Although her bruises were dark purple, the same dark purple as the angry storm clouds whose rage we heard as muted music inside the car, she didn’t seem to be in pain. And although she was seven months pregnant, and he had tried to beat the baby out of her, she didn’t seem to be in despair. Peggy was that kind of person. No matter that the heat had to be on in the car in the middle of a frigid June. No matter that we were parked in front of her childhood home, her dead grandmother’s home, and she couldn’t go in until her father finished his crack cocaine party. No matter that she had to go to a friend’s or neighbor’s house to feed her pregnant self and her two-year-old son. Peggy was that kind of person.
“Do you want me to take pictures of the bruises?” Do you want me to take pictures of the bruises? So. Woefully. Inadequate. I can’t believe I actually said that. Do you want me to take pictures of the bruises? Seriously?
“Yeah. That might be a good idea. I made a police report and everything.”
Peggy leans her neck back as I raise the camera and look at her through the screen of my fancy Kodak. Yep. Peggy is that kind of person. She just leans back as I take pictures of the hand prints around her neck, fingerprints like so many beads on a necklace.
“I just don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
“I mean, things were going so good. We have a place and he’s the one said he wanted me to have the baby.”
Snap. Flash. I motion and she turns her neck.
“I was gonna have an abortion, but he was like, ‘Naa – that’s my son.’”
Snap. Flash. She sighs and shifts as much as her heavy belly and the seat belt allow so I can get a picture of the back of her neck.
“I did everything for him. Everything. Fed him when he was hungry. Gave him a place to stay. I didn’t even ask my aunt if he could stay with me over her house. I just said, ‘Come on.’”
Snap. Flash. I scroll through the pictures I’ve taken, pictures like frames in a horror film. You know. The scene where they discover the mangled body of the first victim.
I never transferred those pictures off of that camera, and I never deleted them either. I never took another picture with that camera, and I never saw Peggy alive again after that day.