Chapter 1 The Day I Woke Up
I’m at home frantically looking for my ID card. I know I left it on the hook, but now I’m looking for it, and its not where I left it.
These are the days of the COVID pandemic. Everywhere we go, we need this stupid ID card. I understand that my host country needs to have a system, a way to keep track of those infected and the rest of us, but being confined to this prison, my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend’s rented flat, is adding daily to an almost unbearable situation.
I feel my body shaking. I ask myself the obvious question: Am I losing my mind? Where could I have misplaced my stupid ID tag?
In the corner of my eye, a figure appears. It’s my boyfriend. I know why he’s there. Although I don’t see my ID card, I know he has it. For a moment, I consider ignoring him but I know what his presence means. When he is in the same room and he is acting this way, it means he wants to remind me that he likes to control everything — including me, the woman who he claims to love.
I know what you’re thinking? Why didn’t I see this bad behavior earlier, much earlier?
Although I’m still pretending to ignore him, using my peripherals, I notice he is swinging my ID card in the air, like a pendulum, back and forth, back and forth. I’ve seen this in movies. He is the hypnotist reminding me I am under his control. Fuck. I don’t need to ask him why he took it.
Ok, deep breath. I’m ready to turn towards him, gotta act civil, snatch it from him, and make a dash for the door. I don’t want to be in this prison – his house – any longer.
“Hi. Good, you have it. Give it to me. I’ll go for a walk and go shopping.”
I put my hand out, stretching my arm as long and straight as I can, unconsciously creating as much distance between him and me as I can.
He offers one of his favorite smirks. This devil’ish smile tells me he’s up to no good as he approaches. Once he is close enough, I kind of rattle my hand, reminding him where to put the ID card, but he decides to add drama. In a split second, his hand moves swiftly away from my hand and he makes a gesture across my neck, using the edge of the plastic card. I feel the card make its red streak on my spin. I’m not sure which way he cut, but I know it hurt and I’m really scared now.
I’m not sure if I just imagined this. Taking a step back, I swallow. I imagine my hand doing a check for blood, but I am so shocked I don’t think my hand actually did this. I feel a tightness in my neck and the after-feeling of having been scratched.
If you don’t know this feeling, run your fingernail lightly across your neck — be careful — I want your empathy, not your blood.
Our eyes meet and I see that smile of his. A totally bizarre thought races through my mind, “I’m not sure what you just did, so can you do it again — so I can be sure you are a terrible person?” As though he is responded like a gentleman to my request, sure enough, he repeats the gesture again. I’m guessing he does this to make sure I know what he just did. After all, it is kind of like reading my mind.
“What the hell?”
He gives me that cynical smirk that I hate.
“Just kidding, stupid monkey.” This is the nickname I hate. He knows I hate it, so that’s probably why he uses it. “You have no sense of humor.”
Without me saying too much, he hands me the ID card. I know this because I can see it and feel it in my hand – my trembling hand. My mind is racing. He’s supposed to be my partner. He’s supposed to protect me, and offer me emotional and physical security. Yet I only get the opposite. I know he can see me shaking — if he can’t he’s blind. I know he knows what he did rattled me at my core.
I pause for a second, ready to blurt out the obvious:
“Why dont you say, ‘I’m sorry honey. That joke was in such bad taste. Please let me give you a hug and promise I’ll never do that or call you that name that I know you hate’.”
But he doesn’t say this. Instead, while his smirk remains, he steps away and reminds me who is in control:
“Go. If i need something, I’ll call you.”
As he walks away, he shakes his head. I know this gesture. It means he thinks I’m too sensitive. Since he has accused me of having no sense of humor and being too sensitive so many times, I realize I have but one choice: I will leave him.
What? when? How? I rely on him for so much.
Right now, I hate him and know I must move out soon, weeks not months. I shake myself, trying to pull me out of that vacuum — I’m in a zombie trance.
Gotta shake myself – shake this feeling off!
Gotta call RK soon.
Gotta be strong.
As i mumble to myself, I’m on the move. I can feel it but i dont know where i’m going, only need to leave the prison.
I blink again and realize that I’m already out on the street walking. I don’t remember leaving, but I’m hardly worried about it. What’s important is that I am out of that place.
I go back into planning mode as I walk frantically down the side walk away from the apartment. I make a promise to myself:
“I will leave him. I need to call a few friends for emotional support, but I will leave him. Soon this will happen. I need to call RK. He’ll know how to help me out of this panic attack.”
Although I haven’t measured the distance I’ve walked, I feel safe, so I stop. My body is still shaking and I don’t want to look at a mirror to see how red the slash mark on my neck is. I ponder the obvious question.
How do I tell my friends and colleagues about this mark on my neck? It must look terrible.
I stuff down the emotions and keep walking. I’m tuff so I’ve learned to suppress my emotions effectively. I’m proud of this survival skills, yet I hope one day, I won’t need this skill so much — hiding my true feelings is so painful.
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