Mercy had sworn it would be the last time he touched her, no matter what kind of promises he made, and she is determined to see that through. She knows his promises aren’t much different than his threats, and the words become worthless after he finishes off a couple of six packs. He spends most nights filled with drunken bitterness; simmering in anger that rages the longer he sits on the couch, watching reruns of old cop shows and thinking about all the things that might have been. Mad that the years have rolled past so quickly and unable to appreciate anything he has. His violent explosions once the six packs are gone leave her hurt and bloodied, stuck inside the double-wide for days until the swelling goes down and the bruises fade enough that she doesn’t have to hide them.
By then he has forgotten all of his apologies. When the words don’t mean anything there is no reason to remember them.
It’s going to change, Mercy tells herself. She made a promise that she intends to keep.
No way she ever wants to smell his hot, nasty breath on her face, or feel those rough calloused fingers scratching her skin again. There’s no excuse for the things he does to her, no matter what kind of explanations he gives. The little tenderness he offers through the sobs and tears never go far enough to erase her pain or make it disappear completely. Never quite makes up for what’s been lost.
He just doesn’t understand any of that.
Mercy waits until she hears the familiar pop of a beer can opening in the kitchen, then the refrigerator door slamming shut, bottles and cans rattling on the shelves as he stumbles back through the living room. Knows it won’t be long before he pushes his way into the bedroom with bad intentions written all over his expression. Mercy had found that old thirty-eight on the top shelf in the closet, loading the bullets that had been rolling around the nightstand drawer, and sits on the bed now with the gun in her lap.
In the darkness of her room, she waits.
Mercy knows she’s done pretending to be just like other girls, and wonders if her Daddy is going to feel the same kind of pain she’s felt for years when she pulls the trigger.