Fiction Sad

March - Beginning

I looked around the small, one room apartment. “It’s a little cozy but what a great location. Are you sure we’re ready for this?” I glanced back to Jeff who carried three of my bags into the small New York City apartment. 

“Of course!” He had a huge grin that brightened his blue eyes. “I want you with me all the time, I can’t wait to get you settled in here.”

“We just haven’t been dating that long. I mean this is the first time I’ve even seen your place. I wouldn’t want you to get sick of me and kick me out.” I grinned at him as I reached for one of my bags. He wrapped me up in a big bear hug before I could reach it.

“I could never get sick of you,” he said into my neck as he picked me up. “Now let me show you to the bed.” 

I squealed in delight as he took all of two steps and dropped me onto the futon.

April - Settling in

“Good morning, my love,” Jeff said, surrounding me in a big embrace from behind, kissing the back of my head. I sighed, still staring at the tv and gripped my coffee mug tighter, letting the warmth seep into my hands.  

“Good morning,” I muttered back, leaning into his touch. “This pandemic might not be so bad if it means we have all these mornings together.” I smiled at him as he stepped away to the pot of coffee.

“Liz, this is a serious issue and you need to treat it as such.” He eyed me over his mug as he sipped.

“I know it is,” I said. “I’m just trying to be positive.” He reached around me and grabbed the remote to turn up the news - big surprise, another virus update. 

“At least we both have our jobs, right?” I said with a smile.

“At least your job is now remote. Being an editor for a newspaper is going to be tough with so many eyes on your work. You need to make sure everything is top notch.” He moved to the futon to watch the updates. 

“I work for the art and entertainment section so I doubt we’ll have that much attention,” I said back. “Plus, that jerk David has been taking over a lot of my projects. He keeps pestering me too. So glad that I’m home now so he can stop staring at my ass.” I chuckled and shook my head but Jeff reached for the remote again. He muted it.

“What?” He said quietly but sternly. “He’s been harassing you?” 

“No, not really. Just kind of mansplaining my own job to me, you know? With the occasional sexist joke and wandering gaze,” I motioned to my breasts, which I didn’t think were anything special anyways. 

Jeff stood, whirling towards me. “Did he touch you?” His intense gaze froze me to the spot.

“No, I wouldn’t let him...” I drifted off when I saw his face. I stood still as a hare who'd seen the wolf. 

“You wouldn’t be able to stop him,” he said as he ran his hand through his hair. “Honey, guys have urges and can’t always control themselves around women. You need to be careful about what you wear.”

The image of my very non-arousing work attire came to mind but I didn’t mention it. “Well, I guess we won’t have to worry about that anytime soon.” I replied nodding to the muted news station reporting, once again, the shutting down of the city. Jeff went as silent as the tv, but finally sat back down and unmuted the news.  

May - Same Old Same Old

I sipped the same coffee from the same mug, sitting on the same uncomfortable chair as I read through another piece on the virus on my old laptop. Jeff had started back at work being an essential worker with the construction around the city. I was getting so sick of the same four walls, the same take out food, the same story on the news of case counts, countries shutting down and body bags piling up. My phone buzzing took me out of my circling thoughts.

“Hey mom,” I said into the phone. 

“Hi honey,” my mom’s gentle voice brought a touch of colour to my grey life. “How’s work going?”

“Oh, you know. Same old same old,” I replied. “How’s dad?”

“He’s redoing the bathroom. Again.” She chuckled. “So same old, same old, I guess.” I  grinned picturing my retired dad trapped inside trying to find new projects to tackle. “I bet you’re happy Jeff is back at work?” She asked hesitantly.

“Why would I be happy about that? Now I’m stuck alone all day.” I kept scrolling through the news stories.

“Well it gives you two some space to do your own thing. Everyone needs space, darling.” 

“We don’t. Jeff is great, he takes such good care of me.” 

June - Toilet Paper

“Jeff did you pick up more toilet paper?” I asked as I unloaded the few essentials he picked up. “I told you we were out.”

His focus was honed in on Grand Theft Auto. “You never told me we needed any,” he mumbled.

“I’m pretty sure I asked you to pick some up this morning.” I unloaded his beer and chips onto the too small counter, already loaded with dirty dishes.

“No, you didn’t. I would have remembered. You don’t have the best memory for these things you know. You were meant to do those dishes today and clearly you forgot again. Fuck, no!” He swore at the game, jumped up and threw the controller at the console. 

“I was editing all day, and calm down. It’s just a game.” I said.

“Just a game?” He ground out. “This is my only break from crazy hot days working under the sun, while wearing a mask and PPE. Not that you’d understand that. I just need this.”

“You’re not the only one working for this household,” I said indignant.

“Liz, I’m sure your writing is fun and all but it seems like more of a hobby,” he came over to me, grabbed another beer and kissed me hard. “But don’t worry, I can take care of us.”

I stayed silent as I picked up the box of tissues - now our toilet paper - and went to the bathroom. I could hear his game resume through the door. 

July - Promoted and Quitting

“That’s amazing hon,” I smiled at him as I handed him his plate of food. He finally allowed me to make him something instead of ordering the same crap for dinner.

“This promotion means I’ll be head of our construction group. Plus, this means I’ll be making enough money so you don’t have to write for that obnoxious company anymore.” He clinked his bottle of beer with my bottle of water and went to sit down. 

“What do you mean?” I asked hesitantly, staying in the kitchen section of the room as he set up his game. 

“Well, now you can quit and not have to deal with those snooty coworkers you seem to hate so much.” He took a sip of beer as the game got started. “I’ve heard how that dick talks to you. Trust me, you need to get out of there. You don’t like working for them anyway! Now you’ll have time to write whatever you want and not have to worry about the bills. Let the man of the house worry about that.” He pointed his thumb at his puffed out chest. 

“Yeah, I guess writing freelance could be fun for a while,” I said eating my dinner on the counter.

August - I Could Lie

I was curled on my side on the futon, my back to Jeff who was snoring loudly, sprawled out - pleased with his earlier work. A tear streaked down my cheek as the pain between my thighs throbbed. I held in a sob as my body quivered. My scalp was raw, my throat and wrists hopefully wouldn’t show any marks, not that there was anyone to see.

It had started slowly, trying to keep ‘the spark alive’ he said. At first it was fun, more teasing and explorative. Then he started to take control and be rougher. It was easy to lie at first, to pretend I enjoyed it. I wanted him to be happy and enjoy himself. I didn’t want to be the one to hold us back from trying new things. It’s my fault I played along with him for so long; now I do it just to keep him happy, to keep him from getting angry. I think he bought my lies. He’s been working so hard for us. I was glad he could sleep so well. Sedated on my lies.

September - Greener Outside

This month was one of the happier ones of the lockdown. Perhaps thanks to the colder weather Jeff’s temper had cooled down. We were able to go through some of our issues, figuring out some ways we can both be better for each other. I started writing again, always cozied up with a blanket and a mug of hot coffee. 

I watched on social media as lives were being uplifted daily with overcoming obstacles. The happier news should have brightened my spirit, but jealousy seeped into my fatigued soul and my heart sank as I stared around at the same four walls. The dishes weren’t done after that.   

October - Hidden Nightmares

“You never listen to me!” Jeff was screaming in my face again. “I told you, you can’t leave this apartment!”

“I haven’t left this room since March,” I said as calmly as I could, staring at his feet.

“Don’t you lie to me, you little bitch.” He stepped towards me and I stepped back into the wall. “I read your texts to your mom. You said you were going to go out to get some food. I told you, the virus is everywhere! Have you not seen the news! People are dying and you want to pick up a meal you can have delivered?” He was leaning his face into mine trying to make eye contact. 

“No, I just-” I started.

“Just what?” He interrupted. “Wanted to risk your safety? Your life for some new indian cuisine?” He stood there staring at me. “I don’t like you talking to your mom so much. She’s not a good influence. The situation in Denver is very different than here in the city. She doesn’t understand and neither do you. I do not want you out in public until it is safe.” He went to hug me but I flinched. “Liz...,” he started, drawing me into a hug, but I was stiff as a board. “I just can’t imagine losing you.” 

He took a step back and I could see real pain in his face as he lightly traced my face with his fingers. “I just... I can’t imagine life without you. You make all this work worth it. I know…” he ran his hand through his hair as he took a deep breath. “I know I haven’t been the best to you, but I’m trying. I’ll be better for you.” His look of pure anguish broke my heart. I knew he had an ugly childhood, and I wasn’t helping.

“I’ll be strong enough for us,” I said, finally hugging him tight. “I’ll be better, too.”

November - Escape

I decided to make some plans to visit my mom. I knew Jeff meant the best for me, but I think some time away would help both of us. Jeff had my license but I could take some cash and take the bus. The restrictions were starting to ease up and I could really use a break from this apartment. I could call him once I got there to explain.

While he was at work I went around the small, one room apartment filling a small bag with essentials. I walked into the bathroom, switching on the light but froze when I saw my reflection in the small mirror. Dark circles were under my eyes, my cheeks hollow. I slowly raised my hand to see if it was a trick of the light. The shadows remained. I shook my head and opened the drawer grabbing some, apparently, much needed makeup. It has been a long time since I’ve used some. Maybe that would help with Jeff, I thought to myself. I haven’t dressed up for him in a long, long time. 

I shook my head again and started to grab some more items. I pushed aside a box of tampons that were in the back of the drawer but I suddenly forgot what I was looking for as I stared at the box and did some math. 

I couldn’t leave now.

December - Slipping Away

I couldn’t tell Jeff. Not yet. I needed some time to let the news sink in with me. It has been such a hectic year and Jeff has been so busy with work. The pregnancy wasn’t hard to hide from him. He was usually gone before I got up in the mornings. I dealt with the morning sickness on my own and poured the coffee he left me down the drain. The hardest thing was that I couldn’t ask him to get me prenatal vitamins. I knew going to the doctor would be a significant challenge as he didn’t want either of us near a hospital in these times. I knew I had some time before I would need to be checked anyways. In the meantime, I sipped my hot water, dreaming about our little family. 

January- Blood

My head was ringing, I could barely hear the football game in the background. I squeezed my belly tighter, the pain from Jeff’s kicks still ebbed in waves, nausea taking over every time I tried to move. The cool tiles on the bathroom floor did wonders against my swollen face as the throbbing continued against my eye and cheek. I had forgotten to lock the door again. He had warned me that if I forgot again it would be the last time. How could I be so selfish and forgetful. He needs me to be safe.  Why am I so helpless on my own?

My belly gave another twist of pain that I felt in my very core. An overwhelming, drowning flood of pain coursed through me as I felt blood drain out of me. Through my pajama bottoms and onto the cool tile floor. A tear streamed down my face as I realized I wouldn’t have to tell him about our baby.  

February - Numb

I wasn’t writing anymore. I wasn’t doing much of anything anymore. I lay in bed while Jeff left for work and was usually still there when he got back. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about the baby we could have had. The family we could have been. The dreams that should have been. I just lay there, waiting. 

March - Freedom

The sound of the sirens were louder as I started to come to, the past few hours coming back to me in flashes. Jeff screaming at me, louder than normal. Him hitting me. A lot. Then he grabbed me, and the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. I hit the bookshelf with enough force to knock it down on top of me. Then I remember seeing him panic as the neighbours had burst through the door. They’ve stopped by before, but I was typically still standing. I remember laying there as someone mumbled to me and Jeff yelled in the background. He kept yelling that he was sorry. He’s always sorry after.  

The warmth of the blanket strapped to me in the ambulance was reassuring. I felt cocooned like a caterpillar transforming. The beeping of the heart rate monitor was soothing. Beep, beep.  One eye wouldn’t open, and the other only saw fuzzy images. The nice man had put different medical contraptions on me and a clear mask for oxygen. Beep, beep. The mask hurt so I kept trying to move it, but the nice paramedic kept stopping me. The beeping of monitors made me drowsy. Beep, beep. Where was Jeff? I wondered. Beep, beep. He’ll be so worried about me. The pain in my side was getting worse, but the nice man was only looking at my arm, bent at an odd angle. Beep, beep. Maybe I should tell him about my side. Beep, beep. My eyes were so heavy. Beep, beep. The pain was actually fading, my body sinking into a sweet, welcoming numbness. Beep, beep. I felt so calm. I closed my eyes as the beeping stopped. 

March 13, 2021 02:13

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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