Friday, May 16, 2014
I got dressed the next morning. My head was pounding and the ugly bruise on my eye had turned from red to dark purple. I donned a pair of over sized sunglasses and tried to pull off a hipster look. I expected Matthew to be loving and apologetic but he was still angry when he called me up to our room.
"I can't trust you anymore," he said quietly. "Until you learn to listen I'm going to need to take away your cell phone," he told me as he stuck his hand out, waiting. I didn't move. I was his wife, his equal, and he was treating me like a child. I was too scared to argue so I reached into my jacket pocked and retrieved the phone. "You'll get this back when I decide you can be trusted. If you ever try anything like this again you will regret it. I'm the most powerful man in Bridgeport. I have connections. I have connections that can reach as far as Appaloosa Plains," Matthew said threateningly before storming out of the room. I heard the front door slam shut and the Compensator peel out of the driveway.
I missed my family so much that it hurt to breathe. It wasn't safe to call them but I needed have some kind of contact. Matthew did not have a computer so I grabbed my purse and went downtown to the local library to check my email. There were dozens of messages from Kylie and Nancy. They knew my phone was disconnected and they were worried that they couldn't get a hold of me. Emotions ranged from concern, to fear, to worry, but never anger. Tears slid down my face at the thought of how forgiving they were. I wanted to e-mail them back but Matthew's threat lingered in the back of my mind. I wouldn't do anything to harm them so I logged off the computer without responding to their messages.
I stood up to leave and bumped into Marina on the way out. She gave the sunglasses a tentative look and cautiously asked me how I was doing. I had the lie on the tip of my tongue but my tears betrayed me as they slid down my cheeks.
"Everly, I am so sorry," Marina said quietly as she embraced me. "Not here," she whispered in my ear, and led me out of the library. Her concern only made me cry harder.
We got into her car and drove in silence to a little hole in the wall diner. I didn't need to worry about anyone Matthew knew seeing me here. We walked in and ordered lunch. There was something about Marina that I trusted. I broke down and told her everything. As it turns out, the reason Marina and Matthew broke up was abuse although it had never escalated into anything physical. Matthew was very controlling. Marina told me they shared a checking account after two weeks of dating so he could keep track of all her purchases. He monitored what she wore, where she went, and who she talked to. Marina decided to call it quits when Matthew asked her to stop talking to her family because they didn't approve of the relationship. Marina told me that he was manipulative and cruel and he always had a way of guilt tripping you into thinking you were in the wrong. I hung my head, making the connections as she spoke. Everything he had done to Marina, he had done to me twofold.
After lunch, we stood outside for a moment. "He threatened my family," I said quietly. "I can't leave him. He has connections. I wouldn't do anything to hurt them," I continued. "You don't have to live like this," Marina said gently. "I'm going to give you an address. I want you to memorize it. It's the location of a women's shelter downtown. If you go there, they will keep you safe," Marina informed me. She gave me the address and I repeated it back to her. She embraced me tightly. "If you need anything, I'm here for you," she said before she turned and left. Marina offered me a ride back to the library but I declined. I wanted some time to think.
Matthew finally came around and apologized for hitting me. After a while, the bruise faded away but a new one would inevitably take it's place. The cycle continued. He would treat me like a princess, he would get drunk, he would hit me, repeat. I spent a lot of time at home as the rules got more and more strict. I was no longer allowed to curl my hair or wear make up. I never did get my cell phone back. I was only allowed to leave the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Matthew's personal assistant had to chaperone. I spent most of my time alone at home, practicing mixology. I was getting really good. Too bad no one would ever know but me.