The door shuts, and the footsteps die. I take a few moments to calm my beating heart. My hands, tied behind my back, are numb. Although the string is cutting into my flesh, the pain is a relief – a sign I’m still feeling.

The damp draft seeps through my clothes like a malevolent mist. Something scurries over my bare ankles, and I swallow a scream. I gulp at the thin, musty air as the bubbling bile burns my throat. Inside my head a thousand fireworks are exploding, bright lights sear the back of my eyes and my brain throbs. I remember nothing of the hours since last night – or perhaps the night before?

I had found strength, encouraged by a need, deep inside. It was now or never. Rehearsing the words in my head, the words that hover on my lips each time the green monster appears.

‘We’re over, I’m leaving you.’

My love no longer reason enough to stay, no longer the victim in this, our miserable life.

How stupid of me to think my release would be so easy. The face I had loved twisted in rage, fists curled, lashing out and as blackness fell, the familiar response.

‘But you’re the only person who understands me.’

This is my fault. I should know better. I deserve everything. I am to blame. I hoped for more resolve, more will to fight back, protect my right to be just me. But I’m tired, so tired with the battle, and the fights are getting worse.

I should have left years ago, should have heeded my concerns and those of my family. The excuses and lies about the cuts and the bruises. I believed then that things would change. The outbursts of jealousy at first were a novelty that I was worth getting possessive about. Me! How wrong I was. The reactions soon became more invasive, the rummaging through drawers, pockets, and bags, checking my phone and opening my letters. Trapped by a love that had turned sour and tainted by demons not of my making.

Often, I wished for someone to confide in, when I craved for comfort, but there never has been anyone else. This mystery lover that never materialised. How can you persuade someone of your fidelity, of your loyalty, of your enduring love when they have convinced themselves otherwise? Forever searching for evidence of my disloyalty, when it just doesn’t exist?

I hang my head with shame, I should try harder. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, behind the face I want people to see, underneath the web of lies. How I long for someone to find out, for someone to tell me it’s okay, that it’s not my fault. That I can ignore the false tears, the tantrums and the apologies.

I’m all out of forgiving. No more cover-ups, no more accusations, no more promises to seek help. Until the next time.

A door opens and the footsteps have returned—she’s back.



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