“His eyes looked empty.”
She’d read that line a million times, heard it a million more. But she’d never experienced it. Never understood what it meant to have “empty eyes,” until now.
They were void of all emotion. Black. Hollow. Like the door to the abyss swung open right before her. There was nothing. Not a hint of humanity. Not a smidgen of love. Emptiness. Terrifying desolation.
His fingers bit into her skin; his grip meant to evict life from her body. Both of her hands wrapped around his wrist, trying to pull his hand from her throat. She wanted to live. Wanted to see the sun come up again. She wanted air, in that moment, more than she had ever wanted anything.
There was no pain where he held her; the pain was in her lungs. She could feel herself suffocating, could feel the starvation in her chest.
“I will kill you,” he screamed, shaking her, “I could fucking kill you right now!”
She felt the tears dripping from her chin. She could hear the second-hand ticking across the room. His labored breathing echoed loudly. The blood in her veins whooshed and thumped as her heart worked overtime to find oxygen. His breath smelled of beer and stale cigarettes. Had she been able, she would have gagged.
She closed her eyes. She could not stand to look into his any longer. “Please,” she managed to whisper.
He shoved her backwards, hard, and she felt the weight of his hand give just enough to allow her to suck in a single breath. He readjusted, squeezed a little tighter. His nose touched hers and his nostrils flared.
“Try to call the cops on me,” he growled “Bitch, I will fucking end you. Understand?”
She nodded as much as she could. He stepped back, released her, and glared. She didn’t move a muscle.
“Fucking crybaby.” He picked up the telephone and threw it across the room. “See what you made me fucking do?”
She flinched when it hit the wall and scattered in several pieces.
“I’m fucking done,” he shouted, “I’m so fucking pissed.”
She knew. She felt it. She stayed silent.
“You got nothing to say? Nothing at all?” He stomped through the house, pacing and yelling. “I’m so fucking pissed. You better watch it, Girl, or I’m really going to be a fucking asshole, then no one will like me!”
She waited. One. Two. Three.
“Fuck you, stupid fucking cunt! I do what the fuck I want.”
Four. Five. Six. Seven.
“I don’t have a fucking problem, except for you!”
Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen.
“I’m so fucking pissed.”
Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen.
“You’re fucking crazy. Fucking crazy. Think you’re going to call the cops on me. Fucking pussy.”
A beer bottle whizzed by her head and smashed into the wall.
“All you fucking bitches are crazy! Every fucking one of you!”
Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty. Twenty-one.
“Fuck this. I’m leaving. I’m done. I’m going to drive myself into a fucking telephone pole. Everything is my fucking fault, right? Fuck me. I’m just a piece of fucking shit, right? RIGHT?”
“No,” she answered softly.
“Then why the FUCK do you keep FUCKING WITH ME?” He stalked across the room until he stood directly in front of her. “WHY can’t you just let me be me? Why do you have to be a fucking bitch?”
“I don’t know.”
Twenty-three. Twenty-four. Twenty-five.
“You don’t know? Well figure it the fuck out before I end up fucking killing your stupid ass.” He walked into the dining room and picked up his keys off the table. “Fuck you, bitch. Just fuck you.”
The front door slammed.
Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one.
She heard his tires squeal as he turned the corner. Sobbing, she dropped to her knees, buried her face in her hands and let it all flow freely until her eyes burned and her head pounded. Then she drug herself into the bathroom, stripped her clothes and turned on the shower.
She sat in the tub, knees snug against her chest, the water pouring over her head and shoulders as she cried.
The bathroom door flew open.
“Not even going to check to see if I’m okay,” he asked. “Real nice. You obviously don’t give a fuck what happens to me.”
The bathroom door slammed shut. Another door slammed.
She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. In a fog, she pulled herself to her feet and frantically washed her hair and body, before climbing out of the shower. She dried off as quickly as she could, dressed in a pair of pajama pants and an over-sized t-shirt, wrapped her hair in a quick, messy bun, and cautiously opened the door.
She sat in the dark on the back patio for hours. She smoked cigarette after cigarette. She took her anxiety medication. She didn’t text anyone, or call anyone. She didn’t read a book, or watch a movie. She sat.
She thought about all the people she knew and wondered how many of them knew what her life was like behind closed doors. She wondered if it would be easier to just disappear and not tell anyone where she’d gone. But she couldn’t do that. All her money was tied up in their bills and his kids and her responsibilities. Every single penny was accounted for. She had no escape. No way out. She had half a tank of gas, three packs of cigarettes, a head full of dreams, and nowhere to go. And he’d come for her. He always did. And it would be worse then, if she tried to leave.
She thought about calling her mom. She checked the time. Her mom would be sleeping at three in the morning. Her best friend … wasn’t her best friend any more. She shook her head in despair; she had no one.
He pulled in the drive at 4:13 AM. She waited to see if he’d come looking for her. Twenty minutes later, she found him snoring on the couch. She covered his sleeping body with a blanket and quietly went to bed.
Tomorrow was another day.