Was it such a bad thing?
The rickety radio sputtered high up on the kitchen cupboard, playing music that are reminiscent of old times. Better times.
Scenes of her childhood flashed before her. An old radio. Busy kitchen. Warm hugs. And then at night...
She blinked hard as a wave of pain rolled over her. She was back at the linoleum floor. Gasping. It was cold. So cold. And getting colder still. But at her sides there’s warmth. Trickling.
Her mom’s face drifted in and out of her mind.
“Pain, pain, go away.” A soft hand and an incantation. Such a sweet voice. Comforting. But so far away now. Where had that voice gone?
Now the radio played a new song. Something by Gloria Gaynor. It was such a fitting song, she almost laughed. But there was just too much pain. When the song reached the chorus, he came in again. Whistling the tune.
It was the whistling and the heavy steps that always warned her. And everytime she would feel that gripping fear. A conditioned response. Even before she sees his face. Even before that almost demonic presence showed himself in front of her. There was always fear. He lives for that kind of thing. Building up tension until he wouldn’t have to scare her that much anymore. She already was.
“Have you been a good girl, Vivi?”
His hands reached out and caressed her face. He was squatting beside her, his face drawing close to hers. The man stank. He hasn’t bathed for as long as she can remember. Always wearing that white shirt with the dark sweat stains that has been there for so long it looked like it was part of the shirt’s design.
He never wore pants, just boxer shorts that reached down mid-thigh. Even with constantly wearing it, his legs remained pale. No tan line. He never stepped out of the house.
Neither did she.
When she didn’t answer, his hands circled around her neck and tightened. The previous bruises haven’t even had time to heal.
“I said, have you been a good girl? Answer me!”
His voice has reached a dangerous level. The harsh beating of her heart increased the same time his voice rose. She couldn’t take it anymore.
Was it such a bad thing to live?
“No, I haven’t.”
It was barely a whisper. She was finding it hard to breath by the second. Her hands tightened on the cold handle of the single weapon she was able to keep away from his watchful eye. It was hidden under her back.
He tilted his head, looking at her confused. “Vivi?”
He almost looked normal. Almost like that time before he snapped. Her eyes filled as she thought about their life before. It has been such a long time since she has felt alive. Only now. At this moment. It was him or her.
“I’m sorry, Vic.”
His eyes softened when he saw her tears. In an unexpected wave of kindness, he released her neck and wiped away her tears. Perhaps he was surprised that she could still weep. She never cried even at the worst of his abuse.
“I have to live.”
She gripped the knife’s handle. Hard. And with a burst of strength, sank it to the hilt. It hit his neck, right at the carotid. Warm blood sprayed on her face and all over the floor. She pulled and plunged again. And again. And again.
It took awhile before she returned to her senses. He was already lying on his back. Motionless. There was a concentration of stabs on his neck that it was almost slashed off. On his chest. His arms. Everywhere she could reach.
His eyes looked up, to the ceiling. His eyes peaceful at last. No more of the demons that invaded them constantly. He looked almost happy.
She laid down beside him, like she did before, the pool of blood getting bigger as it left his body. Their bloods now mingled.
"I have to live, Vic. I have to live."