Yep, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. But I’d do it again, in a heartbeat. Because it was the right thing to do. Let me explain.
Five years ago, Becky sat in the cube next to mine at work. Her laugh always made me smile, and I wanted so much to just stare into her blue eyes. I’d asked her to lunch once, but she’d refused. “My boyfriend wouldn’t like it.”
I settled for the usual, safe office small talk. “How was your weekend?” and “How did you celebrate the holiday?” Meaningless, safe stuff. Stuff everyone knows they can talk about. Like asking, “How was your vacation?” when she came back after a trip, or “Hope you’re feeling better now,” when she’d been out sick. Small talk. Nothing nosey.
But I noticed those mornings she came in with a little extra makeup on. Those days she winced when she reached for the phone. Those days she wore long sleeves in the spring or summer.
I noticed those days she called in sick, and came in a day or two later, walking a little carefully and slowly. I noticed how she always wore mascara on those days, and long sleeves.
I knew the story the details covered up.
On Becky’s birthday, the office bunch went took her to lunch. Her boyfriend showed up. Becky was really quiet, and didn’t talk like she normally did. I knew why. She was scared of him, the loud, arrogant person that made sure everyone knew Becky was his. Like she was a possession of some kind.
Lunch was eventful as everyone tiptoed around the topic of Becky’s long sleeves, and extra makeup. “Nice to meet you,” and “So you’re the guy she’s told us about,” and “You’re a lucky guy, having a girl like her.”
Everything was small talk, until he was ready to leave. That’s when things went bad. Really bad. Becky didn’t want to go with him. “I have to go back to work,” she’d said.
The guy yanked her to her feet, “No one will mind if you spend the afternoon with me.”
That’s when Becky looked at me, with her eyes screaming, “Help me!”, and she whispered to me, “Please.”
So, I stood up, and stepped in front of him. “She doesn’t want to go. And I’m not letting you hurt her any more.”
I got the beating of my life that day. A broken jaw, cracked ribs, bruises everywhere. But I stood up to the bad guy. And the restaurant staff called the cops, and an ambulance. Becky rode to the hospital with me. The cops arrested her boyfriend. And that’s when the domestic violence and assault charges got filed.
It took weeks for me to breath without wincing. My ribs hurt for months. I had 27 stitches in my lips and chin. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, standing up to that guy. But, I’d do it again. See.
I got Becky too.
I wrote this for Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge. I found them all worth reading.