*not related to the prompt*
“I, I wasn’t actually gonna hit you. I was just messing around.” Levi says and I laugh, trying to ignore how fake it sounds.
“No, I was too! Just joking around! It was part of the game!” I say through a smile and I can tell Levi is far from believing me. He shakes his head and grabs my hands, squeezing them tightly. The playful tone in his voice is completely gone as he asks in a low voice, “Amaya, somethings not right. Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine! I was just joking around, Levi.”
“I’ve known you for almost 15 years and I think that’s long enough for me to know that you’re a horrible liar. And you’re not ok. Why did you flinch?”
I bite my lip and glance at the clock on the microwave. Julian’s been gone for 15 minutes, it’s a 25 minute trip to the store so I have ten more minutes to either fix the mess I just made or try to explain everything to Levi without him freaking out.
The air inside my house feels ten times thicker as I suck in a breath, trying to muster up the courage to say something.
“Amaya,” he says again, drawing my eyes to meet his.
“Is someone hurting you?”
I wriggle my hands out of Levi’s grip and start to push him backwards towards the door.
“Levi I think you should go. Thank you for doing my homework and bringing my bag back, but I should go to sleep. I’m exhausted.”
“Amaya I cant leave you if I have it in my head that somebody is hurting you. Please talk to me. Who is hurting you?”
Levi’s pleading eyes meet mine and I shake my head.
“I cant.” I say, not able to get my voice higher than a whisper.
“Why? What are you afraid of happening?”
“You want me to be honest?” I say, my voice shaking.
“Yes, someone's been hurting me. But you need to promise me you wont do anything about it. Please. I cant loose him.”
Levi looks up from his shoes and I curse. Levi’s smart enough to figure it out.
“It’s Julian isn’t it, Amaya? God I’ve always gotten a bad vibe from that kid. Why don’t you just break up? Why do you stay with him when he’s clearly not making you happy?”
I put a hand on Levi’s shoulder, trying to calm him down. I glance at the clock. Three minutes left.
“Look, I can’t explain all of this now, and I can’t promise you I’ll ever be able to explain it all, but right now I need you to leave.”
“Amaya I don’t need you to explain it all to me, but at least confirm it. It is Julian that’s hurting you, isn’t it?”
But I can’t. I can’t admit it to Levi when I try to avoid admitting it to myself.
Levi accepts the silence and pulls me into a hug. I soak up the moment as much as I can.
“It’s gonna be ok, Amaya, I’ve got you now. He’s not gonna hurt you again.”
I break away to look at the clock and my heart jumps up to my throat.
“God, Levi, you need to go. You need to go right now.”
“No, I’m not leaving you, Amaya.”
“Levi you’re not listening to me!” My voice raises to a shout and Levi steps back.
“Ok, I need you to listen to me very carefully. Julian is going to be back any minute and it doesn’t matter who you are or how you know me, if he sees me with another guy it will be so much worse. This has happened before and I cant let it happen again. And what if he hurts you too?”
“Amaya I appreciate you trying to protect me but you cant keep taking this. You need to tell the police.”
I shake my head over and over and try to shove the panic down.
“No, no, no, we cant do that. I know how to get out of it with minimal pain., I’ll be fine. But please don't report it, I cant loose him.”
“Amaya he’s hurting you! Why do you want to be with him?”
My voice goes quiet and a raw numbness falls over me like I’ve let everything out of me already and all that’s left are bruises and the cold, painful truth.
“Because if I leave him he’ll kill himself.”
Levi throws his hands up in the air and rolls his eyes, “Why would you believe something stupid like that?”
“Because it’s not definite and I cant take the chance that it is true.”
“Why though? Why do you even care about him? He clearly doesn’t care much about you. Do you even love him?”
I pause, wringing out my hands, and again Levi understands my silence.
“Look Levi, I get that you’re worried but right now is not a good time for me to try to answer your questions. Right now you need to leave. Julian will be back any min-”
My eyes flick past Levi to the front window and red headlights blind me as much as my fear does. Julian’s just pulled into the driveway and I have a boy in the house, inches away from my face.
Curses slip out under my breath as I start to shove Levi towards my room.
“Use the window to climb out and get away as soon as possible. I’ll cover for you so he doesn’t see you leave. If you have anything more than one brain cell up in that giant forehead of yours you wont make a sound while you’re back here.”
Julian’s pounding on the door gets louder and I shove Levi all the way through the door.
“And to answer your question from earlier, I love him because no matter what he does it feels like love. He’s developed an incredible talent for covering things up and my anger has already dissipated before I can say too much. Even the hits and punches feel like love.” I suck in a breath and nod, it’s the truth.
“Yeah, even the abuse feels like love.”
I then shut the door and stumble to the front door, unlocking it. Julian storms through, his hand flying for my face. The tingling gets worse as he grabs me and pulls me closer.
“You have five seconds to explain to me why you were late to the door and why there’s another car in your driveway.”
I stammer out a response and Julian shakes my shoulders, my head bobbing back and forth.
“Who are you hiding in here?” He yells, his voice bouncing off the walls and comes back to hit me like a bullet through my ear.
I cant come up with a lie fast enough before Julian shoves me onto the ground. Now is the moment when I truly feel like the ant about to be killed by the boot.
“God, I hate you!” He screams, his movements mimicking a rabid animal on the hunt for food.
“Can we please just watch the movie?”
“Not until you tell me who’s inside this goddamn house!”
“I’m not going to do that.” I say, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I push myself up off the ground, my wrists giving out after a few seconds and I fall back to my butt.
“I see the boy you have over convinced you of some stuff, huh?” Julian asks, crouching down next to me.
“Took me long enough to realize the truth myself.” I surprise myself with my own confidence and can feel Julian’s hot, angry breath against my neck.
“If you lay one more finger on me I will call the police.” It’s an empty threat and both of us know it and as I say it guilt crawls inside of me. I'm betraying him. Julian. The love of my life."
“With what phone? You’re absolutely alone. Just you and me sweetheart. Just how I like it.”
He leans in and kisses my neck. I know what he’s doing, but I don't want to stop it.
C’mon Amaya, you dimwit. Do something.
“What’s gotten into your head baby? I can set it straight,” He says, cupping my chin and pulls my lips closer to his. I hover there and he waits, taunting me.
“Julian, I can’t.” I say, pulling away and I see his fists tighten.
“Be careful what you say Amaya.”
“I am going to be truthful, just like you always ask me to be. Then you can do whatever you want to me.”
Julian stays crouched next to me before rolling his eyes and smiles, “go right ahead sweetheart.”
“We’ve been dating for almost two years and since the very beginning you’ve told me, convinced me, that Julian knows best. So I just told myself that everything you do if because you know best. Because you’re the best for me. But it’s gotten to be too much and we need to break up, and I think we both know it’s not working out. I cant keep playing make believe with you and pretending everything is perfect.”
Julian lets out a breath and says into my neck, “the nerve you have to say that to me, babe. You’ll regret it.”
“You’re right. I will regret it. Because no matter how sure I am that this isn’t working out and hasn’t been working out for a while, I’ve always loved you. I still do. But the pain overthrows the love and I cant do it. So yeah, I’ll probably regret it when I have a broken ankle and I’m alone in my room wishing I was kissing you. But this has become exhausting. I have to worry about your well being and whether or not you’ll be alive tomorrow every single day and it’s exhausting.” I stop, and Julian grabs my chin and jerks it so I meet his eyes. My fear builds even taller and I know I’m all talk no walk. Once Julian gets his hands on me I just have to take it and wait until I can get the authorities involved.
You’ll have Levi through it all, Amaya. It will be ok. I tell myself and then that little second guesser comes into my head and does it’s job. Will it pay off? What if I’m unlovable and can never find love again? What if no matter what I do I cant get rid of Julian?
“Anything else to say, sweetheart?”
“One more thing,” I say, deciding I’ll have to say it eventually.
“All through our relationship I've been waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel that would tell me what to do. And I don’t know what the light was but I’ve found it and I’m sorry, but there’s nothing you can do to change my mind. And now I’m done. I’m sorry but I’m not really sorry.”
Julian pushes me over, my head going straight into the concrete of my foyer.
“You’ll never get away from me, darling. I’m the best thing you’ve ever had. I’ll knock all this nonsense out of you and you’ll be back to normal tomorrow. Bet you had something to drink.”
I try to sit up but Julian pushes me back down.
“Guess you’re not so confident now, huh? Did you forget how easy it is to take you down Amaya? You are nothing, you have no strength, you have no power. I tell you I’m the best for you because I hold everything for you. I hold your power, I hold your decisions, I hold your confidence, I hold your strength. And you’ve just broken down the most stable walls in your life.”
Julian throws a punch at my face, throwing it to one side and I let out a strangled scream.
“Don’t you ever talk to me like that again, you here me little girl? I hate you and everything about you and you will never be loved by anyone else. You are unlovable.” He says, his voice low. His true thoughts come out and I’m the only one that gets to hear them. And they confirm my worries. I am unlovable. But if I get rid of Julian, you know what else I will be? Untouchable.
He will never be allowed to lay a hand on me again.
Julian pulls me back into reality when his fist barrels toward my face and straight to my jaw.
Julian was never an easy person to date. I told myself he was “complex.” And now I see him more as tangled. Tangled in his manipulation, his pressurizing comments, his denial, his emotions that can change like the flip of a switch. He’s a tangled bush of thorns and I was the injured little fox that couldn’t get out. And I think for a while I convinced myself that Levi had been the savior that cut me out. But I’ve given it a lot of thought, probably more than I need to, and I think Levi, even with all the stuff he’d done, hadn’t been the one to cut me out. I did. I was the light at the end of the tunnel that I had been waiting to reach for over two years. It wasn’t an easy light to reach and even after I got there it wasn’t like all my dreams came true. Only one really stuck. Julian was never allowed to smack me, punch me, push me, or even kiss me again. I had got what I wanted and I did it for myself.
To Julian I truly was untouchable.