Changed… an excerpt
By Katrina Jo
Writing instrument in hand, journal opened, I had stared out the window at the front lawn for about half an hour before any clear thoughts emerged that warranted preservation in script. The last few days of this process had revealed the fact that my truths were buried so deep beneath my false reality that I could barely remember what the truth was.
Here I sat in a world of piety that neither accepted nor understood me.
I’m not sure I should’ve complained because I married into this life willingly; bringing with me my socially acceptable appearance and intelligence, when desired by my husband and his family, to sweeten the deal.
Somewhere in my soul I believed that even if my husband couldn’t see me or hear me, he would at least take good care of me. That’s what you do with pretty things you collect. Polish them. Clean them. Make sure they’re ready for presentation at a moment’s notice. But he … he never even checked my batteries to see if my heart was still pumping.
My mother said he was the perfect man for me. She said I should be grateful to be married to a man who takes care of the bills. I was kinda hoping for a man that would love me as well. Guess that was too much to ask.
“Did you hear what I said?” Sue Ann, a young girl from the church, had a tight clasp on my shoulders and was shaking me with the force of a woman and I can’t understand what she’s saying. All I know is that somehow I opened the front door and now had a tight grip on the doorknob.
“Come quick! Blood is everywhere!” I hear her now, so I stand up grabbing for a sweater to cover my shoulders. No self-respecting first lady is going out into the streets with her bare shoulders. A preacher’s wife should always look like a preacher’s wife, my mother’s words echo in my mind.
“Whatchu doin’?” Sue Ann, her southern drawl is hollering from the drive way. “Come on. I think he’s dyin’!” She grabbed me by the hand and we run down the back alley from the parsonage to the church.
“OH God.” My wobbly legs are useless as I crawl the last 10 feet over to Dixon’s body. “Help! Somebody help us please!” It’s just after dusk and the dimly lit passageway behind the church was deserted. “Honey, can you hear me?” I’m shaking him, needing him to respond. “Run to Mama Ruth’s house and get some help.” My eyes are glued to my husband as Sue Ann runs down the street.
“Oh Dixon… honey.” I cradle his head and shoulders in my lap. His blood is still warm on his beige Travel Knit suit. Blood-choked sounds escape as he attempts to speak. Coughing, he clears his throat while splattering blood in my face.
“She-.” His eyes were wild.
“Don’t try to talk. Save your strength honey.”
“Please honey, you need your strength.”
“Woman-,” his eyes flash with familiar anger and my concern turns to fear. “You –” I’m sure the blood is choking his curses into silent submission. More coughing and we’re covered in more blood. Bright lights blind my vision. An ambulance with red lights blinking, sirens wailing, turns off the main road, Sixth street, and into the alleyway.
“Ma’am let me get a look at him,” a male voice says. I stare blindly into the headlights.
“Ma’am, you need to let him go so I can look at him.” The voice speaks again. I hear his words and will my limbs to move.
I gaze into the headlights searching for clarity until my arms were lifted from around Dixon and he is taken from my lap. Realizing that I’m disheveled, I try to spread out the drying bloody wrinkles of my frock as I rise to my feet. I hear the shouting, and screaming, and people pressing in on us from all sides. Ironically, I’m able to fade backwards against the crowd, unnoticed.
My internal compass steers me back to the house without so much as a “are you okay Mrs. Pratt?” from the concerned citizens of my community or my doting in-laws. Their demigod, the right Reverend Dixon Pratt, is dead. My husband has never cared much for me in life. Why should I expect his worshippers to care about me now that he was dead?