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.
Continued from… Annie’s eviction
“I would call Odette and ask her if we could stay with her until the schools close for the summer holidays.”
“Oh!” Fred couldn’t stop the surprise from showing in his voice. “And apart from that, what are your plans?”
“I want to call the department of foreign affairs. I want to know the procedure that I should follow if I want to move abroad.”
“Abroad? How the hell did you get to that?”
Annie enjoyed Fred’s unconcealed surprise. She knew he had expected her to collapse and beg. She promised herself he would never know just how close she was to collapsing at that very moment. She wanted so much for everything to be as it was when they awoke that morning. That was the easy way out, but this time she refused to beg. She wouldn’t let him have his way.
“My mother lives abroad. For more than a year now, she wants me to move there with my children. I don’t really want to, but I see no other way out. If our relationship breaks down, there is nothing significant left for me in this country.”
Annie knew that she was being dishonest again. She didn’t want to give him the pleasure of knowing what she was really afraid of. Under no circumstances could Fred know she believed his threats. She was afraid he would do what he threatened: he would ruin her career and their life unbearable.
For once Fred was quiet. He had no words.
“May I call foreign affairs?” Annie asked.
“No. Wait. You can call later.”
Fred kept this up for the rest of the day. He constantly stayed close to the phone. Every time Annie asked him if she could call, he refused. Apart from his continued refusal, he didn’t speak to her. He also refused to let her leave the room, commanding her to stay seated. It was nothing else than mental abuse from his side. At last Annie snapped. After several hours, the strong front she had kept up until then, crumbled. She started to beg.
“Fred, please. Let me call them. I need to know what to do if I want to emigrate. Please don’t keep me dangling. It’s unfair.”
Suddenly Fred started laughing. It sounded almost uncontrollable. Manic. Just as sudden as it started, it stopped.
“Annie, my sweet love,” he said mockingly serious, “I thought about it all afternoon. I don’t want you to leave. Fran doesn’t want you to leave. If you’re honest towards yourself, you’ll admit you don’t want to leave either. You don’t have to make any calls at all. You and your kids may stay on the smallholding. Come here, sweetie.”
Later Annie wouldn’t be able to say why his words softened her resolve. Within moments, she was in his arms and crying unstoppable. For the first time — and the only — Fred comforted her.
“Come on girl, stop your crying. Come on. Stop. No need to cry anymore. Stop. I love you. Be quiet, sweetie.”
When at last Annie quieted down, Fred was serious again.
“Annie, the only reason why I am giving you another chance is because both Fran and I love you. But you have to know that this really is the very last chance to prove you’re as serious about this relationship as we are.”
Fred’s parents were moving from a small town to the city, and told him to remove the stuff he was storing at his parental house. Fred arranged for his brother to look after the kids that weekend, and ordered Annie to accompany him and Fran. Annie wanted to stay home, but Fred refused.
“No, Annie,” he said, a bitter sound in his voice, “after what happened earlier this week, I definitely don’t trust you to stay here. I want to keep you close to me so I can keep a watchful eye on you. I can only trust you when I can see you.”
Where a couple of days earlier Annie had been grateful she didn’t have to leave the smallholding, she now regretted it. Fred was treating her like a kid. Even worse.
During the weekend at Fred’s parents, Annie saw who Fred’s big example was. His father treated his mother in exactly the same way Fred treated Fran. And Annie. If someone had told her Fred’s father also abused his wife, Annie would immediately have believed it.
Annie visited her father, who lived about sixty kilometers from where Fred’s parents lived. Fred and Fran escorted her, as Fred had refused to let her go alone. Annie kept up appearances in front of her dad and his wife. Outwardly, she was cheery. Inside, she was crying. When they left later that afternoon, Annie went through yet another humiliating moment.
“Dad,” she said, feigning cheerfulness, “do you like my new car?”
Fred and Fran were already in the car. Fred rolled the window down.
“Very nice, my child,” her father said, “but it’s such a shame you have to sit in the back of your own car.”
On their way back to Fred’s parents, Annie and Fran had to listen to a well-known monologue from Fred. He yet again accused them of not doing enough to spice up their sex life, and threatened to have an affair with one of the club members, the way he did with Helena.
Annie wasn’t in the mood to listen to all he was saying, let alone do what he wanted. However, that evening she let herself be carried away by Fran’s plans. After everyone had gone to bed, Annie sneaked through the hallway to the room where Fred and Fran slept. The couple was already waiting for her. In relative silence, not to wake Fred’s parents, they had sex.
Annie and Fran had to share the passenger’s seat on their five-hour-trip back to the smallholding, since the back seat of the car was fully loaded with Fred’s stuff.
Fran started fiddling between Annie’s legs. Since Fred was watching them, Annie didn’t dare refusing Fran’s advances. Resigned, she put her hand between Fran’s legs and moved her fingers around. It irritated Annie that they were only fiddling around with each other. Fran wasn’t planning to bring her to a climax and neither did she want to be brought to a climax.
“Now Fred can see we’re still working on our sex life. We’ll continue tonight,” she said to Annie. Fred showed no reaction.
It was Annie’s first day back at her work after her operation, and it felt like she had been released from a prison. She was relieved to be among normal people again.
To be continued… Watched, controlled, coerced
© Rebel’s Notes