The pitch black road matched the pitch black sky, making it hard for Mae to drive as the rain pelted the windshield. Her cold, white knuckles gripped the steering wheel, as she squinted through the night. The dim headlights barely pierced the raging storm, but she sped down the road anyway.
It was as if nature itself knew what had taken place that night, it mirrored the dark and twisted feeling Mae had in her gut, and the manic rage she felt in her heart. Mae’s eyes darted to her mother, curled in the passenger seat.
Anne’s hands were shaking and her breath was coming out in short bursts that fogged in front of her. Her hair plastered to her forehead, drenched from rain and blood, as she stared vacantly out of the window.
“Mom, are you awake?” Mae asked, her voice hollow and cold, biting on the lines of concern or maybe rage. Anne glanced slowly over at her daughter, her eyes holding an empty, numb expression, behind the bruises forming on her face.
That was answer enough for Mae. She didn’t ask again. She’s not one for words, I’m not sure why I asked, Mae thought to herself bitterly. She directed her attention back to the road as she sped down the street, headed towards the police station.
Mae tuned the radio to a classical station and put it on a low volume, in hopes of calming her mother. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata whispered through the Toyota Camry’s speakers, into their heads. Anne’s shaking fingers started mindlessly playing an imaginary piano. At least she’s not thinking about him, Mae thought, annoyed that her own mind couldn’t be so easily deterred. He is going to be mad as hell when he wakes up.
As they approached the more concentrated part of the city, a few more cars appeared. All they served to do was make Mae more anxious. Not that she would show that, of course. She was an expert at keeping emotions off her face. Not that anyone could notice something wrong anyway. But it felt like her car was screaming to be looked at and someone would notice if she let any twitch of emotion pass over her face. She felt too conspicuous, but she didn’t dare slide down in her seat or show any sign of that timidity in her posture or expression.
But if someone were to look closely, they would notice her rigid posture, her clenched jaw, the slightly crazed gleam in her eyes. They might notice that her skin was paler than normal or that she was gripping the wheel so hard, her knuckles turned an unnatural shade of white.
She jerked to a stop as the light turned red, nervously tapping her fingers against the steering wheel, but she quickly stopped as the movement drew her mother’s eyes.
The bright red of the stoplight reflected against the rain drenched crosswalk and through Mae’s windshield, casting an eerie red tint onto her mother’s face. The light made the blood on Anne’s forehead look black and the bruises a strange purple. It was something out of a nightmare. The shadows warped her face into something grotesque. But the worst part was the dead look in her mother’s eyes. That hollow stare was threatening to haunt her forever.
Time seemed to stop. They stared at each other as though they knew each thought running through the other’s head. It made Mae sick to her stomach to think about what Anne must be feeling. Suddenly, the light reflecting on her mother’s face changed to green, and it transformed Anne’s face into a sickly color. Mae’s head slowly turned back to the road.
“The light’s green.” Anne said quietly, her voice raw. Mae snapped to attention and the car shot forward, across three more intersections, before turning into the empty police station parking lot.
Mae slammed the door behind her after jumping out of the car. She was instantly soaked through her sweater. She rushed to the passenger side, and gently pulled her mother out. Anne didn’t react so well to the rain. She whimpered and cowered away from it, but there was nowhere to go besides back into the car, and Mae wasn’t going to let that happen.
She practically dragged her mom up the slick steps into the station.
The lights were way too bright. They assaulted Mae’s eyes so she had to blink to get the black spots out of her vision. When she finally succeeded, she found four police officers openly gawking at herself and Anne. They were quite a sight. Soaked to the bone, Anne shivering and caving in of herself, blood running down half her face. And Mae, chin jutting defiantly out as her dark hair and drenched clothes dripped water that puddled at her feet. They were opposites. Mae, with her confident posture, and narrowed eyes, and Anne who seemed to get smaller every passing second and who was trying in vain to get her soaking blonde curls to hide her battered face.
A different type of panic settled in, as Mae’s gaze darted to each police officer in turn. She started to question if she should go through with this. She had kept this part of her life a secret for so long. I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?
“What’s the issue, miss?” The officer with a mustache asked. Mae looked at him with piercing hazel eyes. He glanced around nervously. How can people be so ignorant when my life is falling apart? She wanted to scream.
But instead she said calmly, “I’d like to report a crime.” Then she narrowed her eyes, daring them to question her.