Chapter 5: The beginning
She could feel it. Feel him. Feel his cold touch on her skin. Feel his rough hands sliding up her leg. It felt good, yet it hurt. No matter how much she hated him, how much she wanted to get away, it was his little acts of affection that kept her from running. That is, until he would give a painful reminder of how they didn’t mean anything.
Loving and hating. They were so different, yet so similar. The line that separated the two was thin, and Matthew was standing right between them.
“Please...” she mumbled, trying her best not to squirm away and upset him.
His thin pale lips and scruff ran along her jawline and neck, giving it small kissing. She couldn’t tell if they were meaningful or not. She had gotten so used to feeling ones of nothingness that she could no longer tell the difference.
“Not tonight,” she whispered so softly that she was unsure if he could even hear her. Perhaps that was the point. But whether she wanted him to hear or not, he did.
Matthew pulled back, lifting his chest of hers, allowing her a small time period to enjoy her body not being smothered with his. Once Maria eyes focused on his, she felt his grip around her wrists grow stronger as his eyes turned ice cold, just like his touch.
“What did you say to me?”
“N-nothing... nothing.” She lied, picturing exactly how this was going to end.
“Are you sure? Because I think you said something. Are you lying to me?”
Maria shook her head as she closed her eyes. “No.”
“Do you remember what happens when you lie to me?” Matthew spit as he spoke, his face growing closer and closer as his voice increased.
She didn’t answer, for her whole body was frozen. Even if she wanted to answer she couldn’t. He would get mad if she did answer. There was no winning with him. Nothing was ever right, and nothing you ever did was good enough. You always messed up somehow, and he made sure you knew it. He made sure you knew that no one else would ever love you because you weren’t worth it. After a while she actually started believing him.
Her voice cracked and warm tears burned within her eyes. “Y-yes.”
“Then why are you lying?!”
He wasn’t looking for an answer. She would have fought back, but for what? Was there anything left to stay alive for besides herself? She had no one. And she knew she wasn’t worth it. He had made that abundantly clear.
Before anything else could swarm her mind, she felt a hand whip her face, leaving a tingling sensation behind. That wasn’t the end of it, and it never was. Next, with his grip as tight as ever, he pulled her off the bed, her back hitting against the ground, causing her breath to stop. She felt his presence on her as his hands had moved from her arms to her neck. Luckily he wasn’t squeezing, but that didn’t mean he would soon. She counted on it.
“Tell me what you said!” He growled, his face so closer hers that they were practically breathing to same air.
“I didn’t... say anything.” Maria was almost too out of breath to speak. Maybe it was because of her anxiety, or because she had hit the ground with such force that her breath was still recovering.
“You did!” Matthew stood up and looked at his wife with such hatred and pity. “You said something! Now you tell me right now! Right now!” Once again, she couldn’t answer. He knew that. He was strategic. Giving her a couple of seconds to say something, he waited. But soon his bare foot met her back and hip. She let out a shriek of pain. The first time she had screamed it sent chills down her spine, but she thought nothing of it now. She had gotten so used to the sound of her vocal cords letting out that spine chilling scream that it no longer effected her.
“Tell me... what you... said!” He yelled, his voice shooting through her spine, making her whole body go numb. Or maybe it was the kicking that caused it. She wasn’t sure. Although she never was anymore.
Her kicked her again, this time up higher. Then moved to her arms that she had wrapped herself with. The longer the riot went on the more painful it got. Maria already knew before he had even ripped her bra off of her that this was going to happen.
“Stop! Please stop!” She whimpered, her arms throbbing.
“No! You deserve this! You deserve all of this you piece of shit!”
Alex rolled over to his side, his mind wandering too far from the idea of sleep to drift away into his dreams now. After he met Maria he started having trouble sleeping. She made him worry too much.
He let out a breath and looked at the clock next to him. It was nearing midnight. Not that it mattered. The nights seemed to be getting longer and longer.
Before he could close his eyes for what seemed like the hundredth time that night, the phone that was on the dresser next to him rang, vibrating the table. A groan escaped his lips as he unplugged it from the charger, the bright light causing him to squint.
The ID caller was Jordan, a first responder that he had met a while back when he was involved in a shooting.
Reluctantly, he answered, his voice hoarse. “Why are you calling me at one in the morning?” He listened, the first responders voice surprisingly calm. As Jordan finished, Alex shot up in the bed. “Are you serious?... Where are you?... I’ll be right there.” He jumped out of the bed and grabbed the jeans off the floor that he had worn that day, not even bothering to put a jacket on, despite the cooler temperatures.
There was an ambulance outside of the hotel, no lights on, and no sound. Usually that meant whatever was going on wasn’t too serious. Or it was too late.
Alex pulled his truck right next to the ambulance, unbuckling his seat belt faster than he could get the key out of the car. He exhaled. The warm air from the car was replaced with the crisp temperatures from the outside.
Ignoring the worker at the desk, he ran down the hallway and to the paramedic he saw standing in the hallway.
“What happened?” He whispered yelled, running towards him.
The paramedic raised his hands causing Alex to slow down and lower is voice.
“What happened?” He asked again, trying to look past the other mans muscular arms that were keeping him from seeing inside.
“She’s okay. Just had some trouble breathing and was throwing up, which irritated her ribs. You know, the usual panic attack symptoms, just a lot worse”
Alex knitted his brows together, more worried than ever. “Panic attack?”
For some reason, that confused Jordan. “Yeah. You know her right? She said this happens a lot. But never this bad. Hell, she thought she was having a heart attack. We gave her some oxygen and calmed her down for the most part, but it took almost an hour,” Jordan explained.
How did he not see this coming? He should have known. There was a list Alex had started making about why he shouldn’t be on the case. It was too much for him to handle. And that just made him hate himself and feel even more guilty. How could he be so selfish? Maria needed help, and Alex, no matter how much he didn’t want to admit it, knew that Maria was the only one who could really do it. But he was also the only person who could help her. He just didn’t know if that was enough.
“It took an hour?” Were the only words he could muster up.
Jordan nodded and crossed his dark skinned arms across his chest as he sighed. “Yeah. She has it rough. Make sure she takes it easy or her rib won’t heal. You need to watch her because her rib could cause a lot of complications, especially since she is pregnant.”
Alex gazed off into the distance, trying to think of something else to say. “Why did you call me? She doesn’t even like me.”
“I don’t know. She told us to call you and that was that.”
“Can I... uh,” Alex started, pointing inside the room.
Finally, Jordan moved out of the way. “Right. Yeah. Come here.”
Alex followed him into the room and saw Maria sitting on the floor leaning on the wall, an oxygen mask on her beautifully painted face. Her bruises were back because she had to take her makeup off at night, which only made Alex more surprised she called 911. There was another paramedic sitting next to her with a bag in her hand, that probably had vomit in it.
Alex sat down next to Maria, who had her eyes closed as held an ice pack to her side. She didn’t acknowledge him sitting next to her, but she knew he was there.
“Alright, how we feeling now?” The other paramedic that Alex did not know the name of asked while collecting her things.
Maria another deep breath and removed the mask. “Better.”
She looked down at the heart rate monitor and observed the number across it. According to him it had gone increasingly down since they had come. “Good, good. Well your heart rate is back to normal, so I say you are good to go. If this happens again call because it could lead to something more serious. Oh, and tell you OB that this happened. I have found that they like to know every detail.” And with that, she gathered her gear and headed out the door, leaving just Alex and Maria.
“So...” He started.
“Detective Rivers, I am not in the mood right now. Just go away. The paramedics took care of me. You don’t have to. Go.”
“Please, just go.”
“At least let me make sure you are okay first. Do you want to talk about it?”
“No. Talking about it makes it worse.”
Alex rested his hand on her knee, but she quickly moved it. It was like his touch hurt her. Like his finger tips were burning flames. “But don’t you think it will help?”
“No! It won’t! Because nothing does! Nothing helps! Nothing! Nothing gets better! Nothing... ever... gets better.” She couldn’t even finish her sentence before her voice cracked and no longer produced sound.
They sat there in silence again, until Alex spoke.
“Do you want to just sit here?”
She nodded, her eyes closed as she rested a hand on her growing bump.
“If you want me to go, I’ll go.”
Alex sighed. “Alright then. I call you in the morning to check on you.” Without a second thought, he obeyed Maria’s wishes. Maria was in no position to argue, and Alex didn’t have the heart to do so any longer. So, he stood up and walked out the door, thinking it was best for everyone.
But when the door closed, a pang hit both their hearts. Maria got up, dropping the ice pack on the floor, and ran to the door, but didn’t open it. Instead she slid down against it, and hid her face in her hands, sobbing.
Her voice had been trained to tell everyone just to leave, to walk away and not to look back, but her heart said stay.
Sadly, people who ever left were the ones who couldn’t hear the silent call. Which had been everyone because everyone always left.