I’ve been having a series of nightmares for the past few days, and somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, this story formed. I didn’t go too graphic here, and I hope I never have to rewrite it to be graphic.
It had been a busy day at the office. I walked in, half-expecting not to see him.
My skin crawled when I saw him the lying in the love seat. I slumped in a chair, keeping as far away from him as possible.
‘Hi,’ I said. He grunted and I saw that look in his eyes. He left his seat and came to sit on the armrest of mine.
I squirmed when he put his hands around me and tried to take off my blouse. I pushed his hands away.
‘It’s that time of the month,’ I said, a hint of annoyance in my voice.
‘Doesn’t matter to me,’ his roving hands were back. I bit hard on my lower lip. ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to try…’
‘Don’t be disgusting,’ I pushed him away, going to sit by the fireplace.
I heard him say ‘bitch’ under his breath as he went to pour himself a drink from the bar. The sound of ice clinking in the glass awakened my thirst but I dared not ask him to get me one. I heard him slurp his drink and I wondered how many times I’d told him it irritated me every time he did that. I heard him walk towards me and lean over me, his hot, fetid breath fanning my neck.
‘Say, honey, you got your paycheck today, didn’t you?’ he said the words I’d been expecting all along.
‘What’s it to you?’ I didn’t expect the words that came out of my mouth.
‘I’d like to borrow two thousand bucks,’ he said in that irritating drawl of his. He always ‘borrowed’ from me, never paying a dime back.
‘I’m sorry Norman,’ I said calmly. ‘You owe me an awful lot. Besides, the money’s mine — I need it.’
‘What!’ he was breathing heavily now. I could feel the moisture of his breath condensing on my neck.
Slowly and deliberately, I swiveled the chair around until I was facing him.
‘It’s over Norman,’ I said quietly. ‘I want you to move out.’
I remembered vividly the first and only time I’d said that. He had looked incredulously at me, then scratched his head and asked, ‘Are you joking?’
‘Of course I am!’ I’d said sarcastically.
The punch had been totally unexpected. When he hit me in the stomach, the wind rushed out of me and I found myself unable to cry as he descended on me. He kicked me everywhere, pulling my hands away and hitting me on the mouth when I tried to cover my face.
‘You bitch!’ he’d screamed, pulling me up by the hair. ‘You love me too much to leave me, you hear?’
‘Let go of me Norman!’ I’d screamed, finally finding my voice.
He hit me again in the mouth, and a tooth, already loose from the first blow fell out. Blood filled my mouth.
‘You love me, you crazy slut, say it!’ he’d shouted.
‘I don’t!’ I’d muttered as well as I could through the coppery, salty taste of blood on my tongue.
‘Say it!’ he hit me again, harder than before. He got his hands around my throat and began to choke me. I was filled with an indescribable fear when I realized he would kill me and have no qualms about it.
‘I love you,’ I’d said weakly, suddenly tired.
‘That’s better,’ he’d said softly, relaxing his grip. ‘Don’t you ever try pulling that stunt again. Now let me have that money.’
In the past few months I learned the meaning of real terror. He asked for anything he wanted and if he didn’t get it, I got a split lip or a black eye — sometimes both.
Tonight was the night. All the pent-up frustration was bubbling to the surface and there was nothing I could do to control it. I was in a disjointed state. I felt like an observer watching him and me. I saw his jaw tighten and his hands bunch up into big fists.
Before he could hit me I was out of my chair and flying across the room. It took him a moment for my flight to register in his mind. He caught me rather easily, dodging my flailing arms and legs as he lifted me off the ground.
When he slapped me, I saw only white as the world dissolved into nothingness. When I came to, he was smiling down at me.
‘You need to know your place, honey,’ he said, leering. He tore off my blouse, then licked his lips appreciatively. He grabbed my right breast roughly and I never felt dirtier in my life as he groped me, talking dirty all the while.
When he leaned over to unfasten the clasps of my bra, I sank my teeth into the flesh of his arm and bit him hard, drawing blood. He screamed and I held on, refusing to let go. He let go of me and I tumbled to the floor, instinctively rolling away from him.
He came after me, swearing. Again, he caught me and lifted me off the ground, shaking me like a doll. I gasped as he held me by the throat and began to throttle me.
Drawing on some inner strength I didn’t know I had, I swung forward and my forehead crashed into his nose. He dropped me.
I picked one of my stiletto heels, wondering if it would be a good weapon. He gave me no time to think. When he charged me, I swung my arm and hit his throat with it.
The next few moments went by in slow motion. I watched in horror as the heel of my shoe sank into his throat, driven by the force of my anger and humiliation. He swayed drunkenly, a look of disbelief on his face as he tried to pull it out. He dropped to his knees, then toppled to the floor. I remember thinking not about him, but that my carpet was going to be ruined. I went to the phone and dialed 911.
The police arrived ten minutes later. They found me sitting on the floor, holding the stiff body of the man I’d once loved in my arms.