What It Was Really Like

March 9, 2005 at 4:19 pm (Uncategorized)

I turn the corner and strain to see the two blocks to my house. Is he there? Its Friday. Its payday. The first butterfly starts fluttering. In the house, there is a damp towel in the bathroom and the smell of his cologne still lingers. Bastard. Fucker takes off so he doesn’t have to face me. He doesn’t have to work tonight. There is no note.

I make dinner. Nate chatters away about his day and I force myself to take a bite but I’m sick to my stomach and I push the plate away. I watch the clock. I jump every time the phone rings. I let Nate stay up late. After he drifts off, I wander the house, picking up one of my favorite books. I find myself barely reading, just skimming. I know all the words anyway. I wash dishes so I can see him when he comes home. The phone is right behind me if he calls. I leave the front door open as I try to watch a movie and when I hear a car, I stand up and walk to the door. As the car goes past, I stand there for a long time before I step out on the porch, as if this will bring him home sooner.

I sit on the top step, the phone by my side. I smoke. I stare. I push the feelings welling inside of me down. I pet Smokey, who purrs against my hand. I talk to him as though he can understand. Maybe he does. Maybe he feels my anxiety. Its bad. My stomach is tied up so bad I feel sick. I try not to cry. I try not to strain to hear the sound of his car. I try not to look… again…again… and again down the street. I finally go in the house and turn on another movie.

I’m tired but the more my stomach twists, the more I want to cry, and the more I keep myself from crying, the more my stomach twists. I lay down on the couch, facing the door, and I pray for sleep. My eyes snap open with each car passing by. I walk to the door and look out again. The slam of a car door. I wait and hear the neighbor’s talking in their smooth Spanish. I walk back and sit with my head propped against the back of the couch. I have a headache now. I keep talking to myself, but I’m not listening.

I’m paralyzed by fear. I’m paralyzed by his absence. I hate him. I love him. I hate myself. I lay down again and close my eyes.

I open my eyes to thin grey light. I have merely floated through the night, one eye open, one ear cocked, and I’m exhausted. I stumble to the bed and curl myself in a hard little ball. He still isn’t home. I lay staring at the clock, watching the minutes tick off. My stomach hurts so bad, if I don’t cry I’m going to puke and I hate puking. I quietly let them trickle out and I hide my face against the pillow. My body is shaking and I’m cold. I imagine he is there, holding me in his arms, his warm and solid strength, but still the tears come, until I sleep through them.

Someone is shaking my arm and I just can’t wake up. I can hear Nate talking, saying my name, but I’m still paralyzed. My body won’t move. Its as though someone has a blindfold over my eyes and I keep trying to tear it off. I can tell the room is bright with sunshine. Its too warm. I swim out of sleep, desperate to see. Nate has climbed on the bed and hugs me and I pull him back with me. We lay and talk, and I tickle him. His laughter makes me smile.

I can’t stay in this house today. I take Nate and go to the park. I wear dark glasses to hide my eyes. My head is pounding but the sun is so warm I can’t make myself move to the shade. We eat hotdogs. I eat as much as I can. I dread going home. I dread finding his car there. I dread finding it gone.

He’s not there. My stomach kicks in again. I check the Caller ID. No one has called. I sit on the porch while Nate plays, the sun sinks, and finally the air is cool enough to chill. I fix leftovers but I don’t eat. I’m afraid to look at the Caller ID when the phone rings. I’m beginning to believe it will be bad news. He’s crashed his car. He’s dead. He’s killed someone else. He’s in jail.

Nate hangs close to me. He hasn’t said anything about Holland being gone. Jessie, our Yorkie, hangs close too. She’s Holland’s baby. I turn the TV on, but don’t watch it. I have a book in my lap, but don’t read it. I have a phone beside of me that’s not ringing. I’m trying to be numb. I’m trying not to wonder if he’s dead. Yet, part of me hopes he is gone. Nate falls asleep in the crook of my arm. I get up and carry him to bed. I turn out the lights. I lay down in our bed. I stare at the ceiling. Then the clock. Then the wall. Then the ceiling.

My eyes fly open. Through sleep and distance, I heard the key in the lock. I scoot off the bed and meet him, staggering, in the living room. The smell hits me before he stumbles into me. The sickly sweet smell of alcohol evaporating from his pores along with sweat, smoke fumes, and… perfume. My stomach rolls as he pushes me aside and I let him go. I stand in that spot as I hear him collapse onto the bed. He doesn’t yell for me. His keys are laying on the floor.

I go out to his car. I rifle through the empty beer bottles, snuff cans, snack wrappers, cigarette packs, a fast-food bag. I find a couple of unopened beers. I pour them out. I find a half empty bottle of Crown Royal under the driver’s seat. I hate it. I know how expensive it is. I pour it out and shake the bottle. I want to smash it on the street. I throw the bottle across the fence, onto the railroad tracks. The sound of shattering glass breaks the silence. Nothing happens. No lights come on. No doors are opened. I close the car door and go back in the house. My feet are cold and wet from the dew.

I walk into the bedroom. He’s laying face down, fully clothed, shoes still on. I wrestle his shoes off. He doesn’t move. I’m glad. His wallet is still in his back pocket. He’s so very picky about it. I know he’ll be angry if he catches me going through it. He’s so fucking drunk, he’ll never know. I turn the light on and sit on the edge of the dresser, my feet propped up on the bed. His eyelids never flicker. I sit and watch him sleep, his raspy snores and stench filling the air.

I know its dangerous, like reading someone’s diary. You may find out things you wish you didn’t know. I don’t care. It takes a bit of tugging to get it out and he shifts. I feel guilty but it doesn’t stop me. The wallet is warm and wet. It smells. I pull out his check stub and then his money. He has $17.00 in one dollar bills. From an over $450 paycheck, he has $17.00. In one dollar bills. Seventeen. 17. One. 1. Dollar. Bills. I wonder what he paid for. I wonder if she is prettier than me. I wonder if this is the first time. Are her eyes bluer? Her skin clearer? I’m sure she has no stretch marks. Is her hair longer? Does he love her? I fold the bills.

I wonder if he fucked her. If it’s the first time he’s fucked her. How long he’s been fucking her? Is he going to leave me for her? Does he make fun of me to her? I’m so embarrassed to think of the secrets he knows.

My stomach hurts so bad I double over. I can only crawl across him and scoot myself against the padded frame. I lay my cheek on the mattress, the swell and recede of the water soothing me. He has all the pillows. He’s laying on the covers. I pull the sheet over me and tears run from the corner of my eye, over the bridge of my nose and slide down the other side. I stare at him for a very long time.

I’m being pulled across the bed. I reach out for the railing but I miss it. He’s not awake, but he’s alive. I’m wide awake. I know what he will do if I let him. His hands are on my hipbones and I push down on them. I know better than to struggle too much. It just makes him tighten his arms. I start talking softly to him. Sometimes its enough but he’s just too drunk. He’s acting out his past. He’s acting out his pain. I can’t let him though. He pulls on my underwear until it bites into my skin and for every inch he pulls them down, I pull them up an inch. His left arm snakes around my shoulder and neck, pulling me back against him.

So many thoughts in my mind. I can’t breath. My hands go to his arm. I know I can breath. I’m just scared. His right hand pulls on my panties again. I can’t fight a battle on two fronts. I pull my feet under me and push against his thighs, moving my lower body up and away from him. He’s supposed to stop by now. The pressure around my neck is loosened. We are both still. I feel his hands tighten, and he jerks me back against him. The snap and open zipper from his pants are digging into my cheeks. He tries to remove his penis but I keep pushing against him with my feet and he can’t. He relaxes his hand on my hip. He has tucked me against his body but he is relaxed. He’s not alive anymore. I’m exhausted and afraid to move. I finally wiggle my panties back in place. He’s not letting go.

Something is wrong. He’s laying half on me. I know what has happened. I can only scoot out from under him. The back of my panties, the back of the shirt, and part of my hair are soaked. The acrid smell of urine is nauseating. I crawl out of the bed. I’m crying before I reach the bathroom door. I strip and throw the clothes in the garbage. I run the water and wash myself as though I’m covered in fire ants. I can’t clean enough, fast enough. I don’t realize until my skin stops crawling that I have been sobbing out loud. I rest my head against the shower wall and cry. I keep talking to myself, but I’m not listening.


That was me three years ago. I don’t want your sympathy, nor your pity, and I hope to God you cannot empathize with anything I wrote. If I could turn off comments, I would. There’s nothing left to say other than, that’s not me anymore. It will never be me again. Do not ever think that I haven’t learned what is good for me and what is bad


Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.

-Kahlil Gibran

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