Love is waiting for those who find the strength to break the chains that bind them.
Monday 9:00 a.m.
The blonde woman walked into this office’s human resources department. At the first desk she asks, “May I fill out an application?”
The smartly dressed raven-haired woman raised an eyebrow at the short black skirt and handed over the application with an expression that said, if you wish to waste your time go ahead. The blue eyes of the receptionist became slightly troubled when the blonde woman sat and an ACE bandage could be seen on the upper thigh of the left leg.
The blonde woman set herself in what she hoped was a professional pose in the seat then looked at the application.
First line; name. She wrote, “Candice Michelle Barton.”
She thought, “What are these words? I know they mean me; as far as what my parents called me. I have no connection to them. Candice Michelle Barton has no identity without him.”
Second line; date. “February 2nd, 2015.”
She thought, “Two days after the trial. Six months since I dropped his bowling ball on his head.”
Third line; social security number. “010-01-0101.”
She thought, “Had to ask my mother yesterday. Didn’t remember it.”
Fourth line; phone number. “000-555-1234.”
She thought, “Got my own phone for the first time yesterday. Had to look at it to remember the number.”
Fifth line; birthdate. “January 23rd, 1985.”
She thought, “First day of existence in the hands of a weak woman and a bastard.”
Sixth line; maiden name. “Barton.”
She thought, “At least the asshole didn’t force me to marry him.”
Seventh line; address. “800 Upcreeknopaddle Rd. Anywhere, USA. 80000”
She thought, “I hope I bought enough locks. I’ll pick up a couple more for the windows today.”
Eighth line; email address. “Not applicable.”
She thought, “Never had the privacy to have my own email.”
Ninth line; desired salary. Stuck.
She thought, “I should put minimum wage but I don’t know what that is. If I put down the desired salary then I need to calculate a thirty percent reduction because I’m a woman.”
She wrote, “Minimum wage.”
Tenth line; availability. “All day, every day.”
She thought, “I’m finally free to decide that for myself.”
Eleventh line; position desired. “Anything that pays.”
She thought, “I should be an investigator for the city. I have a talent to attract all the deadbeats to me. I wouldn’t have to work hard. They’d come searching me out.”
She actually wrote, “Mailroom.”
Twelfth line; education. “G.E.D.”
She thought, “Had to drop out in the ninth grade after the man who fathered me pushed my mom down the stairs and broke her back. I had to stay home to care for her, the house and become his new target for abuse. My father owned my virginity.”
Lines thirteen through fifteen; college and other education. “Not applicable.”
She thought, “The bastards kept me from that experience.”
Line sixteen; work experience. “First job.”
She thought, “Thirty and looking for work for the first time. Those assholes really screwed me; in more than one way.”
Line seventeen; special skills. “Cooking multiple meals in less than ten minutes; the first one for the wall so he could pound on my psyche and the second for him to eat.
“Cleaning a rage-cleared table in less than two minutes to avoid the fists.
“Household handy-woman because he couldn’t be bothered to get off his ass to fix anything.
“Physically tough; except for nerve damage in my left arm from repeatedly being thrown up against a wall and raped.
“Setting a bowling ball trap so I didn’t have to stand close to him to gain my freedom.
“Sitting in a police station for hours detailing each and every reason I had to drop the bowling ball on his head; killing him.
“Sitting in a courtroom listening to the D.A. try to convince a jury that what I did wasn’t self-defense.
“Winning a victory for me and my fellow punching bags by being found not guilty; self-defense; justifiable homicide.
“Not breaking down when I finally gained the freedom to make my own decisions. Taking it one day at a time.”
She wrote, “Cleaning, organization and a willingness to adapt.”
Line eighteen; references. “Do people with the ability to sweep the obvious under the rug count? What about his friends? They were the only people I knew.”
She wrote, “Douglas Bender. Attorney.”
Line nineteen; have you ever been convicted of a felony?
Candice snorted as she thought, “The D.A. tried.”
She wrote. “No”
Looking over the application, it seemed pretty sparse even for a temp job like this. She read the disclaimers for the first time in her life.
Signing it, dating it then handing it in, she was asked to wait.
The raven-haired receptionist took the application into the corner office and Candice could hear murmuring for a few minutes. An older brunette came out and asked the blonde to step into her office.
When they were seated the older woman began, “I’m Samantha Franklin. The application is thin but my receptionist Kelly said the bandage on your leg should be all the interview you need. Tell me your story.”
Candice sat back in her short, mini-skirt; the best thing she owned; displaying the bandage and responded, “I don’t have a story. I was born two days ago when a jury saved me from the life of a punching bag. Thirty years of being seen as less than human by my father then the first boyfriend who rescued me from my father. I’ve only been a full human for two days. This is the first application I’ve ever filled out. This is the first job I’ve tried to get. The phone in my purse is the first I’ve ever owned. When I can afford it, I’ll have a computer then the very first email address I don’t need to have approval from a man to use. I’m not looking for pity. I found my strength to take control of my life. I just need the first job to solidify my place as an independent, free-thinking woman. I’m a clean slate ready to do whatever job comes my way. The only thing I’ve been trained to do is take the hits and keep on living.”
Samantha was impressed. “I’ll make sure you have a job. In fact, you’ll start here. I’ll pay you two dollars an hour above minimum wage to learn how to work in this office. Welcome to the world, Candice. You have real friends waiting out here.”
The blonde woman smiled then she was introduced to Kelly Richardson. The raven-haired woman took her to the conference room with the packet of new hire paperwork.
Kelly’s confident brown eyes looked into Candice’s blue after the door was shut and they were seated, “I’ve never experienced it but my sister did. What’s the bandage covering?”
Candice responded, “A burn scar.”
Kelly sat forward and hugged the blonde. “From this day on you have a best friend right here. Let’s get you into your life Candice.”
By the end of the day, the blonde had a work email address and she sat in front of a computer and thought about the first letter she’d write. She didn’t have anyone to send it to but used her minimal typing skills to write a general letter she’d send when she had someone to receive it.
The letter read, “To all my fellow battered women; I cry for you, I live for you and when I find you, I’ll save you. On this day I do declare that each and every one of you are loved by someone who truly loves you. I’ll fight for the day when all of us can say; NO MORE!!! I send my love on the air and hope you can feel it. Use it to strengthen you until you can throw off your own persecutor. We are human. We deserve to be free from pains we don’t bring on ourselves. We don’t deserve to be seen as less than human, slaves, stress relief for the fists of man.
“Stand up with me and call out; WE ARE FREE! Join me as I stare into the future unfettered by the demands placed on me by a boy. Real men don’t pound on women. Real men don’t yell, spit on, rape and hold women down. These are the actions of cowards. These are the actions of boys who refuse to grow up.
“I also call to anyone who knows a woman who gets battered. Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t say, it isn’t your problem. Find the strength to pull them out of their dungeons and set them free to live as the should; free to be what they want to be, free to live without hurt and free to be the beautiful souls they could be. Every back turned to the pain is complicit with the fist that adds a new bruise. Every step away from the woman you know is in danger but who can’t ask for help is a dagger being twisted in her guts.”
Candice saved it in her draft file and would send it when she could.
As she was leaving, Kelly held onto her arm and said, “It’s time this independent woman teach her new sister how to be the same.”
Candice went out that night to learn about being her own woman.
She thought, “It shouldn’t take a bowling ball to the head to find this. It got the job done but it really was as if she was born at thirty. Kelly was seven years younger but had more experience living her own life.”
Into Anywhere, USA they desired to go did these two women bless the world with their independent and vibrant spirits.
Moved to tears Doug. Thank you.