The following account is a fictionalized version of actual events. As a young girl I lived in a fantasy world, longing for true love. My blind ambitions lead me to this situation.
Town gossips were wrong about Gabriel. Abbey determined to make tonight’s celebration a success to prove it.
The aroma of garlic bread and lasagna baking battled for dominance over the musty odor of the one-room basement apartment. No matter if the flatware didn’t match and the plates were different sizes, newlyweds had to start somewhere.
This will prove I know what he’s needed from a woman. Stability.
A shadow passed the rectangular window next to the bottom of the flat’s single entrance.
Abbey skipped stairs to the top landing ready to plant a sultry kiss on the man of her dreams. She swallowed hard and held her breath, wishing.
Keys jingled and the knob turned. Gabriel forced the door smacking Abbey into the flimsy handrail. His heavy stomps made the old wooden steps creak in pain.
Abbey rubbed the small of her back and followed.
His spirit will pick up after he eats.
Plopping on the couch, Gabriel leaned back and ran his hands through his salt and pepper hair. Abbey approached him from behind the couch and slid her arms around his neck, kissing his salty ear. She thought she sensed his smile and read it as an invitation to move further to kiss his neck on her way to his lips, but he grabbed her arm, squeezing until his knuckles turned white. Abbey yelped in pain.
“Did I hurt you?”
She backed away, rubbing a red bruising hand mark braceletting her wrist. Garlic smell of lasagna ready to be eaten interrupted her thoughts and she remembered the evening’s quest.
“I made you a special dinner.” She rounded the corner of the couch and knelt by his side. “It’s our fifth month anniversary. Don’t you want to celebrate?” She rested her head on his lap, hoping his eyes would meet her passion hungry gaze. He continued to stare ahead, unmoved by her offering. She closed her eyes.
His hand ruffled the back of her dress as it moved upward. She waited for a caress. He gripped the neatly brushed French knot and yanked her head back, breaking her hair barrette, its jewels skittered in all directions. Abbey winced at his strength.
“Gabe,” she choked, “what are you doing?”
He released his grip and resumed his lifeless stare into nothingness.
Abbey stood. A tear dripped down her cheek. The caution flag waved. Friends had warned her but she’d casually excused his dominating behavior. She was his hope, his savior, the one to begin anew with. Gathering the broken pieces, she slunk into the kitchen and fed the trash.
Hot breath blew on her neck and her skin rippled with goose bumps. Gabriel whipped her around, squeezing her shoulders as if trying to fold her in half.
“Don’t you think I would figure it out? I’m not an idiot you know.” Angry spittle spattered in her face.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Her knees wobbled like Jell-O dropped from of a mold.
Gabriel released his grip, stomped to the dresser and pawed around in her top drawer. Abbey gingerly approached as he turned to face her holding the object of his rage.
“I found this when I came home for lunch today.” He held out a ceramic frame laced with tiny roses, in its oval middle a photo of Abbey hugging an old beau.
Abbey’s heart sunk to her toes. It hadn’t been that long since she had made her choice. Fond memories still fresh from experience had not allowed her to let go completely and she had hidden the photo. Apparently not well enough.
“We haven’t been settled long enough for me to sort things out. It’s an old photo. It’s nothing.”
The fierceness caused Abbey to step backward into the kitchen. Stumbling against the table a carafe of ice water toppled, splattering the floor. Gabriel approached clutching the frame, profanities spewing from his mouth.
“You’re my wife, not his. This should have been trashed before you took my ring!”
The timer buzzed. The lasagna was done.
“I’m sorry.” She whimpered.
He smacked the frame on the cement sending glass shards scattering across the floor. The photo landed in the spilled water. His foot stomped and twisted to mangle the image of the competition. “I should have known you were a whore when we first met.” He gripped her arm and twisted it behind her back. She screamed.
“Stop it Gabriel, you’re hurting me.” Her cries stuck to the support beams of the house above.
The timer continued to buzz.
Shoving her toward the couch he pushed her over its backside. Her thin frame somersaulted over the couch landing her feet on the floor. Dizzied by the sudden flip, she lay stunned. Gabriel dropped on her, clawing and tossing her on the couch, a lion preying on a lame gazelle. Fist after fist pummeled her skull accompanied with female degrading profanities.
“I’m going to kill you! You god dam bitch!”
Abbey flung her hands to her temples in defense. She had to get away, run for help, but the only way out was up the stairs and Gabriel blocked her escape.
She was going to die. But she didn’t want to, not in a basement before her twentieth birthday.
“Help me! Help me!” Terror screamed from her lungs as Gabriel continued to beat her head as she sunk deeper and deeper into the sagging couch. Doesn’t anyone hear me? Blackness and a million spinning stars hazed her vision. Strength faded from her limbs.
I don’t want to die.
From deep in her gut a flicker of hope sparked, kindling the desire to live and fight for survival.
I was meant for more than this.
Cowering from the blows, she mustered one last yelp.
“God help me!”
The Almighty heard her plea as angels seemed to whisk her to her feet, up the steps and out the door.
This happened 30 years ago. After leaving it in my past, I never thought I would want to talk about it again. Then came opportunity to help others in domestic violence situations and I changed my mind. My story is now part of an anthology of survivor stories that can be found at http://cryofthenightbird.com/
Awareness helps- please share this post to get the word out so that those who need help will be inspired to get it.