The Breaking Point

Written by Aniah Hill

A screamed escaped out the small window 

above the ivory toilet

where she had tried to hide after breaking free

from her closet prison

He slammed her against the door frame, again and

again, until she stopped struggling.  Then he slapped her

across the face, into another state

of mind where everything was ringing warnings and 

all of existence was spinning out of control.  

She was tossed in the closet like a rag doll,

her bones collapsed into scraps and fragments of

spent fabric, unable to weaver herself

back into an action figure

Wanda heard her neighbor, who sometimes sold tickets 

to PTA events, slam her window against

the commotion. Glen was raging between rooms, ranting

about how he was God, and man

of the house.   Down the hall her three small children were crying.  

She heard her husband yell at them, scold them 

as if they were to blame, then yank the door closed to lock them 

in their room.  In a way, the best place for them.  

The safest place in what was unfolding. 

It had been hours since he had found the divorce papers, downloaded 

from online, and dated two years prior.  Stuffed in a Bible

she was so sure he would never open, but did

while searching for verse to support his distorted self-concept,

releasing the secret intent that had been brewing 

for six of their ten-year union.

Leaving him was always on her mind.  But the children

needed a father, who they love, no matter how bad he behaved, 

it’s better than none, or so she had read 

in an award-winning parenting

book.  So, despite the despair, 

she couldn’t make the decision to leave 

her husband who was her high school sweetheart,

she couldn’t swallow the fact that 

fairytales of endless love don’t exist in real life and

even if it did it wouldn’t whack you 

across your tender face 

Glen kept checking on her to make sure

her will remained beaten into submission

Any sign that she stirred inside the darkness

would bring him back for another slap or

slam against the wall, making sure not

to leave any bruises, a lesson he learned early on

to avoid evidence that he was more than just

a threat

At any sign of resistance Glen used the weight 

of his 5’7’’, 225-pound body against the door, sealing 

it shut. He would sit, for hours, leaning back

 grinning in satisfaction.

Wanda was mostly rolled in a ball, sobbing in a corner of cluttered

old clothes.  Forced into conversations with her gray suit and 

worn out dark shoes. Inhaling the musty smell of closed spaces,

pondering how it all got this far, 

how her true love could turn out to so abusive, 

how her life could be a gaslight.

Glen was a star

on the football field.  Cheerleaders from both teams chanted

his name during games. He was BMOC, big man

on campus.  So Wanda was surprised when his eyes turned

toward her quiet science, a nest of nerdy high functioning

autistic connections.   Her small frame and underdeveloped

bust made her less desirable than most of her more formed

high school classmates. She had blushed just to be considered.  

Her face flushed at his touch.

She was his queen, at first.  He bowed

to her every wish.  Kissed her hand

when they would meet.  Lavished her with

gifts and praise.  Promised they would be together


But worship fell into resentment, suddenly and without warning

when Glen woke up angry, the day of the wedding 

and even though Wanda’s favorite cousin flew in from Milwaukee,

Glen wouldn’t allow anyone to attend, so it ended up

an unwitnessed ceremony 

performed by a justice of the peace in a windowless 

home –turned- into -office on Clement St.

Up the long, narrow staircase of an old Victorian 

apartment building, they had come to purple and 

blue stained glass working as window, beautifully blocking 

out all light, leaving them standing in darkness.   The couple 

were led into an equally dim room to wait for the Justice, who appeared from what was probably remnants of the kitchen.  She was 

of a manly frame, with broad shoulders and a heavy gut  

There was not much emotion 

as she read what was legally required only, before making

the bland pronouncement that they were now man and wife

That day marked a change in Glen that became

his truth, an angry ooze of abuse 

slithering slowly, until the viscosity breaks

and the flow escalates.  A lot of movement around

immobilization, holding her down while hissing 

humiliation into her face.  Slaps for minor offenses like

talking out of order.  Kicks and drops

for forgetting groceries.  A head first

trip down the stairs after asking the wrong


Ten years later Glen had morphed into a monster.  An unstable

mangle of mania, flipped on and off like a light switch

that randomly chooses to flicker between reality and

insanity.  And this day the switch was flipped to manic.

With his eyes bulging wide, sweat dripping from his forehead

down to his chest, every word expressed as spit, sprayed

through tight lips

He pressed his body against hers

pinned her between his hot sour breath and the

wilted black dress with a cowl collar, reserved 

for funerals, wakes and graduations.  Then Glen grabbed

her scarlet silk scarf and quickly wrapped it around her neck

slowly tightening it into a knot that kept slipping 

as he maintained a deep gaze into her glass eyes

tired eyes about to across a line

Then, she ignited

Glen was so caught up in intimidating Wanda

into a breathless death that he forgot he had

testicles, vulnerable to frustrated kicks attacking 

his loin with vengeance.  He went down

to the floor and she leaped but tripped

over his flailing grip, her ankle planted

by pain that was rapidly burning into rage

But she still had one leg that was free and flexible

at the knee.  She drew it back, towards her chest

then let it fling forward, ninja fashion 

an arrow striking his bullseye of a face, forcing 

away his grip, freeing

Wanda, who fled to the kitchen.

She was waiting for Glen in the kitchen.  Armed with

Christmas china and crystal wine glasses, she pelleted

his head as soon as it peaked around the corner.  Service

for six blasted against body and walls, creating

a mist of fragments floating on fractured sentiments.  When it settled

both were still standing, facing each other, panting

Glen, piercing sharp eyes darting back and forth

Wanda, eyes steady and straight, her will wrapped around 

a butchers knife

She reached the thin at the end

And the breaking point shattered

into a place where nothing mattered

it didn’t matter if he killed her

it didn’t matter if she killed him

it didn’t matter if the children witnessed their parents kill each other

it only mattered that he would never strike her 

ever again.  

This was the end.

She lunged at him, tried to stab him in the heart

but he reached around and grabbed her missile wrist,

in the process sustaining a superficial scratch

then he disarmed her and she fled,

flung open the front door to find the police

responding to a call about a domestic disturbance

Wanda immediately broke down into tears, became almost

hysterical, barely able to put together a coherent statement

Glen flipped into the picture of composure, collected himself into  

rational, courteous and polite

He pulled the policemen to the side

where they had a man conference and shared

stories of irrational wives that lose control,

spitefully slash tires and arms but never

get charged

They handcuffed Wanda’s unexploded wrist behind her back

and led her past the whispers of nosey neighbors 

to a waiting police care, parked behind three ambulances 

that had been called to put a band-aid on Glen’s arm

The police and firemen shook hands with Glen

then the policeman with the pending divorce proceeding

gave Glen pamphlets and a form so he could register

as a victim of domestic violence

The police car took off with Wanda, still speechless, in the back.

About the Author

Aniah Hill is a native San Franciscan, creative artist and aspiring author. Much of her written work is based on lived experiences expressed as poetry and can best be described as creative nonfiction poetry. She has earned a Creative Writing Certificate of Achievement from CCSF, which laid the foundation for exploration into a new, second career in the literary arts. As a visual artist, she creates custom gemstone-based jewelry, crowns and crafts.

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