----->This is the second installment in a series of true life diary entries, vignettes, poetry, and short stories all under the title Tales from the Black Sheep. ----->I have chosen to use my second entry to explore an hour of my life I have yet to write about so directly.
----->But before I send you away to read my tale, a little context and a trigger warning (this story contains adult themes, profanity, and domestic violence). ----->At 16, I was suffering from severe depression, my mother had just combatted breast cancer, and my father had just recently been deemed a convicted felon. Needless to say, I was vulnerable.
----->Then, I met a boy. We will call him Bryan.
----->Bryan was everything I wanted from my life. He was funny, smart, sweet, and loved me unconditionally. However, my relationship quickly went from perfect to codependent to toxic.
----->Bryan was everything I wanted from my life. He was funny, smart, sweet, and loved me unconditionally. However, my relationship quickly went from perfect to codependent to toxic. ----->He isolated me from my family and friends, convinced me that they did not care about me and only he did.
----->He forced me to quit my job because I often had to work weekends, and that was time he wanted to spend with (and on top of) me. ----->He made me call him on my way to and from school to prove I was actually where I said I was and I was not allowed to do or go anywhere without his express permission.
----->He often called me screaming because I did not text him back fast enough. He called me horrible names and said horrible things to me that I won’t repeat here.
----->He often called me screaming because I did not text him back fast enough. He called me horrible names and said horrible things to me that I won’t repeat here. ----->He also had me complete his school work, often forcing me to put my work aside. I was also forced to complete certain adult acts I wanted no part in, and more than once, he forced himself on me.
----->My only saving grace was that he was attending university three hours north of me, but he came to visit every weekend.
----->My only saving grace was that he was attending university three hours north of me, but he came to visit every weekend. ----->My toxic relationship was now severely verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive with only a touch of physicality.
----->In the blink of an eye, a year had passed us by and I was still with him, but very unhappy. I knew he was bad news, but I couldn't leave. I was afraid and alone. ----->Which brings us to a morning I will never forget:
Tears practiced elegant acrobatics down the uneven terrain of my face, always sticking the landing from the tip of my nose to my upper lip only to dismount into my mouth. Guilt and salt blanketed my tongue as Bryan let his words pummel me into the sheets of my bed.
The night before, I had been emboldened by the proximity of a friend and had broken up with him over the phone. With the encouragement of my friend, I had finally decided to say enough was enough and walk away from him. But I muddied it up.
When I left her house and went home, I made the mistake of calling another friend, Mateo, and begging him to come over. I knew that no good would come of his visit but I desperately desired physical comfort and knew that Mateo would offer it should he be even slightly coaxed.
He and I had a history both separate and entwined with my relationship with Bryan and for that reason, I knew my time with Mateo that night would be all the more salacious.
However, with all of our clothes on the floor and our bodies ready to sway together, I dismissed him, the sense of loyalty to Bryan still too strong. We immediately got dressed and Mateo left. My skin smelled of him and I wept, inundated with the feeling that I had betrayed the love of my life.
A ship without a port, I eventually drifted off to sleep that night in the salty sea that had become my pillow.
A ship without a port, I eventually drifted off to sleep that night in the salty sea that had become my pillow. I awoke today to a furious pounding on my front door. To my surprise, the face on the other side was Bryan’s.
His face was painted rose petal red, a stark contrast to his hazel, kaleidoscope eyes shielded by thick, copper rimmed glasses. I loved those glasses. I loved watching him take them off his face because I knew that meant he was about to kiss me with a fervor steeped in subtle lust that you only saw in black and white movies.
Now, he pushed them up firmly to kiss the bridge of his nose. I ignored his body language and threw myself into him immediately continuing my sobbing from the night before.
“I’m — so—sorry,” a broken plea for forgiveness drowned in the creases of his button down. My arms were wrapped tightly around his waist, the two of us still in the threshold of my front door. Someone once told me that the threshold of a door in the safest place to be during an earthquake,
but during these tremors I was feeling, that surely measured at least an eight on the richter scale, I didn’t feel very safe from this destruction happening around me. Bryan looked down at me,
a wet pathetic mess clinging to his thin form with a level of disdain I had yet to see in person; I had only heard the tone associated with the look during agitated phone calls.
He ripped me off of him and pushed me slightly to allow room for him to enter my house. He walked right past me. His back to me, he started to ascend the stairs to my bedroom.
He ripped me off of him and pushed me slightly to allow room for him to enter my house. He walked right past me. His back to me, he started to ascend the stairs to my bedroom. As he rounded the landing of the stairs, his eyes caught mine and his voice bellowed, “Upstairs. Now.”
Dutifully, I obeyed his command. I knew I was already in enough trouble, I didn’t need to give him any more reasons to admonish my behavior. I wasn't quite sure when I had become this submissive but I wasn't a fan of the view from down here.
In my room, he was standing near my bed. He pointed to it and I sat, where I now sit, listening to his verbal assault. He hasn’t let me speak yet. He keeps saying he doesn’t want to hear my defence for the way I tried to break up with him and that he doesn’t want me seeing Michelle anymore. He thinks she’s a bad influence.
I’m not sure I’m even hearing the words he’s saying anymore, the moment is bleeding through my psyche. In so many ways, I have already dissociated from this life I have seemingly chosen.
I’m not sure I’m even hearing the words he’s saying anymore, the moment is bleeding through my psyche. In so many ways, I have already dissociated from this life I have chosen. I am a shell of my former self. I have to be. The girl I am would never take this abuse.
Suddenly, something he says jolts me back to the present. “Did you hear me? I said give me your phone. I can’t trust you. I need to see who you’re talking to.”
My heart, knowing what is about to happen before I could even fathom the future, flies through my ribcage and straight out the door to escape this environment, too frail for the next moments.
My fingers clasp my phone and my body chooses flight over fight. I stand up, phone in hand, and head towards the bathroom, “I just have to pee, I’ll be right back." But I don’t make it far, only to the door of the bathroom. My hand touches the handle and I feel his hand clench my arm, tugging me backwards.
“No. Do you think I’m stupid? Go pee, but give me your phone. We’ll read your messages together when you get out.” If my heart were still in my chest, it would have just fallen into my stomach. I oblige his request and hand my phone to him.
I force myself to go to the bathroom and once finished, open the door. He opens my messages and I know when he sees the name Mateo because steam begins to pour from his ears. In reflex, I throw my hand over the phone and word vomit: “after I got off the phone with you last night, I called Mateo.
He came over and we almost hooked up, but I stopped it. I couldn’t have sex with him. I just wanted you. I fucked up, I know I fucked up, I’m so sorry, Bryan. Please forgive me.” His eyes didn’t even leave my phone screen yet somehow his fist connected with my cheekbone perfectly, like an arrow piercing the center of a bullseye.
Everything seemed to happen simultaneously in slow motion and with a speed that my human eyes could not perceive. I heard the smack long before I ever felt it. The power of his hit sent me flying to the ground but I managed to put my hands out in front of me just in time.
I landed sideways on my hip, but I couldn't feel the dull throb of pain anywhere yet. Everything was drenched in an opaque film that seemed to have also filled my ears. It was as though I had fallen into a frozen river, able to almost see the world happening above the thick layer of ice that separated us.
I could see that Bryan was now crying on the floor next to me, his head in his hands. He was saying something to me but it couldn’t cut through the ice in my eardrums. I don’t know how, but I managed to stand up and walk right past him, back into my bedroom. I just needed to be away from him.
I sat on my bed, eyes jetting side to side attempting to absorb what was happening. A sudden pain burned in my cheek and hip. I touched my cheek and winced, pulling my finger away to reveal a single red droplet. Bryan had flung himself into my room and threw himself at my mercy, head in my lap recanting his actions:
“Baby, please. I don’t know what came over me. You know I would never hit you. Just the thought of him….on you, I couldn’t take it. My hand just…moved. I don’t know. Please. It will never happen again. I love you so much. I love you so much, I just can’t stand to think of you with anyone else. It just makes me so angry. I just have to keep you safe.
You’re so important to me. You shouldn’t have called Mateo. You know how I feel about him. He’s such a bad guy and I just love you.”
You’re so important to me. You shouldn’t have called Mateo. You know how I feel about him. He’s such a bad guy and I just love you.” I wiped the drop of my own blood onto the underside of my pajama bottoms and picked his head off my lap. I cradled his cheeks in my palms and pulled his face to mine.
My thumbs wiped his tears, fleshy windshield wipers for his cheeks.
My thumbs wiped his tears, fleshy windshield wipers for his cheeks. “I know it won’t happen again. It was my fault. I made you angry, ” with that, I kissed him, hard. ---------------------------------------
----->If you or someone you know is suffering at the hands of domestic abuse, please seek help and know that not all abuse is broken bones and bleeding skin.
For help in the U.S. : 1.800.787.3224 https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 800.656.HOPE (4673) https://www.rainn.org
For help in the U.K. : 0808.2000.247 https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/helpline/
None of us need to be alone or complicit during times of abuse. Speak up, speak out. Know the signs.