He smiled at me and my stomach did flip-flops, like it always had done. He had such a lovely smile. He took my hand, squeezing it tightly. A promise of things to come. “It’s our future.” The word ‘our’ tingled up and down my spine and I beamed in pure happiness. He loved me, and I had always loved him.
Back in high school, we had been friends, always with that touch of unrequited love from me. Then he left, not long after I finally admitted my feelings and been rebuffed. I was his best friend, not girlfriend material. But he came back, said that he loved me, saw our futures entwined. I could see it just like him, beaming smiles on our faces. I had loved him so, so much.
I was young and foolish, as my mother claimed. What idea did she have? We had our vision of the future and she had hers. The apartment was small and he worked from home while I became a secretary. It helped carry us in those early days, while he created his little empire for us to live off of. I quit my job when we got the new, big house and started working at his business as a secretary.
He helped me with keeping track of my income, making sure we didn’t go over and not have enough for bills. I fell out of touch with all my friends and family, I was so busy, I just didn’t have the time. Of course I called for birthdays but not for long, always busy. He loves me so much. We have a beautiful house, in a beautiful place, and we just didn’t want children at the moment, that’s all. He wanted to wait, just a while longer, until he was certain that we could have solid footing for raising a child. We talked about it a few times after I lost the first baby, our future had children, I was sure of it.
I went back to work, ignored the questions from my coworkers. I had tripped and fallen. It was a shame, I lost our baby but it was my fault for being so clumsy. The accountant frowned as she told me that God had a plan for me, that it just wasn’t our time to have a baby yet and that we needed to know loss. I smiled and agreed with her, even as I rubbed my stomach. Then she held my hands and told me that God loved me, that if I needed to talk about anything in private, she would listen. She smiled and I didn’t see her again after that. I stopped calling for birthdays, the numbers had all changed. I guess they hadn’t wanted me to keep up with them if they didn’t mail me a forwarding address or number. It’s a shame.
My future shattered when he shoved me down the stairs the second time. I saw the cracks in our marriage. Him appearing out of the blue, looking like he was fleeing something. Him beating the phone out of my hand when I would try to call family. The blame when I got pregnant, both times. How he spit in my face after kicking me in the stomach as I had lain in a crumpled heap. When I stood over him that night, blood-stained, silver knife in hand, and his hate-filled eyes staring at me as he died, I became free. I told him that I loved him, that I was so, so sorry but I loved him still. And I knew he had hated me for a very long time.