Save the Children

She slowly ran her tongue along the edges of her teeth, stopping momentarily behind each third molar, where gum met tooth. They had been taken from her over a decade a go but some nights she would still wake up in a panic, the specter of iron rich blood clinging to her taste buds. The nightmares all played out the same – in a brightly lit cold room she could hear his footsteps approach her from behind. Without warning, the back of the operatory exam chair would fall and an overhead light tore at her retinas. Saliva dribbled down the sides  of her mouth as a Jennings gag held her bite in place. She’d reach to wipe it away but her arms were restrained to the sides and her feet bound to the chair so she couldn’t kick. She began screaming as she helplessly flailed in the chair until his goggled face peered over her’s.

“Stop screaming, or you’re going to scare the children,” he’d say, referring to the little ones gathered in the waiting room.

She tried to suck down her sobs but as the metal tools began to probe her mouth and yank at her wisdom teeth, she erupted in a hysterical shriek. Tears ran down her cheeks, mingling with her blood tinged saliva.

The psychiatrist called it PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder. He said she should go back to his office for a visit, to revisit the place of the trauma. The good doctor said it would serve her well. She tried on many occasions but only made it as far as the parking lot. On one afternoon, she saw him leave the office building and climb into a shiny black Cadillac. Her pupils doubled in size and her hands grew white as they clung to the steering wheel.

She told her psychiatrist about these occurrences but left part out where she followed him home. She knew where he lived. She knew his work schedule. She even knew the weekends he had visitation with his children. She had to be careful though. The miles on her lease agreement were almost met.

She stopped running her tongue along her teeth as she approached the lot behind the office. His car wasn’t there today – unusual for a Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Across town, Dr. Rowser was driving imperviously to meet with his son, daughter, and ex-wife. He growled at traffic as his eyes darted from the stereo clock to the road. He had known better than to let her take his weekend away, leaving him to cancel appointments less than 24 hours in advance. He knew with such short notice patients would arrive anyway and he’d have to deal with his fat excuse of a receptionist upon his return.

The matinee was at 11 a.m. and he balked as he passed the line to the box office. I can hear her now, he thought to himself as he parked and walked towards the theaterYou’re never on time, you never put the children first, he recited in his mind. He saw his daughter wave from him at the middle of the line. He also noted the chafed expression on his ex wife’s face. He picked up his pace and was breathing in and out deeply when he reached them.

“Finally,” his ex announced.

“Don’t start. This isn’t my fault.”

She wasn’t listening to him. She started to say goodbye to the children when his son shrieked, “Daddy! Behind you!”

Before he could turn around he felt a cool object penetrate his left shoulder, just above the scapula. His field of vision turned red and the angles of buildings distorted as the pain center in his body activated. Fully turned and facing the assailant, he saw the knife come down again but this time it pierced his chest. He began screaming in horror as he fell crumpled to the pavement.

In a mocking tone, he heard a woman’s voice say, “Stop screaming, or you’re going to scare the children.”

Writing Prompt From:The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction

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Save the Children by Heather Brewer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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