Blood is peculiarly beautiful when it is airborne. Just for a second it is art, hanging suspended where it has no right to be. Then it splatters and reality crashes back in. There is nothing beautiful about blood smeared on walls and faces and fists.
Once she glowed. We were both shiny and new. I was still stiff and freshly laundered. She still made herself nice when he was coming home from work. Her chestnut hair was always freshly washed. She would paint her mouth crimson and position herself under the kitchen light so it picked up the highlights in her hair.
They smelled good together, cinnamon and rosewater and sweat.
She still tidies herself when he is due home from work, but there is no more red lipstick. Now her lips are pale, insipid, her hair is pulled back from her face. She makes sure that I am clean, but I am stained and worn thin. So is she.
Her muscles tense when he walks in, assessing his mood. She always has dinner on the stove. He demands a drink. She watches him from the corner of her eye as she pours it. She is nervous, her hands shake. When he strikes we are both uncertain what she has done.
She rarely cries out anymore. She is reduced to a series of whimpers and small sounds. He has stolen her voice. Like all small creatures, she freezes when she is afraid. His scent hangs in the air, something dank and dense.
This time, she is corkscrewed on the floor, one arm clutching her stomach, protecting her secret. Dark blood seeps from her womb and hope flows out.