The last night

I should feel relieved that you’re finally going. And I am. Except I don’t really believe it, yet. From first being honest enough to say the words that I want you to leave and go back to your place there’s been a barrage of bloody everything. Texts from you. Your sister. People accosting me in the street. Outside the church. For fucks sake you’re a grown man. Accept it and leave me the fuck alone.

Haven’t you done enough?

Alternately, I’m angry then numb. I haven’t totally broken it yet. I’ve felt like I was in a glass bubble for so long. I can see the outside world, but I’m isolated from it. Increasingly, frighteningly isolated. Like the glass gets thicker and I’m stuck here. With no-one to turn to because the world seems to see a different face.

The affable, jovial even willing-to-help church attending member of the community.

My friend phones daily, my lifeline.

I’m avoiding other people because how can I break their vision of you? It’s not me to do that. And who wants to be effectively, the victim? Admit you were conned? The emotional blackmail is driving me crazy. From anger to tears you don’t fucking stop and I know that goes into following me, too.

I’m paranoid? Really? Am I? I saw your car. I know it’s registration like I know my own personal details. It turned up last night, outside a friend’s house, headlights on full beam and dipped between cars behind me as I walked through the roughest estate I know. Less scared there than I am of you.

I went to work today. Spoke with another friend. You don’t know she’s a friend. Not really. Just that she’s an acquaintance who is kind. Except I now know someone else believes me and it’s another chink in that glass bubble.

Crunch, crack, bit by bit. Her reaction took me by surprise. Something about getting that piece of shit the fuck out of there and to keep a weapon by the bed. I will do that tomorrow.

Curtains shut and getting ready for bed. A small defiance. But I have the key back. So, I have my life back. Finally.

Your car passed five minutes ago. You’re going to your house. And you put the key through the door earlier. A text short, abrupt. You’re picking your things up at a time convenient to us both.

I can get into bed, sleep as well as I can. I’m jittery. I tell myself you have no access and I’m being silly.

I’ve changed the bedding to get rid of the stench of sweat and alcohol that makes me gag. Still I can smell you. You linger like burned food after it’s gone in the bin. Except this is stale and threatening.

I breathe slowly. The doors are locked. There’s only us here. Myself and my daughter. She’s in the bedroom before mine.

And I hear a noise downstairs. You’re imagining it, I tell myself. Know I’m not. No I’m not. There were no lights shining through the curtain. I could just be scaring myself with shadows. Know I’m not. Oh fuck.

The stairs squeak occasionally. I know someone is in here. And there’s only one person it can be. You said yesterday you would surprise me. Your path around the bed I follow with my eyes shut. It’s the smell moving with you. I feel the dip as you sit on the bed. Hear you remove your clothes. You lean over me. Chuckling. At me or to yourself, who knows?

I daren’t move. Whatever you are here for, you’re so drunk that it won’t last long I tell myself.

Know the key being returned was symbolic of the power. A lie. Another fucking lie to add to the list.

You lean over me. Breath disgusting as it hits my face. Im not going to move. The smell of sweat, strong lager, mixed with brandy and mints. You must have seen your daughter. Lately, every time has meant you in a temper. A teenager no longer willing to worship you. I pay the price. The air crackles with danger.

My daughter is next door and I won’t scare her. Whatever happens to me I’ll get over. I can’t yell and scare the shit out of my child. She’s a brave little warrior who’d try and defend me. End up hurt.

You lean over me ‘I know you’re awake’

I don’t reply. Concentrate on steadying my breathing. Hope you’re going to fall asleep.

‘Bitch, I know you’re awake. You’re all the same. Move on when it suits’ you flick my nipple and I force myself to stay still. Calm as I can. Try to slow my heart down. Your hand grabs my left breast.

‘ I can feel your fear’ you whisper ‘you are awake’

Your hand slides away and I hope that you’re going to sleep. Your next words are the worst I’ll ever hear.

You drag your hand roughly down me and utter

‘I’ve always wanted to kill a woman’ fingers tap my neck, and the blood pounds in my head.

Bored of no reaction, you turn over and go to sleep. I don’t move.

All night I lie there. Awake.

It’s only a few hours before you get up for work.

The usual 5am like nothing is wrong. Like last night didn’t happen. You kiss my forehead saying you’ll be ‘home’ later. I put on an extra bolt after you leave. Rusty but working.

I go upstairs and am sick. But my child is safe. I feel myself shivering. It’s not cold at all. I acknowledge it is shock. Yet, I don’t have time for it now.

Today I’m getting the locks changed. The baseball bat my friend offered me too. Im furious and scared. A mixture even I know is dangerous.

©Ailsa Cawley 2021

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