Exercising the craft—July 18, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: The woman smoothed down the knots in her hair, not noticing the ragged rip in her skirt or the dark stain on her blouse.

What happened to this woman? Where is she going? Create a backstory and decide how this experience will affect her future.



The doorbell rang for the third time, and this time she heard banging on the door.

“Marie Hopkins? We know you’re in there! Your neighbor says you haven’t left the house for four days… Mrs. Hopkins?”

Marie didn’t move from the card table. When she and Kenny had moved to this house years ago, the real estate agent had called this part of the house a dining area. More like a dining nook. A corner. A spot.

Didn’t matter none to Kenny. He wanted a place to get away is all. Wanted a place where he could just drink and smoke and beat up on her when he wanted.

“Mrs. Hopkins, you need to let us in. We have your husband in custody. Mrs. Hopkins, are you listening?”

Listening? That’s all she’d done for the past fifteen years. Kenny yammered and Marie listened. If she didn’t listen long enough or hard enough or paid him the right kind of attention when he asked for her and a beer—in that order—he quit yammering and banged her up. Then he just banged her.

“Mrs. Hopkins, do you hear me? You don’t—need—to be—afraid. We’re here to help.”

Help, right. She’d tried going to the police before. None of them cared nothing for what she had to say. Didn’t help none that Kenny was on that side of six feet tall and built like a linebacker. Used to be one, in fact. That’s what made it so easy for him to intimidate people. Her. She couldn’t tell him to quit drinking. Couldn’t get him to lay off the smokes. They drained their cash trying to pay the docs, the hospitals, everyone with a bill.

The bills kept coming. The money kept going out. Pretty soon they stopped opening the envelopes that were coming in. Didn’t stop the envelopes none. Or the phone calls. They had to sell Kenny’s laptop two years ago, so Marie figured the emails were coming too but she couldn’t read any of them no more.

“Mrs. Hopkins, we don’t want to scare you, but if you don’t open this door I’m going to have to break it in. We’re doing this for your own safety, ma’am. And you are safe. He can’t come for you anymore.”

Safe. Ha. That was a lame joke. Anyone who knew Kenny knew they weren’t safe around him. Hell, his own momma wasn’t safe around him.

Marie didn’t know about that until it was too late. Kenny had already broken her some. When he went after her sister, gave her the same bang-up garbage, she broke completely. By then Kenny had drained enough of their money that Marie didn’t have nowhere to go either. Except the club.

“Mrs. Hopkins, I’m going to count to three, and then I’m going to break down the door. Again, ma’am, we’re trying to make sure you’re safe. You are not in any trouble.”

Right. That’s what the pimp kept trying to tell her. No trouble. No trouble at all. Except for she and Kenny fell into a wagon of it.


Maybe these feds really did have Kenny this time. It could happen…right? Kenny was smart, but he was stupid too. Somewhere there had to be at least one or two feds who could take him down.


She stood up from the chair, smoothed out the knots of her hair as best she could, and started walking to the door. She’d forgotten about the rip in her skirt and the stains in her blouse. All Marie thought about was the possibility that there could be feds on the other side telling the truth.


Marie pulled the door open and waited for what came next.