Holly was alone curled up protectively in a ball wedged in the corner between the two decomposing walls of her room. She could hear her father’s drunken shouts mingled with her mother’s shrill pleadings for mercy. Father, Holly thought with a laugh, what a load of shit. He’s never acted like a father. He doesn’t even deserve a name.
When she was alone Holly dreamed, her mind full of different worlds with people just like her, each with their own problems to confront. Yet in her dreams all of the people succeeded in overcoming their problems, which disheartened Holly because she thought that she could never overcome her problems in reality. There within her mind she could escape and become someone else, become all the things she wasn’t but mainly to escape from the hard lessons of life and its even harder beatings. Holly often wondered what she would look like if all the bruises were gone and her nose was no longer broken. Would she look like her mother did in the faded photos that sat in shattered frames by the window? Would she be as pretty as her? Would her eyes sparkle in joy? Would her hair grow long and wavy just like in the photo of her mother? A tear slipped down Holly’s grimy face she hated mirrors because they showed the truth. They showed the evidence of the beatings and because of that she avoided them as much as she could hiding her face behind her greasy hair or behind a hooded jumper. It never mattered as long as she never saw what was in plain sight in the mirror.
Sighing with resignation Holly stood slowly, stretching her stiff muscles and bruised limbs easing them out of the position they had been in since late last night when her father had come home from Charlie’s Bar. Holly looked around and found where her bag and been kicked into the corner and lay forgotten until now during the struggle. She walked to it slowly and quietly, careful not to make any of the dusty floor boards creek in case it alerted Him to her presence. Gingerly Holly got dressed in worn out jeans, scuffed shoes and a dusty black t-shirt that she stole from a charity bin down the road. She quickly stuffed all of her things in her backpack, He hated mess and then she would pay for it. Not only did He hate mess but Holly’s mother, Jenny, would scour the house for spare change or things to pawn so that she could buy food or even beer to placate Him, not that it ever stopped the beatings. My mother was never this desperate until He came. Holly would always think to her self, He’s captured her like a bird and he’s slowly squeezing until there is nothing left of her but a lifeless shell. He had broken all that she was and is slowly crushing it into oblivion as he intends to do to me. Anger flashed through Holly as she stood silently in her room. Anger at Him for all that he had done, at her mother for being powerless to stop Him, at life for being unfair but mainly the anger was directed at herself for not doing anything to save her self and her mother as she watched her slowly die by his hand. Sitting quietly in the corner with her bag Holly thought to herself, Why can’t I be the heroine? Could I save us both from Him? Holly’s eyes widened at the thought that flashed through her mind, 'I could be like that guy in the book I…umm borrowed from the library. The guy that was being held prisoner by a dragon, and then he slew it to win his freedom. What was his name? Saint George? Yeah I think that’s it. I could do that I think, I could save us both from Him. Yes, Perhaps it’s time for us both to be free from him.'
Jenny’s soft cry pierced through Holly’s anger and brought her crashing back to earth just in time to hear His foot steps coming up the hall way. “Holly,” he called softly, “Open the door Holly.” His voice was slurred because of his drunken stupor. Holly looked at the door, This is it I spose, she thought, I won’t back down now, I can’t back down now.
Just before he opened the ancient door she slipped her hand into her backpack grasping an unseen object in her hand. Her mother had dropped it in the kitchen last night just as He came home. She was making dinner and Holly hadn’t wanted to give Him another weapon to use against them, he already had too many.
The door slammed open. “Get over here girl, now,” He demanded snarling. Holly let the bag drop to the ground with a dull thud, the dust billowing out in a circle glinting in the sunlight. I will not let him hurt me again! Holly thought struggling to fight down the fear that had kept her prisoner for so long.
“I said now girl,” force and menace building in his voice. A small shuffle alerted Holly to her mother’s presence behind Him. Her eyes were small and pleading already swelling, blood matted her once beautiful hair and blue and purple blotches covered her one flawless skin. Holly remembered the picture on the windowsill and how happy her mother had looked. Perhaps they could be that way again. Holly’s resolve grew as she clutched to the picture of her mother and the success of St George and all the people of her dreams. Perhaps there was hope for her still.
Holly lowered her head. “No,” she said quietly looking at the ground, “I won’t.” Her mother gave a small gasp as her eyes widened with fear and His with surprise. Covering his confusion with anger he whirled around to face her mother, “Get out woman!” he yelled expelling more alcoholic fumes, determined to deal with this problem before he moved on Holly. Jenny took a tentative step backwards but did not move fast enough for His liking. He covered the distance between them quickly and roaring with anger he slapped her across the face sending her crashing into the wall before crumpling to the floor in the hall. He sneered at her before returning to Holly’s room closing the door behind him.
I can do this, She repeated over and over in her mind as He sneered at her. Inside He was confused. Why had Holly suddenly defied him? Especially after all these years? Never mind, he thought, I shall beat that notion out of her head soon enough.
She knew that he would be confused by her recent actions, even more so than normal thanks to the alcohol he’d had. My God, I’m actually thanking alcohol for this. She smiled for the first time in years at the ironic thought. The anger was clear in his face. It’s too late now. Even if I submit to His beating He’s so angry. I’ve never seen Him so angry. He’ll probably kill me before He’s finished the beating. Guess I’ve got nothing to loose then. Holly thought grimly. He’ll kill me if I give up and He’ll kill me if I wont. I have no choice left.
Gathering her strength and will Holly looked him in the eye. “Does it make u feel strong Father dear?” she asked softly to His surprise. This was not something that He was expecting. “What?” He stuttered. By the look that was upon her face He had expected for her to submit to Him as she had before. Something’s happened, he realised when he saw the cold nothingness in her eyes, Best to act in command, stupid woman… she’s not even that she’s just a little girl, his drunken mind told him. “Explain yourself girl,” He demanded trying to reaffirm the command that He had so abruptly lost.
“Does it make you feel strong when you beat up women?” she asked with an air of innocence that she had once held, edged with mocking laughter.
Stupid girl! Mocking me? Her father? She must learn her place! He made a sound more animal than human and leapt at her, his control and patience finally at an end. Holly lifted her hand to reveal to Him what she had taken from her bag and hidden well until now. A small stainless steal kitchen knife sat in her hand. He was not used to this. They had never fought back, he had never given them that chance. With a start he realised that he was afraid of her and what she could do to him with a simple swipe of her wrist. With a knowing smile Holly recognised his fear and moved to meet Him in the centre of the room even as he tried vainly to move away from the cold calculating monster He, Himself had created with years of abuse. His eyes had widened in horror when he realised that this one time he could not hope to win the fight.
This must be how St George felt. She mused, all this power over one person, having them cringe with fear when you look at them. I wonder if he knows that he’s to blame for what I’m doing? Probably not. I’ve waited a long time for this day, why did I not do it sooner?
Holly moved so close to him that the knife tip was poised ready to attack like a snake would lie in wait for its victim to pass by. Leaning close to Him Holly could smell the stale stench of beer and sweat mingling on his skin. She whispered to him the final words she would ever say to him, “Feel my pain you bastard…” before plunging the small, shape blade into his alcohol-ridden body. He screamed long and loud and Holly tore the knife out just long enough to stab it back in him again. Bloodfrothed at His mouth and dribbled down His unshaven chin. His eyes rolled back in their sockets and still she stabbed Him over and over again the blood falling like little tortured raindrops to the floor. Even when he lay on the dirty cream carpet all bloody and broken, as she and her mother had lain countless times over the years, still she stabbed until her arms were covered in his life blood and smears covered her face. Time lost all meaning as Holly unleashed all the anger and pain that had unknowingly built up over the years.
Holly could feel someone pulling at her arms trying to peel her away from the lifeless remains before her. She tore her arms away screaming trying to free herself. More hands joined the first pair and finally succeeded in tearing her away and tugging the bloodied blade from her weary grip, its blade bent and broken. Looking up Holly saw the blue and white uniforms that belonged to the police. Now? They chose to come now? Holly began to laugh earning her strange looks from the cops as well as a pair of handcuffs around her wrists. After all the years of the police ignoring them and the abuse they’d endured, now they came when the abuse had finally ended? How very typical. Holly thought. They dragged her out of her room, down the hallway. Holly’s mirth had dwindled by this time and fell into silence. Listening carefully she could hear a voice trying to calm down her mother.
“Please ‘mam,” the voice seemed to be saying, “She has to come done to the station with us and make a statement and get cleaned up.” Her mother continued to cry as Holly was taken into the room.
“It’s ok Mum,” Holly looking into her mother’s deep brown eyes as she walked past. “You’re free now. We’re both free. He can’t hurt us anymore. No one can.” The words cracked and shattered what was left of Jenny’s resolve causing her to break down in tears. “I killed him Mother, just like St George killed the dragon, no one was ever hurt after that in the story.” The policeman in charge shouted something and three men ran forward and grabbed hold of Holly dragging her out the door and across the front lawn where neighbours gathered whispering insults and slights against her family. Holly just laughed harder at them and the men held her more tightly. “Let me go!” Holly yelled at the police struggling to return to her weeping mother. They struggled to pull her over to the side of the road where a white van was waiting. They tried to sooth her with words as she was forced into the back of the van. The doors slammed shut, trapping her inside. Holly screamed as two men advanced on her from inside the van. One of the men held her down while the other one held a syringe and a white jacket with buckles and ties down the front. Holly’s scream of anger and cries for freedom echoed down the road to where the people gathered on the front lawn huddled a little closer muttering softly how Holly would never be free again…