years, and only two of those years were happy. Early into their marriage, Calvin begin to control Leila. She wasn't allowed to work because he didn't believe in married women working outside of the home. In addition to not being allowed to have a job, Leila was only allowed to have female friends and had a nightly curfew.

    Returning to the living room a few moments later, Calvin kicked a piece of the broken cup away from her just as she was scooping it into the dustpan. "You're pathetic!" he scoffed. 

    Stalking angrily out of the house, Calvin slammed the door behind him, causing Leila to jump in fear. After years of being mentally and verbally abused, her nerves were shot. 

    "Oh God, why me?" she cried out, slamming her fist on the floor. 

    After pulling herself back together, Leila went out into the garage to numb her pain. She didn't have much happiness in life, but she could always count on the one thing that gave her some temporary relief from Calvin's abuse. 

    Returning home at the wee hours of the morning, Calvin entered the bedroom quietly, finding Leila fast-asleep. He had been out partying all night with friends, and doing God knows what else. 

    When Leila awoke the next morning, she found Calvin's arms wrapped tightly around her. When she tried to wiggle free, he held her tighter. "Come on, baby, just stay here with me for a little longer," he mumbled. 

    "But don't you want breakfast?" She shakily replied. 

    "I just want you." He chuckled as he rolled on top of her, giving her a small peck on the lips. "I'm sorry about last night. You know that I love you, right?"

    "Yes. I know," she replied quietly, feeling sick to her stomach. 

    For every fit of rage that Calvin inflicted upon Leila, an apology would soon follow. She had gotten so used to the routine by now that her responses were usually set on auto-pilot. 

    When she tried to get out of bed, he pressed his lips roughly against hers. "Come on, Calvin, don't you want Breakfast this morning?" She asked him again. 

    Squeezing her wrist tightly, he wedged himself between her legs. "Not until we make love."

    Not wanting him to become angry, Leila closed her eyes and allowed him to have sex with her. She no longer considered it 'making love' but rather a way to keep him happy for the next few hours.

    "Ok, Calvin. But after we're done, let's get some breakfast - I'm starving."

    Turning her head to the side as he pounded on top of her, a tear escaped her eye. Never in a million years did she think their marriage would cause her so much heartache and despair.


***

    "Hey, Leila! Are you free tonight?"


    "It depends Zina, what's up?"


    "Well, Coco and I were thinking about checking out this new club, you down?"

    Keeping her voice low, Leila brought the phone closer to her mouth. "Sounds great, but I can only stay out until midnight on Friday, and Saturday's remember?" 

    "Girl! You need to stand up to Calvin! I don't know why you let that man control you!"

    Looking around the corner to make sure that Calvin wasn't eavesdropping, Leila sighed. "Please... Not right now, Zina."

    "Why not right now? That man doesn't deserve you!" Zina shouted. "If you don't leave him soon, he's gonna end up killing you!"

    "How? Calvin has never physically abused me." 

    Sucking her teeth hard, Zina replied flatly. "Yet! He hasn't... Yet." 

    Leila frowned. "Why would you say that?"

    "Look-- I'm sorry, Leila. I'm just worried about you. That's all."

    "I know Zina... I know. But please let me deal with this on my own. It's my marriage, not yours."

    Becoming tired of discussing her personal life, Leila switched topics. "So, what time are you all getting ready tonight?"

    "Don't try to change the topic, Leila!"

    "Sorry, Zina. But either we discuss going out tonight or nothing at all. Conversation about my marriage is off limits!"

    Rolling her eyes, Zina hissed. "We're getting ready at my place at six o'clock. See you then."

    "Alright-- see you later," Leila replied in an exasperated tone.

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