This time last year you were crying on my couch, wailing and keening for sympathy as you searched for some kind of emotional response. I stood leaning against the window while you withered on and said nothing. I had no tears for you. You expected me to respond to your emotional outburst, yet you had spent so much time wheedling away at my self-respect that as I watched yours just flood out I felt nothing. Maybe a little joy watching as Karma took her reward but really that was just a small flicker of something. I’m not sure I can even really classify it as joy.
Now you scream at me over a phone line, and I stand there scowling at the wall because I can’t get a word in edgewise even if I wanted to. You’re yelling something about how I’m not fair. How our lives didn’t turn out how you expected and how that’s not fair. You’re screaming about how I’m selfish and I can’t hold it in, I just laugh.
“What? What are you laughing about?”
“You,” I say into the phone, still chuckling. “You call me selfish after years of making me feel like shit. You scream at me over the phone and waste my time with your bullshit and you tell me that I’m the one that’s selfish. That’s what I’m laughing about.”
Silence fills the line, some errant static picking its way across the wires. It crackles loudly.
“The fuck?” You whisper it. I remember this rage. I remember it like it was yesterday. The last time you got like this, you beat the shit out of me. You broke a chair over my back and you broke three ribs, fracturing four more.
“Just stop.” I hang up. The phone rings again. I don’t answer it. I let it finish ringing and unplug the phone. I know this will piss you off more. I know likely your rage will fuel a fire and it will drive you to this place we lived in together for too long.
I walk to the liquor cabinet. I pull out the whiskey. I take down the last of my grandfather’s tumblers that I inherited when he died. Beautiful cut glass. I pour myself a glass, walk to the freezer, and pull out the whiskey stones my father bought me three years ago. So you don’t water down good whiskey, he told me. I smiled. He is still always so worried that I don’t use them. That I’m still using ice.
I drop the stones in the whiskey and walk to the old couch. I sit down, lay back against the pillows, the ones I carefully sewed up after you stabbed them to pieces. I remember being afraid then, because I could tell you wanted those pillows to be my torso, my stomach – you wanted to kill me. I can only imagine that what drove you to those pillows instead of me was simply a murder charge. Domestic abuse was one thing, murder another. You didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of your life.
I wait. I sip my whiskey. I know that you’ll show up. I know that if you do I probably won’t make it in time to the phone before you smash in the window above the door knob and unlock the door. I think again that I should have demanded that the landlord change that door and install a deadbolt.
I let the whiskey sit in my mouth. I taste its hundred years of curing in a barrel in Scotland. I ordered this bottle as a gift to myself when I finally had you dragged away. I called in favors to make sure they got you away from me, and kept you away, but that didn’t stop the phone calls. As they continued to come in, they become less menacing and more pathetic.
I hear your loud knock. I hear you screaming. I hear the window smash. I keep the glass in my hand, sipping slowly. You let yourself in. You turn the corner, screaming at me, spit flying from your rigid mouth. I would be afraid, if this were the old days.
Now I’m just content you’ll commit the crime that will put you away for life. Maybe you’ll get death, but that would be too good for you. I hope instead they’ll take you for what you are and give you a dose of your own torture.
You never did find the need for weapons, only brute force.