His hand rested on the back of her head. She didn’t move. Didn’t flinch. Slowly it went down her hair, petting her. All the way down to her neck. He brought his hand back up and his fingers circled around her hair. He held her.
With screaming eyes he forced her to look at him. His gaze poured buckets of hatred into her. She felt the acrid sour bitterness fill her from within. She tasted the venom on her tongue. She could almost hear an alarming “TICK” when he switched over to this mood. She didn’t know what triggered it. She never knew.
This time it was different. This time she felt oddly calm.
“Well?” She had no clue what he was talking about. “What?” He laughed. Almost as if her answer surprised him and with a choked laughter his spit covered her face. She felt remnants of his breakfast resting on her cheek. She found comfort in the thought even his food sought escape from him.
“Are you going to wipe that off?” This was his specialty. One of his damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t question. Even if she had a coin and tossed it, the result would be the same as ever: heads, she would lose and tails she would lose. Again. She didn’t answer, knew better than that and didn’t utter a word. But something was different. On any given day when his rage boiled over she drowned in fear.
Not today. Today she felt bathed in a warm river of peace. She was as calm as a soft summer breeze. And with this feeling she planned. Thoughts of “One day I will…” became “Today I am…”
His screams brought her back to reality. “Do you even hear me?” He shook her head. She could see his muscles flexing. She remembered the day he thrust a pair of scissors in her face. The relief she felt when he told her to cut off his sleeves. That was the day he chose Larry the get-er-done-guy as sole source for fashion inspiration and made her cut off the sleeves from every single shirt hanging in his closet.
With his other hand, he positioned her left nipple between his index and his thumb. She felt as though it was stuck between two small stones. He pinched and held his screaming howling gaze on her face. “Man are you ever fucking stupid!” She kept her mouth shut but her throat betrayed her allowing a small gasp to squeak out. “The day I married you was…” he finished his sentence with a growl.
And just like that it was over. She knew she’d be off the hook for the rest of the day. His waves of hatred took over and left as mysteriously as they came. He assumed his favorite position buried in his Laz-Y-Boy. Quietly she closed the bedroom door and changed. She put on a long summer dress. She walked to the kitchen, opened the fridge, grabbed a beer and popped it open. She placed it on the table next to his exposed arm.
She picked up her fruit basket and walked to the front door. “Where the hell are you going?” She stopped and turned towards him knowing she was finally safe to answer. “Today’s the last day. I want to get berries, they’ll all be spoiled by tomorrow.”
She walked out the door for what she knew would be the last and final time. “Make yourself useful for once and get me a cold one before you leave!” As she was closing the door she took once last look at him “It’s right there next to your elbow.” “It better be cold!” were his last words to her. Uttered behind a closed shaking door.
She paced herself as she made her way towards the field. Never looking back she went to her favorite spot in the shade. On her knees she filled her basket. On her knees she made a promise to herself. On her knees she took refuge in the knowledge it was over. She was a new person. She promised not to chastise herself over why she allowed him to destroy her. She also promised to not let it happen again.
She got up, took one last look towards the house and walked to the river. She ate her berries as she walked. She filled her stomach with juices and sugars. She filled her stomach with fruity happiness. And she smiled. Tears glided down her cheeks. She couldn’t remember this feeling, it had been so long, she couldn’t even name it.
She placed her empty basked between two rocks. Looked up to the sky then looked down to the river. She accepted its invitation and dove in. With every stroke she made her way towards an old familiar person she once loved. Again and again, with every stroke she repeated the words “I’m coming.”
With every stroke she found herself. Finally, she was coming home.
This is a Magpie Tale.