In the dead of the night, when all things are quiet except for a few choice birds and insects sending calls out to their own, Hanna walked down the cobble street, trying to get home to her baby girl. The sitter was livid when she called to tell her she would be late. She needed to find her daughter’s father and tell him that he has a child. Her face was streaked with tears dried and recently renewed. No matter how she looked at her situation, she was in trouble. His mother informed her that she was not welcomed and that he found someone else; one of his own kind. She obviously was not; being that she was poor and now alone.
She had no other choice but to put her child up for adoption. The thought broke her heart; she fell in love with her daughter from the time she was born. She lost her job and only means of support; her former boss wanted his niece to fill the position.
Too encased in her problems to notice her surroundings she never heard the low rumble or swishing sounds behind her. She never saw the hulking shadow or a large clawed hand being brought over her face or eyes. She had no time to scream before the echoes of her neck cracking and the bones breaking filled the crisp air.
Chapter One: A Reluctant New Start
Nyssa smoothed her navy blue sensible skirt down for the tenth time. To say that she was nervous was an understatement. She needed this job so badly, she could taste it. If she had to offer her services for free for a week, she would, just to prove that she was more than capable. She needed to get as far away from Red as possible and she needed to land this job to do it. It was nothing more than a secretarial position but it paid enough to get her a one-room efficiency apartment. If she saved up enough…maybe even a car down the road! Until then, public transportation would have to do which meant giving up her BMW; fully loaded. Oh, well… it was freedom…it was worth it.
From the time Nyssa moved out of her foster parent’s home at eighteen, she’d been with Red, a.k.a. Roland Hughes…a.k.a., controlling SOB. Five years of her life passed within a blink of an eye and she was right where she started from at eighteen. Red was known in the neighborhood as being the rich kid who liked hanging around those less fortunate than him. Some would say that was admirable. Nyssa would say that he just wanted people around him he could buy or intimidate; or better yet, worship him. His ego was his worst quality with an unhealthy since of entitlement skidding into second. Nyssa had had enough. Dealing with his personality was one thing; being treated as nothing more than a pretty vase on a shelf was quite another. He kept her shelf bound until she was needed. If she thought she was good enough to think for herself; he’d put her in her place immediately.
How many times had she been told that he owned her? She had nothing…no talent, no job, no other opportunities for a good life. What he provided her was not a good life as he wanted to believe. It took her a lot of growing up to realize that. When she did, the love she felt for him disappeared along with his conscience. He was flaunting other women in her face now; bringing them home and having sex with them right in their living room where she could surely catch them. He had no scruples. If she complained, he would sing the same old song and remind her that she was at his mercy once again. Not anymore.
She already had her bags packed and would be going to a homeless shelter if need be. Nyssa wanted to kick herself. She could house a lot of the blame for the state her life was in right now. She could have gone to college but he said she didn’t have time for that. She could have found work a long time ago but Red wanted her easily accessible for his personal uses and she…the idiot…went along with it. ‘Red knew best’ was the lie she told herself. Thinking that she was going to spend her whole life with him, she digested every morsel that Red fed her. That time was over. Let Red find another puppet. She was cutting the strings.
Nyssa didn’t get the job as she hoped. She cried for hours, feeling sorry for herself. She had so much hope in getting this job. Now she had to face going to the homeless shelter with nothing but the clothes on her back and a few in an overnight bag.
She stepped off the bus, smelling the putrid scent of urine and years of oppression. The building was ill kept and trash littered the sidewalks; empty burger wrappers gently blowing away in the wind. It was enough to turn her right around and back into Red’s clutches. She wouldn’t, of course. He didn’t even know she was gone. He’d been out of town on ‘business’ for three days.
She told the director of the shelter that she would show up. The woman told her that the bed would go to someone else if she didn’t. They would provide her three months of shelter, food, and job assistance. She would be expected to do chores and attend workshops geared toward learning how to live independently. If I found a job and still needed shelter, she would be expected to pay a thirty percent rental fee. The director told Nyssa she was lucky to have reserved a bed when she did. Most beds went quickly; one moved out and another moved in minutes later. Mind made up, Nyssa walked forward, holding her breath to block out the bad smells; hoping inside was a lot better.
It was better…but not by much. The difference was it smelled overly sanitized with that band-aid smell like a hospital. It beat urine, though, that’s for sure. Nyssa walked slowly, taking in all the sights. Old run down furniture, worn wall paper and floors decorated the place. A couple women looked at her with interest; studying her from head to toe and then whispering amongst themselves. Nyssa immediately reddened with humiliation. She wished she had put on jeans and an old t shirt instead of the expensive skirt and blouse. She would rather just blend in and not be noticed at all.
A woman, smiling, came out of nowhere to greet her warmly.
“Nyssa Rand?” She asked.
“Y-yes, I’m her…I mean, I’m Nyssa.” Nyssa couldn’t seem to stop making a fool of herself, she thought.
“It’s okay…you’re a first timer…normal jitters. I’m Tara Davis…call me Tara; some of the old-timers call me Ms. T. I’ll show you to your room where you can leave your things and then, I’ll show you around. It’s not much, but at least it’s here when you need it is what I always say. We can get you something to eat as well…doesn’t seem as though you’ve been remembering to do that lately. Then the last thing…the yucky thing…paperwork! I hate it, you’ll hate it…but it has to be done!” Tara animatedly explained the ins and outs of the shelter.
She listed the rules, introduced some of the other ‘tenants’, and shoved a plate full of food at Nyssa as she gathered the paperwork she mentioned. By the time Nyssa was done and properly informed of shelter life; she collapsed on one of the two lonely beds, in her small room, and fell asleep; clothes, shoes, and all.
Two weeks and a morning later, Nyssa woke up to someone poking at her shoulder; she almost thought it was Red demanding morning sex.
“Hey, sleeping beauty! Wake up…Tara wants to see you in her office right away.” Maxine said.
Nyssa groaned groggily as an answer to her shelter roommate’s effort to wake her.
“Go…away…sleepy…” She murmured.
“Too damn bad, princess…she said pronto. You had company.”
That perked Nyssa up a bit.
“What company?” She asked almost half knowing who it was.
“Some guy…that’s all I found out before I was shooed out of the office. I can tell you this… he was mad as hell! We all heard her threaten to call the cops.” Max climbed onto her bed and sat yoga style, making Nyssa move to make room.
“Red…it has to be…no one else would give a damn. Not that he does, but to know I left him has to be eating him alive; especially seeing what I left him for…” Nyssa had to laugh a little as she looked at her dilapidated room surroundings. Red’s ego was never going to give it a rest. Nyssa climbed out of bed, tossing a pillow at Max and, slipping her feet into her house shoes. She headed to Tara’s office.
Nyssa sat in Tara’s office stunned at the news given to her. She expected Tara to tell her about the fuss Red made; even have a good laugh at the jerk’s expense. She was not, however, prepared for the news she did get instead.
“What do you mean, he’s dead?”[/size]