TW: Violence, Some Language, Mention of R*pe
So, as you all have probably gathered, my whole life has been shot to hell. But before I get to that, let me rewind to the afternoon my life fell apart. It was a Tuesday, so I was in my Art History 1040E class when I felt my phone vibrate twice.
The first message was my dad, telling me "To the moon & back." It was our way of saying I love you, ever since I was little. It never failed to make me smile, and today was no exception.
I opened the second text from an unknown number, and felt the smile fall off my face. Angered, I dropped my phone back on the desk.
"Pick up, b!tch, or else."
"Ugh, Anthony," I thought. Not this bull again.
Anthony was my ex of two months, and as evidenced by his less than friendly messages, he did not take the breakup well. But I really didn’t care. He shouldn't have slept around and left her underwear jammed behind his toilet if he didn't want me to break up with him. Besides, I knew we wouldn't last long . He couldn't handle that I wasn't gonna put out, and started getting passive aggressive three months ago. And then straight up aggressive two weeks later. Like throwing things & punching holes in the wall type of aggressive.
At this point, you may be wondering why I didn't break up with him? Well, I figured he'd either get over the lack of sex or break up with me. His call, and not the first time I’ve had a dude break up with me for such a reason. But to my surprise, a few days later Anthony went back to being the sweet guy I started dating. I know I still should’ve broken up with him. I knew Anthony’s newfound decency wouldn’t last long, and now that I'm here, I know not listening to my gut about him will be the greatest mistake of my life.
I was just so excited at the prospect of finally dating someone who was cool with me waiting ‘til I was ready. So, I ignored the giant, glaring red flags. I chose to only see the good side of Anthony, and for a while, everything was perfect ... until I found the underwear lodged behind the back of the toilet.
When I had finished taking a few deep breaths, I calmly picked up the undies (with his toothbrush), walked to the kitchen and dropped them in Anthony's lap. When he didn’t confess to the cheating and instead lied some more, I very calmly slapped him in the face. Not my finest hour, but eh *shrugs.*
After the discovery of Victoria's Secret & the breakup, I left and blocked him on everything. Soon after, he started to stalk me. And I don't mean just follow me around campus. Anthony started showing up at my part-time job at the café, my classes, my soccer practices. He even showed up at my house a few times (my parents live down the street from campus, so I stay there instead of the dorms).
Also, despite being blocked on everything, he somehow kept texting me. New number every time, but I knew it was Anthony because it was always profane. And every text kept getting more violent than the last. At that point, I should've run to the cops or the university, but like I said, young and dumb. I didn't think Anthony really meant his threats. I thought I would be safe.
And for a while, I was safe. Until last Tuesday night, right after my Art History Class. Practice had been canceled, so I had gotten a latte from work and was taking the 15 minute walk to my house. I was about five minutes from my home, checking the time, when suddenly I felt myself flying through the air.
Next thing I knew, my face hit the pavement, the breath flew out of my lungs and a warm stickiness had started to spread across my cheek. When I licked my lips, I could taste that it wasn't my latte but blood splattered across my face.
Getting on my knees, I started to look around to see who had tackled me and was immediately kicked in the ribs. On instinct, I fell on my side and curled into the fetal position to protect my internal organs. This probably saved my life, as kick after kick came at me for what felt like the next hour, but was probably only a few minutes.
When I was about to lose consciousness, I heard a whooshing sound come from somewhere behind my attacker. Next thing I knew, the dude playing soccer with my spleen was laying on the ground next to me. Now, I'll give ya three guesses as to who the assailant was.
Yep. Mother trucking Anthony.
Groaning, I rolled over to get away from that creep and to see who had saved me.
It was my dad, baseball bat in hand. And he looked pissed. And I mean PISSED pissed. Ready to kill pissed.
My eyes flashed to the gun holster on my dad's hip, and I suddenly remembered a conversation I had with him a few weeks ago. We were watching the news and a local girl had been r*ped & found dead in a ditch not far from campus. I remembered my dad pausing the TV and saying, "If anyone ever hurts you, it'll be the last thing they do." And ya know how most dads will say that, but don't actually mean it? Yeah, my dad has insane follow through.
The only reason my dad probably didn't shoot Anthony was because he was afraid of hitting me (and the whole probably wanting to torture him thing.) Not that I would really mind if he disappeared, but I didn't want to see my dad go to jail. So I intervened.
"Dad, don't kill him."
"Honey, you know I can't just leave him alone."
"Dad, you'll go to jail."
"But I don't want to see you go to jail. Please."
"Sweetheart, LOOK at you."
"A little hard at the moment. You wouldn't happen to have a mirror, would you?"
Not even a crinkle in the eyes at my comment. Only thunder & lightning, and I knew that if I didn't get my dad away from Anthony, I'd be talking to my father through a prison visitor's phone for the rest of his life.
As my mind was racing trying to come up with a solution, a deafening crack filled the air. Looking around in confusion, I wondered where the lightning came from on such a clear night. And then I saw my dad's chest. A reddish brown hole had formed and was growing bigger by the minute.
As my dad fell back against my neighbors fence, I started screaming at Anthony, who still had a gun I didn't recognize in his hand.
"HOW COULD YOU?"
"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU,?"
"YOU SHOT MY DAD! YOU MOTHER F-"
I was cut off by a slap to the face. Anthony was then on top of me, screaming bloody murder.
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP! THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR BREAKING UP WITH ME! YOU DID THAT YOUR DAD, NOT ME!”
Then he was in my face, waving the gun around my head, gripping my neck in a chokehold. Spots started to dance in my eyes and I felt the coolness of the gun brush against my temple. It suddenly hit me that I was going to die. And just as soon as that thought crossed my mind, a gunshot sliced through the air.
Only it wasn't my brain splattered across the concrete, but Anthony's. Behind him stood my dad, a gun smoking in his hand. He was clutching his chest where the bullet hole had entered, his breathing hard and heavy. He didn’t move though, but instead just stared at me. I tried to go help my dad, but I had to move Anthony’s body and I think it was then that I started to feel woozy. Like I was about to faint.
I looked up and mumbled to my dad, "Dad, I don't feel so good. I think I'm gonna pass out."
Nothing in response, not even a blink of his eyes to let me know he heard me. He just stood as still as a statue, eyes locked on me. As things started to go hazy, I heard my dad utter five words before I lost consciousness.
"To the moon & back."
Those were the last words I ever heard my father speak.
Earlier, you heard me mention that I had Art History the day of the murder. That class, the teacher spent her time talking about Ancient Greece and their famed statues. One of the statues my professor mentioned was the Colossus of Rhodes, a colossal statue erected in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC. It was constructed to celebrate the successful defense of Rhodes City against an attack by Demetrius Poliorcetes, who had attacked it for a year. It no longer stands, but it's memory lives on.
So why do I mention this random statue?
Because, as I sat in the hospital, beaten & feeling an immeasurable sense of guilt, remembering the look in my father's eyes, all I could think about was that my dad never buckled. Gunshot wound or no, the giant that was my father still stood his ground to protect me, idiot that I am. As the rain poured & the storm raged, my beloved father stood tall just like the statue of Rhodes. He was my colossus in the storm, and this grave will be the marker honoring his victory. My father may no longer stand, but his memory will live on forever...
Thank you all for coming.