“He Sent Flowers,” a short story by Christine Hale (fiction, ’96, Beebe Fellow, 2005) appears in Shelter: The 2012-2013 Issue of Mandala Journal.

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When I was still a newbie volunteer at the safe house for battered women in upstate New York, the director sent me, because no one else was available that day, on a salvage mission. A woman who’d run away from a beating and a gun needed a ride back to the home she’d shared with her abuser to pick up her things. The law, public awareness, and the attitude of police departments toward domestic violence as a criminal rather than family matter was still forming in the early eighties, and activists—resources for victims were not yet the province of social services departments—had learned the hard way how much could go wrong. The director gave me careful instructions. Call the local police before driving to the woman’s home, and ask them to meet us there—to observe that we observed the law, and as deterrence in case the abuser, who was supposed to be at work, got a tip from a friend or neighbor and showed up armed and angry. Stay in the car, no matter what, while the woman went in for her things, so that no one, including she, might later allege that I’d committed a burglary. Tell the woman to hurry, and remind her that if she insisted on rescuing a pet, we’d have to take it to a vet who’d agreed to provide temporary safe haven for non-human victims. …[Keep Reading]…

Christine is the author of Basil’s Dream (2009, Livingston Press).

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