Turning a Page

In the tiny two bed room of the City Shelter for Women and Children, Maggie sat upon the bed feeling like she was in a fog. Nothing seemed real. She wondered how she even got here. She looked over at her fourteen month old sleeping in her crib and her two and a half year old coloring a picture of Cookie Monster on the small desk by the window.
The children seemed a little unsure of the events that brought them here. To them it was a place for fun and getting crayons to take to their room was a treat. Maggie knew a somewhat different picture.
Just 23 hours earlier, she was preparing the family their dinner. As they were eating their spaghetti Jayson arrived home from work. Bobby had his mouth full of meat ball and Sara was finger painting with the sauce on her highchair tray. Maggie had worked to keep Jayson’s dinner warm, but, he was late as usual. By now the noodles were a little rubbery. It was warm but, it wasn’t as good as it would have been an hour earlier when it was first made.
“What’s this?” he asked sharply.
“Spaghetti and meatballs” she answered.
“You call this spaghetti? It’s more like rubber worms.” He picked up his dinner plate and tossed it at Maggie, just missing her face. The dish hit the cupboard behind her and splashed sauce into her hair.
“Now, clean this up!” he ordered. “Then clean yourself up. What man would want to be seen with a whore like you?” He marched to the fridge grabbed his beer. “Oh and when you’re through you can fry me up something good to eat.”
By now the kids were done dinner, the food was all over the floor, and Sara was begging to get down. Bobby hopped from his chair and went to mommy’s side. “It’s okay mommy, I still love you” he said giving her a tender hug. She cried as gently as she could. It would make Jayson madder to hear her whimpering. “Crying is for babies” he would say.
“Shut that kid up!” Jayson yelled as Sara’s crying was getting more persistent.
“She’s your daughter too!” Maggie replied sharply.
“Shut up witch and shut her up or I will shut both you up myself”.
Maggie knew he meant it. As she worked to get Sara cleaned up, her young son worked to help clean up the floor. He had trouble doing it, but, he was desperate to keep his daddy happy. As he cleaned up the mess, he accidentally dropped a dish breaking it.
Just then Jayson got from his chair and stomped to the kitchen.
“You stupid woman” he said, unaware the child had been helping, “can’t you do anything right? You’re not getting any money this week! Now I gotta work to pay for new dishes. You stupid woman!” Johnny clenched his hands growling and gritting his teeth.
“Stop it daddy, I dropped the dish! Don’t hurt mommy” Bobby cried stepping between him and his mommy.
“Don’t you talk back to me boy!” He began to raise his ‘hands of discipline’ to strike the boy when Maggie stepped in to take the punch knocking her to the floor.

“You stupid witch!” He gave her another smack on the cheek. “Don’t you be stopping me! If I feel fit to discipline the boy then I will!” He gave her a quick kick to the gut knocking her back again. Then as if nothing had happened. He said “gonna go to the store for more beers.” Then off he went. Off in his car.
Maggie was not allowed her own vehicle. If she had somewhere to go, it would be on the bus. He limited her means of getting around. She knew that this was never going to end, she knew it was time for a change.
“I gotta get us out of here! Bobby, get your truck and Sara’s blue teddy bear, we’re going for a walk.” Johnny went and gathered the toys while mommy got the stroller and diaper bag and just enough money for a bus ride. Money Jayson had given her for things he’d demanded. She saved a little here and there, but, kept it away from Jayson’s knowing.
She put the two into the double stroller and hurried to bus. From there she got off at a store Jayson would not think to find her at. Maggie called the shelter her friend Jasmine had told her to go to.
Jasmine, her best friend in high school knew of Maggie’s issues with Jayson and begged her to leave. Jasmine had moved to another state and was not nearby, but, made sure she gave Maggie an ‘out’ for when she could get away.
The shelter acted promptly and had a worker go with a vehicle to pick her and the kids up.
Now a day later, Jayson was furious, she knew it. But, she wasn’t going back for anything. “There’s no way I am letting my kids grow up in this!” she told herself. She looked in the mirror, the shiner on her face was now apparent. She continued to look at the other bruises still healing from previous beatings. What took her so long? Fear, false sense of commitment she wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter now. She was done with the abuse and that was that.
When Sara was done with her nap Maggie and the kids went down to the playroom of the shelter. While the kids played, Maggie would think what to do next.
She only had a 10th grade education and job. “What am I going to do?” she thought.
Maggie was a bright 17 year old high school student when she got pregnant with Bobby, her parent’s disowned her. Her parents were always disappointed with her. She failed them no matter what she tried to do to please them..
Her feeling alone and unloved led her to the relationship with 17 year old Jayson, he promised her the stars. He was a great boyfriend, although he too lacked a stable family background.
They married when she was four months pregnant. By the time she was seven months pregnant he had moved on to the role she knew him in now. Somehow, they ended up having these two beautiful children. Maggie was a wonderful mother. Anyone Jayson let know her would say that. Who she was allowed to talk to was decided by him. Still she managed to keep in touch with Jasmine.
The worker showed Maggie some options. She could finish high school. She wanted that. She thought longer and then decided she should call Jasmine.
Jasmine gladly took the collect call. After about ten minutes of Maggie telling her all that had happened Jasmine responded. “I am so glad you are free of that man. You deserve so much more. So does Bobby and Sara.”
“I just don’t know where to go from here or what to do for that matter?” Maggie wasn’t feeling sorry for herself. She really had no one around and was afraid to leave the shelter while Jayson was out there.

“Maggie, can you hold a sec’?” Jasmine asked.

Jasmine now 21 was working as a dental assistant in Columbus and was doing alright for herself. Her roommate had just moved out. She checked her bank account and then came back to the phone.
“It’s Thursday now. Tomorrow, I will go to work and then I am driving up there to get you. You and the kids can come live here with me. We will figure everything out from there.” Jasmine knew Maggie would say that she ‘didn’t to impose’ said “oh, and I am not taking ‘NO’ for an answer.”
Gratefully, Maggie agreed to the offer. By Friday evening when Jasmine arrived at the Shelter, the police had made the arrest and Gary was behind bars. This chapter was over. A new chapter was beginning.
On the ride to Columbus Jasmine said, “Maggie, I spoke with Dr. Bishop today. We just so happen to need a receptionist. He would like to offer you the job. I got a friend in town who is willing to take the kids on at the daycare for very little while you get on your feet. The rest is up to you.”
Maggie began to cry, then like a broken water tower, the tears just poured. The weight of a heavy chapter was ending. A new one was beginning.
Within a few weeks, she was looking like the Maggie she knew and recognized. There were a few changes. But, they were good changes. Bobby recognized the changes and said “mommy, I’m pwoud of you.” Sara hadn’t really grasped all that had happened. But, she added her thoughts too, smiling with animal cookie guts hanging from her cheeks “pwoud mama!”
Maggie too felt proud. She was turning pages in her life and it was looking like it was going to be a great journey from here. She recognized the most was the power to choose what pages to turn. Now, she was on the right page and was on her way to a grand future.


Turning a Page

Kim Cruea

Barrie, Canada

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