Counting The Days

Magpie Tale – Jack Vettriano

She wore a black dress. She wasn’t goth. Nor was she an artist making a fashion statement. She wore black to match her widowed soul. Yet, her husband wasn’t dead. His heart was still beating. His head was filled with thoughts. His body was fully capable of movement.

She wore black and she mourned.

The more she mourned the more he lived. The more he lived the less she wished she existed. He never hit her. Never touched her. Never even lifted a finger.

Yet, her entire existence was dedicated to her mourning. She was the widow of a living husband. His life spilled out through his mouth. A mouth that spilled out years of accumulated anger. A beating mouth like a beating heart. But he never lifted a finger. Never even touched her. Her heart was black to match her dress. Her heart was as black as it was blue. Black and blue like an internal graffiti scratching from within trying to escape, trying to get out.

Why didn’t she just leave him? Oh of course she tried once, twice and then a fateful third time. He hunted, tracked and searched: he always found her. He used his words to shoot her down and drag her back home. She knew she couldn’t live without him. Could she? He would never let her. Never allow it. So everyday she wore a black dress.

Yet, she never owned a little black dress. Those were reserved for women who wanted to impress. She didn’t want to impress, she wanted to remain unseen and unheard. To go unnoticed and ignored. She had the haunting memory of her own laughter, like a childhood friend that was but a foggy reminiscence. The feeling was very similar to that of her tears. The crying ended a long time ago.

She counted the days, her days, like a trapped convict.

This is a Magpie Tale – write on. I wish I could scream to every woman how much more she deserves. I wish I could wrap my imaginary wings around every wounded one and give her the warmth she deserves.


23 thoughts on “Counting The Days”

  1. wow powerful and yet sad to think many women live this life whether by husband, boyfriend or even sad to say father. It really does make you want to protect them and show them there is more to life


  2. Emotional abuse is as dangerous as physical abuse, but it’s so much harder to identify and call out. “She was the widow of a living husband.” — I love how this showed her as dead, yet a widow, him as alive, yet so corrupt that he was dead. My parents battered each other emotionally for years. They weren’t the accusing type. They were the degrading sort. Never to the kids, but always to each other. Horrid. They were both so much happier after the divorce.


  3. Amazing piece, and if I were to pick which story really fit this woman, I’d say it would be yours. It’s sad to realize there are many lives out there somewhere living this very story.


  4. Several factors converged within me so many years ago, as a child, seeing and hearing the things I saw and heard, feeling the weakness, hearing the words, seeing the effect of them. Those things all converged at once, like a stew of anger stirring…. it made me loud. It made me mean. Cruel, even. A mere hint of a threat, and I bite back. Now, I do. I didn’t use to. Unfortunately, it has caused me to lose sympathy for those who don’t bite back. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. The loss of sympathy. I wish I was more understanding. Then maybe I could help them practice biting.


    1. Two of my best friends were beaten. One of them nearly to death or at least left to die on the side of a road. But the men who beat mentally and use the fact they never touch their wives is one thing that gets to me, to the core. I can see your loss of sympathy for these women, but at the same time I totally understand the silent wallow… Blech. Why did I write this???


      1. I thought your description of an emotional prisoner is spot on. So many times, this woman (or man) is caught totally off guard. Or the abuse swells so slowly that it is invisible at first. And so many times, they don’t even realize they are being held prisoner until they finally take their eyes off the floor and see the bars around them. They lose everything about themselves. Those who have always prided themselves on being strong are suddenly weak. And they become ashamed. They cover it with the black veil of mourning. Maybe what I think of as lack of sympathy is really shame for my own weakness. Either way,
        your words were brilliant.


        1. I wasn’t saying that to draw in the compliment. Although it was highly appreciated 🙂 Want to be my friend? And giggle with me about stupid shit?


          1. I respect you far too much to dole out charity compliments! There will come a day when we shall giggle about stupid shit. And maybe even jump on trampolines. While giggling about stupid shit.


    1. Wow, thanks! Is it because you haven’t been reading anything other than a cereal box? ha! Seriously though, it’s a nice thing to say – very appreciated.


  5. Sadly beautiful. I’ve been around abuse and I’ve been a victim of it. In some ways, I have even been the cause of it and in my experience, psychological abuse is the most severe. The scars run deeper and are more difficult to reach and treat.


  6. Wow maybe just a tale but one that far to many women could relate too, I am lucky that I am not one of them but I am no fool I know these women are out there and yes I have said myself why doesn’t she just leave but even as I say/think those words I know it’s not that easy………………


  7. Marie, Thank you for offering a voice to so many who are silent with this story. As a survivor of domestic and sexual violence and as a women’s advocate, I am immeasurably grateful.


  8. There was a man who came into work the other day to collect something addressed to his wife. The card he had with him was a reminder card and although he was very quiet when we discovered his was a wasted trip, there was something about the way he took careful note about the fact that his wife had already picked up the item that really concerned me.
    His whole attitude was a little frightening to be and I found myself praying that his wife wouldn’t suffer because of it. He really was creepy.
    Men dont have to hit to control and destroy a woman. Words often have just as much power to tear down self esteem and weaken a woman.
    Brilliant story. Thank you


  9. Excellent write! Powerful! I especially like: “A beating mouth like a beating heart. But he never lifted a finger.”


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