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I don’t pick up. I’m standing by the machine listening to my mother’s voice tell me that she wants to stop by and see the baby. She can’t. I don’t pick up because I don’t know what to tell her. My baby is fine. He’s warm and loved and fed. I’m not fine, but she won’t be ignored. I know this about her. An hour passes and she rings again. This time I pick up as soon as I hear her voice. Sorry mom, I just got home, I lied. No, today won’t work. I’m heading out again. She wants to know where I’m going. Not enough time has passed between childhood and adulthood. She is still the mother telling me what to do. She tells me it’s too cold to take the baby out and she’s right. I’m actually not taking the baby out. I’ve been hiding in my house all day. I will hide in my house the remainder of the week. Maybe tomorrow, I say. Then what? What will I say tomorrow? I will say I’m sick. I must put her off. She doesn’t believe me. You don’t sound sick. It’s a stomach thing. Let’s plan for Friday. Friday I will appear to be fine, I tell myself. I open the door on Friday. She is snuggling the baby as I sit watching, waiting, hoping. She looks up with a smile that begins to fade. She is studying my face. What’s wrong with your eye? Nothing. You have a faded bruise under your eye. Oh that. The dog jumped up as I bent down, I lied.

The Jesus Part

Another excerpt from the book with a working title of Cocaine or Jesus.

I walked into the apartment after a long commute from San Francisco during rush hour traffic. I was weary after spending the day working on the cold city streets pretending I was having a good time and not freezing to death. I had returned from modeling in Japan just a few weeks prior and the bookings back at home were coming in droves. This always happened when a local model returned from abroad. Your agent works hard for you. So and so is back in town.

My husband was stretched out on the couch in front of the television. He said, “Guess who I ran into today? Remember Gary?” before I could ask.
“From the band?” I asked. He nodded his head. I always liked Gary. He was a really nice guy during that brief time that he and Joe played together.
“How is he?” I asked, while walking toward the bedroom.
“He’s great. We talked for a long time,” he said. He paused briefly, then louder so I could hear him, “He invited me to church tomorrow.”
Puzzled, I called out from the bedroom, “Tomorrow is Wednesday.”

He went to church that next night. And then he went again on Friday night. And by Saturday he convinced this Catholic girl to go with him on Sunday morning. And then we went again on Sunday night, and by Monday morning I was fully indoctrinated into the cult known as the United Pentecostal Church.

Before Cult

Before Cult


During Cult

My First Escape

Another rough excerpt:

The neighborhood was familiar, though I had no idea whose house he just went into. I sat shivering in the passenger’s seat of the car. I pushed my skirt down over the big rip in my tights that exposed my left thigh. My shoes were gone, thrown out the window somewhere along the way to this house. I ran my left hand through my hair and gently pulled a handful away from head. For a moment, I stared at the tiny pieces of my scalp attached at the ends, and then, not wanting to drop it on the floor of my own car, I rolled my window down enough to toss it into the wind. I wanted to disappear into the wind. Instead, my tongue found my stinging, swollen upper lip. I tasted blood. The gash my tooth had opened from the smack to my face last night was open again. To this day, I have a scar.

My thoughts went to where he said he was going to take me, and what he was going to do to me. I’m going to die today. I don’t want to die.

I looked around the neighborhood. Though it was just before noon, it was deserted. I wondered how long it would take for him to buy more drugs. Should I leap from the car and take off running? Should I knock on someone’s door? What if no one is home? Would anyone be able to protect me from him? I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t move. He had hissed, “Don’t move,” before he left the car. I knew the minute I opened the door to run, he would walk out of that house. And then I saw them. Keys. He left the keys in the ignition. Without any hesitation, I climbed into the driver’s seat. I am not going to die today.


This is a rough draft excerpt from that book I’m attempting to write:

I sat across a table from a young police officer in uniform. He had a yellow legal pad in front of him and he was taking notes. We were in windowless room devoid of any color at the city of Monterey’s police department. A friend suggested that I inform the police of the exact day and time that I was planning to leave my husband. When I called to do that, it was suggested that I meet with an officer first. D-Day was still a week or so away. My husband was not someone that I could sit down with and say, “I want out.” He was someone I had to leave like a thief in the night.

I was on autopilot. My decision had been made. I had awoken to a thought the week prior that had solidified my escape and there would be no wavering. Part of me was completely numb and the other part of me sat shivering under florescent lights. The officer asked if I was cold. It wouldn’t have mattered how warm the room was. He left for a moment and then returned with a blanket; gray, the kind found in all the trunks of cop cars. He picked up his pen. He wanted to know my history with the man I was married to. He told me the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence was when she tries to leave. I said, “I know. That’s why I’m here.”

He had questions. “Where will you go?” he asked.
“To a friend’s house,” I said.
“Will he look for you there?”
“He doesn’t knows where she lives.
“Does he know her?”
“Yes, we work together.”
“Then you can’t go there. What about family?”
“They live too far away and I have to work.”

I had questions. “What about my son? I can’t keep him from his father, can I?” I asked.
“Is your son in danger?” he asked.
“No. Absolutely not.”

“Here is my best advice,” he said. “You need to take at least one week off of work and you need to go to a women’s shelter. You can stay there longer than a week, but you shouldn’t go anywhere for at least a week. You and your son need to be someplace where he can’t find you for awhile and a week will hopefully allow him to cool off. You need to leave him a note telling him that you are not taking his son away from him, but that you need a week to breath and then you will make arrangements for him to see your son. Make a copy of the note.”

“Okay,” I said. He took out his card, wrote a number on the back and handed it me.

“If you can’t safely leave on your own, call me. Call me anyway on that day. The number on the back is to the shelter. You can’t call them until you are on your way. Then they will give you the address.”

How sad that he has that number memorized, I thought.

Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Gretchen L. Kelly

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