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“I missed you today. I missed you so much that I followed you. I saw you … and him walking in the rain. You were holding hands and I’ll never be the same”, those words, from a song should not have filled anybody with fear; but, they did. Melly always started to tremble when she heard it -- even if he wasn’t home. He always played that song before he went to ‘nutsville‘. It was playing now and she could not seem to make the buttons fit through the button holes fast enough. Soon, he would open the door and peace (which didn’t really exist in this house anymore, anyway) would be gone.

The door was nearly snatched from its frame as it opened outward and he stepped into the room. The wild eyes were opened too wide under hair that looked as if it too was going to fly off the hinges and his high forehead would go sailing across the room, brown eyes never looked so red.

He stood in the middle of the room, looking as if his eyes didn’t really work and he could not see her standing near the closet door, trying to decide if she was going to hide inside or try to run past him if he opened the door. Too late, she saw that she actually had no place to go since she had somehow ruled out the window, the only escape route available to her if she was going to leave before the door opened. Now, she was trapped.

It took awhile, but, his eyes finally focused -- on her.

Why the hell had she cared if her clothes were buttoned properly? She could have buttoned her dress outside if she had just crawled out of the window before he came into the room. He didn’t seem to be sober. That would make it worse. He had something to blame for his behavior if he was ‘high‘. It was usually so bad that he tried to distance himself from it when he “heard about it”, because he would forget it (what ever he did was the it that he forgot) … unless he behaved so badly that somebody felt they had to bring up the way he acted. Her thoughts were so loud that she was afraid he would hear them.

You look pretty. Are you going somewhere?

Thank you. No, I was coming out to set the table for dinner. I’ll be finished in a minute.

She hoped that would send him back to the front room where the stereo was and away from the kitchen. She never liked to be in small places with him and her room was the smallest in the small house. It fronted on the hall that ran through the house with no egress, except through the kitchen. Sometimes, if he was high enough, a suggestion acted on him like an order and he would just turn and go as if it had been his idea, to perform whatever action he heard about. She was always surprised that the “monster’ was really easily led and seemed to have little will of his own. Especially if his ’mind’ was on something and he was distracted from it.

It worked this time. Thank God. He moved aside and let her sidle past him to the doorway. She speeded up when he was behind her, but, he stood there still looking around the room she had just left. The music was still playing, she was “not out of the woods yet”, as her grandmother used to say. She had to get through dinner and then the rest of the night. It was soothing to wash the dishes as she cooked and moved things from pot or pan to the serving dishes, careful with the utensils and put out the place settings. The table was always set for four, though the two of them would be the only ones eating tonight. A “formal dinner” sometimes kept him from acting out for a couple of hours. This place was going to be a good one to be “from” as soon as she got away from it. She was not looking back ,,, not for anything.

Setting the table was easy, the plates were in the cabinet over the sink, neatly stacked and freshly washed. Dinner was as uneventful as it could be, he shoveled food into his mouth so rapidly that he was still chewing the last bite when he put in more and she was really not hungry because she was on edge waiting for him to ‘start‘. The food went past the lump in her throat at last and she asked to be excused from the table. As she cleared the table, he left the kitchen and went back to that repeating song in the front room. She started to wash dishes. Anything to keep down contact with the volatile and not quite sober being in the front room.

The plate slipped out of her soapy hands and hit the floor, shattering and making her jump as if she had been hit.

“Now, I have to buy another set,” he yelled from somewhere near her right elbow.
She had not heard him come in. the sound made her jump again.

“Is that why you dropped the plate? In here jumping around as if somebody was doing something to you? I could do something to you for real and give you a reason for breaking things. Is that what you want?”

“No. I don’t want you to do anything to me. I had soap on my hands and the plate slipped. I will buy another set if that’s what you want. We have a service for eight and we never have company anymore. But, I’ll buy a set as soon as I get paid.”

“Don’t you smart mouth me, missy. I bought the first set and I’ll buy the next … if there is any need for a new one.”

The slap was unannounced but, fully expected. He hit her so hard that the rest of the dishes on the side of the sink hit the floor as well, when she stumbled against the sink, blinded by the tears that sprang to her eyes. Her cheek burned where he had hit her and it felt as if her teeth had cut her cheek on the inside.

“Why do you make me hit you?”

She just looked at him, because if she said anything there was no telling what he might do. Once, he had snatched the cord off a lamp and beat her with that, leaving scars that were still visible when she undressed. When she left here, there was no coming back ,,. not for her. If she lived to leave. She reeled around to face him and as she turned she saw that she should have gone out of the window.

I have another couple of pages but, this is the gist of the story. Is it realistic?


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February 2012

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