The door opened and Fay heard a soft bang quickly followed by a curse. He was pissed, again. Fay curled up in a ball and pulled the covers up to her neck. Her bed was soft and warm but she felt the familiar prick of coldness that came when she knew that the man she loved was going to hurt her. She could hear louder thumps as he came up the stairs, his boots still on, leaving a trail of mud which she would have to clear up in the morning. The bedroom door was flung open and Fay screwed up her eyes as the light from the hallway came flooding through. She could already smell the alcohol and cigarette smoke on his clothes. There was a moment of silence and Fay opened her eyes, slowly. At first she could only see a dark shape, looming over the bed. But as her eyes slowly grew accustomed to the light she saw the raised fist and only had a seconds notice to cover her face before the pain came.
As the first lights of dawn filtered through the gap in the curtain Fay pushed herself out of Dan’s embrace. She stumbled down the hallway and into the bathroom. The steam from her bath obscured her reflection in the mirror but she could still see the dark circle beneath her eye. She reached up and wiped away the condensation from the cold glass and stared at the swollen skin that covered her normally well defined cheek bone. It made her left eye hard to see out of and as she stared it started to water. She brought her hand up to gently touch the swelling and she flinched as the pain spread out from where she pressed.
Next she took Dan’s boots back downstairs and brought a wet cloth and a bowl of water up to the stairs and soaked the mud out from the red carpet. Then she went to the kitchen and put the kettle on. It was all a routine, every weekend, and often during the week. He came home drunk, he hit her, he slept with her and in the morning she would act like nothing had happened. She never went out anymore. She never saw her friends anymore. She made excuses. She didn’t want them to see the bruises that appeared all over her body.
But she didn’t want to leave him.
She loved him and it was as simple as that. Her life didn’t exist without him and his life didn’t exist without her.
She took her cup of tea and sat down at the table. She flicked through the newspaper and waited. At twelve o’clock he came downstairs. He came into the kitchen, kissed her head and made himself a cup of tea. He sat down opposite her at the table and stared at her bruise.