The woman in the corner

Today is White Ribbon Day aka International Elimination Of Violence Against Women Day.
As a men's brand, we believe it is our social responsibility to take a stand against violence against women. If you know it's happening, don't look the other way. Don't pretend it's not happening.
Stand up. Take action. Do the right thing. Be the man you want to be.
The following short story is in honour of the victims of this violence. 
 SKetch of the woman in the corner
The woman caught a glimpse of herself in the reflection of her glass. She remembered a time when her hair was long and dark. She wasn't yet 40 and it had long been speckled with grey.
She had been afraid of him for 16 years, and this thick January night at the Portside Tavern was no different. She watched him standing at the bar across the room from their usual far corner table. He ordered his brandy with the authority you'd expect from the boss of the port, which he was. He was also her husband.
She liked the corner. The shadows dimmed the black and blue marks on her face.
From a distance, you might not notice. 
They all did though. They had all noticed, for all of those 16 years, but not a single soul in this coastline town had spoken up. Not that she blamed them They were almost as afraid of him as she was. Almost. 
He came back to the table and sank back in his seat, brandy in hand. She knew he'd been at it a while. He had that same look in his eye. The familiar hate. She knew what would follow.
"Easy on the brandy, darling."
She hadn't realised she had said it aloud.
"What did you say to me?"
"Nothing, I'm sorry."
But it was too late. He grabbed her by the neck, pulling her hair back, his thick fingers burrowing into the skin of her scalp. She closed her eyes and took the pain. She knew it well. She wouldn't cry, The tears would do nothing.
Almost everyone in the tavern looked the other way.
Jack Dusty did not.
What Dusty saw was a bully, and a scared soul alone in the fight. He had seen this before. Different town, different time. Same fear. He set his rum down, got up from his seat and moved across the room.
He stood over their table. "Everything okay over here?"
The bully released his grip on his wife's hair. He cocked his head round and looked at the man standing over him.
"We're fine mate."
"I was asking her."
Dusty took a seat. He looked into the man's eyes and said nothing.
The woman looked at her husband. In 16 years she had never seen him look so uneasy. Here was this stranger, rugged and strong, with dark green eyes that seemed so still. Unmoving.
And the man she had feared for so long, who had seemed such a giant suddenly seemed so small. So beatable. He couldn't even hold the stranger's gaze. His eyes fell to the bottom of his brandy, and there they remained.
A little boy afraid of the wolf in front of him.
That was the last memory she would have of the man who had kept her caged for so long. She looked at the stranger. She didn't know what to say so she said nothing. She kissed him once on the cheek and walked out of the Portside Tavern for the last time. On her way out she saw herself in the mirror. Her hair looked darker than it had in years. Maybe it was the light.
Jack Dusty watched her walk out the door, then back at the sad bully in front of him.
"You could have been a good man."
Dusty got up and  walked back to his table. He sat down and finished his rum.






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