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You hold your breath as he comes through the back door, leaving behind a trail of white smoke. He kisses your cheeks and you cringe at the smell of his shirt until he laughs, not finding it amusing. He sits on the wooden stool. That's his cue for how hungry he is. You pretend you don't understand, pretend you don't even know why he is here.

He tells you to hurry up. You want to tell him to shut up and leave but you know you can't. Not with the slaps and kicks waiting patiently behind a sea of dark rainbows. Not with the tiny baby bump that he still doesn't know of.

"I'm almost done, baby." That's what you say to him instead because the baby keeps him busy enough to not practice his emotions on the back of your head. In stirring the stew on the stove, the bruises appear like matches, ignited, burning swiftly and you choke back the tears by biting down hard on your lower lips. You stop only because you taste blood.

"You are a bit slow." He tells you later as you set the table before him with foreign food and water and cakes. "I mean, you are usually slow but lately? It's a bit odd."

You hasten to the kitchen and wash your hands as though it mattered, letting the faucet continue to drip. When you appear by his side, you know it is time to tell him about the baby. You know it is time for him to learn about the small child, begging to be heard inside the cloud of flesh.

"What's that on your cheek?" He asks you.

You touch your cheeks. Your hand takes a leap at cold water on your face and you know the truth even before he voices it out.

"You've been crying." He tells you. He looks at you like he's just pronounced judgment and you ache to be like him, angry and loveless and cynical, but you are not that. He knows that.

"It's the onions." You say.

Maybe in a year or two, you can justify that lie and not feel bothered by the reckless comments of a million people. But at that moment, after the lie, you knew he was not going to like the news.

He gets up and throws back his chair. That's his cue that he is done and just wants to smoke anything you can find. You want to tell him that cigarette smoke isn't good for growing children but then you stop, knowing you haven't told him yet how one forceful night can generate a bump.

You wouldn't call it rape but when the mascara almost couldn't hide the scar and people were beginning to give you second and third glances of pity, you called it that. Exactly as it was: rape. But you won't tell him that. No. You won't tell him he raped you, tossed you like a worthless version of womanhood. You know he will not like the sound of that. You know the slaps that will follow before he tells you about his father who was a priest and his mother who had loved God so much she wanted to be buried along with Him. So you don't tell your husband that you think he raped you.

You will tell him you love him. You want to tell yourself it is just a stupid lie, one you made up to avoid the beatings but you know it is the truth. You still love him. Hard. You still love him even after June 4th. That's your cue for forgotten memories resurfacing like three-year-olds beneath a kitchen sink.

June 4th and he is kneeling where you now stand, with hands hidden in the pockets of his shorts. He is smiling. Maybe that part is made up now, strictly by your stitched up mind. You can't think of anything else he can be doing because you want to still love him even after everything.

June 4th and you're in the kitchen, cooking, laughing at the photograph of the both of you when you were young teenagers who loved each other like life was meaningful.

You are telling him, "I miss those moments. I miss us walking around the park, holding hands, and laughing." You forget to add baby. You forget to make him feel special and it's you who gets to pay.

You still do not know why but later, he hits you across the face and tapes your life alongside the photograph of you on the wall. You may have forgotten about the hunger and the bloody rug but not the scar on your left leg and the one on your face, hard like a map. He doesn't remember, you tell yourself when he never apologizes for that day.

"Happy birthday." He beaches this last part out as he drags his feet across the room and opens the windows.

You touch your face and nudge your baby. Be careful, don't let him hear you. That's what you tell the child before turning to face him. You've forgotten again. He still remembers though. He is your husband, how can he not remember? 

"Thank you, baby." You tell him.

He smiles. Then he says, "I'm going to take you out to Sue's Kitchen. We are going to eat whatever you want."

"That's expensive." You say that only because you have to; because he has to know you care about his money even if you really don't.

"I love you. I will do anything for you." He says.

That's your cue to tell him the truth, to tell him about the baby bump you've been trying to hide under big skirts and faded T-shirts. You want to tell him, you really do but you do not want to spoil the evening with a tasteless joke. So instead you smile back at him. 

He lights up a cigarette. You do not cringe. His lungs are his.

In the evening, he holds your hands. You notice how coarse his hands are. Or maybe it's your hands you feel under the softness of his foreign fragility. You sit in the part of the restaurant that holds light dim enough to hide fake smiles and tired frowns and he orders sushi. You hate it but you smile when he tells you to eat it. You still love him afterward.

When you want to go home, he holds your hands again. Home is where he takes you. Except there is no home left. There is a roof and door and windows and pots and plates. But the feeling behind true smiles has gone. 

He tells you to take a shower. He lies in bed, waiting for you. You can't tell him no, it's been a month or two since he forced you; since you discovered the child growing inside of you. He will find out himself were he to see you naked and you know his reaction will end the baby.

It's time to say the truth. That's what you say when you stand before him, afraid of moving to the bathroom.

"I want to say something." You say to him. He stands up from the bed.

He looks at you, nods his head, says nothing.

"I fear you won't want to hear this."

He looks at you, shakes his head, bites his lips.

"I'm pregnant."

He wants to hit you. You know that you wait for it. He lifts his hand up. He looks at you. He keeps his hands down by his side. The child keeps growing.

"What?" He asks.

"I'm carrying your child." You say to him.

He moves away from you. You stop yourself from telling him about the night that dodged a month of forgetfulness and the rain that shoot out like stars on the night he took you. You stop yourself from loading the bullets on the gun of your pain.

He looks out from the window and catches a glimpse of starlight. He smiles. He doesn't.

"How can you be with a child?" He asks.

You pretend you don't hear the question. 

"Why didn't I know of this sooner?" He doesn't scream at you. You wish he would.

"I did not know how to tell you. But I can't keep hiding it, can I?"

He turns to you. He leaps at you, pins you to the wall. He closes his eyes. He says nothing.

"Please don't hurt me." You say.

He lets you go. He breaths down hard on your skin. You still love him. Then he says, "Go get me water. I suddenly feel faint."

When you turn to go, he touches your cheeks but doesn't hit you. He will do it, you know. Maybe not now. Maybe not with the child with you. But he will touch you and you will still love him.

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37 comments

Chloe Novak
07:51 Jul 03, 2020

Riveting! It's 4 AM and I can't tear myself away!

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08:33 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you so much

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Arun .
05:25 Jul 01, 2020

My heart was at a still, lost in the beauty of it.

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07:07 Jul 01, 2020

Oh, thank you.

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Nihal Raven
05:24 Jul 01, 2020

Very nicely written piece on so sensitive a subject. Bravo!

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07:06 Jul 01, 2020

Thank you, Nihal

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James Ashton
03:16 Jun 30, 2020

The writing in this story perfectly drew me in. If it wasn't for the prompt, I wouldn't have even realized that it was in second person while reading it. And the suspense that was constantly building throughout the story was amazing, it gave me chills.

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06:40 Jun 30, 2020

That's wonderful. Thank you so much.

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Jada Harting
19:24 Jun 29, 2020

This was beautiful and raw, and a tough pill to swallow. It was hard to read and I loved the clarity in how dangerous and sad these situations truly are. I loved every word of it. Well done!

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09:42 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you so much

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Anna Chidiac
20:53 Jun 28, 2020

I wanted her to break up with him in the restaurant. But I know It's not always that easy. Sad story, but well written and speaks to such a prevalent issue.

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09:44 Jun 30, 2020

Oh, breaking up with someone you love despite everything is a sort of hard thing to do. She didn't break up with him at the restaurant because someone commented, calling it a twisted love. Thank you

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14:01 Jun 28, 2020

Hi Abigail! I just wanted to say that this story is really AWESOME! I enjoyed reading every detail written in this story! It's really good and I loved the ending! Would you mind checking out my stories? I highly appreciate it.😊😉 Keep writing and have a great day Abigail!❤️️

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09:45 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you so much

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Rielle Genevieve
05:07 Jun 28, 2020

I'm speechless- wow. That was ineffable.

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05:38 Jun 28, 2020

Thank you so much

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Isabella Serene
21:37 Jun 27, 2020

This is a beautifully written piece with a lot of emotional complexity. If you ever wanna trade some writing and do some peer review together, let me know! I'm always looking to grow my writing community.

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03:55 Jun 28, 2020

I'm always open to peer review. Thanks, really

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20:08 Jun 24, 2020

This is so wonderful. Considering I'm female, I was able to totally relate with the character. It was so heartfelt and touching. A new baby, a terrible husband and twisted love. Wonderful!

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09:47 Jun 30, 2020

I'm glad. Thanks, Kelechi

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22:05 Jun 30, 2020

You're welcome, Abigai What inspires you when you write? Because you submit a story for everyday prompt in each contest and it ends up amazing. How do you do it? I struggle to submit one each week, haha.

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07:15 Jul 01, 2020

I don't know what to say. Thank you so much. Everything inspires me. When I want to write, I look for the saddest song I can find. It's something I've always loved which is why it is easier to write while listening. I suppose books that I keep on reading does the trick sometimes. Also, writers at Reedsy inspires me. When I don't know what to write, I come here and I start reading and commenting on people's stories. I grow by doing those. I feel you don't have to write a lot of stories for a week to make it perfect. But don't break the w...

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08:20 Jul 01, 2020

I always know that thing -- don't break the writing streak. Unfortunately, I have to break mine now because I have to catch up on school work. I hope I'll be able to mend it when I'm done, haha. Also, I love what you do to get inspiration, and I did one, too. When I was writing Silent Betrayer, I struggled a little with it so I came here to read other second person pov's and commented on them. That is really helpful, seeing other people's stories. Overall, great job. I really admire your writing habit. Do you plan on writing a book somet...

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08:31 Jul 01, 2020

School work? I plan on writing one, yes.

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Khadija S.
12:08 Jun 23, 2020

This is so sorrowful, but masterfully written!

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12:22 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you so much

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Kathleen March
23:13 Jun 22, 2020

The narration here is superb. You have the voice fully under control and it goes where you tell it to. That is not a chronoligical path, which is even more intriguing.

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12:28 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you

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Sam T.
13:43 Jun 21, 2020

As always, i am so impressed by your wonderful writing. This story was tragic and heartbreaking but also realistic. I enjoyed reading!

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12:28 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you, Sam.

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Batool Hussain
10:27 Jun 21, 2020

Beautiful! An amazing take on the prompt like always. Will you mind checking my stories? Thanks:)

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12:28 Jun 23, 2020

Of course, I will. Thanks

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Rhondalise Mitza
03:58 Jun 21, 2020

Holy moly, my husband is a horrible person in this story. But your story was fantastically honest and you did so well, as always. :D

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12:28 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you dear friend

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18:41 Jun 20, 2020

Oh my god! you have addressed a real issue with your story, which most of the married woman wont come upfront to say. Love comes with sacrifices... its true, but isn't it horrifying to see only the women sacrificing much for the sake of their family and friends. This story is really heartbreaking! So well written! Kudos to your writing

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19:01 Jun 20, 2020

Oh, thank you.

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