I woke up smelling antiseptic and the fermenting tang of yogurt.
"There you are," a woman said. I knew the voice. Even more, I knew that strawberry-vanilla breath.
"I fell downstairs," I said to the ER nurse I hated very most. The words came out creaky, automated.
I heard the cluck of her tongue, and I managed to slit one eye to see her lavender scrubs and her moistly sympathetic eyeballs, too close to my face as she bent over me. I heard the tick and beep of some machine.
"You could have died, you know," she said. "He's getting worse. He's come pretty close to killing you before, but not this close. You should let me call the cops."
I tried to nod, but it hurt too badly, so I said, "Okay. Have them arrest the stairs."
Her nostrils flared. "This isn't what love feels like, Mrs. Grandee. One of your ribs snapped and stabbed you in the lung. It collapsed. Your shoulder's dislocated., and your scalp's a bloody mess. You married a set of stairs that's too damn big and too damn angry. Next time, he'll send you here in a zipper bag. The cops will come then, believe it, but it will be too late for you."
"I know," I said.
"And that's all right with you?" she said. Now she sounded angry. "You're going to let him kill you?"
Kindle location 1832-1847 of Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (2010).
Mrs. Ro Grandee is caught in a cycle of escalating violence with her husband Thom. The more he hurts her, the more she pushes him to hurt her even more. A cycle identified by a tarot card reader at the airport as indicating only one of them can survive the marriage.
The key to Ro, formerly Rose Mae Lolley's, future really is in her past, and what a journey she takes--physically, mentally, and emotionally--to learn the truths of that past, especially about the mother who abandoned her to her drunken father.
Jackson has a distinctive writing voice, one I found very engaging. She is also adept in her portrayal of domestic violence, one of the most hidden and complicated of subjects.
Again, I felt very sad to come to the end of Rose's story, and I wanted to keep following her.
But now I have Jackson's earlier Gods in Alabama, in which Ro/Rose apparently has a small role, that I plan to read next. And there are also other inter-connected stories.
You can learn more at the author's site here.
My overall personal rating of Backseat Saints is an A-.