Truth and Consequences
“I am not going to drop out of school because you think the professor is hitting on me Ben!! That is ridiculous!! I have one more semester left!! “Samantha turns to face her boyfriend of the past 5 years, angry and more than a little annoyed at having this argument again. Ben has begged, no, demanded, from day one that she needed to quit school, he would support her, at first she thought it was sweet, he had sold her this idea of a traditional old school marriage and children, but as time wore on she could see it was more about control. She doesn’t need anyone but him, Ben would say, and that should be her focus, Ben and anything he wants, she realized that this man was not the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, or ever raise a family with, how toxic would their home life be and bringing children into that was a horrible idea. Samantha pushed her chocolate brown hair behind her ears with a frustrated sigh, he wasn’t even listening, his eyes, normally cool and calm, now darkened with anger and frustration. This is the topic of conversation most every evening, but since graduation is looming, and her focus has shifted to job searches and mailing her resume to schools, Ben’s arguments and insistence that she quit has raised to a fever pitch. “You let them take all your time, and the professor IS hitting on you!! You’re just so naive, you don’t even SEE it!! It’s that or you LIKE the attention!” Ben seethes, his face contorted in an angry animal like sneer, red splotches speckled his eyes and cheeks, his golden blond hair was wild, and his deep brown eyes heated with malice. Samantha thought of how handsome he had seemed to her, back before the ugly set in, back when she used to volunteer at the Boys and Girls club. He was tall, 5’7” slim build like a basketball player, his golden blond hair cut in a cute shaggy style, those deep brown puppy dog eyes had drawn her in, and that shy school boy smile undid her. A couple of the girls tried to warn her, saying he was a very controlling man, had to have things his way all the time, they didn’t want to see Samantha hurt or upset, she heard the rumors, she even knew the girl Chrissy, but she assumed she took an internship out of state, Ben wasn’t the type of guy who would hurt someone, Ben was so sweet and kind the kids adored him!! Where had that Ben gone…? As she ruminated the past she must have zoned out, because Ben was in a rage. “What the fuck Sammy, are you even fucking listening?!? Do I even MATTER to you?! All you think about us is YOURSELF!!! I kill myself to take care of you, and you can’t even give me the basics!! You know teachers make Bull shit money; I’m not supporting you and all your bills because you made a bad choice!! I TOLD you this was a bad idea, but I guess if you’re FUCKING your professor it’s all good huh!!!” Ben raged on and on and on, Samantha just stared at him, how does he kill himself to take care of her? He accepted a position under his father in their logistics company, he literally is the junior CEO, and beyond that, Samantha pays all the bills at their apartment so he can save for their future, a future she hasn’t wanted for a long time. Finally out of frustration Samantha threw up her hands “ENOUGH! I’m done Ben, this is too much. You obviously don’t support me, you want something I don’t. I am going to be a teacher this is what makes me happy. If you can’t accept that I’m not going to be a housewife, well we can’t work. I’ll get my things packed and I’ll be out by the weekend.” Ben stilled, he didn’t utter a single word as the room went deadly quiet, a chill ran down Samantha’s spine and she had a sudden urge to run as fast as she could, he regarded her calculating his next words, his eyes beady with a dangerous gleam. Ben moved toward Samantha, she stepped back, and he smiled, Samantha didn’t like that smile, it didn’t reach his eyes, and it was dangerous and unhinged. She didn’t believe Ben would ever hurt her, I mean he says a lot of mean things, but he would never hurt her. Right? She bumped into the counter, Ben kept advancing. “Sammy, Sammy, Sammy…. It’s that easy is it? Just pack up and poof, you’re gone? You are so stupid.” Ben was looming over her; 5’7” doesn’t seem that tall unless your 5’1” and barefoot and staring up at someone who looks at you like he’s about to squish you. Samantha tried not to shrink back, with a voice much bolder than she felt she says “I am NOT stupid Ben, this is simple, we do not want the same things. It is pointless to keep trying when we won’t make each other happy” she looks up at Ben, her big green eyes pleading with him to see things her way, to understand this is what is best. “No Sammy, you are stupid. Trying, trying to leave me is STUPID.” Ben gripped her upper arms, his fingers biting into her skin painfully, Samantha knew she would wear his bruises on her arms, she cried out, a soft squeak of fear, the same fear flashed in her eyes. Ben laughed and leaned next to her ear, “ahh now that’s what I want to see, now you understand, this isn’t up to you” he jerks her to him, looking down at her, hungry dangerous eyes met hers, she never felt like prey before this moment, never knew what it felt like to be hunted, feeling very small and vulnerable she listens as Ben continues, “it’s always been up to me, you’re just too fucking stubborn to see, but we can work on that” he drags her away from the counter, through their living room, decorated with pictures of their life, the Boys and Girls Club, camping, holidays with their families, this was their life, their happy life, right, how could she have been so blind? Samantha was stumbling over her own feet, begging Ben to stop, telling him he doesn’t want to do anything he will regret later, reminding him that he loves her, and the last thing he would want to do is hurt her. Regret. That word broke him, “regret? REGRET?!? My only regret not taking a firmer hand with you 5 years ago, I thought you were smart, I thought you would figure it out quicker than this, you just don’t get it ” he punctuated the comment by slamming her against the bedroom wall, her head rocked back and slammed into the framed picture on the wall, she saw stars and halfheartedly noticed the sound of glass breaking. Shocked and a little dazed, Samantha could only stare, her mouth comically agape, she felt the tears run down her face, and fear slipped into her stomach. Ben threw her to the floor, and Samantha scrambled away, Ben turned and slammed the door shut, twisting the lock aggressively, spinning around to see Samantha trying to stand on shaky legs, “ I have been so patient, so kind, so understanding. But you’ve gone too far, you ruined my trust and now, now I have to show you who is in control here.” Ben started to unbuckle his belt, Samantha’s eyes widened, no no no, this is not happening, he couldn’t mean to force himself on her, Samantha tried to hold herself up, stumbling along the wall, feeling for the window, Ben pulled the belt through the loops with one fluid movement; the sound of the leather sliding through denim was all she could hear. Samantha felt the edge of the window, knew the fire escape was just beyond it, as her fingers scrambled to pry the window open, she pleaded with him, tears running down her face, her entire body trembling in fear, “Ben, no, stop this right now you canAHHHH” her words cut off and morphed to a scream as he brought the doubled over belt across the side of her face, white hot pain bolted through her, shock, betrayal and utter fear, her hand shot up to the spot he just hit, Ben was breathing heavy his chest heaving with his breaths, he rose the belt again and she covered her face, she felt the searing pain from the belt on her arms, shoulders as he began to lash her body. Samantha started screaming, the sound foreign to her, almost anamalistic, she bellowed out as loud as she could praying someone in the apartment would hear her, Ben rained blows down on every inch of her body he could reach, she sunk to the floor covering her face and head with her arms, each lash burned like fire, eventually, Samantha’s voice grew hoarse, her body weakened with exhaustion and pain, all she could do was listen to the sickening sound of the belt slapping against her skin, and weep with each blow. Ben ranted on, how she was going to be the perfect wife, even if it killed her. Eventually, what felt like an eternity she heard pounding on the apartment door, wood cracking, she faded, heard deep male voices, telling Ben to stop, she smelled the cologne of one of the officers as he rushed over to check her vitals, cracking open her swollen eyes she saw blue eyes, thought she was looking at an angel, but this couldn’t be heaven, Ben was here, it must be Hell, she heard Ben “I didn’t do anything she didn’t ask for, bitch is always causing problems” the officers snapped the cuffs on Ben, Samantha lay on the floor someplace between consciousness and oblivion, wondering if the nightmare would ever end, slowly she faded out, numbness and darkness enfolding her, the next time she woke it was in a cool sterile room, bright lights assaulted the eye she could open, barley, shaking her head, and inhaling the sharp scent of antiseptic and groaning. Suddenly she heard her dad, “Hey baby girl, you’re awake, don’t worry, you’re safe now, I promise” she could hear the anguish in his voice, she squeezed his hand, with a soft “I love you” she drifted back to sleep.