The rain poured outside like a hurricane. Occasionally, a rivulet of water would run down the window, once enough splashes had accumulated on the glass. Laurie thought they looked like tadpoles, because they had a round head and a long tail. She flinched at the thought, knowing Jerry would call her stupid for trying to see things that weren’t there.
Everything was stupid to him. TV was stupid, at least soap operas and Oprah. Sports were good watching, as long as it was football or baseball. Golf was a fag sport, he said. NASCAR was okay, but only when something caught on fire or crashed.
Laurie smiled to herself as she finished cleaning the last strands of silk off an ear of corn. She even let out a quiet laugh when she thought that Jerry wouldn’t find car crashes and fires so funny if he was in one. The thought of him burning and flailing around made her chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” he snapped. Laurie’s good mood evaporated instantly. “Nothing, Hon.” Jerry sniffed sarcastically. “Right… Oprah tell a man-hate joke, or something stupid?”
Laurie shrugged and dropped the corn into a three gallon pot of boiling water. Jerry’s steak was almost done, and she had to get everything on the table at once. “You gonna answer me, Laurie?” he said. “No, Jerry.”
“No, you aren’t gonna answer me? ‘Cause you just did, genius….”
“No, Jerry… I wasn’t laughing at a joke.”
“Good. I hate that fucking show… Bitch makes women think too much…”
Laurie sighed as quietly as she could. As she began to fish out corn with her tongs, she winced. She had a nasty bite on her left forearm. It was wrapped in gauze, which was starting to seep through. She kept it to herself. Whenever she mentioned it hurting, Jerry yelled at her for being stupid enough to try and feed animals she didn’t know.
When she woke him up crying because it hurt that night, he blew up. She made the monumental mistake of talking back. She yelled at him, “My arm hurts!” Jerry didn’t agree with women yelling at men. Despite her obvious agony, he punched her right in the mouth.
The memory of his red face, the rage in it, was still vivid. She’d been good ever since. It hurt, and had made her arm hurt even more. She didn’t want it again. Laurie arranged his mashed potatoes next to the steak, along with an ear of corn. She poured rich, meaty gravy over the potatoes and meat, taking care to not get any on the corn, which she topped with butter and salt. She carried it over to the table to set down for Jerry.
On the way over, the gauze on her arm pulled, and tugged on the healing flesh. She gasped in pain, and the fingers on her left twitched and she lost her grip on the plate. She didn’t drop it, but the gravy poured across the plate and got on the corn. She set it down on the table.
Jerry stared at the plate. “God-DAMNIT!” he glared at her. “You do this just to get back at me, don’t you?” Laurie shook her head vigorously “No”. Jerry jabbed his hand, palm up toward the plate as Laurie went back to serve herself. “Stupid goddamn woman… A man works all fucking day, and all he wants is his fucking dinner, and you go and fuck it up!”
He sneered at her. “Why didn’t you go to the damn hospital for that?”
Laurie was shaking now. “You said we couldn’t afford it… we don’t have insurance, and we…” Jerry looked at her shaking, trying to get her plate, not able to get her fingers to work properly; scared out of her mind. “Hey babe, come here, let me see that.” Laurie put her plate down. “You sure?”
“Sure babe, come here. Maybe I can help.” He held his hand out for her. “Let me see that.” He repeated. He took her wrist and began to tug at the tape that held the gauze together, short little tugs, like one would use to remove a band-aid from a particularly hairy body part. Laurie winced every time he pulled, but didn’t dare make a noise or pull away.
Jerry unwrapped the wound. She had deep punctures on both the top and bottom of her forearm. “Jesus Christ, Laurie. Why didn’t you go to the emergency room for this?”
“Don’t lay this on me, Laurie, I didn’t force you to do anything… Why didn’t you go?”
“Well, we d-don’t have innnsurance and I didn’t think we could afford….”
“What?! You think I’m a fuckin’ pauper?!”
“No!” she cried desperately. “I don’t honey, I just … just thought.”
He tossed her arm away and turned back to his food, ignoring her cry. “Godammit, I don’t have time for your bullshit, or your insults. Why don’t you fuck off and let me eat my meal in peace.”
Laurie didn’t react to what he had said. She was crying over the sink, trying to rewrap her arm that was now bleeding freely again for the first time in days. “Did you hear me!?” Jerry roared. Laurie jumped at the sound but didn’t move. She was still trying to stem the blood and rewrap her arm.
“God damn you, you bitch…” Jerry stood up out of his chair and slapped the plate off the table. It crashed on the floor near Laurie’s feet. She jumped and spun to see he husband stalking toward her. “You ruined my meal for the last time, god damn it!”
Jerry grabbed her forearm and dug his thumb into the bite. Laurie howled in pain and dropped to one knee. Jerry punched her in her cheek the kicked her to the floor. “Why can’t I have ONE! ONE god damn meal without having to listen to your shit!”
He had blown way past reason already. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Laurie knew he had been drinking all day. After losing his past few jobs, jerry had begun drinking heavily. She had suspected he was getting drunk on the job, but couldn’t confirm it, and was deathly terrified to snoop around to find out. Now, it was obvious. He lost his mind when he was drunk.
Jerry kicked at her several more times, and then began stalking around the kitchen, yelling obscenities and kicking and hitting whatever objects were nearby. She began to get up, and Jerry ran over, holding his balled fist in front of her face. She stared at it out of the corner of her eye, but kept her face turned away. He growled incoherently, and she could see his hand trembling with barely contained rage as he held it threateningly in front of her, almost drinking in her fear.
“Pussy.” He sneered and stood up straight and walked away.
She tried to contain her sobs. This was the worst Jerry had exploded in a long time. Laurie cried quietly as she lifted herself off the floor. She stared at the doorway where Jerry had left. She crept slowly toward the phone, shaking and watching for Jerry. She had to call for help. If she didn’t, she would never get away.
She almost couldn’t walk, she was so gripped by fear, but she forced herself forward. He hand was now numb, she couldn’t move her fingers. Her skirt was stained with blood, and her face was beginning to swell. She kept glancing nervously at the phone.
She finally reached it, and lifted the receiver as quietly as she could muster. She cradled it on her shoulder with her ear and slowly, shakingly dialed “9”. She reached up and dialed “1”, then stopped just short of pushing it again.
Standing in the doorway to the kitchen was Jerry, appearing almost to be a rabid animal. His head was held forward and down, his eyes staring up at her with a feral glint.
“Oh no…” came the weak, tiny words from Laurie’s terrified mouth.
Jerry lunged at her from the doorway. Laurie tried to run away, but Jerry was on her too fast. He grabbed the back of her shirt and hair, jerked back, and threw her as hard as he could at the stove. Her face hit the corn pot, and she screamed as the hot water splashed out onto her head. Jerry was on her in a second, swearing and shouting. He grabbed the skillet she had used to cook the steak. It was still hot, and Jerry hit her square in the shoulder with it. He wailed in pain when he realized the handle was hot and he had burned himself. The skillet hit the floor with a dull bang. Jerry threw Laurie down on the floor face first and ground his heel into her back. He smiled a little when she screamed.
He then knelt on the floor next to her, holding one hand on her head and forcing her back down with her knee. He lifted the back of her skirt and undid his belt. “I’ll teach you respect, bitch…”
Panic gripped Laurie like she had never known. Jerry had done awful, humiliating things to her, but this was one line he had never crossed. Her mind raced and she flailed, reaching for something, anything. Jerry swung his leg over her, so he was sitting on her legs and reached for her underwear.
Laurie’s had touched something hot. The skillet. So intense was her panic, she didn’t feel the hot iron burn her fingertips as she pulled it closer. As Jerry began to pull down, the hot metal flew up over Laurie’s shoulder and struck him square in the nose. His eyes crossed and his head snapped back, and Jerry was laying down facing the ceiling.
Laurie began sobbing loudly. Jerry’s eyes hadn’t closed, but he didn’t move. He didn’t appear to be breathing. Oh God, she thought to herself, I’ve killed him. A new panic flooded her mind. Would she go to jail? So many women were in the pen because they killed their abusive husbands. Some states just thought they should leave; they didn’t understand the prison women like Laurie lived in, the fact that they could not just leave, things were so much more complicated.
She wondered if she could move the body in her current state; if she could maybe bury him, or hide him in the trunk. Her chain of reasoning was broken in an instant; Jerry groaned and blinked. He was waking up! Laurie looked around the room in terror, trying to find the quickest exit.
While Jerry recovered, Laurie got up and began to move toward the door. Jerry scrambled to his feet and launched himself onto her, pinning her down facing him with the weight of his body.
“Have it your way, Laurie.” He growled and wrapped his hands around her neck. He squeezed with all of his strength and rage. Laurie struggled, but had no strength left. It hurt, her lungs fought for air but none would come. Color started to fade from the room. Laurie’s limbs stopped hurting…
There was a low growl as Jerry tried to tighten his grip. It took him several seconds to realize it wasn’t coming from his mouth. He looked Laurie in the eye, expecting to revel in her fear.
What he saw turned his blood cold. Her eyes had changed. No longer were they wide with fear and pain. They also weren’t dull and lifeless, as he would have expected. Instead, her pupils had drawn to pinpoints. Her eyebrows arched, and the bridge of her nose crinkled. He looked down and her mouth was twisted in a snarl, as the low growling began to creep out of it again.
His hands went weak, not that her throat was collapsing as it had been just moments ago. Jerry tried to stand and back up, but Laurie’s hands, which had been flailing around trying to fend him off a second ago, were now tightly gripped on his forearms. She was incredibly strong, he couldn’t fight back.
Her low growl turned into an angry, vicious snarl as she stood to her feet and forced Jerry down to his knees. “Laurie?” he said meekly.
She continued standing until she was fully erect, and then actually rose a little higher. Jerry stared in horror at his wife’s feet as her slippers spilt off. Her feet and lower legs began to grow and shift, lengthening until she was only standing on the balls of her clawed feet. Her clothes tore as her chest expanded, and her shoulders grew.
Laurie’s arms changed as well; muscle definition suddenly appeared up and down their length, her soft house-wife’s arms turning into knots of corded muscle. Her fingernails lengthened into long curved claws.
Jerry began to scream when he looked back up at her face. The swollen, bruised skin was stretched over a long snout. Her eyes had taken on a feral glint, and her ears had moved to the top of her head, now triangular. Coarse hair sprouted from all over.
Then in a voice, guttural and animalistic, but still clearly Laurie’s, she said “You will NEVER hurt me again!”
Although she wasn’t in complete control of her actions, Laurie could clearly see the shift in power. She relished the look of terror on Jerry’s face. All of his sins were coming back to haunt him, in the worst possible way.
He began to cry. It was a sad, pathetic sound. It wasn’t the sound of pain and sadness, like Laurie’s had been for their entire marriage, but the feeble sound of a weak person, desperate to grasp at whatever false strength they had been holding on to.
Jerry dropped his face toward the floor and begged. “Please! Please don’t hurt me!”
Laurie felt five years of fear, anger and hurt come flooding back when she heard his words. Every vile thing he had done, every explosive rage, every trip to the emergency room, every treasured item he destroyed, came back to her in an instant.
And she showed him all the mercy he had shown her when she had begged for it. She lifted him to her level, now almost seven feet tall. She growled loudly as she slammed him down with all of her strength into the kitchen table.
Jerry screamed in pain as the table and his legs fractured and collapsed under the power of the blow. He looked up at his wife. She was huge now. Tall, lean, and for all intents and purposes, appearing to be a humanoid wolf. He had heard “what goes around comes around”, but he had always called it bullshit. There was no karma, no payback. Real life didn’t have story book endings. Plus… Weren’t the rain clouds blocking the full moon?
Now he doubted everything he had ever thought, and it was too late. Laurie grabbed him by the neck and threw him at the stove. He wasn’t just splashed by the boiling corn pot, the full two gallons of water remaining in it poured over him while he lay on the floor. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Laurie reveled as she watched his skin turn angry red. It immediately blistered; large, translucent packets of fluid appeared on his skin, which died instantly and slid from the raw pink flesh on his face and chest.
He spun on his back, slipping on the wet floor, screaming in agony through a quickly swelling jaw. He could feel teeth fall out, and tasted blood through the vicious burning that covered most of his head and torso. He held his hands over his head in a feeble attempt to block his rampaging wife. She reached past his hands and palmed his head. She lifted him to eye level, forcing him to look her in the face.
He could barely open his left eye, and the right was red, not just bloodshot. Blood covered his scalded face and ran freely from several cuts in his head. His mouth hung open in silent pain as her claws dug into the flesh of his head, his feet dangling more than a foot off the ground.
He could see. His mind still registered some of the world, just beyond the pain and fear. The eyes bore straight through him. This beast standing in his kitchen was most definitely Laurie, his meek and doting wife. “H-honey?”
He tried to appeal to the motherly, nurturing aspect of Laurie that had attracted him to her in the first place, that part of her he had considered weak. He could not have picked a worse word to use.
Laurie’s mind recognized what that part of her had meant to him. He had used her love, and eventually fear, to hurt and manipulate her from the beginning. The last thing he needed now was to remind her of anything he had used to hurt her. She snarled, her lips curling in what almost looked like a smile.
He smiled back.
Laurie swiped his lower torso with her other hand. Jerry was now beyond screaming; he could not muster the breath for do much more than gasp. Laurie shook him violently a couple of times to ensure that she had, in fact, eviscerated him. She dropped Jerry back in front of the stove. He cried and wailed as he attempted in vain to pull his intestines back into his body.
Several hours passed by before Laurie left the house where her husband lay, finally dead. She had sat, in her altered form, watching him die slowly. She would have expected blood loss to finish him quicker, or shock, but he was a stubborn bastard, who clung to his undeserved life until his body would no longer allow it.
Once the excitement had worn off, she had cleaned up, changed into clean clothes, and grabbed the money Jerry had been “hiding” from her in his tackle box. She called his work and said that he would not be in for a few days, he wasn’t feeling well. They would assume he had gone on a bender and needed to recover. She left in his truck.
Laurie left behind her home and her husband, to burn to the ground with her old life.