It was once in a blue moon that Joelle could get herself ready for the day under her husband, Jack Hunter’s, watch. It was once in a blue moon that Jack would yell and shame her and instead give a relentless, passive-aggressive stare quickly followed by a generic, “I love you”, as she burnt the tip of her finger with a curling iron. This morning, a chilly, prompt, February morning, Joelle was giving Jack a ride to the airport as he was flying to Prague to sell his company’s spring collection of men’s fashion watches. Giving the Papillion, Juke, a pat on the head on their way out, the door scuffled close, Joelle fishing through her bag for her keys. “Hurry up! We don’t have all day, do we?”, Jack hollered from the perimeter of the steel Lexus, hand clenched on the passenger-door’s handle.
The drive to the regional airport was one that was long, silent, and uneasing. Words were sparse, short, intentions hanging onto the last syllable of each phrase. Brown-speckled snow was still common along the edges of the crowned road. Up ahead, a seven-mile long pileup derived from a severe vehicular incident, awaiting Joelle’s car to enter within the mix. In the past, Joelle had uncontrollably enjoyed the hour-long drive through the country and into Seattle, WA, en route to SeaTac International. Jack made her uncomfortable. Jack made her feel unsure of her every move as though she were a toddler taking its first steps without their parent’s help. There was no man in the world that Joelle could imagine fearing more than she did Jack.
There were no bruises, no scars, no physical markings to prove that something was wrong. There was no pain or ligament torn that not even the finest doctor could detect. The only person who knew of Joelle’s mental turmoil was her husband Jack Hunter, her high-school sweetheart whom enjoyed taunting her with the pleasure of fear and the uncertainty of marriage. Since the day that they met in her sophomore Algebra class, she saw something in him; she saw a troubled soul in which she believed she could better him with her presence. She was 16, Jack 17 and held back a year after failing to pass his junior math course. When their eyes caught he saw youth within the exterior of the bright and shining young girl, the kind of look that you couldn’t possibly forget about no matter if you died the next day or lived for 100 years. She was smart, young, and beautiful with a heart of gold. Neither of them could have predicted their years together in the future nor who they would become and the troubles they would be to succumb under.