My Indie Ink challenge this week brought up some difficult things. I wrote this as fiction because I can’t write it well as anything else yet, but this is pieces of reality from years ago. I was challenged by A Lil Irish Lass with the line “That was something you were never supposed to see.”
“I just walked in on him. They were in our bed. How does he think that’s okay?”
“You’re in an open relationship. What’s the problem?”
“Apparently it’s possible to cheat in an open relationship. One of the rules we have is that we always know what’s going on with the other person. If he’d wanted to sleep with her and he’d talked to me about it, it would have been all right. I wouldn’t have understood, but I wouldn’t have objected. She’s tall, yes, and young, but not very bright, and her teeth are awful. Of course, so are his, so I suppose that doesn’t matter to him. I’m rambling about teeth while my boyfriend is screwing someone in my freaking bed.”
“They didn’t stop?”
“He looked up at me, more angry than anything else, got up, walked over to the door, shut it, and as he shut it, said, ‘That was something you were never supposed to see.’”
“That’s not good.”
“Would you please help me pack? I am not staying, and I know how bad he can get if he’s in a temper and doesn’t have an audience.”
“What do you mean? He’s always so sweet to you. I’ve seen you overreact a few times, but I’ve never seen him angry.”
I turned around and pulled up my shirt. The welts from a few nights ago that he’d applied so carefully after I had embarrassed him in front of his friends were still there, more bruised than red at this point. “He’s not sweet unless there’s an audience. I thought I could be good enough. I thought I was the problem. I thought, if I just worked hard enough, cooked well enough, was smart enough, he’d stop hurting me. In public he’s so nice. I thought it was my fault.” I pulled my shirt down and turned around. “I just realized how much I’ve come to depend on him for my sense of self. I’m with a man who can cheat in an open relationship and then get angry at me for it. If I go back without someone else coming along, I’ll pay for it tonight. I don’t think I can do that again.”
“I don’t even know what to say. I can’t imagine him being abusive to anyone. He’s so gentle. Everyone knows how kind he is!”
Tears were starting to leak out. “Where else would I get welts like that? It’s an open relationship on his side. The only times I’ve done anything were at his direction, and if I even flirted without his say-so he flipped his lid.”
“I just don’t believe it. You’re too smart to stay in an abusive relationship. The only people who would do that are stupid or desperate. He’s not that kind of guy, either. He’s sweet and sensitive and cares about people. I can’t believe you’d say that about him!” She left, angrily, slamming the door behind her.
I sat down on the floor, suddenly aware of how alone I had become in the years that he’d been separating me from my friends and working on his to make sure they had a particular view of the relationship. I probably wasn’t supposed to see that, either.
Karla V. answered my challenge here.