She hears the storm brewing from inside the windowless room. Her skin clammy and slack. She has not seen the light of day for weeks. Desperate for a glimpse, a taste, salt of the Salish sea, lick of raindrop, she stays tuned to the slightest of indicators.
It comes quickly. Her eyelids flicker as the lightning cracks, and she counts, ‘one Mississippi, two Mississippi…’ waiting for the thunder to boom. It is close. Curling into a fetal position, she is comforted by its predictability. Its imposing presence signals she is not alone. It is the silence she dreads; deafening and cruel.
Intrusive thoughts return to haunt, as a little girl, her parents too, would leave her locked in her room while they went down on the Strip. She was their burden, and they would let her know in no uncertain terms. It is not them that she conjures now in her hour of desperation, it is Ruby, tiny and bubble-eyed, who kept her trust during those punishing, lonely times. Two eyes bobbling, upward-pointing, the goldfish bowl her communion.
She is shaken from her stupour when lightening thwacks again. No Mississippis this time. It is followed instead by the hollow thud of the basement door. He is back. There is shuffling, and muffled human sounds; whimpering and intermittent pleading. She cranes her neck as far as the chains will permit. Chaffing has left her skin raw. Her lips purse tight as she winces and pulls against the steel prong collar.
She has hoped there wouldn’t be someone else.
She knows the routine, the forced strip, pinned to the rack, the retching, and passing out.
It begins again. The lightning strikes, and she counts, one Mississippi, two Mississippi…
Karen Schauber is a seasoned Family Therapist practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her earlier writing is non-fiction and details three decades of psychosocial and analytical cases. Flash Fiction is a new and welcome adventure for her. As an emerging artist, Karen hones her craft at home and at the dog beach on the Pacific coast (when it’s not pouring out).
Karen’s flash fiction can be read at Rebel Shorts, SpillWords, AdHoc Fiction, Down in the Dirt, Blood Puddles: An Anthology, CafeLit, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Yellow Mama, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Wilderness House Literary Review, Postcard Shorts, CarpeArte, Stereo Stories, Commuter Lit, and forthcoming, at Ariel Chart, Ekphrastic Review, Fear of Monkeys, and Poems for the Writing: A Textbook. The upcoming Group of Seven Flash Fiction Anthology celebrating the Canadian Modernist Landscape Painters is her first editorial/curatorial flash venture – http://GroupofSevenFlashFiction.weebly.com. In her obsession with Flash Fiction, Karen also runs http://VancouverFlashFiction.weebly.com