Sunday, September 6, 2009
Short Story XIII
It may be true that not every virgin is destined to become a whore, but it also cannot be denied that every whore was once a virgin. The road in between is paved by circumstance.
My First Time
Copyright by By Roy L. Pickering Jr.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I just lost my head for a moment. Are you okay? Have I hurt you? Let me help you up. I’m so sorry.”
She looks up with eyes of ice. Her bloodied upper lip is already swelling, the bruise on her cheekbone starting to take form. Reflected in her horror stricken stare is the twin reflection of a monster, and that monster is me. But her eyes lie, for I am not the grotesque caricature that she is seeing. My rash act does not accurately portray the sort of man I truly am. I have never before struck a woman in my life.
“Don’t look at me like that, baby. You know I love you. You’re everything to me.”
Hidden behind my firmest convictions and the ingrained code of conduct that I live by without reflection, I suppose there are primitive instincts that can take over in times of extreme duress. There are parts of everyone’s personality that remain invisible to the most introspective view, at the ready to emerge when called upon.
“I’ll never do anything like that ever again, you must believe me. You shocked me with what you said. It hurt me so bad to hear those words, it was like I needed to lash out to protect myself. In a perverted way, I did what I did out of self-defense. It felt as if my heart was going to shatter and I would drop dead right on this spot unless I did something to make the pain go away. For one split second, the only way I could think of to stop hurting was by hurting you.”
How can I explain to her what is incomprehensible to myself? Love can become hate in the blink of an eye, can turn back into love again twice as swiftly. Claire is my world, which means she holds the power to remove the ground from beneath my feet and send me spiraling through a dark, and cold, and empty universe.
“Please give me another chance. We’ve been together for five years. Five great years. You know me better than anyone. You know that the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you. Let me make this up to you, baby. I want to make things right between us again. I want to get things back to the way they used to be. Don’t you want that too?”
“Yes, Michael. That is what I want. I never wanted to hurt you either.”
With these words said, Claire extends her right hand so I can help her to her feet, which is what I do. Then I draw her lithe body into my embrace, stroking her hair in a soothing manner that I hope will quell the slight trembling I feel as she presses the unbeaten side of her face against my chest. My downward gaze finds a single crimson droplet on the white shag carpet. It serves as a billboard decrying the damage wrought by my hands. I try to remain in the moment, to think only of my love for Claire, to focus solely on my desire to hold her like this forever. But my brain persists in reminding me that forever is a myth, and my memory stubbornly replays what she had just said to me, words that ignited the surprisingly short fuse of my rage.
“Michael, I don’t know how to tell you this other than to just spit it out. Nothing will soften the impact or help it make sense. I’m not expecting forgiveness or understanding. I simply cannot live with this guilt on my conscience any longer. So I’m going to tell the truth because that’s what you deserve, and whatever the repercussions are, I’ll have to live with them.”
She took a deep breath between her introduction of the awful topic that was to come and its delivery. Her set up led me to expect the worst, yet I was unable to imagine that the worst would be as bad as it turned out to be.
“I’ve been having an affair with a married man for the past eight months. He said he was going to leave his wife, and once he did, I was going to leave you. A week ago he told me that his wife was pregnant and he could no longer promise that he would be leaving her any time soon, although he hoped the two of use could continue with what we had. I told him that without any real chance of a commitment from him, I had no choice but to break things off. Then I thought long and hard about you and me, about whether I should still leave you. The answer I came up with surprised me. I realized how much I really do love you. Even though I haven’t been happy with our relationship for quite some time, for the first time in a long while, I believe that I can be. It’s going to take work. I’m going to need to share my feelings with you instead of bottling them up inside. I’m going to have to stop expecting you to be a mind reader, because as much as you want me to be happy, you don’t always know what it will take. I don’t even know what I’m expecting or hoping for life to provide most of the time, so how can I expect you to figure it out for me.”
I had been made completely numb from the initial portion of Claire’s confession. Only now were her words starting to fully register. It was as if I was a paraplegic who was beginning to feel the first tingle of sensation after years spent as a living mannequin. My skin felt too tight for my body. The beating in my chest threatened to burst through the fragile enclosure of my heart. The deafening roar and incapacitating ache in my head nearly brought me to my knees.
“I know it can be great between us, because that’s just how it used to be. But in order for that to happen, I need to lay all of my cards on the table. So that’s what I’m doing now. The way I figure, if you can love me even after learning of my betrayal, then I would be a fool to want to be with anyone else. I’m not sure that came out how I meant it to. I didn’t rehearse any of this, although I knew it would be very difficult to say. But it isn’t hard to say that I love you, Michael. I hope you can still find it in your heart to love me.”
Claire may have intended to ramble for a while longer, but she didn’t get the opportunity, for that was when I struck her. When she didn’t fall immediately to the floor as expected, I reared back and struck her again. Then I looked down at what I had done and regret put a stranglehold on indignation.
Now I’m holding her in my arms, reassuring her that everything will work out for the best. I do not doubt that she wants us to begin anew, that her love for me remains unbroken in spite of her efforts to cast it aside. When I declare that I love her now more than ever, half of me believes what I say to be sincere. The other half suspects that it’s all a sad joke. Underneath both halves lies realization that what Claire has done to me once, she will be capable of repeating. And I will be capable of paying her back in the same barbaric fashion.
I am consumed by self-pity over learning that she was unfaithful to me, and worse, that she had been so because of her unhappiness. Everything I supposedly knew turns out to have been an illusion. How can I ever be certain of anything again? I don’t know. But I must try to trust again, or else there is no point to hanging on to what we have, for it will already be dead. I am also filled with fear, afraid of fully transforming into this man I never knew I was capable of being, no matter how briefly and regardless of the provocation. The image of Frankenstein’s monster was found in my mirror, and although it was gone when I closed and then re-opened my eyes, it can return at any time.
Not too long ago I was a virgin to domestic violence, to indulging the dark underbelly of my nature. It may be true that not every virgin is destined to become a whore, but it also cannot be denied that every whore was once a virgin. The road in between is paved by circumstance.
x x x x x
Afterword: Someone once said to me: "I stayed for 5 years in a mentally/emotionally turned physically abusive relationship. I was in a daze. I was so focused on proving him how amazIng I was so that he wouldn't want to hurt me anymore. There's a myriad of reasons women stay. If you understood, you would have victim mentality in some shape that makes you susceptible to abuse."
I have no response to this that would not sound trite. But I now more fully understand that one of my jobs as a father is to make absolutely certain that a "victim mentality" has no opportunity to take root in my daughter's psyche.