The afternoon was drawing to a close and clouds gathered above her. Shivering, she pulled her hood over her dark, thin hair and inhaled again. This spot, on the wall near the corner shops, was more than familiar to her. Two, three times a week, she would come here and have a smoke, usually when things got too much with Steven or if she just needed to get out of the flat. Just sick of everything, but somehow, after sitting down on this brown-brick wall for a cigarette, she’d feel a little better, and would manage to pick herself up, ready to face him again.
Rebecca tucked a hand tentatively under her coat, near the base of her rib cage and gently pinched the skin. Yes, it still hurt. She closed her tired, darkened eyes and tried to forget the evening, two nights ago, when that blotched purple and yellow mark had appeared. He’d gotten angry again after another afternoon at the pub with the boys, all in a rage about a cracked mug this time. Bloody useless, he’d grunted at her, throwing a tea towel in her face. Useless, he’d repeated, coming closer and grabbing her arm. Fucking useless, he shouted, pushing her to the floor and kicking, stomping at her repeatedly, until she lay still, whimpering quietly on the stained linoleum tiling.
Useless, she muttered weakly, smoke drifting from her lips. It began to rain softly, and Rebecca pulled her thin grey coat tighter around herself, taking another deep suck on her cigarette. It wasn’t that he meant to get angry, she said, inwardly. He just - he drinks, and then he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But when he sees me... the bruises, he’s always sorry. Always.
Stubbing the butt of her cigarette, she sighed and looked around. Rain’s getting heavier, she thought, stretching out a hand and letting the cold water trickle over her fingers. Won’t go back in just yet. Another quick fag and then... then I can. She lit another, and let her thoughts drift back to the incident again. It's just a mug, Stephen, she had tried to say, apologising over and over, thinking maybe he’d back down and forget it. Just a bloody mug? You CLUMSY bitch, lunging for her and then turning away, as she panted breathlessly and tried to explain. But she couldn’t explain anything, and he didn’t want to hear it.
He doesn’t know what he’s doing, she repeated to herself firmly. He loves me, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and he loves me and he just doesn't know, she chanted internally. His final word rang in her head again: useless.
Rebecca sat in silence for a minute or so, and then, taking the last puff of her cigarette, she flicked it on the floor and trod the stub into the wet, grimy pavement. With both hands, she wiped at the dark bags under her eyes, and steeled herself.
Dinner time, she thought, as she stepped off the wall.