Augury Meadows.

Chapter One: Flight.

*trigger warning: mentions of domestic violence. 

Emily Stone finally had enough. She couldn’t take it anymore. It was too confusing and it hurt. No one suspected that the charming man who spoiled and doted on her was so cruel to her.

It was her fault though. She wasn’t perfect but she tried to be. For him. She tried her best to be good, to stay in her place. She just wasn’t good enough.

She didn’t have much time. Christopher would be home from work in a matter of hours and she had to get as far away as possible before he came home and found her car gone.

Emily dashed into the bathroom and slung open the cabinet under the sink. Shoving aside various toiletries she grabbed a box of tampons hidden under some towels. Back into the bedroom now.

     Quickly, quickly!

Under the bed, hidden beneath dirty socks and forgotten clothes was a small leather satchel. Her hands trembled as she slung the strap over her shoulder. Everything seemed muffled as she rushed down the hall toward the entryway.

Tears started streaming down her face and her heart hammered in her chest and she threw open the front door.

     Almost there!

Emily choked back a frustrated scream as her shaking hands fumbled the key into the driver side door of her old beat up Honda. Finally wrenching open the door she snatched the For Sale sign out of the front windshield and threw it off into the yard. Her bags were already in the trunk, all she had to do now was go.

     Go, go, now!

      As soon as the engine came to life she slammed down the gas pedal and swerved out of the driveway in smoke and screeching tires.

 

It was two hours down the long stretch of interstate before she was able to loosen her hands around the steering wheel and stop grinding her teeth. She made it out soon after he had left the house. She had made good time. It was only shortly after two in the afternoon and he wouldn’t be home from work until 5:30.

300 miles lay between Emily and Christopher.

At 5:32 her cell phone began to ring in her purse. She screamed as the noise shattered the silence. Emily dumped the contents of her purse into the passenger seat and scrambled to find the offensive device. The rumble strip shook the car and she veered back over just as she grabbed the foreboding messenger. She didn’t even look at the screen before she threw it out the open window.

***

     As soon as he pulled into the driveway he knew something was wrong. Emily’s car was gone and the For Sale sign lay discarded in the grass. Even if she had merely decided to go to the mall or some other idiotic place without his permission it was unlike her to just leave things lying about like that.

     No matter. I’ll just have to punish her twice when she gets home. 

He felt satisfaction bloom in his belly as he imagined punishing her. It had been some time since her last punishment. Maybe he would turn up the hot water heater and plunge her into a scalding hot bath again. That seemed to curtail her last rebellious streak.

Christopher grinned and hummed lightly as he walked up to the front door. It was going to be a good night that would end with his pretty little wife crying and begging his forgiveness.

He shook his head. Not only had his dearest Emily forgotten to lock the door, she hadn’t even closed it all the way. He snickered as he walked in and took out his phone. He tossed his jacket into the floor as he walked towards the office.

     Looks like it’s time to remind you of your place again darling, he thought as he sat down in front of his computer and dialed her number. He was slightly miffed when it went to voicemail but he expected nothing less from the scared little lamb she probably was right now.

“Enjoy your day out Emily, because you’re in trouble when you get home,” was the message he left her.

Setting his phone down he typed her cell phone number into the GPS tracking website.

     Let’s see where you’ve run off to this time. 

His blood ran hot.

She was more than 500 miles away. Stopped on the side of some highway in the middle of nowhere.

He sat quietly for a moment, absorbing the information.

She had dared to run. From him.

This was audacious for her. Even during her most rebellious phases she had never dared to run away from him. He never thought she would stoop to such a severe transgression.

He had been the perfect husband and lover to her. She wanted for nothing. He even chose this house with its modern kitchen and the large bay window in the bedroom specifically for her. He spoiled her with gifts when she behaved, took her out to Michelin rated restaurants, and went to great lengths to make sure she was the perfect wife. It had taken work and patience and most disagreed with his methods but they were effective. His sweet little wife was, for the most part, ideal. She knew her place was to be seen, not heard. She knew he would lovingly keep her in her place, and that he only hurt her to make her better.

As he stood there staring up at the ceiling he felt calm delight wash over him. She had been behaving a little too well for his taste lately and it was quite boring. “I’m coming for you baby!” Christopher threw his head back and laughed. “I do love a good chase!”

He’d make sure she never stepped out of line ever again.

***

     Emily stopped in a little town called Winchester. There wasn’t much to it but there was a gas station. She opened the box of tampons and took apart the applicators. Stuffed inside were various bills, money she was able to sneak away from Christopher over the last few months. Her stash of money added up to $116. She would have to stop here and figure out how to earn some money or risk ending up stranded in the middle of nowhere. She only had $70 left after filling up the gas tank  and purchasing some food and a newspaper.

     She parked at the side of the gas station and found the classifieds. Maybe I can find somewhere cheap to stay too, she thought as she skimmed through the ads and chewed on a stale honeybun.

***

     Her car was nowhere in sight. He checked the GPS on his phone again. He was in the right place. Her location had not changed as he made his way here, contemplating all the ways he would punish her when he got her home. He figured her old car had broken down or blown a tire and he would rescue her from her ill-fated escape attempt. She would be docile and contrite, begging him not to punish her. But he would have to ignore her weepy pleas. What kind of husband would he be to let her disobey him so extremely? A good husband made sure his wife knew her place and stayed in it. Christopher was a good husband indeed, the best husband.

     He called Emily as he leaned against the side of the car, staring across the highway at the scraggly trees.  No answer. Now he was starting to get mad. It was dark and the highway was empty. He called her again.

     As he paced back and forth a light across the highway caught his eye. Emily didn’t answer. Again he called her, coils of rage beginning to settle in his chest. There was that light again. He stopped pacing and pulled the phone away from his ear. He thought he heard her ringtone in the distance, across the highway.

     The light. Her ringtone.

     As he crossed the highway her ringtone grew louder before stopping altogether. He reached the scrubby embankment and called her again. A few feet away the light shined and her ringtone sounded again. He walked toward it. Her phone lay abandoned in a tuft of grass and weeds. A selfie of them together was displayed on the cracked screen as it rang.

     She had ditched her phone, most likely after he called her when he got home to find her missing. He picked it up and stared at it. He bought this phone for her. It was her reward for behaving so well after he had to punish her for talking back to him. She had just tossed it out the window.

     Ungrateful. Insolent. I’ve been too soft on you, Emily, he thought as he put her phone in his pocket and crossed the highway back to his car.

 

 

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