Short Stories

Volunteer Driver

Posted on: 6 April 2021

I looked in the rear view mirror. A child’s blank eyes stared back at me. Her mother sat beside me, expensive perfume filled the car. Expertly applied make up almost obscured the bruising around her eye. As she turned for the umpteenth time to check on her daughter, her collar moved to reveal livid finger bruises, the purple thumb marks flaring above the gold chain encircling her neck. My skin remembered the pain of hands pressing around my throat, the choking, the terror.

I took my eyes back to the road. No one spoke.

She clutched a designer handbag in front of her like a shield.

I felt her pain, her grief, her shame, her guilt.

I felt angry with her. She has money, how could she end up like this? I’d had nothing, not even nappies for my baby. I had needed help.

Shame engulfed me. Money is no defence against flying fists and vicious words. Money cannot rebuild eroded confidence. What had she endured to receive the guilt gift that was that handbag?

The silence disturbed me. I put on the radio. Switched it off again.

“I’m hungry,” a whispered plea from the back seat.

“No money. He control. Had to ask.” the woman looked towards me, beseeching me to understand.

I stopped at a drive through, bought us all a burger. We’d finished them as we drew up in front of the anonymous refuge.

I wanted to tell her that everything would be alright. How could I?

Rude Awakening

Rude Awakening by Jacqueline James

Jacqueline's debut novel, Rude Awakening, is a thought-provoking and touching tale of loss, evolving friendship and self discovery.

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Jacqueline James