She stripped off her dress and stood in front of the mirror. That tiny scar below her left eye, the first time, the first beating,twenty days after a fairy tale wedding. A minor glitch; happens in all marriages, she had rationalised, not wanting to take off the rose-tinted glasses that she had just put on.
Her eyes moved to a long thin line in her midriff. A mishap at the stairs, tripped, silly me, she had told the nurse who had stitched her up.
I hit the wall while heading to the bathroom at night, she had told a concerned friend who questioned a black eye.

A string of lies, so skilfully told that sometimes she believed them herself. Years of practice.

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There had been a lot of time to walk out, leave him, start over. But she had waited, hoped, prayed that things would get better. He did seem so sorry in the mornings. I will stop it, I promise, he kept telling her. She kept believing him.
By the time her body filled with scars and cuts,
it was too late. She had died a thousand deaths every night, till she no longer felt the pain. Pain and love were cremated by her in the same grave.
She gave a final look at the bruises she could see, and those only her heart could feel as she got dressed.
Kicking her bloodstained clothes aside, she sat back on the armchair and placed the 911 call.
There is always time to walk out, leave. Not just for her. She had waited too long.
“I have killed my husband”, she said into the phone, not looking at the lifeless body lying on the floor.

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