She Survived

An image of a large knife, with the text: Her hand still gripped the handle of the knife.

She Survived

Short Story by Iris Carden

Alice leaned back against the wall, her hand still gripped around the handle of the knife. There was blood, more blood than she had ever seen before.

She slid down the wall into a squat position. Putting her head down to her knees to avoid seeing. She wanted to let go of the knife, but her hand wouldn’t cooperate.

The police would come soon. She had managed to dial triple zero, before Mark had smashed his way through the door.

In her mind she went back two years. That night when she was attacked on the street, when Mark, a stranger then, had rushed to her aid. He was her knight in shining armour, who had saved her. But, he hadn’t just saved her, had he? He hadn’t stopped punching that man once she was safe, he had kept going, far more than was necessary. She wanted to tell herself, the self who had been so frightened and confused, that a man who so obviously loved violence, would also use it against her.

Her throat hurt, she knew there would be huge bruises around her neck. He would have killed her. She had felt herself fading as those huge hands had crushed and crushed. He’d had her up against the kitchen counter, using his superior strength and size, choking her, as the world had started to slip away into darkness. Neither of them had seen the knife until she felt it under her hand. She’d reacted, not acted, not really knowing what she was doing, but desperate to stay alive.

Alice thought back to that first time he’d hit her. She’d spent the afternoon with her sister, when he hadn’t given permission. At the time, she’d thought, “Why do I need permission?” But then unconsciousness had overtaken thought. If only she could tell Alice of that day, “Run, don’t look back, leave your home, leave everything and everyone you know, just run and hide and never ever come back.”

The light in her kitchen had changed. It was suddenly blue, then back to white, then blue again. Somewhere inside her brain there was an acknowledgement that blue meant something, but what that something was was out of reach.

She recalled the day when he explained that if she ever tried to leave he would kill her. She belonged to him and only him, utterly and completely. There was no life for her without him. If she could only speak to the woman she was then, she would say, “We need a plan. Don’t just trust a restraining order. Paper won’t stop him. Don’t trust he’ll obey the rules.”

Somewhere, a long way away, a male voice she didn’t know said, “Drop the weapon. Drop it. Drop the weapon or I’ll have to shoot.”

Another voice, a woman answered, “She’s in shock. She probably can’t even hear what you’re saying. Put your gun away.

“Alice. Alice, it’s over. You’re safe now. Let go of the knife.”

Alice, that was her wasn’t it? This voice was talking to her. The knife. Yes, the knife. She was still holding it. Her hand wouldn’t let it go before. She tried again, put all all the effort she could muster into opening her hand. The knife dropped to the tiled floor.

“That’s good,” the woman’s voice continued. “Now, can you stand up? Do you need help?”

Alice tried to stand. Blood flowed into muscles that had been held tight for too long. The pain was almost unbearable. Her knees buckled.

Strong hands caught her as she fell. She was aware of the blue uniform of the woman who helped to hold her up. Blue light. Blue uniform. Police. That’s what blue meant.

“Alice, the ambos are here now. We’re going to take you to hospital. I’ll stay with you. Once you’ve been checked out, I have to interview you. We need to record what happened here.”

The female police officer gripped her under one arm, someone else was on the other side, they walked her through her house.

“You don’t have to look. Just look straight ahead,” the police officer said.

In the ambulance, she felt a clip on her finger.

She heard a voice say, “Her oh-two is low.”

A plastic tube was placed across her face, with prongs stuck in her nose. There was an overwhelming smell of plastic. The smell made her feel sick.

“Look at her neck,” the voice said again. “Her windpipe’s probably damaged. It’s a wonder she’s breathing at all. Then there’s all these other injuries. What the hell happened to this woman?”

“She survived,” the female police officer answered.


In Australia, if you are dealing with domestic violence issues, you help is available at 1800RESPECT.

In Australia, on average, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former domestic partner. Source

If you want to know about the women who don’t manage to escape violent men, Counting Dead Women tells the stories of women who die by violence.

In Australia, on average, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former domestic partner. Source

By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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