A solution is found to a domestic violence problem.
| The Puppet Master
As I was putting the kettle on to boil, his large hand wrapped tightly around my frail upper arm. I winced, afraid of what would come next: his despicable and threatening words or worse, manhandling me so that I’d be wearing long sleeve shirts for two more weeks. The only thing I was thankful for at that moment was that I could not see his face. I thanked God that I couldn’t see the hatred burning in his eyes or the snarl that was inevitably crossing his lips. I knew the look on his face at that very moment without having to actually see it. I was unfortunate enough to have seen it so many times it was now engraved in my memory and would stay there forever, serving as a constant reminder of all my wrongs. The wrong way I folded the laundry, the wrong salad dressing I purchased, the wrong way I cooked that never measured up to his unreasonable standards. Every little thing became an excuse for more power over me and more obsessing control. Power trips were his game and as the ultimate puppet master, he was a legend in his own mind.
I closed my eyes listening only to the simmering of the kettle as he tightened his grip, demanding to know why his nightly tea wasn’t already prepared. His muscled hand squeezed my arm, and in my mind was already forming a bruise under the skin. He wanted to hear me wince, to beg him to stop. He thrived on knowing he could hurt me, which he excelled at. That night I refused to make a sound as his grip threatened to cut off my circulation. My threshold of pain had greatly increased over time, most likely the result of some sort of psychological blockage. I deduced that my brain was disconnecting from my nerve endings as a way to protect myself. I could take much more, physically, from him now than ever before. However, mentally, I was reaching my breaking point.
I had often thought about how my belief in God could allow me to be in such a situation. Ultimately, I decided it was a test and that I would be graded accordingly. Most of the time it seemed like a final exam I had never studied for. I had no answers. My mind was devoid of all solutions to the world’s most difficult problem. Why had I been given this test? I silently asked myself repeatedly. An inner voice usually answered, “Someday you will find the answer.”
Tears came to my eyes as the kettle whistled, screaming that it was ready. His grip had tightened to its maximum capability, his gruff voice ringing in my ears with more disparaging remarks. In an instant the answer came to me. I almost smiled as I realized I was about to pass this exam, the test of life and survival. Looking back, I realized I had studied every day for this, taking in as much as I could then analyzing and testing possible solutions. It became multiple choice; when nothing else worked, the remaining answer had to be the correct one.
My surroundings began to echo in my head; the shrillness of the kettle, the fizzing of water droplets as they boiled over and dripped down onto the element, and his raging voice thundering behind me. The sounds conspired in a swirling abyss of confusion as I lifted the lid from the kettle and spun around, hurling it in his face. The adrenaline coursing through me cheered me on like a loyal following of sports fans and I emptied the entire contents of the kettle on his stubbly face as he lost his grip on me and staggered, falling against the table and then to the floor. The whistling abruptly ended, as did his screams. The house fell silent. All I could hear now was my teacher grading my final exam. “A plus,” he stated. I looked down at the shell of a coward on the floor struggling for his last breaths.
“Your tea is ready,” I announced.