CHAPTER 1– THE PUPPET AND THE PUPPET MASTER
“Maybe you should slow down, Dan?” I said softly as the sound of empty bottles clunked in the recycling bin as I dropped one more inside.
“I think you are fucking useless. Don’t you agree?” He said with a bitter tongue. “Just like the useless Muntjac deer I shoot so easily.”
I sighed and ignored his goading comment. He knew his words would hurt me, especially as I worked with animals, but he didn’t care. He didn’t give a fuck.
“Oi! I am fucking talking to you!!” He rose from his chair and stumbled towards me.
Gripping my arm, he pulled me into him and cuffed his other arm around my waist. He leaned in, close to my face. I could feel his warm stale breath against my cheek as I looked away from his blackened eyes.
“You do not ignore me bitch!” Drops of his musty, booze filled saliva landed on my face.
He grasped my cheeks, squeezing them tightly against my clenched jaws as he forced my face to meet his.
“Let me go, please.” I begged, pushing the words out between my gritted teeth.
“Pweeease let me go… Aww, does Millie Willie want me to let her go?” He mocked, before tossing my head to the side as he pulled his vile hand away from my cheeks.
He regained the grip on my wrist, holding it in place as he pulled against my waist, pulling my body against his. He rested his head against my neck as my body froze underneath his contact.
“Dan, I have to go…” I said softly, hoping my gentle tone would be enough for him to let me out of his control.
He lifted his head, but not to let me go. Instead, he began placing crude kisses on the nape of my neck.
“No Dan, stop! I have work!” I begged. I didn’t want him touching me. My body winced under his unkempt skin as his stubble burned my collarbone. STOP!” I screamed.
He stopped and looked at me. “You fucking frigid bitch. How can a whore like you be frigid!” He removed his hands and pushed me back into the wall.
“Are you fucking someone else you dirty whore? How dare you open your legs and pussy for another prick but not to me!”
Without answering him, I ran towards the front door. I didn’t want to be late for work.
“Have you ever been in a situation where you struggle to see a way out? Where you see a tiny pin head glimmer of light at the end of a long and dreary tunnel, but you have no idea on how you would even take that first step towards freedom? Well, that is where I am in my life… Trapped inside the tunnel.” I sighed, as I turned the taps off and stepped out of the shower. Goosebumps instantly flushed my skin as the cold air touched my flesh. Wow, it’s cold this morning… Like his heart.
Wrapping myself up in a towel, gently warmed by the radiator, I looked in the mirror to see my reflection. Oh, great… Two finger sized bruises tainted the colour of my cheeks. Nice one Dan… Last night’s argument was now a constant reminder until these little purple marks and the tenderness that came along with them disappeared.
My morning routine consisted of a hot shower to awaken my senses, and a conversation with… myself. Not because I am insane… Well, not that I think I am, but more so I could give myself a prep talk, you know, to try and boost my confidence, or to answer an old argument with some witty comments that I wish I had said, or, even to practice my speech for my Prime Minister election… Yes, we have all been there…
Today’s self-talk was different though. It was a conversation with an imaginary person, and one where I explained my entrapment and why it is so hard to break free from the norm.
Behind closed doors and in the sanction of my own space, I was me. The old me, the me who was cheeky, funny and self-assured, even if that meant talking to myself. It kept ‘me’ alive!
When I was around him however, I was withered, downtrodden and merely a shadow of my true self.
“You dirty whore…” I breathed… God, the amount of times he’d said that… Upon remembering his words, I recalled the state of the house when I got in from work early this morning. Thankfully, Dan wasn’t in, allowing me to have a shower before putting his wrongs right.
“I better go and clean his shit up once again…” I whispered, pulling a top over my head.
I just love music and how it can take you back to years that have passed, almost like a time machine, escorting you through a bank full of memories, before it finally stops at the correct destination. No matter how low my mood was, music just made me feel like I wanted to go out and party, drink way too much alcohol and dance like nobody’s watching. If only I could… I suppose for now, my living room would have to make do and be my dance floor.
I turned the volume up. Ahh that’s better. Old school dance music was my choice for today. The beat boomed through the speakers and vibrated within my chest. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply as I let the sound penetrate my ears and senses.
With a surge of energy now cascading through my body, my eyes bolted open and landed on a photo smashed on the floor. It was of me and him.
“Fucking hell. How did my life get so damn difficult?” I directed my question to the 2D image of myself, standing next to the man I called my husband, but dead eyes just looked back at me. My exhale turned into a frustrated huff as I scanned the room, mentally configuring my cleanup operation. Oh, Dan what the hell have you done. The kitchen was unrecognizable. Two jagged holes had been gouged into the wooden door to the living room. The dining table and its content had been turned over, and frames and trinkets lay smashed on the floor.
I reached for the vacuum cleaner and urged myself to dance around the living room, trying to lift my spirits during this shitty task I had deemed pointless. He would only trash it again sooner or later anyway. I couldn’t hide the fact that I didn’t give a toss about living here, so I didn’t care for cleaning it, especially as this mess was his doing.
God, how my Saturdays have changed. They were once filled with laughter and girly time, deciding what to wear that evening and maybe even a cheeky little flirt with a good-looking guy. Oh, how I missed those carefree days. Now, they were filled with housework and cooking. My mood was a cocktail of both depression and irritation.
‘Alice DJ – Do you think you’re better off alone?’ now bounced off the four small walls I was standing within. Ahh this song and the memories that came with it. That time machine kicked in again with nostalgia, causing a smile to lift the corners of my lips.
My mind focused on the lyrics as if the tune was timed to perfection. ‘Would I be better off alone? Yup, I am sure I would be!’ I reinforced my own thoughts. He wouldn’t let me leave though.
“BOO!” A pair of small hands grabbed my shoulders and tugged me back forcefully.
“OH FUCK!” My heartbeat was thumping with almighty force as I dropped the vacuum cleaner causing it to switch off.
I turned to see my best friend Megan looking extremely proud of her ability to make me jump. She had let herself into the house yet again. Something she did frequently when she knew he wasn’t here.
She was my best friend and has been since school. Her parents moved to the area for work, making her the new girl who started halfway through a school term. I remembered her being so small and timid, hence the headmaster’s decision to appoint a loud and confident student as her class buddy… Me! I’ve been stuck with her ever since. I inwardly smiled at the memories. She’s now a beautiful, self-assured strong woman. Tall, with long, poker straight blonde hair, eyes so lustrously blue, with a little button nose and beautiful delicate lips which was perfect for her heart shaped face, that dimpled when she smiled. I had always admired her beauty, and her ability to wear bold lipstick with ease. She also had a figure to die for, being a perfect size 10 with a fantastic pair of boobs! Whereas I am the complete opposite, both physically and mentally.
“You are an arsehole Megan Grainger!” My pitch heightened as I said her full name, sounding somewhat authoritative. She just smiled. No belly laugh, no parade, not even a ‘gotcha’. She walked over to the stereo and turned the music off.
“Fucking hell Millie. What was it this time?” She questioned with her arms stretched out with wide open palms, collectively pointing at the state of the house.
“HE thought I was cheating.”
“Wait, HE thought YOU were cheating? Is that man for real? Did he do this while you were here?”
“No, but if I didn’t have to leave for work, he sure as hell would have.” I looked down to the floor upon hearing glass snap underneath my shoes.
With a loud sigh, she tore her eyes away from the chaos and faced me. “He has some nerve accusing you! Especially when he’s the one doing it! He was seen last night at the bar. A different woman this time. Mika said she was rough looking too.” A grumble left her throat. My eyes grew wide as I absorbed her words. Not again.
“He just doesn’t seem to care what or who he does anymore.” She looked angry yet emotional by the information she had just relayed to me. She grabbed my hands and held them tight.
“Enough is enough, you need to leave his sorry arse, he won’t change. He’s a dickhead, how he gets so much attention is beyond me.” Megan’s demeanor changed to disgust. Probably at the thought of him being remotely sexual.
I awkwardly smile at her. She was right. He was a dickhead and us arguing last night was just another excuse to go out and get laid.
“I know he won’t change.” A sigh seeped out of my throat as I broke our embrace. How could he change? This was him. This was who he was, and this was who he had been for the past 8 years. His outbursts, his accusations, his infidelity and the way he treated me was all part of my day to day life. It was my normal. Days had turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. The same behaviour, the same excuses, the same poor justifications and the same apologies repeated in that exact order. He was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. One side was full of anger, distrust and intolerance at the woman he struggled to mold, and the other, was full of remorse and empty promises of his transformation. I had become imprisoned by the word marriage and he knew that. I was his by law. I was his puppet and he was my puppet master. He controlled my emotions and would hold them ransom to his requirements.
Removing my hands from hers, I pulled her into a hug. She wrapped her arms around my neck and her body eased. She must have felt like shit having to tell me he had been unfaithful yet again.
Tears pricked my eyes and threatened to fall.
NO! Don’t cry! Don’t cry.
“Millie… Are you ok?”
A nod was all I could muster.
“What do I do?” My voice sounded just about audible, as though life was being drained slowly from my body. “I can’t leave.” We both knew Dan wouldn’t let me go that easily or I would have left years ago.