TW: Domestic Abuse/Violence
I was so young when I fell in love with him. Seventeen is too young to know anything for sure, really. And it’s definitely too young to see through the sheep’s clothing worn by the fiercest wolves. Looking at him now, even in the midst of him resting so peacefully, I can see there is an evilness to him. Even if I didn’t have evidence by way of bruises and shattered glass, I can still see it. His whole aura reeks of demons and violence and insecurity. There was a time when I thought he was so attractive. Piercing blue eyes. Perfect white teeth that contrasted beautifully next to a dark complexion. He had been growing out his dark brown hair and when I met him, the ends hung just below his ear and showed just a hint of curl. He was tall and slender, which allowed every defined muscle to reveal itself once he took off his shirt. The way he smiled at me in the beginning is what did me in. How his lips would curl up and both ends and his already strong jaw line would tighten. His eyes would squint just enough to show the crows feet wrinkles in the corners. His smile seemed so relaxed and natural. How was I supposed to know that behind that charming, easy demeanor lived a monster of epic proportions.
As I watch him sleeping, his chest rising and falling, I think about the first night I met him. Our sisters had been best friends all through high school and I, as the younger sister, inevitably had wiggled my way in to the friendship ring. He had lived at his father’s house while his sister lived with his mother. I had always heard about him, though. He was a notorious bad boy with a reputation that did anything but precede him. I had seen pictures and heard the stories. I always thought that if I ever did meet him in real life, it would just be in passing. But as soon as he walked through the front door of his sister’s home, I knew it was going to be more. There was a chemistry that refused to be ignored and we were drawn to each other like moths to a flame. We spent that first night in a dark corner, away from everyone else, unable to get enough of each other. What could a man, who is nine years older than me with all the hometown fame, ever want with me? That’s what I would ask myself. From where I’m sitting now, I realize that may have been the dumbest question I ever found out the answer to. I cannot believe I wanted someone like him to want me. If I could still get sick, I would. I was always a thrill seeker. But not in the sense of roller coasters, fast cars, or skydiving. My adrenaline came from dangerous men. Chasing the rush of something gorgeous and unattainable and the challenge of getting him to want me as much as I wanted him is the exact kind of thing that could make my heart beat fast. Even if my victory only lasted for a weekend.
Now, as I sit here on the window seat in this long, white gown, I can feel the wind from the open window ever so slightly blowing through my dark brown hair. I can’t help but wonder if maybe I did this to myself. Am I here because of one bad decision? A series of bad decisions? A lapse in judgement? Being left alone in silence with my own thoughts is deafening. It always was. This isn’t the first time I’ve sat at this window, letting my own mind drive itself crazy. And even though I feel more at peace tonight than I have for as a long as I can remember, I almost wish I would hear the faint, far off howling that somehow brought me peace all those other nights. On those nights, I remember, the howling pack in the distance had gifted me a calmness in the middle of chaos. When my world felt like it was crashing down, the voices of the wild had reminded me that freedom was just beyond where I sat. I close my eyes tightly in hopes that it will help me hear them better tonight. But, nothing. I open them back up and after the spots cease, my vision returns and I look around. It’s just me, the moon, and the sleeping monster.
What had made me fall so in love with him? Was it his sense of humor? The man could make me laugh. We had so many inside jokes and sometimes all we had to do was look over at each other and we would start giggling like school children. Looking at him now under the moonlight, his slumber looks so deep that nobody would know the kind of Hell that resides in his soul. He had been funny and witty enough to hide it from me for so long. Maybe I should get up and go sit on the bed next to him, I think. I need a closer look and now I’m safe. He can’t hurt me anymore. No matter how hard he tries.
The floor creaked a little as I walked from the window to the bed. But, that’s okay. It didn’t wake him. And I can see him better now. Studying his face, I no longer see a best friend either. I almost wish his eyes would open so I could examine the blue again, up close and personal. The blue had the capability of wrapping me up like a twisted hurricane. The dance they did when he laughed or got excited. How they seemed to get a shade darker anytime he was engrossed in serious conversation. The way curiosity would reveal itself when he looked up from underneath his hat. I always thought those would be some of my favorite memories. But the first time he struck me, the blue changed. I was no longer enchanted. I was fearful. Fearful because the eyes that had once looked at me with such passion, were now looking through me. A vision of his hand coming down flashes through my mind, and I almost think I can feel a shiver run through my body. But I don’t. Because I’m safe now. He can’t hurt me. Even if he tries.
The first time it happened, it was over us running into an old college boyfriend at a football game. He had told me I never should have hugged that guy. That it was disrespectful and an embarrassment to him. I know he had shown his jealous side before, but never to the extent of violence. Until that night. It was like something snapped and the man that I loved so much had turned into a stranger. His timing was impeccable. And even now, I still feel like a fool. He waited until he knew I was too in love and too broke to go anywhere else. The devil has more patience than we give him credit for.
I’m close enough now to hear him breathing. I place my hand on his chest to see if I can feel a heartbeat. I can. But all that proves is that he is alive. He’s sleeping soundly. I’m safe now. He can’t hurt me. Even if he tries.
Am I brave enough to think about the second time? Or the third? Or the time after that? Yes. I have to be. This is why I’m still here. I have a job to do. A debt to repay.
Leaving my hand on his chest, I think about round two. If that guy hadn’t placed his hat on my head at the exact moment the monster was walking out of the bathroom, maybe that night wouldn’t have ended in an episode of jealous rage. It was innocent, really, looking back on it now. And I was almost prepared to take the blame for that one. I was always a woman to push the envelope. With my wild hair, wild eyes, and personality that matched perfectly, I knew I hadn’t been an easy woman to love. But I also know that I didn’t deserve half of what this man put me through. Watching him sleep so soundly, as if he has nothing to lose sleep over, makes me angry. I push my hand on his chest a little harder. He stirs a little as his breath gets deeper, which means he feels it. Good. There is a little piece of me that hopes he wakes up. Because I’m safe now. He can’t hurt me anymore. Even if he tries.
I want to let my anger take control. I want to be filled with rage. So I will sit here as long as he sleeps, and longer, until I remember every little jealous outburst of his that led us to where we are on this very night.
The time I made the gas station attendant laugh, so the monster bit me on the face.
The time I had books in common with his friend and was talking to him “a little too much”, so the monster covered my nose and mouth, cutting off my air supply.
The time one of the locals walked into a bar and said hello to me and…wait…that was all he said. And monster drug me into the back room by my hair.
The time we left a wedding and he couldn’t find me for a few minutes because I was in the bathroom, so he drove home like a maniac threatening to run his truck off a bridge and kill us both.
For all the times I tried to leave and he told me that if he couldn’t have me, nobody else could.
And the time he made good on that promise by ending my life with his bare hands.
Yes. Even after death, the memories can still be painful. But there is a silver lining to the afterlife. Now, his jealousy didn’t matter. All of his threats, could he serve them anyway, would be empty. His rage could only be directed towards a ghost. Because that’s what I am now. A ghost. Instead of fearing the monster, I shall be the monster. And I will haunt the man who killed me for as long as his earthly life will allow. Every door that randomly slams. Every faucet that mysteriously turns on or book that flies off the shelf without explanation. Anytime he looks in the mirror, I’ll be there. Standing behind his reflection. You see, when he thought he took my life, the sweet release of death actually freed me. Because I’m safe now. He can’t hurt me anymore. Even if he tries.