This story is by Nirissa Reddy and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“As I watched him stumble into the room, I accepted my duty as a wife was to make sure he was safely in bed.”
“Yes, of course it is. We’ve been married for almost a decade. It’s not the first time that I had to do this. I couldn’t leave him alone in a public place. I would never forgive myself if something happened to him.”
“What could happen?”
“Like if he fell and hurt himself or passed out and had someone steal his wallet. You know, all sorts of things run through your mind.”
“and how does that make you feel?”
“make me feel?”
“Yes, that it is your duty to ensure his safety?”
“At first I was angry. My father never behaved that way. I guess I expected my husband to be the same. Instead, I knew I always had to do the drive home. That’s why I preferred booking at hotels with entertainment.”
“So you didn’t have to drive?”
“Yes, that’s right, no driving necessary. You see, he was adamant that he didn’t have a drinking problem. He crashed his car twice in the past year and I caught him on his way to an escort agency. It didn’t matter to him. He said he had complete control.”
“and you haven’t been for any counseling on the previous incidents, correct?”
“Have you had any other support?”
“What about family? Your sister Anne, perhaps?”
“No.” How did she know about Anne? Either way, Anne never understood. No one did.
“Alright. Are you not cold?”
It was an old-fashioned psychiatrist leather couch that I sat on. As I leaned back, I lifted my feet up in unison. My hands awkwardly searched for and found a resting position on my lower stomach. She didn’t look like a Dr. Flinn. Dr. Flinn was a feisty young redhead in my mind. In reality she appeared worn and make-up less; with grey curls caressing the sides of her face. She was kind and had rolled the office chair she was sitting on, over to my side.
“Just try and relax. Close your eyes if you need to. So, you both entered the hotel room?” her voice flowed reassuringly.
“Yes. I slipped on a nightdress and hopped into the bed. I was somewhat relieved to see he had begun undressing but soon I was watching as he slumped shirtless and disappeared at the foot of the bed.” A wafting intrusion of the floral scented room tunneled up my nostrils halting my words.
“Go on Rita.” Dr. Flinn urged.
“Yes. Sorry. I got out from under the covers and leaned forward over the edge of the bed. His eyes were closed so I began playfully tapping his face.”
“Yes, like when you try to revive someone who’s fainted. It was a habit and normally he would get up and jump into the bed.” An internal twisting in anticipation of the recollection persisted but the was a protest in vain.
“What happened this time?”
“He smiled and then groaned but didn’t budge.” I closed my eyes.
“Get up, come on get up.” His broad grin was a good sign. It meant he heard me, and naturally, I persevered with my playfulness.
I was still smiling when his eyes tore open revealing bloodshot rage. His hand swallowed mine whole squashing it agonizingly into my cheek. Still, in sheer disbelief, he towered over my half clothed body. A crack of his whip arm sent me crashing head first to the polished floor.
“I’m going to kill you. Do you hear me? I’m going to kill you.” He slurred.
With a fist full of my hair locked in his grip, I was a stuffed toy in the mouth of a spirited Pitbull. My self-worth reduced to nothing by the image of tufts my burgundy hair scattered over the vanilla porcelain tiles. A blazing scalp, yet still darkened by incredulity, no words dared come out. With each wail and frantic gasp, my unrecognizable voice wedged between my mind and body.
He swiftly flung me back onto the bed, careful not to lose his grip of my hair.
“I’m going to kill you.” He repeated.
Locked in an impossible position, strands of stray hair obscured my view of his face. I shut my eyes and forced my thoughts into a string of words, “What did I do?”
I had never been in this situation before I didn’t know what the appropriate thing to say was. I still believed he would release me, instead, more rage ensued.
He pulled me up once again and as we both stood at the foot of the bed, I gained motion. With both hands, I buried my fingers under his palms and pushed upwards to free my hair. Finally, he released me but with one powerful thrust into my shoulders, I landed on the floor in a resounding thud. Like two freshly sharpened knives, his knees slammed into my breasts, knocking the last bit of air straight out of me in a desperate yelp.
I was being naïve when the thought crossed mind that someone had heard my muffled screams and was on their way. I wasn’t trying to escape or call for help earlier. No one had heard and no one was coming. As both his hands clasped tightly around my neck, surreal receded. His scowl and frothing mouth showed no hope of mercy for my petite frame. I was really going to die. With horrendous throbbing in my eyes and airless convulsing lungs, I yearned for the inevitable darkness and soon enough it came.
When my eyes flicked open again, for some time, I just lay there staring at the white Victorian corniced ceiling. His deep recurring hot brandy breath cascaded and retreated over me. I turned and stared at his peaceful sleeping face. My mouth was wallpapered in a paper towel. Then the tears poured in an unceasing stream. My fury amplified.
Terrified, I opened my eyes searching for Dr. Flinn.
“Did you call for help?” Dr. Flinn prompted.
“No. My ears…my ears, they were sweltering. I can’t explain.” I said.
“It’s alright. Tell me more.”
“I…I don’t know,” I said.
“Rita, I know you remember more than that.” Dr. Flinn said.
“I just lay there next to him. I’m not sure for how long. I must have passed out because I just can’t remember.”
“Tell me what you do remember?”
“When I woke up the second time, my head and shoulders were wet. I saw that it was covered in blood. That’s when I stood up and ran out of the room for help.”
“That’s good Rita. I’m glad you remember that. Did you do anything else before running out of the room?” Dr. Flinn asked.
“No. I mean, yes.” I said.
“Yes?” Dr. Flinn’s sudden elevation in tone unnerved me but I continued.
“The stainless kettle from the dressing table was in my right hand. I placed it back on the base and then I ran out.”
“What were you doing with the kettle?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps I grabbed it to defend myself.” I said.
There was a knock on the door and a man walked in.
“What’s this?” he appeared bewildered.
“She wanted to lie down.” Dr. Flinn smiled.
“Doctor, I have to take her back now.”
“I’m making progress. Can we have a few more minutes?” Dr. Flinn said.
“I have strict orders. I’m sorry.”
“Stan, you’re new right?” Dr. Flinn asked the man who was now walking towards me.
“That’s correct Doctor.”
“Can we get her out of these cuffs before tomorrow’s session? It’s really unnecessary.”
“I’ll see what I can do about the ankle cuffs but not the handcuffs. It’s for your own protection.” Stan replied.
“Well, I guess that will have to do.” She said and then turned her attention to me.
“Well, I’m sorry. We’ll just have to continue with this tomorrow Rita?” She said and I sat upright.
“Please, tell me what’s going on? Where’s my husband? No one has told me why I’m being held.” Streaming tears fell rapidly to my chest, darkening the dreadfully bright orange clothing I wore.
“Rita, this has been explained to you every time we meet. I’m trying to help you.” I suppressed the sudden familiarity in Dr. Flinn’s voice.
“It’s been days. Where is my monster of a husband? He should be in cuffs, not me!” I sobbed.
“No Rita, it’s been years and I think we both know where your monster of a husband is?” Dr. Flinn nodded to the officer. He walked over grabbed and lifted me from the blue and white checkered vinyl floor.
At the door, I stopped and turned back. “Doctor Flinn?” I said.
“Yes Rita?” she sighed.
“In the end, the real monster won, didn’t she?” I smiled.
“Indeed, she did.”