The walls are closing in. You feel choked, like something is squeezing you into a little ball. You want to scream, you want to let people know but what will the people do. Out of nowhere, you’ll feel punched out of breath, your teeth will cut against cheek and you will taste yourself leaking red through your mouth. You asked for it, by putting less sugar in the coffee.

You feel like being chased by flesh eating raptors, in a forest of wet darkness. The only source of light are the edges of the door, which has three different locks and five different bolts. He keeps all the keys. And every night, each turn of the lock closing feels like ice running through your veins. A tingling sensation, rampant dizziness all over you. You only get out of it after being slapped blue.

You want to run, run fast, run hard, to the door, outside the door. Outside the door is green, yellow, pink. Outside the door is a world he can’t touch you in. You want to scream. You want to run for your life, but you can’t. This is your marriage. You have to fix it. His remorse is so real, his promises so sincere. Until he breaks them and your ribs. When the lady at the ER asks, you smile and shrug. You are just clumsy.

You love him, more than anything. Because he kicked your dog into the ocean. You had said you loved her the most. You believe him, more than anything. Because he put your hair on fire to prove his point. You have faith in your compassion’s capacity to heal him. And for all the nights he assaults you, you unflinchingly stare at a picture of that crucified son of a god. You are the Jesus no one knows about.

You fantasize about leaving, just walking right out of that door and never looking back. When he’s on top of you, thrusting himself in with no mercy, you entertain fantasies of shutting the door on his face. When you seem distracted, your nipples get pinched till you scream and are brought back to him, his hell. And every morning after you’ve fucked, ever since the first time you fucked, he traces his tongue over the bruises on your body and says ‘look Stella, I gave you constellations’. When you stopped smiling to this, you lost two teeth.

You want to walk out. It is your fifth try but you are determined this time. He pulls your hair to stop you and kicks you down. And when you get up, he lies down on the carpet with you, tears in his eyes, trying to convince you that he is good. That he loves you too much. That he cares for you too much. That he wouldn’t have to be this way if you weren’t so careless, so ugly, so stupid. You feel a warm familiar fatigue between your bones, his abuse is home. What if the world outside the door is crueler? He could be right. He is always right.

The doorbell rings. His tears vanish, his face changes. He straightens his clothes and walks up to the door, ready with a smile. You blink. You blink again. The door opens. You hear voices of children playing outside. Cycle bells ringing, evening bird chirping. Cool air wafts in through the open door and caresses your cheeks, the back of your neck, your heaving chest. You blink. You breathe.

Some neighbour has been baking banana bread it seems. You get up. And grab the only vase in the house that he didn’t smash on you. It was his wedding gift to you. You smile as you walk up behind him. He turns his back to the door, surprised to see you up. You smile as you shatter the glass on his face. And you kick. And you spit. And you scream. When he seem to get up, you step on his face, the glass crunching below your feet and cross the threshold.

You close the door behind you. He’s never coming back. Your eyes need a minute to adjust to the brightness. When you see, you see nothing. In the middle of nowhere, you stand, by yourself, for yourself. This is just how it is.


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