"What do you mean 'you're done with us all'? I can't do this by myself," Candace pleaded, tears streaming down her face.
This was not the first time they had fought, and she expected it would not be the last time. However she always hoped in the back of her mind he would never turn his back on them.
She wanted to be strong, yet she knew she was not. Deep inside she was a flimsy house of cards and only his love kept her from falling apart.
She looked deep into his dark brown eyes. His anger emmanated at her.
"Don't do this to us, Craig. Don't."
She reached out to him. He turned and walked away.
Candace dropped to her knees, let loose all the sadness she had bottled up inside herself. Her tears flowed unhindered as her body shook.
Beneath her, the snow covered pavement soaked into her jeans, instantly freezing her hidden skin. She wanted to be anywhere with him, instead of alone in the middle of the WalMart parking lot.
People passed by and not one stopped to help her. Instead they stared and whispered to each other as they passed by.
No doubt they were saying how frail she was, how weak she looked, huddled in the snow. Candace met each of their eyes with a scowl.
How dare they judge her without knowing just what she had been through these last few years with Craig.
Many times she applied layers and layers of makeup to hide bruises he inflicted on her, and yet somehow she felt she could not live without him.
"Momma," a small voice called from behind her.
Candace wiped her tears, lowered her head. "Yes, baby?"
"You okay? Where is daddy?"
Candace stood up, wiped the snow clumps from her knees.
"He just went to pick up some diapers for your baby sisters sweetheart," she lied. "Just get back inside the car and I'll be right there."
Candace did not turn to meet her young son’s eyes. She knew he would be able to see the truth in her own. He was a smart little guy.
At the innocent age of five, he knew more about life than some adults and he was stronger than she could ever hope to be. She was so proud of him.
She wished she could have just one ounce of the courage he had. Then she wouldn’t be afraid of raising him and his little sisters on her own.
Candace straightened her back, wiped the lone tear that escaped her lids, and turned back to her beat up Chevy.
Once inside, her mind raced as she drove out of the parking lot and headed towards home.
She wondered why Craig chose this day to leave her all alone with their kids. Christmas was just around the corner and she wanted her family together.
She wondered what she could have done differently, what she could have said to make him stay.
Ahead of her the light turned red. Behind her, cars began to slow. Beside her, she caught a glimpse of him walking down the sidewalk--his arm around a blond woman.
Candace slammed her brakes jolting the kids in the back seat forward.
Jeremy began to scream. Candace turned to see what he was screaming about and found him lying on the floor, his nose bleeding profusely.
A large gash stretched the length of his forehead with blood spurting from it.
"Why the hell weren't you wearing your damn seat belt?" Candace roared at the boy.
Jeremy continued screaming, alerting the two young girls who began to holler as well.
Candace turned her attention back to Craig. She watched them stop at the light.
While they waited for the little walking man to alert them it was safe to walk, they continued groping and kissing each other.
Candace rolled down the window. Her fury could not be contained. How dare he.
How dare he argue with her and leave her thinking she was the root of their problems, when he had an ulterior motive. He wanted their fight. He probably had it planned all along.
It was his excuse. His reason to leave her and their screaming kids for something young, fresh, and childless.
"You bastard," she hollered out at him. "What the hell is wrong with you?
Behind her the screams of the little ones raised another octave.
Candace snapped. Whipping around in her seat, she raised her hand and slapped every little face.
"Shut the hell up!" she hollered at them before turning back to Craig.
Cars stuck behind her began to blare their horns. Ahead of her the green light shone brightly. Candace knew the other drivers did not want to wait for her to move any longer.
Craig turned to her, shook his head. He reached for the blond who stared at Candace and led her across the street.
In the back seat, the children continued to scream. Behind her horns blared. Beside her passing motorists shook their heads in disgust.
Candace removed her foot from the brake and thrust it onto the gas pedal as she veered her Chevy towards the pair.
"You mother fucker," she hollered.
Craig stopped in mid stride and turned his head to the sound of the approaching vehicle. The car slammed into the blond first.
Candace watched, as if in slow motion as her face bashed off the hood of her car, spraying blood up in the air. The unforgiving metal then smashed into Craig, pinning him beneath the car.
She pushed the pedal as far down to the floor as she could. The top of Craig’s head was barely visible.
Candace could only envision his pretty little cheating face super glued to her fender.
In the backseat, Jeremy had stopped his crying, while Sophia and Emily continued screaming.
Candace turned on the windshield wiper blades to remove the blood from the windshield and applied the brake.
The Chevy rolled to a stop in the middle of the Champagne Shopping Center parking lot. Several people rushed to aid the blond who was not moving.
Her body was contorted in a gruesome way that made Candace smile.
That'll show the bitch.
Outside her window, Candace watched as several men rushed to Craig.
His lifeless body did not move.
Another smile formed.
A red haired man ran to her window and began pounding on it.
"Ma'am, ma'am," he hollered at her as if she was deaf. She did not turn her eyes on him, instead she enjoyed the vision of Craig and his blond bimbo.
"Are you alright?", he hollered again.
Candace reached for the door locks and with one swift movement locked the entire vehicle.
In the backseat the girls reached their arms out towards the man at the window as they screamed and cried. Their
little faces were red and blotchy from their incessant noise.
The man turned his attention to the backseat briefly before returning to her window. "Please lady, open up, let me get your kids out safely. You've been in an accident."
Candace could hear the desperation in his voice, yet it did not faze her. She was done caring about what others thought of her, men especially.
She spent the last seven years tending to Craig and their little family.
She worked full time at Reggie’s Bar and Grill, came home to cook for the children, clean the house and please Craig's odd sexual fetishes.
She barely slept at night as the twins suffered from night terrors just about every night.
And then there was Jeremy.
He was a sweet boy, but too inquisitive. Everything she did or said he needed to know why. His constant questioning of her actions drove her to drink secretly.
Her parents had disowned her many years back after she hit the streets and cocaine hard while she was in grade school.
Her eldest brother was not around to protect her either as he was serving time for selling drugs to a minor.
All she had had was Craig. But he didn’t want her anymore. But she was not going to let him go that easily. His limp body spoke more than her words ever could.
Outside the window the red haired man continued to scream for her to let him in and the crowd of onlookers tripled.
Some cried out in terror, their hands covering their open mouths while others worked feverishly trying to resuscitate the blonde.
Candace turned around in her seat and reached out to the girls. She looked into their tiny faces and the love she once felt for them was gone.
Reaching for Sophia's belt, she pushed in the middle button, released the strap before repeating the process with Emily.
Both girls lunged for their mother, their tiny hands reaching out for her to hold them. Candace ignored their pleas and looked to
Jeremy. The color in his face was gone. The gash on his head was no longer bleeding. His large eyes, usually full of life, were now empty pools of the life they used to have.
Candace did not shed a tear, her body and mind was as dead as Craigs lifeless body still glued to her front bumper.
"Ma'am", the red headed man hollered, but she did not respond.
Turning back to face the crowd before her, she placed both hands on the wheel, tightened her grip and stomped her foot on the accelerator.
Ahead of her the Shopping Center loomed, closing in quickly.
Her mind flooded with memories. The day she met Craig. Every fight they had and every laugh. The day Jeremy was born and the girls.
Candace turned her attention to the rearview mirror, watched crowds of people chasing after her. She heard them hollering but she could not make out what they were saying.
Before her, the building was closely approaching. Candace reached down and released her seat belt.
As quickly as the day started, it ended. The Chevy was brought to a dead stop sending all four occupants flying through the front windshield and into the flames of the explosion.
Candace's last thoughts were to Craig.
I told you I couldn't do it alone. I begged you to stay with us.