You, Me & the Devils that Be

I will admit, sitting at the breakfast table watching you hold your queasy stomach felt like a conquest. Everyone busied themselves fetching you ibuprofen and gatorade, offering old wives tale remedies while I sat taking slow draws off my coffee. I secretly hoped your wife would come back to see you in your current state. As you forced your listless limbs to stir the scrambled eggs I bore holes into the side of your head. You had deep bags under your eyes and a five o’clock shadow that looked less kept in the early morning light.

In between bites of toast the others asked you about your job and wife. The first was going well, the second you brushed off by changing the subject. Unsurprising, I thought as I recalled last night. How quiet the living room felt, the early morning moonlight illuminating the plastic cups lining the windowsills. How grateful I was for the blanket the host had laid out for me on the couch. Your quiet footsteps on the stairs as you approached. Your hand in my hair as I lay pretending to be asleep, praying to God that you wouldn’t hurt me. As I squeezed my eyes shut I could picture what would become of you if I fought back, the waking of the drunken bodies around me, the panicked questions, the call made to your wife. As you wrapped your hand around my throat I thought of her, where was she? Why did she let you stay here? Did she know you were like this?

You had told me earlier in the night that you were in an open-relationship, I told you that you were full of shit. As you pressed your lips against my cheek I held my breath, my body quivering uncontrollably. I pulled the blanket tighter around my body. Only hours earlier you had whispered into my ear that you loved how I was shaking. I opened my mouth, unable to form a sharp retort, my cool indifference giving way to the fear rising in my chest. I wanted to brush it off, to say you’d had too much to drink. But I knew you meant it. Your steely gaze softened and fell away as my friend returned from the bathroom. What were you two doing she asked innocently, fumbling with the sliding glass door to the yard. I wanted to tell her I thought we were hiding behind the palm to scare her. That I was naïve and assumed the best of intentions but was wrong. That I knew this was only the beginning of a long night. To ask her to not leave me alone again. But she wasn’t really asking and he wasn’t really talking.


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