This is the rework of a self-published auto-biographical story (2008), rewritten for this blog. Names of characters have been changed.
Content warning: mental and physical abuse, misogyny.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
The Day After
EXTRA WARNING: DOMESTIC ABUSE
Continued from… The Battering
When Annie finally dared to get up the next morning, the door to the main bedroom was still locked, which meant she had to wait until she could take a bath, as she lacked the nerve to knock on the door. A feeling of fear for what she might find behind that door took control of her. She softly opened the door to the children’s bedroom. All of them, including Melanie, were still sleeping. On her way to the kitchen, she was scared out of her wits when she saw Fran lying on the couch.
Fran, cigarette in her hand, looked terrible. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. Annie sat down with her, not knowing what to say. Suddenly she felt ashamed that she had not tried to help Fran the night before.
“He hit me. He kicked me.”
Fran’s voice was flat. Tears formed in her eyes.
“It wasn’t the first time. I can’t take it anymore. I want to get out of here, Annie. Need to. Far away from him. I want to go to a place where I can be safe.”
“Why did he do it?” Annie asked. The question sounded stupid in her own ears.
“He thought I was flirting with Patty to please him. To make it even worse, Patty kissed me on the mouth when they left last night about an hour after you went to bed. Fred checked through the bathroom window to see if their lights were out. Then it started. He said that he didn’t want a fat woman in his bed. I am not to decide who will share his bed with him. But in the past he always expected me to get the women ‘ready’ so he could commit adultery under my eyes,” Fran said with a bitter sound in her voice, which made Annie feel very guilty.
“I don’t want this anymore, Annie. I don’t want this.”
Fran started crying again.
* * * * *
Fred emerged from the bedroom, already dressed. He spoke to no one. Annie and Fran went to the bathroom to take a bath. Annie was shocked when she saw the consequences of what Fred had done to his wife the night before. Purple marks covered her arms and upper body. Her right thigh was the worst. The back of her thigh was almost black from just under her buttocks all the way down to the back of her knee. Fran timidly told Annie that Fred had first hit her and once she was down on the floor, he had stamped down on her with his feet. Again. And again. And again.
“Somewhere during what happened last night I started to menstruate. Fred kicked my stomach, my back…” Fran said as if she had to explain it to Annie, “I think that’s why I started bleeding again, even though my menstruation stopped only a couple of days ago.”
Annie could hardly believe that one person could do all these things to another. How did Fred manage to keep this side of him from her? How did he manage to keep up appearances in front of everyone? How could anyone ever believe him when he said that he loved Fran?
* * * * *
Due to an appointment made the previous evening, Fred drove all of them over to the smallholding of Jack and Betty. Fred drank heavily again, and because of the alcohol, his mood seemed to improve. He was extra caring towards Fran, who was masterly hiding her pain and warming up towards her husband. Annie noticed this with repulsion. She didn’t know what bothered her more: the fact that Fred thought he could compensate for everything with his pretty smile and his charm or the fact that Fran allowed him to right the wrong of the previous evening in such a manner. Fran started to justify Fred’s deeds. She started blaming herself for the Fred’s anger; justified what he did.
Was this called love?
* * * * *
Only late that afternoon they returned home. Fred went directly to the bathroom where he ran the bath. Annie was in the bathroom with him. When Fred walked through the bathroom door on his way out, he said something to Annie. Due to the rushing water, she couldn’t hear him clearly. She followed him and asked what he had said. Just before she could close the door of the bathroom, he repeated his words. Yet again, she could not clearly understand it and yet again, she asked him to repeat what he had said.
This added fuel to the fire. Deliberately he walked over and he stopped right in front of her. His bright blue eyes looked daggers at her. It reminded her of the previous night when he looked down on her in her bed. He stared at her. He didn’t say anything. In a matter of milliseconds, Annie was furious. From somewhere deep inside her, she mustered up some unprecedented courage.
“Are you going to hit me the same way you…?”
* * * * *
Carefully Annie tried to measure up her surroundings. She was on her feet, her back leaning against the wall behind her. Left of her was the bathroom door and water was still running into the bath. What happened?
Slowly it hit her: Fred had hit her! Then, the strange sensation — it didn’t hurt. Fred looked at her, his eyes now showing shock and bewilderment instead of anger. He seemed to realize what he had done. Neither of them spoke. As if in a movie, Annie saw her two kids watching her from the hallway, with shocked expressions on their little faces. Then they disappeared.
“Get out! Pack your stuff and leave!”
Annie didn’t answer Fred. Calmly she walked to the bedroom door. She closed and locked it. Then she walked into the bathroom where she closed the tap. In the conversation that followed, it took only moments for Annie to lower herself to a level that she once swore that she would never reach. She did the same Fran had done: under Fred’s charming influence and his sweet tenderness, she forgave him for what he had done. She blamed herself that he had hit her. She crawled and begged him not to kick her out. She had nowhere else to go with her kids. While humiliating herself, she didn’t even realize she was doing it. At last, even though he wasn’t aware of it at that very moment, Fred had done what he wanted. He had forced Annie to accept his mastery, and in future, she would follow his rules without any protest.
They called Fran into the bedroom and Fred remorsefully promised both women what he had done would never happen again. Nevertheless, after comforting her kids and telling them she was nasty to Uncle Fred and him hitting her was all her fault, that evening Annie went to bed feeling insecure.
This feeling never left her for as long as she was with Fred.
To be continued… More cracks
© Rebel’s Notes