Glass Tears—Helpless observer of abuse

(1977, age 30)

I could tell they were fighting without hearing a word. He was driving along the country road in the the beat-up Ford pickup truck. She was sitting far over on the passenger side. The truck had a glass window in the back of the cab and I watched as I drove behind them.

He was very angry. I noticed he was turning to her and shouting. She was saying nothing but stayed unusually far from him on the seat.

Then I saw him start to hit her, slapping her with his right hand as he drove on and steered with his left. He reached over and hit her over and over as I watched helplessly. I was no longer just a spectator—I was drawn into this and heard myself cry out “No!”

Then we came to a stop sign on the road. They were going to turn left and I, straight ahead, so I pulled around beside them on the wide part of the road near the intersection. I didn’t know what to do or what I could do. As I stopped beside their truck, I saw why she was so far away from him. Her face was pressed tight against the glass, trying to get out of his reach. What I remember most were her tears. As she pressed her face to the glass, I could see she was crying. Crying not only from the pain of his blows, but I knew crying somehow from something much deeper.

Her tears were trapped between her face and the glass except for a few that escaped and ran away down the window. As he turned the truck left and drove away, I thought if only she could escape and be free, if only for a moment, like her tears on the glass.