My darling, darling baby. If only I had known, where would we be now? Would I have had the potency to remove us from the impending jeopardy that was apparent, that was staring, unblinkingly at us, with a ferociousness associated with a cobra preparing to strike? Who knows, as fate chose an atypical path for both of us to scurry upon. As scurry we do in the impenetrable darkness, suffocating any sound, muting each rustle, and frosting the breath that escapes in swirling wisps.
He’s stood there, blocking the doorway, standing proudly, silhouetted against the ever bright moon, shimmering its stolen light across the world tonight. I know what he’s going to do. And so do I. Tonight is the night. I can feel the power pulsing through my veins. He’s advancing slowly towards me, cracking each of his knuckles one by one. Crack. It echoes, sickeningly, across the empty room, devoid of love and happiness. Crack. It punctuates his deep, heavy breathing. Crack. It silences my stirring conscience. Crack. It raises the hairs lining my arms. Crack. It’s followed by his footsteps creaking across the floor. Crack. It drives the adrenalin round by the furious beating of my own heart. Crack. It brings back memories better submerged. Crack. It freezes me of emotion. Crack. It makes the shadows disperse and the moon illuminates the white band of his wedding ring. Crack. It signals both the end, and the start. Silence.
I can’t do this any longer. I can’t hide while I know what he’s doing to her, how he’s hurting her. I can no longer turn my head and pretend that nothing is wrong. Crouching at the doorway, all I hear is silence. It rings in my ears, building in intensity. He towers over her fragile form, breathtakingly strong, each muscle sculpted to perfection. He exuded power, strength and health. Again I saw that familiar glint in the eye that I had once thought of as humour, but now recognised as anger. It was that that had attracted me to him in the first place. The bright glint, the cocky smile and the arrogance shot through with humour. It’s all been replaced by the hulking leviathan, eyes shining with unsuppressed anger and a grimace chiselled out of his cool stone face. She’s on her feet, with no choice in the matter. Hoisted up; just to be knocked back down again.
I breathe in, deep, preparing for the pain to come. And sure enough; it comes. The pain explodes behind my eyes, throwing stars across the black abyss of my mind. My head twists, cruelly to the side, pushing me off balance. I stumble, yet remain standing through sheer force of will. He advances on me again, teeth bared threateningly. I shrink back, cowering slightly. His arm shoots out and grabs me around the throat. He brings his face close to mine, so close I can smell his putrid breath as it dances across my cheek. A tear leaks out of the corner of my swollen eye, and he shoves me away from himself as if scalded. I fall back, tripping over a chair, swivelling round so that my hands slap on the cold wood floor, and instantly my hands flare up. A small whimper escapes from me. The sound just infuriates him more. I bite my lip, wincing.
He shakes his head slowly from left to right and back again. Anger ripples down his spine and blasts out in sharp rays. His massive hand connects with her chest, and she exhales in a colossal sigh of air.
The frozen steel is pressing against my arm. It reminds me of what I have to do. My breath is coming in harsh gasps, unable to slow or control. The blood from my forehead mixes with the salty tears, making the metallic tang more unbearable. He takes hold of my chin between his thumb and fingers, applying pressure. I screw my eyes up with pain. He jerks his hand down, taking my jaw with it. I slumped onto my knees. A memory of my mother rose within me at the very moment my knees crash to the floor. ‘When you get knocked down, always remember that you are in the ideal position to pray.’ So pray I will. “Lord, please forgive me. I’m sorry for the pain I'll cause, but not for the pain I'll stop. If this is the wrong thing, forgive me my sins, but no matter, I'll still be counting my blessings. Please help me to stay strong enough to do the deed that will ensure my freedom. Amen.”
She raises her head so defiantly; with such intensity that I am sure she hasn’t been aware of the level of anger that has poured out of his mouth at a shocking rate. I desire to know what thoughts could have roused her from her mental protective husk. I fear for her, she may now be damaged, perhaps beyond repair. As if he could damage her any more. He’s successfully managed to rip her world to shreds, and she’s restored it to its crowning glory.
I draw the knife. It slices through the sleeve of top I am wearing as easily as diamond through gold. He lets out a snort of laughter at the sight of the knife, which soon turns into a sonorous chorus that reverberates around the icy room. I close my eyes, breathe in deeply, and then open them and fly at him. I strike him squarely in the chest, and the knife plunges in, up to the handle. The momentum of the leap carried him over, onto his back. I wrenched the knife out quickly. I wish I hadn’t. He stared down at his chest, where blood gushed out in an unrelenting flow. Eyes narrowed, he elevated them to my eyes. Before I had chance to comprehend what was happening, powerful hands were wrapped about my throat, and my back was against the splintering wood. My fingers scrambled along the floor, and I was ignoring the small, brusque pain that was cutting into my hands as I met splinter after splinter. Blood was gushing out over me, flecks pebbling my face. I was soon to be lying in a pool of it. He was so strong, and the injury had made him maniacal. All traces of self-belief left my body as rapidly as the blood left his. My breaths were shallow and rasping. I had no idea of how much longer I could hold onto this life. Finally, my flailing hands found the cool blade of the kitchen knife, and I snatched it up, only to release it. I screamed, hoarsely. I had grabbed the blade. My hand feeling like it was on fire with pain, it held the handle, and I drove it again into the man. His hands left my neck and scrabbled at his chest, but I had already pulled the blade out. He fell onto his back. In the bright moonlight I could see his eyes. They bore into me, pleading with me. I ignored his pleas and impaled the knife over and over into the body. I threw the knife athwart the room, and pummelled him with my fists. Bitter sweet tears of relief, anger and fear flowed freely down my face. Then I laughed. I laughed and laughed and couldn’t stop for many hours, as the hysteria bubbled over, releasing the possessed thoughts that had plagued me since the idea had formulated inside my head, all those months ago. And I sat next to him and stared into his flat, open eyes.
Tears ran down my face too. I walked into the room sedately. I grabbed her shoulders and turned her around, so that she had her back to the corpse. I took hold of his hand. My fingers circled the ring which resided on his left ring finger. I pulled it off ferociously and flung it back at the body. With a shaking hand I wiped away her tears, and tried to close her mouth. Inevitably, I was unable to. And then my mouth opened too and I joined in with the laughter, hardly sparing a thought for the man who lay there, dead.
It was the ragged transition of one nightmare into another. I had solved our current dystopia. Together we stood. Hand in hand we strode out of the open door. My mother and I. A perfect pairing. Neither of us could, would, remember the man on the floor; at the time of bliss and serenity. I pushed open the kitchen door, and Mother walked to the cupboard and dug through it. She eventually found some waffles. I got out the toaster, and plugged it into the socket by the kettle. The sound of ripping plastic interrupted our comforting silence. She took hold of two waffles and placed them in the spaces just large enough, in the toaster. We settled down in the smooth wood chairs, watching the sun rise on a new day, and a new era, safe in our secluded room, happy with each other and waiting for the pop of the toaster to tell us that the waffles were ready. And so are we.