Beaten but NOT defeated

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Chapter 4

The next few days passed in a daze. Josh laughed at me each time he walked passed me but I decided not to hang my head in shame anymore. I was a loving wife trying to make my marriage work even if it meant being humiliated and punished. I made a vow before God that I was not intent on breaking, no matter how difficult things would get. No marriage is perfect. I had a new confidence that I was yet unsure where it came from, but I liked it and I was determined to keep my head high. I started dressing better too as that made me feel more like a woman should and maybe my effort would eventually be noticed and I would not be seen as just a cheap whore. I received a few messages from Chloe saying how proud she was of me as she saw that I was making an effort in my marriage and that I was finally looking after myself. Thankfully I have not received any new messages from Caleb which was a huge relief as that would just complicate things further with Josh for me. Even though we shared the most amazing kiss in the world, I couldn’t let myself get tangled up with him. He was a player and had absolutely nothing to offer me in the long run. I had a better chance at making my marriage work than fooling around with a hot stranger that would only end up breaking my heart.

I was as nice and loving toward Josh as I could possibly be, trying to show him that I was worth loving. He loved me once, so surely he could love me again. I made him food, packed his lunch and tried giving him neck massages whenever he would allow me close to him. Josh hardly ever spoke to me, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me in the least. It was Friday morning and Josh let me know we are having people over after work so I had to get drinks and food ready. I had not seen Mindy at all and was hoping that he had ended his affair with her. Cautiously optimistic I did everything he asked me to do and awaited his arrival. He came home early which meant we had a few moments alone before his company would arrive. He asked me to help him get wood ready outside with which we would be making a bon fire later in the evening. I jumped at doing something with him and tried having a conversation. ‘How was your day’ I asked. ‘Good’ he said and that was the end of our conversation. Not allowing myself to feel discouraged I straightened up my shoulders and put a smile on my face. Each time he looked at me I would smile at him but he didn’t return my smile once.

About s twenty minutes later his friends started arriving and soon there were about ten people standing outside chatting and shunting me around for drinks. I kept smiling and running after people that weren’t my friends. They all seemed to know how little Josh cared for me so they didn’t care about treating me badly. I thought that if I just allowed it and showed Josh that I was worth it he would be soft hearted with me again and maybe eventually welcome me back in his arms. After everyone ate Josh decided to light the bon fire. Everyone pulled up chairs and sat near the fire mingling. I thought it wise to do the same but didn’t sit too close to anyone. Everyone ignored me unless they wanted a drink so I sat there in silence and stared at the fire. I heard Josh talking to me and could hardly believe my luck. I thought, finally he is making me a part of the group. I looked up a little too eager which earned me a few giggles and snorts from his friends. ‘What are you doing’ he asked me. ‘Um, I’m sitting’ I said half confused. ‘Yes I can see that, but why are you sitting here’ he said making a wide gesture with his arms. Unsure of what he meant he continued. ‘I don’t see you being useful to us, you look like you fell face first in a pot of paint and your dress is tacky’ he said with a chuckle in his voice. Everyone burst out laughing which immediately made me feel self-conscious. Yet again I have misread his actions and thought that maybe this time things would turn out to be different. I looked down at myself and felt disgusted at the way I looked. ‘Why don’t you go scrub that shit off your face and get us more drinks’ Josh said. I started rising to my feet slowly when I was bombarded with alcohol from him and all his friends. They threw their drinks out on me, some even throwing me with the bottle. I just stood there, knowing that trying to dodge them was futile. I turned around and slowly walked into the house when I felt a glass bottle hit me against the back of my head followed by howling noises from his friends. The impact threw me off balance and I ran head first into the wall in front of me. I held on to the wall for balance with my back turned to them while they sounded like they were howling with laughter behind me. All the confidence I felt tonight, all the hope I saw in working my marriage out, crashed into a million pieces at that moment. How could I have been so dumb, thinking I was good enough for him in any way! I walked inside and locked myself in the bathroom. I sat in the bath with the shower water running over me, trying to cleanse myself of all that went wrong tonight. I felt dirty and useless. As if I didn’t belong anywhere in the world. My dress I wore was ruined beyond repair. I sat under the water with my head on my knees until the water ran cold. I closed the water and knew I had to face the howling crowd waiting for me to refill their drinks they threw out on me. ‘Can this night get any worse’ I thought as I dragged myself out of the shower. I got dressed in a tracksuit pants and a t-shirt top and tied my wet hair in a messy bun on top of my head. I washed off my make-up effort and took a deep breath. ‘You can do this’ I told myself in the mirror before heading out the door to face my haters.

I stopped cold at the dining room window when I looked outside toward Josh and his friends. Sitting so close to Josh it looked like she was trying to climb inside him was Mindy. She had her hands all over him and he certainly didn’t look like he cared at all. His friends didn’t look surprised at this either. Obviously his friends knew more about his life than I did. I stood there staring at them, with my thoughts all over the place, until one of his friends walked in. ‘Why are you still standing there’ he asked me. ‘Weren’t you ordered to get drinks’? ‘Get them yourself’ I snapped at him and stormed past him. I searched frantically but failed to locate my car key anywhere. I heard Josh calling me and hated that I had to go outside. ‘Where are our drinks’ He asked. I stood there fuming at him but knew I had no power to do anything. ‘In the fridge’ I said, hardly audible. ‘Well, go get them’ he snapped which made Mindy giggle loudly. I stomped off into the house and packed a crate full of drinks. I threw ice over the bottles and with much strain, managed to carry it outside. I threw the crate down in front of Josh and just looked at him. He wove me off like I was a fly, which suited me just fine. Seeming how I could not find my car keys and was stuck here I decided to play games on my laptop until the gathering dispersed. But by the looks of it and the loud music, it was still going to be a while. I found a quiet corner where I was out of the way and kept to myself. The party was getting louder which meant the people were getting drunker. It felt like I could just run away but knew I had nowhere to go. One of Josh’s friends stumbled over his feet into the house and spotted me. I tried to melt with my surroundings but failed miserably. He stumbled over to me and fell down next to me. ‘Hey’ he said and I ignored him completely, not even making eye contact with him. ‘I hear you’re an easy piece of ass. How bout it’ he said. Feeling disgusted and horrified I flung my laptop one side and attempted to get up. He grabbed me by the arm and yanked me down. I tried to fight him and he slammed me down onto my back against the floor. He tried to get on top of me but I fought him with everything I had in me. I was kicking and hitting for all my worth and I scratched him in the face. My nails drew blood and that made him snap. He hit me in the face with a fist which left me semi unconscious. My face was hurting and my ears were ringing as I felt him trying to get into my pants. I still struggled against him but my power had faded so much I hardly gave any resistance. To my relief someone pulled him off me and I heard them laughing loudly before leaving the room. I was so grateful even if it wasn’t done to benefit me. I managed to sit up and was too afraid to stay there. I stumbled to the bathroom and locked myself in. I felt dirty and violated and couldn’t believe Josh would say such things about me, seeing how he hated the thought of anyone else close to me.

I slid down to the floor with my back against the door and started sobbing. My face was on fire and I knew it looked as bad as it felt. I just sat there, crying like there was no tomorrow when I heard a loud knock at the door. ‘Open the bloody door’ I heard Mindy say. ‘I need to pee’! Not my problem I thought and just remained seated while the banging continued. ‘Come on’ she half yelled. Unable to muster up an ounce of caring I ignored her. It sounded like she threw herself against the door trying to get it open which must have looked quite pathetic. I felt another jolt against the door and couldn’t help but think how determined she was to pee which made me smirk. ‘Go pee outside’ I said in a loud voice when just then the door came crashing down on me with a crushing weight on top of it. ‘What the hell’ I screamed and knew it wasn’t Mindy breaking down the door unless she gained a whole lot of kilograms tonight. The door got flung one side off of me and I was forcefully helped to my feet. Josh grabbed my arm so tightly it felt as if he is trying to break my arm. He threw me out of the bathroom with a force and said ‘Get the fuck out of my house’! ‘With pleasure’ I thought to myself. He didn’t see what my face looked like and I didn’t think he’d care anyway. I took my leave and took a bottle of rum with me on my way out. ‘Here we go again’ I thought. ‘Maybe tonight a car will hit me for real and my trouble will be at an end’. I half shielded my face from Josh’s friends as I walked out past them and into the street. I couldn’t care less which direction I went as I was sure I wasn’t coming back again. I was leaving Josh and all his shit behind. I was finally done. I made sure I was far enough away from the house before I dared take a swig out if the bottle.

I walked aimlessly, drinking the bottle’s contents, talking to myself, reminding myself just how useless I was. I ended up in a park and took a seat on one of the swings. I put my hand on my face for the first time to feel how swollen it was. It felt like fire on my face when I touched it and I decided it was best not to do that again. My eye was swollen half closed and I thought ‘juuuuust great. Not only do I feel like shit, I look like it too now’. I sat there for a while making myself nauseous trying to swing and drink. My thoughts were not coherent anymore as I was thinking of ways best to end my life. My eyes felt blurry and my head was spinning. ‘I can’t let anyone see my face like this’ I thought to myself. I felt obligated knowing that I had to go home eventually as going anywhere else would raise uncomfortable questions I didn’t know how to answer. I decided that I had to try and walk my rust off and ended up falling into a dried up river that was over grown with reeds. It was way too much effort to try and get up and fell asleep just there knowing that I was pretty covered by the reeds, so no one would see me there even if they tried.

I woke up the next day somewhere in the afternoon feeling like a train had run over me. My head was aching and my eye was swollen shut. ‘Well isn’t this just great’ I thought, unwilling to move. I looked around me with my good eye and saw that I was still lying between the reeds. The ground beneath me was soggy and had seeped through my t-shirt I was wearing leaving my back wet. ‘I look like I feel’ I thought to myself. I tried lifting my head but decided against that notion, given how extremely my head hurt and spun trying to do that. I heard no one in the park the whole time I was laying there which was a small mercy for me. ‘I would scare the children out of their socks if they saw me now. Best if I just lay here until dark so I can go home and clean up’. I fell asleep again and before long it was dark enough that I could leave my hiding place. My head was still pounding like it had a jack hammer in it and I couldn’t see through my eye. I managed to locate my bottle and saw that it still had about a quarter of the contents left. I took in my seat on the swing where I sat last night and took a swig from the bottle. It tasted much worse tonight than it did last night and I pulled my face quite frightfully at the taste.

I saw a car coming up the road and didn’t bother moving as the park was dark and no one could see me sitting here. The car took an abrupt turn and stopped inside the park. The headlights flashed me in the face and I squinted and threw my arm up over my face. I heard a car door open and saw a man running towards me. Frantically I heard Caleb asking ‘are you okay, what happened to you’? My reactions were slow and I couldn’t see him with the light blinding me. At first it felt like I was in a dream but the urgency of his voice in my ears snapped me into reality. ‘Who did this to you’? He begged and I just shrugged, looking down. He kneeled down in front of me holding on to my knees, begging me to look at him. I imagined just how sad I must have looked to him. ‘Can you get the light out of my eyes please’ I softly asked him. He got up and switched his head lights off and ran back to me. ‘Please tell me who did this’ he begged me. I just shrugged as I felt like it was all a dream. Why would he care what happened to me? There are hundreds of other women he can entertain himself with besides me. ‘Can you walk’ he asked me and I just shook my head. It wasn’t that I couldn’t walk; my legs just didn’t want to carry my weight. Caleb put his arms around me and picked me up like a baby. He carried me over to his car and I protested that I’m going to dirty his car seat. He put me in his car as gently as he could and put a safety belt around me and clipped it in. He ran to the driver’s side of the car and jumped in and he started the car and started driving. ‘I’m going to look after you’ was the last thing I heard him saying before I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up the next morning in a strange bed with a raging headache and an aching body from sleeping on the wet ground. My eye was still swollen shut and my face hurt whenever I moved. Feeling confused of what happened I tried sitting up when I felt hands on my shoulders. ‘Take it easy, you’re safe’ I heard Caleb say. ‘Where am I’ I asked straining against the pain. ‘My place’ he said while gently helping me into a sitting position and I saw that he had my blanked thrown open on his bed, the one that I told him to throw away. He touched my face softly and I turned my head away. ‘Look at me’ he said softly. ‘I won’t hurt you’. I turned my face to him and saw him analyzing my eye.’ I made you breakfast’ he said. ‘You must be starving’. I realized I no longer had my dirty clothes on and my hair was clean. ‘Where are my clothes’? I asked as I looked down at myself. ‘I threw them away’ he said. ‘They were beyond saving’. I was wearing a black t shirt and a grey long pant. ‘Whose clothes are these’? I asked. ‘Yours’ he replied simply. ‘I, I can’t be here’ I said realizing how much trouble I’d be in if Josh caught me. I put my hand in my hair as panic seized me. ‘I have to go’ I said a little frantically. ‘Calm down’ Caleb said sitting next to me holding on to me by the shoulders. ‘No one is going to hurt you, I am here’. ‘No you don’t understand’ I said a little high pitched. ‘He’ll kill me if he finds out where I am’ I said. ‘Who is going to kill you’ he asked way too calmly for my liking. ‘Please let me go’ I begged. ‘Please calm down, here, I made you some hot chocolate, take a sip and then we can talk about taking you where you want to go’ Caleb said. He brought the cup up to my face gesturing for me to take a sip. I looked up at him and I took the cup from him with both hands and he closed his hands over mine. I brought the cup up to my face and it smelled heavenly! He released my hands when he saw me taking a sip, and then another. It tasted about as good as it smelled and being a complete sucker for chocolate I ended up drinking more than half of the cup’s contents. My head started feeling a little woozy and I blinked my eye to keep them from falling closed. As Caleb took the cup from me I mumbled ‘You drugged me’ and that was the last thing I remembered before waking up to the smell of food.

My eyes fought against me to open up to the world. My head still felt drowsy and mouth felt dry. I finally managed to peep through my eye and vaguely saw a blurry Caleb sitting at the foot end of the bed. I felt him move closer to me as I closed my eye again. He put his hand on my wrist to feel my pulse and I tried waving him off like a fly. I opened my eyes again, this time managing to see him without the blurriness. ‘Sleep well’? He asked. ‘Why did you drug me’? I asked in a raspy voice swallowing very hard. ‘You need some water’? he asked. ‘Are you going to drug that too’? I asked him with disdain. ‘You were panicking and wouldn’t calm down so I could talk to you. What else was I supposed to do’? He asked half pleadingly. ‘So you just drug people whenever they can’t talk to you’? I snapped. ‘I made you some soup’ he said. I narrowed my eyes at him as I did not trust him right now and didn’t know what exactly to think. ‘Please, you need to eat something. It will make you will feel better, I promise’ he said. I struggled to sit up and he tried to help me. I slapped his hands away and managed to sit. He put the soup down in front of me on a tray that looked like something he stole out of a hospital. I looked at the soup and felt very skeptical. ‘It’s not drugged’ he said. ‘Look’ he said as he took a spoonful and ate it. I really didn’t want to eat his food but it smelled and looked so good that I finally gave in and took a bite. ‘Wow, it tastes so good’ I thought to myself and made a groaning sound. Caleb gave me a huge smile and I wished he was ugly so I could throw him with his soup. He got up and put some music on in the back ground and gave me time to eat. He came over to me as I finished my soup and took the bowl. ‘Would you like some more’? He asked me and I shook my head no.

Caleb came back over to the bed and sat down next to me. ‘Can we talk’? He asked me gently. Instead of insisting I tell him who did this to me he asked ‘How are you doing’? I looked at him and said ‘I’m just fine thanks’. He gave me a small smile and touched the side of my face. It still hurt so much I flinched away. ‘Will you please tell me who did this to you’? He pleaded softly. ‘I really can’t remember’ I lied. Images of Josh’s friend trying to rape me, was burnt into my mind. Suddenly I felt self-conscious again and I pulled the blanket up to my chin. Caleb took my hand in his and looked as though he felt helpless. He kissed my knuckles softly and put my hand back under the covers and I realized that being around Caleb made me feel safe. Being here with him made me feel as though the world outside didn’t exist. I cleared my throat and asked him ‘How did you find me’? Steve told me you went missing so I went out looking for you. ‘Wait, Steve told you? But how did he know? And I wasn’t missing, I knew exactly where I was’. I said. ‘Your friend Chloe called him and said you ran away during a house party your husband hosted the night before. When you didn’t come home the next day he called your friend to hear if you are with her. When Steve called me, I immediately jumped in my car and went looking for you as he said your husband is beside himself with worry’. I made a snorting sound which made Caleb frown slightly. ‘My heart sank when I failed to locate you. I searched for you the whole day, not knowing what had happened to you. That’s when I saw a dark figure in the park on the swings. I prayed that it was you so I could return you home safely to your husband, but the condition I found you in, the last thing I wanted was to take you back there’. He said. ‘Why’ I asked. ‘Something obviously happened to you. You looked as though someone hit you with their car or laid a beating on you’ he said. ‘I wasn’t planning on turning you over to anyone until I knew exactly what is going on’. ‘You sure are nosey’ I said trying to avoid telling him what happened. Feeling frustrated he kneeled next to the bed taking my hand in his. ‘No one deserves to look the way you do. No woman deserves to be treated badly in any way’ he said. How close to the truth he was without even knowing it. ‘Was it your husband’? He asked and I answered no a little too fast and high pitched for my own liking. ‘You’re afraid of him’ he said ‘the look in your eye, now, when I mentioned him. Why are you afraid of him? What did he do to you’? He asked a little forceful as he knew he was on to something. I snapped my hand out of his and attempted to push him aside so I could get out of the bed. ‘Please move I have to get home. I can’t let my husband worry like this’.

At that moment there was a loud bang at the door and a loud voice yelled ‘Liz! Are you in there? Liz, open the door’! I froze in my tracks as I heard Josh on the other side of the door. ‘Fuck’ I mumbled under my breath. ‘How did he find me’? I asked as I looked frantically at Caleb. ‘Stay behind me’ he said. ‘I’ll deal with him’. Just then the door burst open and Josh and 2 of his friends came crashing through. My eyes went wide with panic as Caleb stepped in front of me to shield me. Josh stopped short at the sight of me and looked at Caleb. ‘What the hell happened to my wife’? He sneered. ‘Why does she look like that’? ‘I think that’s something I must ask you’ Caleb snapped back. I saw Caleb’s hands rolling into fists as he was ready to fight at any moment and the veins in his arms popped out as he was trying to contain himself. ‘Why would you ask me? You are the one with my wife in YOUR house’ Josh barked and looked as though he was ready to leap at Caleb any minute. I stood frozen like a deer in head lights knowing I had no-where to run as I was caught out. ‘Come Liz, we are leaving’ Josh said and held out his hand. I looked down and started moving towards him but Caleb blocked my way. ‘She’s not going anywhere’ Caleb said. Josh’s friends looked jittery and that made me very nervous. Knowing them I knew they must have been high on something and getting ready to do something stupid. ‘I said, LET’S GO’ Josh said again a little more menacing this time but Caleb didn’t allow me to move any closer to him. ‘Get out of my house’ Caleb told Josh and his friends. ‘You don’t want this ending badly for you’ he said. This made Josh and his friends laugh and Josh said ‘I’m NOT leaving without my wife. Either you step aside and let her through or I take her by force. Either way, she’s coming home with me, right now’! I saw a glinting of something in Josh’s side and I realized he had a gun. I threw my hands up and stepped around Caleb in front of Josh. ‘I’m coming’ I said without sparing Caleb a look. I heard Caleb pleading with me not to go with Josh but I ignored him and walked past Josh out the door as he stepped aside for me to leave. I could feel Caleb’s eyes on my back but I was afraid that if I turned around now, I would run into his arms and end up getting him shot. I looked down as I exited through the door and that’s when I heard a deafening sound behind me. I turned around in time to see Caleb fall to the floor and Josh’s arm extended in his direction with a gun in his hand. I let out a blood curdling scream and tried to run back into the apartment but Josh’s friends caught me by the waist and hauled me down the stairs away from Caleb. Although I hardly heard myself, I was screaming and fighting the whole way as Josh’s two thugs forcefully carried me outside. They threw me in the car and got in on both sides of me as Josh jumped in the driver’s side and sped away. I tried with all my might to fight them off so I could go back to Caleb and see if he was ok but my efforts were futile as I was not strong enough. I felt a deafening pain in my head and I realized one of the thugs just tried to knock me out and I fell forward hitting my head against the driver’s seat. Although I was conscious I was not completely coherent. I felt as Josh drove us home and my heart felt as though it was ripped to pieces. I thought of Caleb, seeing how he fell to the ground as Josh shot him, wondering if he was still alive.

We arrived home and Josh’s friends carried me out of the car into the house. They threw me down on the couch and went into the kitchen. I groaned loudly and heard Josh kneeling beside me. ‘Now look what you made me do’ he said as he ripped my head up by my hair. ‘What were you thinking running into another man’s arms? Look what he did to you. Shooting him will justify my case. It was self-defense, trying to rescue my whore of a wife from her kidnapper’ he said. ‘Your fucking friend did this to me’ I snapped as tears were rolling down my face. He looked taken aback for a moment as he clearly did not know his friend hit me. ‘Well I saved your ass from your kidnapper none the less. That’s to say if they can even trace the bullet back to me’ he said. At this point I was sobbing, afraid for Caleb’s life. ‘Stop your whining’ Josh spat, ‘You’re never seeing your precious boy toy again’. He dropped my head and I just lay there, sobbing at the thought of Caleb being dead. I heard a loud bang in the kitchen and saw Josh’s friend falling on the floor. ‘Look at her’ he yelled, ‘I have to explain that to people! Get out of my house before I kill you too’! His friends ran past me out the door and Josh shut it loudly behind them looking at me, disgusted at the sight of me.

Josh got out his phone and dialed someone. I heard his tone of voice changing as he was talking ‘I found her. She was where you suspected. She is pretty banged up. No he hit her or something. She looks pretty bad. Yes, ok. It’s been taken care of. Thank you’ he said before hanging up. I didn’t bother looking at him as I didn’t care who he was talking to. I felt like my life had just ended as Caleb was no longer in it. ‘I might as well just die too and get it over with’ I thought. Josh was on the phone to various people that night telling them how he had rescued me from my kidnapper. He made himself out to be the hero and I was left in a compromising light. I heard the words self- destruct a few times during his conversations. He sounded so sincere and worried, as if he actually cared. The house went quiet eventually as Josh went to bed. I was still lying on the couch where Josh’s friends threw me. I felt numb, unable to move and my thoughts were with Caleb and how I probably would not be able to find his apartment again if I went looking for him. In the early hours of the morning, all the strain and drama of the events that went down won out and I unwillingly drifted off to another dreamless sleep.

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