Why did I go to the store for garlic? Because Michael loves it. He always jokes it keeps the vampires away. You would think when the love of your life, the man who takes your breath away, has a favorite, it would be the first thing in your cart. It would have been if the other mothers had not distracted me in the produce section. They’re always whispering to each other. I’m never included, so it’s only natural to become self-conscious and think they’re talking about me. I’d smooth my hair, attempt to brush this morning’s breakfast off my blouse and plaster a fake smile on my lips as I passed them. They never looked directly at me. They’d “oo” and “ah” about Suzie. As I turned toward the bulbous flowering onion, I could feel their eyes on me, changing my priorities … I couldn’t get away fast enough.
Garlic. I’m in this shit storm because of a vegetable. I rushed into the store, leaving Scott in charge. I locked the doors but left it running. “Five minutes, no longer—I promise.” I lied. It was six.
When I was within a few feet of my car, I heard Suzie screaming bloody murder. It sounded like she was in pain. Her tiny six-month-old face was beet red, with hot tears rolling down her tiny cheeks. I tried the handle, but the doors were locked. I knocked on the window to motion to one of my other kids to let me in. Sarah wouldn’t look up. She was crunched in a tight ball, shaking like a leaf. I went to the driver’s door and knocked louder. Scott needed to unlock the car for me. Scott’s head was against the passenger window, so I rushed to that side and banged again. He sometimes falls asleep in the car, especially right after football, but there’s no way he’s sleeping now. You always fear your kid will get struck so hard that they end up with a brain injury. That’s my first thought seeing him unconscious. I rushed to Sarah’s window and begged her to unlock the car for me. I never saw her move, yet I watched the locks jump up.
I threw open her door to crawl in, unsure if I should attend to Suzie or Scott. As I stepped into my car, still unsure what my next move would be, I saw Sarah’s eyes bulge. Her mouth opened to scream, but nothing came out. That’s the last thing I remember.
When I woke up, I was naked and hog-tied in that cabin—if you can call it that. Musty, dirty, and disgusting, you expect it to fall around you at any moment. It was really just a box with a door and a window. I awoke to the sound of voices, ones I didn’t recognize.
As I tried to focus on my surroundings and remember where I was, I heard Suzie’s muffled cries. My kids! My eyes flew open, and I tried to get up. That’s when I realized I was bound. Sarah was huddled naked in a corner. Scott had dried blood at the bottom of his nose and a cut above his right eye. He, too, had no clothes on. Reality slammed me in the face as I turned my head toward the voices. There he is. The man I was told I would never have to deal with again. The beast had come to make good on his word.