She sits quietly in her bedroom, staring out the window. She thinks of the life she once thought she had.
She brushes out her long golden hair — one hundred strokes — just like her mother taught her. She twists it into the same bedtime braid she’s worn every night since she was a small child. As she secures the rubber band at the end, she turns to her reflection in her vanity mirror and sighs.
The years are showing faster now. The lines and creases in her face grow deeper every day. Slowly and methodically, she removes her make up with a warm, damp cloth, revealing the bruises underneath.
She massages her night cream into her skin — face, neck, shoulders, chest, and arms — just like her mother taught her. She flinches as she passes over each bruise. She slips a long, plain white nightgown over her head.
She glances at the clock and then worriedly towards the door. He’ll be coming home soon. The bars are all closed, and there isn’t a single after hours party he’s welcome at anymore.
She pulls out her personal stationary. Each piece of paper bears her initials in glossy black calligraphic script across the top. The envelope flaps match the paper. She reaches for her personalized pen. The entire set was a gift from her mother.
She begins her missive. She takes her time, carefully considering each word. It is somehow both the hardest and the easiest letter she’s ever dared to write.
The clock ticks louder. She’s painfully aware of the time slipping by, faster and faster the second hand moves. She returns to her missive, knowing that she must get it right the first time. There will be no time for errors.
She signs the letter with love and slips it into its awaiting envelope. She uses a damp sponge to moisten the glue before sealing the envelope shut. On the envelope she writes, goodnight, my darling.
She leans the envelope carefully against the vanity mirror and turns her attention again to her bedroom window. She takes her medicine with her nightly glass of wine and then settles onto her bed.
She leans back against her pillows, smoothing her nightgown into place. She takes another sip of her wine. She hears the rumble of his engine coming up the road. A soft smile touches her lips. She closes her eyes as she hears the sound of the garage door opening.
Her body slumps to the side, and her hand dangles over the edge of the bed. The wine glass slips from her fingertips and rolls, forgotten, across the floor leaving a trail of red wine on the white plush carpet.