Strong, black, educated, and responsible—those are the characteristics Elisha would love to have in man, to name a few. Blinded to the world’s standard of beauty, he’d be resourceful enough to create his own. Stand as a model of independence, an example of strength, an advocate of loyalty, and a pillar of integrity.
As she stared at her boyfriend through squinted eyes, Elisha wondered if she was asking for too much. Her friend Gina had told her yes while her other friend, Tonia, had emphatically declared no. Caught up somewhere in the middle Elisha wondered, what does my man say? After a dismissive grunt, she knew that he’d say he possessed all of those qualities and then some. But in her eyes, that was far from the truth.
Chauncey McDaniel was strong in the sense that he bench pressed more than her and one of her girlfriend’s weight, but when it came to knowing God’s Word and standing up for Biblical principles, he fell short. He certainly was black, as dark as they came, but not as educated as she would like and certainly not responsible enough to introduce him to her parents. Chauncey’s family was rich and he pretty much had everything handed to him, but the wealth still didn’t comfort Elisha enough to completely abandon her values.
“Why are you so quiet?” Elisha asked, noticing that Chauncey hadn’t spoken three words to her since they got inside of one of his prized possessions, a red convertible Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. “Did you have too much to drink?”
“If I had too much to drink, would you be on the passenger side? Don’t say stupid things that don’t make sense.” He callously shook his head.
“I don’t even know why I’m with you. All of sudden you’re a drunk. You never drank when we first started dating.” Elisha sucked her teeth. “Leave it up to you to ruin a perfectly good evening.” She cut her eyes away from him and with folded arms sunk down into the soft leather-trimmed heated seating.
Chauncey grunted under his breath and then tightened his lips again. Soon he took the last busy street before the secluded, residential road Elisha lived on. After he parked in front of her garage, the neighbors who lived next door were just pulling out of their driveway. Chauncey casually waved as did Elisha before the neighbors disappeared out of sight. Chauncey then carefully looked at the darkened house across the street that shared the wooded dead end as Elisha’s home.
“Are they out of town again?” he questioned, as they stood at the front of his car.
Elisha glanced back and then remembered, “Oh yeah, I told them that I’d turn the lights on for them tonight.” She reached inside of her handbag and began fidgeting with the keys on her ring, and then started down her driveway.
Chauncey grabbed her by the arm and yanked her back. “That can wait.” The force in his voice was tighter than the grip on her arm. “I told you that we’d talk at home.”
With slightly parted lips, Elisha’s gaze on him drifted down to the hand he held her with.
“Now get inside.” His voice demonized as he commanded, snatching her towards the front steps. Chauncey looked back one last time before he slammed the door behind them.
Anger and rage filled his eyes like never before. Elisha watched in horror as the man who claimed to love her gritted his clenched teeth. Their eyes met as she edged backwards into the kitchen. Chauncey noticed her subtle movements and pounced on her like she was a defenseless prey. He struck her face with a sudden back hand slap and Elisha’s slender body went soaring through the air. She slammed against the door of the stainless steel refrigerator, and then dropped to the floor.
Slow to move, Elisha grimaced as she braced her arched back with one hand while covering her cheek with the other. After several laboring breaths, she struggled to push her body up before meeting eyes with Chauncey who just stared at her.
“Get out!” she screamed through heavy pants. “Just get out of my house!”
Her words only fueled his anger. No woman, especially one that he claimed to be his own, was going to disrespect him in front of his friends and get away with it. Especially the friends he always tried to impress. The way everyone laughed when Elisha made a crack about him being a mama’s boy drove Chauncey insane. Stone-faced practically the rest of the evening out as everyone shared funny and embarrassing stories over dinner, Chauncey stewed as he waited for the precise moment to teach his girlfriend a lesson.
“Shut up!” he shouted, and then kicked her in the stomach with his Prada round toe boots. Despite her raspy coughs, Chauncey continued pounding on her.
After yanking her up by the cashmere sweater she wore, he punched her in the head and shoved her back to the floor. Elisha’s hair swung from its sleek do to a disheveled mess. Strands fell forward and covered her face.
“Maybe that’ll teach you that my business with my mother is my business.” His eyebrows furrowed, further emphasizing his point. “Learn how to keep your mouth shut!” He pointed at her in disgust, oblivious of the blood that oozed from her face. “And don’t think I didn’t see you flirting with Vic. Yeah, I never really thought he was just a family friend.”
In a state of disorientation, Elisha’s voice quivered, “Oh God…” just above a whisper as pain rippled through her body.
“I said shut up!” Chauncey snarled.
Knowing her strength was no match for his, Elisha cowered on the floor, curled in a fetal position. The entire time they had been together, she never even entertained the idea of being with another man. She listened as Chauncey spun through the kitchen like an angry tornado, sweeping envelopes, papers, ceramic vases, and everything else in his path of destruction onto the floor all the while ranting about how she didn’t respect him as a man. When she caught a glimpse of her stainless steel letter opener among the debris scattered across the floor, Elisha inched toward it.
“Just look at what you made me do.” Chauncey glared back at her and she froze. “For over a year I’ve been there for you,” he justified. “I guess the trips to Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Panama meant nothing to you. Not to mention that diamond necklace I got you for Valentine’s yesterday.”
The heart-shaped pendant that dangled from Elisha’s necklace no more showed the love he said he had for her than the fist he used to pound her.
“I try to show you how much I care, but then you go and say stupid stuff in front of people like you’re trying to embarrass me or something.” His voice deepened to a mocking tone as he asked, “Who’s embarrassed now? See how many men would drop the kind of change on you that I have.”
Elisha struggled to fight back the tears that had formed in her heart a long time ago behind this man. After all that had happened between them over the past year, she desired an honest effort from him instead of empty promises. That was until tonight. Their break-ups were old and anybody that knew them never believed that they belonged together in the first place.
Chauncey’s smile lured Elisha into his world, and his boyish good looks kept her there. It baffled her how he managed to finagle her into a relationship with him when he was no more saved than his playboy father she had met when they visited him in California a few months prior. Maybe it was his money, she remorsefully reasoned. As a saved woman, she had been praying for the past year that Chauncey would give his life to Christ. But after numerous visits to her church and no commitment to the Lord, Elisha wondered if he would ever love God as she does. Tonia would always say to her, “You can’t be his girl and his savior. He’s got to know God for himself. Just let God do his job.”
As Chauncey paced back and forth in front of Elisha, he inadvertently kicked the letter opener out of her reach. Elisha closed her eyes in defeat and tears dripped to the floor. It was at that moment she realized that God had spared his life because the rage and fear bubbling inside of her was strong enough to kill him. Especially after the way he had just beaten her and damaged some of the things she cherished so dearly.
The kitchen that had been beautifully decorated by her mother was a complete mess. The rare, fragile artifacts bought overseas by her father were broken into jagged pieces on the hardwood floor. He not only wanted to ruin her physically, but destroy her emotionally as well.
“I love you, Elisha. You just make me crazy sometimes,” he uttered in a deranged tone. “I want things to work between us. You know that I love you, right?”
Afraid to even make eye-contact with him, Elisha’s double vision merged back into one as she kept her head low and face toward the floor. She soon realized that he was not only delusional to think she would go back to him, but psychotic.
Chauncey knelt on the floor and touched Elisha’s arm. She glared up at him and abruptly snatched away. His eyes widened when he saw the blood on her face. He almost couldn’t stand to look at what he had done. “Oh Elisha … I-I’m sorry.”
Her lips quivered uncontrollably.
“I don’t know what came over me,” Chauncey dared to explain.
Elisha smeared aside strands of her hair that was matted to her bloody face.
Chauncey turned his head, avoiding eye contact as he said, “So I guess you’re going to tell your mother now.” He fretfully sighed, knowing his fate if she did. “Please don’t,” he shamelessly begged, looking back to her. “I promise … it’ll never happen again. Trust me, I love you. Nobody will ever love you like me … I-I’m sorry, baby. I’ll do whatever you want me to.”
Elisha mustered up the strength to scream, “Just leave!”
Chauncey heard the seriousness in her voice and saw the hurt in her eyes. Afraid that she would call the police, he fled through the front door in a panic. Moments later, Elisha was alone with her wounds.
Images flashed through her head of when he had slapped her months ago. Tonia, the only friend who knew about the assault, told her that it wouldn’t be the last time he put his hands on her. After tonight, Elisha found out that was true. She never thought that it would have gone this far, especially over something so incredibly stupid. Tonia had also told her to let the loser go because if she had to mold him into what she wanted, there was a good chance that he would end up molding her into something she didn’t want to be. She was right about that too.
Elisha dragged herself to her purse a few feet away and grabbed the cell from the side panel. She blankly stared at the lighted screen which displayed the numbers 911. The longer she stared, the more she thought about what other people would say about her. She didn’t want to be called stupid or crazy for staying with a man that had hit her before. Although her mother, a licensed attorney, could put him behind bars for what had happened to her tonight, she promised that this would be her secret.
Elisha trembled as she remembered what her parents had always told her, “Love does not hurt.” Shame filled her teary eyes as she stared at her blurred reflection in the bathroom mirror. She gazed down at the trail of blood that had followed her to the porcelain sink and soon her quiet sniffles turned into uncontrollable sobs. At that life-changing moment, Elisha vowed to never let another man beat on her again.
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