“Move, you bitch!”
Kichiro stumbled into the hallway. Akiko stood frozen on the spot, her hands trembling and her breath laboured.
Kichiro’s breath smelled faintly of alcohol. Akiko knew what was coming next.
There was a loud crash. Akiko lay fallen on the ground, the ceramic vase broken under her. When she moved, she felt one of them pierce her back. She bit back a scream.
Kichiro stood over her, his fists raised.
“When I tell you to move, you OBEY. Did that get into your dense head?”
Akiko did not reply. This was the third time she had been wounded that week. Still, the worst was yet to come. She did not resist as he pushed her into the bedroom, ready to violate her yet again.
Sometimes Akiko found it difficult to keep the flashbacks at bay.
She turned her attention back to the suitcase in front of her. The last few items had just enough space left for them. Snapping the suitcase shut, she looked at the clock: 8:00 PM; another couple of hours till the monster came back.
Akiko reviewed her bag. Money? Check. Passport? In the purse. Cellphone? Done.
Then she sat down on the couch, counting down the minutes. Her hand was freshly bandaged and the right side of her face was covered in bruises. She tried to remember why she had fallen in love with Kichiro.
At 17, she had been naive and impressionable.
Kichiro, a senior at her high school, seemed to her the most charming of them all. All the girls had been throwing themselves at him, but for some reason he turned to Akiko.
Years down the line, she would wonder whether it had something to do with how well she could swallow her tears and mask the bruises with thick makeup.
She gazed at the framed photograph in front of her, carrying a picture of the two of them from their high school days. That had been a different time, an eternity ago, and life had seemed golden.
She held it in her hands for a few moments, and then crushed it under her red heeled sandals.
The memories came running back to her head. She saw in her mind’s eye Kichiro, aged nineteen, coercing her into sex that she did not want, she saw her younger self flinching in fear even as Kichiro merely glared at her from across a crowded room, she saw all the times he had hit her till she fainted. She saw red.
At 10, the doorbell rang and Akiko picked up her suitcase. She opened the door and stared at him for a moment. Then she walked past him, as if he did not exist.
He tried to grab her by the neck but she was faster. She stuck the gun to his temples and said, “ Try to stop me, you bastard. You’ll die.”
He gulped. Beads of sweat erupted all over his face and he put his hands up in surrender.
Akiko walked away.
Later at the bus stop, she pulled out the gun and read the words along the handle: Smith & Brown Toys Co. Ltd.
A smile spread across her face after years. Freedom, she discovered, was delicious.
Sukanya Singh is that silent classmate of yours who has a million different universes erupting simultaneously in her head. She is a lover of all things that smell like home (she is still working on finding said home); dogs; anything that fills your belly and soul; and music. Whenever she is not busy trying to get back in control of her life, you can find her zoning out looking at the night sky.