We pull up to a large block of flats. The officer guides me up one flight of stairs, he pulls out a set of keys and unlocks the door. There’s a switch on the left side of the door, he flicks it on and the hallway is flooded with dim lighting.
He walks me through the whole flat, it’s small and quaint, the furniture is old. I set my small packed suitcase down in the bedroom and sit on the bed. I can’t hold it in any longer, I start crying hysterically – why did this have to happen?
Once I finally calm down I pluck up the courage to go through to the living room, there are two officers sitting there, one is reading the news paper and the other is going over case notes, I’m too scared to ask if it’s for my case. I want to call my parents but I’m not allowed to, I just want my mum.
It’s 20:30, I decide to go to bed, today has been long. I can’t stop thinking about Joel.
Just as I am about to doze off, the door springs open. Wearily, I look across the room.
There he is. Staring at me.
He has that look in his eye. I begin to shake in terror, I try screaming for help but he moves so fast the next thing I know he has a pillow over my face. This is it, this is how I am going to die.
As I wake I catch a glimpse of Joel in handcuffs. The police approach me. They start talking to me, telling me that it is no longer safe for me here, that I have to go into the witness protection program.
I start to cry. How did my life end up this way? I was happily married, I was a good wife. What led him to treat me this way?
Joel never really liked to talk about it, but it all started when he got back from Iraq, 3 years ago. The only thing he told me was that he watched his best friend blow up right in front of him, from then he was a changed man. I wondered how our lives would be if he’d left the army. I discovered I was pregnant a year before he got posted. We decided that with his career just taking off, and with our finances at the time, it wouldn´t be right to bring a child into the mix.
I´ll never forget the day Joel returned from his time out there. He locked himself in our bedroom for three days straight, he didn´t eat or talk to anyone, not me nor any of his family members.
I stare blankly out of the car window. They are tinted black so I can see out but no one can see in. I wonder where they are taking me. I wonder what has happened to Joel. My life will never be the same again.
I hesitate as I begin explaining to the police that the truth is… I don´t really know when all of this started. All I know is that the man I fell in love with is not the man I´ve come to know over the past few months. Thankfully, the doctors have come back to examine me, cutting my questioning short.I don´t want to talk about it, I just want to forget. Finally I am allowed to take a shower, I don´t know how long it´s been since I´ve had one. The only thing I know is that I want to wash the hospital smell out of my hair. Entering the small cubical bathroom I examine my body in the large mirror. I am covered in bruises. It looks as though I´ve been thrown across a room, or ran over by a tractor repeatedly.
As I re-enter the hospital room, the police are back, this time carrying a brown envelope. The large officer places it at the end of my bed and begins to explain the contents. I peel it open and empty it out, inside there is a passport, drivers license and birth certificate.
I study each item carefully – thinking to myself, what am I supposed to do with this. Another police officer enters the room accompanied by a tall thin blonde woman. What are they going to do to me now? The woman begins to explain that she is here to give me a whole new look. She stares me down and starts fiddling with my hair, I notice that in her bag she happens to have a bottle of blonde hair dye – oh crap.
Once she is finished I look at my new look in the mirror. Gone is Lily Monroe. This is it, this is my new identity.
It´s 3am. I´m still staring at the ceiling. Joel is passed out snoring next to me, making it nearly impossible to sleep. I glance over to the door. It’s open enough. I can see my packed suitcases standing in the dim light of the hall way.
This is it. This is my chance to leave him.
I scamper to the edge of the bed, careful not to wake him, and rush to our wardrobe, throwing on anything that I can find. I head down the stairs, grab my key and rush out of the door. I run, so fast that I knock one of the pictures off the wall – shit.
I make it to the car, just as I go to get in, he pulls my hair. After that it all went dark, all I remember is the pain and the darkness swallowing me whole.
I wake to sirens and flashing lights. What the fuck happened? And then it´s black again. A sharp shooting pain rises from my thigh to my lower back.
I´m awake. The lights are blinding. Squinting, I see a tall man at the foot of my bed. He´s wearing a police uniform and stares at me in horror – all I can think is, do I really look that bad?
The door flies open and in strolls the nurse with the breakfast tray. What time is it? I think to myself. Stupidly, I ask her for a mirror. I need to see the damage this time.
I wish I hadn´t. My left eye is completely swollen and black, there is a long gash right up my philtrum and at least a dozen stitches on the side of my head.
I put the mirror down. The police man still stares at me in total shock. He clears his throat and begins asking me questions about the events that occurred. The problem is… the only thing I remember is that darkness surrounding me.
What am I going to do? I think as the tears run down my face.
There he was, standing with a bouquet of flowers. My heart felt as though it was going to jump out of my chest. I dropped my bags and suddenly I was swept up into his arms and carried right back into our once happy home. He carried me all the way to the bedroom, carefully he peeled me out of my dress.
After we finished making love I sat on the ledge of the bed in silence. My mind started to wander, suddenly I found my self wallowing in self pity. What just happened? When I woke up this morning I was ready to leave him and yet here I am sitting on the edge of our bed. Why do I let him do this to me? Reaching for my phone it dawned on me that I was late – very late for a dinner with my parents. Rushing around the house, searching for my keys, I hear no movement from the bedroom.
He must be sleeping, I think to myself. As I head out of the door I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror that hangs on the wall. I look horrendous. I scribble down a note before I leave.
“Baby – just popped out to see my parents. I´ll be back soon. -L- x”
As I arrive at the restaurant I see my parents. The knot in my stomach tightens I know what they are going to say. I’m covered in bruises my parents have been saying for years that I should leave him. My parents faces tell me everything they’re feeling. I start to recall when this all started.
It was three years ago, he came back from Iraq and he was never the same. Suddenly everything I would say or do would piss him off. It started out just on the odd occasion but then it progressed to the point where if I would look at him the wrong way he would beat the living crap out of me.
I’ve got to get out of this life I’m trapped in. I have to leave.
It was dark and cold, I woke up and my head was pounding, it takes me a moment to recall what actually went on last night. As I stand up I notice the mess that surrounds me, coffee table smashed completely, pictures that once hung on the walls of our living room scattered and the tv is cracked right down the middle. What was it that made h im so angry last night? Was it something I said? I can’t quite remember.
Wearily I walk to the bathroom to examine the damage, I gape at the pasty-faced girl staring back at me, eyes swollen, lips split and her nose possibly broken. I can’t bare the sight of her. I run a warm bath. Stepping into the warm water it sends a shiver down my spine, I can’t help thinking how did we get here? We used to be so in love, I loved him with every inch of me. I still remember the day that we met, it was a hot summers day in June I was at the fair with my parents and that’s when I saw him, our eyes met and there was this gravitational pull and suddenly we were nose to nose – I´ll never forget that day.
My eyes stinging with tears, I sit on our bed, staring out of the window I feel a sudden rush of fear and I realise that I am packing my bags, I need to get out of here I can´t keep living my life like this. I quickly dress and tame my hair into some form of pony tail I grab my keys and credit card and head out to the car not entirely sure where it is that I´m going – something stops me in my tracks, it´s him.