She wasn't supposed to be here. She was supposed to be happily married still. She never expected to
wake up one day and realize her husband was not who she had thought he was. They had been happy, back when they were dating, after she'd finished college. They were both 27 when they married. A year later they'd saved enough to put a nice down payment on their dream house. Both of them had good jobs; he was an engineer and she was a graphic artist. At 30, they'd agreed it was time to start a family and that's when things started changing. He pressured her into giving up her job, since they were planning for her to stay home with their baby for the first several years. She couldn't even pinpoint a specific time when he became abusive. He was too subtle for that. When a baby never came, he began to verbally attack her. Never physically, though, and she always brushed it off. Stress from work. Financial pressure. A bad day at the office. The anxiety of trying to conceive. She always shouldered at least part of the blame.
But then, it happened. She still isn't sure what set him off. She woke up and he was acting strangely. He kept asking her questions, almost like he was interrogating her for some reason but she couldn't think of anything she'd done wrong. As her confusion grew, so did his anger. Before she knew it, she was flying up against the dining room wall. A picture frame broke and cut her arm, badly enough for her to need stitches later. She could feel her eye swelling. He started kicking her in the ribs, yelling incoherently. She couldn't remember but she apparently was screaming. Thankfully a neighbor heard and called 911. Police arrived while he was still beating her, and they pulled him off of her and called for an ambulance.
She'd never forget the look on his face when he realized what he'd done to her, and how much trouble he was in. He started begging for her to forgive him, telling her he loved her and he didn't mean to hurt her. As he was yelling from the back of the police car and officer was asking if she wanted to press charges. She looked into the eyes of the stranger who had once been the most important person in her world, and without hesitation answered. "Yes, I would like to press charges. And also get a restraining order." The officer turned her over to the paramedics, who transported her to the hospital.
Shaking her head as if to clear out the memory of that morning, Polly cleaned up her dinner dishes and went to run a hot bath. She couldn't remember the last time she'd taken the time to relax in the tub. As the water filled the bathtub, she looked in the drawers at what toiletries she had available. She could always use some body wash or shampoo for bubbles. Just then, she noticed a small purple bottle in the back of the drawer. It was a bottle of her favorite lavender bubble bath, a very difficult to find brand. Her grandmother had first bought it for her when she was a preteen and it was always her special go-to relaxation method for most of her life. Such a small thing to find, but the joy she felt in finding one of her old comfort items brought her to tears. It felt like a blessing from her grandmother, that she was doing the right thing.