The sky outside the window was clouding over, threatening a drenching rain and even with the lamp on, her room seemed especially dim. On the nightstand rested her mother’s Bible. Why she didn’t just chuck it in the dumpster with the rest of the Bibles she uncovered she couldn’t quite explain. It emitted the faintest hint of white musk, her mother’s favorite perfume. Andrea reached out a hand and ran her fingers over the aged leather. What should have been a memento of a happier time, a healthier time, only brought back visions from the darkest time she could remember.

The gold embossment, “Holy Bible,” was striking against the dark, but the sight of the apparatus just twisted her gut. Images floated to her brain. At the recollection, her blood chilled. Pulling the switchblade from her pocket, she rested it up on the book, climbing into the blankets and cocooning herself in a tangle of covers. Eying the “sacred” text, his words washed over her, just as fresh as the day they were first spoken.

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.”

His eyes would bore into her, as she looked down, pretending to pick at her chipping nail polish. Some nights Maureen would be there, quietly behind him, murmuring over her own Bible. Andrea, Olivia then, would see her out of her peripheral, and wonder if the woman knew the hellfire that her husband shot with his eyes.

It was those times that she wished she would have skipped, even if it meant being grounded from the group of stoners she considered friends and sentenced to another Bible study at the dinner table.

She should have known better than to walk into that office. The stern line of his mouth should have been the first clue that something was amiss. Right then she should have turned around and walked out of the stifling hot room, while she still had her dignity. Even after that, when he stalked around the room like a caged beast, admonishing her, she could have stood, she could have ran to the door before he turned the lock. Her mother had been outside, oblivious as her daughter was torn apart.

A tremor was building in her limbs and a sob broke free. She couldn’t look at that damned, useless collection of paper. Every time she blinked, she saw the same book that sat on that desk, filled with promises of a God that didn’t answer.

Reaching over, she knocked it, and the knife sitting atop it from the stand. The resounding clatter across the wooden floor racked her body harder. She buried her face in the pillow, desperately willing the images to stop. The letters that filled the mailbox. The crosses that decorated the front lawn. His black eyes. Lying awake in a strange bed, the white walls of the facility closing around her. The blood staining the carpet, his shirt, her knees.