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Her Vacant Self

“Are we really going to do this again tonight?”

“No, please stop. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you angry. I don’t want to fight!”

Silence deafens the tension rich sedan air they share. The roaring sounds of racing tires on the wet highway asphalt serves as a lullaby for her, the constant sound soothing her to sleep, where she is finally free, if only briefly.

“We’re home. Wakeup,” he barks. “Hurry up!” he screams as he punches her trembling thigh.

“I’m sorry,” she cries, while scrambling to get out of the front seat and weeping to herself, meekly,

“Why oh Why?”

She runs to catch up behind him in the driveway. Falling into place behind him just the way he likes it, she is there just in time for him to reach back. He always checks to make sure she is exactly where she is supposed to be. Relief washes over her when he doesn’t take her hand.

“Wear the red one that I laid out for you.”

“Okay.”

“Put it on.”

“Now, but-”

“Now.”

“But we’re expecting company.”

“Put it on now!” He explodes.

“Okay, I am-” she’s too late.

He is already up and coming towards her. Paralyzed with fear, she stands naked and trembling, tearfully pleading with him to stop. After a few minutes the pain stops. The worst part is hearing the sound of her hair as it’s torn out of her head. She had learned to mentally escape his “Episodes,” but she could never get over the sound of her hair being ripped out by the root. It was just too violent for her. When he’s finished with her he throws the red lace negligee at her, demanding,

“You go clean yourself up. We’re expecting dinner company any minute now. You’re so selfish that you haven’t even started cooking yet and you’re not dressed. You really need to stop pushing my buttons and start thinking more about me. ”

“I know. You’re right. I’m sorry,” she agrees, immediately.

He finally leaves her alone on the cold floor of the spotless white master bathroom after what seems like an eternity. Pulling herself up she stares into the mirror, using the vanity for stability. The makeup stained eyes, lipstick smudged lips, and bloodied nose of a stranger vacantly gaze back at her from the mirror. Wiping away the blood she intently looks the stranger in the mirror deep in the eyes and wonders aloud,

“He does love me, doesn’t he?”

“He won’t really hurt me, will he?”

“If I leave, what will become of me?”

“What has happened to me?”

The ringing doorbell soon interrupts her thoughts, forcing her back to reality. Slipping into the red lace negligee she looks back at her image in the mirror and declares,

“You are nothing but a broken imitation of me, a mere shell of the girl I used to be, no, you, you are not me!”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to throw a dinner party,” she whispers to the stranger in the mirror,  limping out of the bathroom and downstairs to greet his guests, her leg still sore from his punch, the bruise now visible through her negligee.

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