This story is by Melissa Guckin and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Summer Collapsed Into Fall
I prayed for his death on more than one occasion. Not literally,but metaphorically. I was dead,why shouldn’t he be?
Til death do we part. I often felt like a widow within my marriage,did death always need to be a physical one? Psychologically I was done,dead inside my very spirit,no longer the woman I used to be. Without a shred of wifely obligations left inside me,I realized the man who once raised my hair with goosebumps,now made it stand on end.
We had a tumultuous relationship,one with no business progressing past the first date,yet,the connection we had with one another was so familiar we felt incomplete without each other.
Zander Beckett,my husband,was a hot shot ambulance chasing lawyer that was very successful in the career he chose. Ever ready to go in for the kill, Zander never missed the chance to kick a person when they were down and use their bodies as a stepping stone to boost himself up any way he saw fit.
I am Paige Bexley,a world class do-gooder. Ever ready to lend a helping hand. I try to never miss the opportunity to help lift a person when they are down and use their successes to boost my own internal morale. It just feels good to do good.
It came as no surprise that we met at the scene of a horrific accident. He was looking for a potential client,I was looking for a soul to heal. My caring and compassionate ways intrigued him from the moment he laid his eyes upon me in the flashing light of the ambulance or so he said. Liar. He knew he had to make me his and in true Zander Beckett form,he chased that ambulance straight to the hospital and took over my life.
We got married in the fall of that very same year. Everyone said it was too soon and our differences would rip us apart for sure. I had considered perhaps they were right but Zander’s merciless competitive cutthroat attitude won me over.
“ You love me don’t you?,” would be the ever hounding question he would fall back on. It somehow sounded more like an order than a question.
“Forever and always,” was unfailingly my response.
The wedding was an exquisite showpiece that took place on October 31st, All Hallows Eve my favorite day of the year,a day when all the love of souls long past, rejoin the living. A day that forever reminded me that rebirth comes after a dormant phase. It was these beliefs that kept my head about me and the marriage alive in the ensuing years.
The next few years together brought many changes. Babies were born, parents died,jobs were lost and new careers were started. Throughout it all we stood by each others side,pushing through each event and waiting, resigned,for the next one that would inevitably be thrust in our path. The marriage suffered. Zander was spending more time at work and chasing ambulances and developing a more aggressive and unprincipled demeanor. I once used to be unscathed by his abuse,but now was finding myself continuously at the receiving end of his sharp tongue. No longer did I feel free to offer an opinion or simply comment on current events without him twisting my words to fit some agenda he had. Heaven forbid I try to correct him to argue my point, he would slap on his lawyer face and treat me as just another case to be won. I was losing my husband,I was losing my best friend, more importantly,I was losing my voice. Shrouded in my silence, I was constantly making excuses for Zander with friends and family. “Lot’s of stress,” I’d say to pass off his snide remarks or his obvious absence from a function altogether. “ It’s been a tough couple of years but we are getting by,” I’d lie.
Zander noticed a change in me too. His Stepford wife was gone. That chatty little pixie,forever ready with a kind word of encouragement,had vanished. He did that to me and he realized it now too. I tried to tell him. Tell him I missed him,tell him I needed my best friend,but he silenced me,like he always did and now,my silence was deafening.
I suppose he was afraid of losing control over me because he planned a ‘getaway’ for the week of our anniversary. Halloween was always my favorite time of year. Autumn trees, with their amber hues,giving a gratifying reminder of how beautiful it is to let dead things go.
To say I was apprehensive about the trip would be an understatement. We had grown so distant with one another and Zanders remarks were always so cutting and cruel lately. I never dreamed that the monsters of Halloween would manifest in human form and live within my husband. He played a malicious game to control me and passive aggressively played the game perfect.
I never saw it coming. The first fresh snow in November accumulated to but an inch at best,yet left an icy aftermath in its wake once shoveled away. There was no salt. The innkeeper had forgotten it back in the office and had returned to get it. In a stroke of bad timing,that’s when we decided to venture out for the day. It was that time when Zander fell..down all thirteen steps,damaging his spinal cord.
“…….ruptured the Sacral Spine,just above the coccyx,” the doctors were explaining to me.
None of this made any sense. “ Will he walk?”,was the first question I asked and needed answered. I knew my husband’s feelings all too well from his ambulance chasing history and he would never want to live like one of his clients that couldn’t.
“…all five bones affected S1-S5, to different degrees of severity,” the doctor continued,seemingly not hearing my question.
“Will he walk?”, I asked again.
The months that followed were intense, for both of us. Everyday I would go to the hospital and stay right by Zanders side. Encouraging him,assisting him, learning what to do for him and learning when to back off.
With hard work and determination,he grew even stronger. He was walking again and I was his unwavering, clueless cheerleader,weary from his contempt towards me.
Zander would snap at me, often, resentful that I was now his caretaker.
“I’m not one of you charity cases,” he would bite,never placing value on my work.
“They are not charity cases,” I would reply, “ They are people who need help, much like you do now. I love you and I want to help.”
He couldn’t see past it. He was grateful,yes,but at the same time he could not stop the growing animosity he held. I was a constant reminder of that day and of how his life was forever altered and deep down the blame for all of it.
Summer collapsed into Fall and our wedding anniversary was once again on the horizon, as was the anniversary of the accident. Zander was becoming increasingly uncivil to me and I was uninterested in coming up with new excuses to explain his offensive behavior. I needed to concede for my own well being,that the accident did not cause his vile attitude,it was a factor to be sure,but Zander Beckett was always a reprehensible man with an agenda all his own. Well,he wasn’t the only one discontented. After everything,I found myself,yet again, feeling alone in an unpredictable marriage.
‘ Til Death Do You Part’, five words which made my blood run cold. There was no way I could live this life forever. Believing I could once again love the woman buried deep within my soul, I left my husband this note:
“ I love you, but I need to love myself more. You, not wanting me, was the beginning of me wanting myself. I owe it to myself, to give the same love to me, as I so freely give it to others.”
With the stroke of a pen, it was over. I,Paige Bexley,walked away. I regained self love and took back control of my life.