She whizzed past the chattering children, past the tired cyclist, past the panting puppy.  Oblivious to the golden glow of the rising sun, a sight she would have ordinarily stopped to admire and welcome, a sight she would have said a little prayer of gratitude for.

She did not hear the children say good morning to her, on other days, she stopped and high fived each of them; she did not stop to listen to the old market ladies’ warm greetings, or even for them to give her a fruit each.  She almost trod on the little puppy that waited for her at the same spot each morning. She had a lot on her mind.

She panted down the side walks, up the rises, desperately trying to keep the pain at a minimum.  The tears that run down her cheek were due to the stinging morning thin air, or so she kept telling herself. Her fast heartbeat was due to her hastened running pace she thought.

He was the reason she was hurting, and she needed to break the cycle. She instinctively looked down at her wedding band and for a fleeting moment contemplated throwing it away.  Marriage.  What was the meaning of the vows?

She had had it, the late nights out in the club, the disgusting tobacco breath, the random tantrums, and the sad look on her children’s faces.  Yet, she dared not tell a soul.  They had all warned her, everyone seemed to have a premonition that he would amount to this, or did they?

Just yesterday, he raised his fist at her, she remembered the horror, hate and disgust she felt as it crashed into her face, tearing her lip and scarring her left cheek.  Maybe she should just die and put an end to this?

She was sick and tired of putting up a show at Church.  She was sick and tired of smiling at bible study, when all she wanted to do was break down and cry.  They had all warned her about “Being unequally yoked to a non-believer”, but he was a good man.  He loved her; he adored her, and promised to keep it that way “Till death do us part”.

As she got home, she found her kids crying over her husband’s body, sprawled in the living room.  Mara (meaning bitter), her eldest was slumped over him, while her ten year old, two years younger than Mara was desperately shaking his still body.

She looked for his pulse, “no, no, no, don’t do this, don’t leave me, we need you still…” Mara was now on phone calling for an ambulance while Bagad (meaning betray), her little brother was now holding onto his mother’s arm.

She may hate her marriage, but being a widow must be worse surely?  She feared the stigma, the looks of disapproval, the alienation she might get from her social circles…

“Baby, get up, breathe, live!,” she cried desperately as she performed mouth to mouth.  She breathed a sigh of relief when he coughed and stirred.  The paramedics got there in no time, and took over from her.  From his clasped left hand they found a cocktail of pills.  In her kitchen, was half a glass of vodka.

“Mama, mama, we tried to stop him.  Please forgive us mama.  He pushed us away and took some of the pills,” her children yelled intermittently.

“Pump his stomach! Clear it out! Clean his system!” The paramedics.

She held her kids as he was taken away.  Her neighbours giving her the look and whispering.  Giving her fake smiles hidden behind judgmental eyes.  She ignored their encouraging words, went into the house, packed a bag, got Mara and Bagad into her car and drove… away.

Maybe she should get help after all; maybe she should speak to her pastor, maybe she should check into a mental hospital, maybe…

She was so occupied in her thoughts, she did not see the speeding lorry driving on the opposite side of the road.  She rammed into it.  At the end of the pain and noise, she heard her children wailing and calling out her name.  She drifted away, into a bright light.

“Jesus, I could not take care of them.  Please do it for me,” she said as she squeezed their hands one last time and drifted to the other side of eternity.