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Beaten, but Not Broken

Sarah Sturbeck was sprawled across the cool marble counter of the pharmacy, her only refuge from the sweltering Florida heat. She started to sigh, but choked on the stagnant air that hung over her like a sticky web. Her eyes wandered lazily to a shaft of sunlight, and she began to watch the minute flakes of dust dance in the dusky sunlight when a sharp ring caught her attention.
Startled, she jumped into a posture more fit for the woman who was, as her manager so sweetly put it, “The pretty little face that brings the business.”

“Welcome to CVS pharmacy,” she chirped, “How may I help—“

The cold stare of a pistol cut her off mid-sentence. Her features froze and she fell into a glassy-eyed panic.

“Hey there sweet cheeks,” a husky voice cooed. His musky breath, thick with booze and desperation, washed over her face, and her lips began to tremble. “I think we both know what I want. Now be a good little girl and hand everything over. I’d really hate to f*** up a face as pretty as yours.”

All of Sarah’s color drained as she tried to recall the self-defense lessons she took mere weeks before, at the request of her worried mother. They all felt eons away. All she could pull from the pitch-black memory was a fragmented thought of something about testicles.

“Come on!” The man’s eyes lit with a mad fury as he swung his arm back, “hurry up, you stupid b****!”

The shameless demon struck Sarah hard across the mouth, and all at once something broke inside her gut. She felt the blood well up inside of her, and it was red-hot.

She struck out at the man, and seemed to catch him by surprise. He desperately squeezed the trigger before the pistol slipped from his hand; somewhere in the corner of her mind, Sarah felt the bullet catch her chest, but that place was far from the realm of conscious thought. She leapt over the counter and grabbed the man’s face, pulling it hard into the unforgiving marble. He screamed an inhuman slurry of curses and pain as she dug her newly-manicured nails into his face, clawing desperately for her life. She felt more blood run over her hands—cold blood—the blood of a coward.

The intruder, in a wide-eyed mix of fury and terror, pushed her away, and fled the store while Sarah’s head began to swim.

The adrenaline began to ebb away as Sarah’s vision grew cloudy and cold. She hazily realized her pants were soaked—not from fear, but with her own blood, trickling from a neat hole just above her left breast. She pulled herself up over the counter and dialed 911 with an ashen hand, absentmindedly wiping the blood from her mouth and smiling weakly to herself.

She was nobody’s b****.





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