Who Are You?

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Chapter Two

Mona lays on her bed alone for the 5th night in a row. She runs her hand over the fur duvet, the soft white fibers brushing between her fingers gingerly. Her boyfriend is out again tonight, presumably taking some extra hours that he forgot to tell her about. It’s always the same with him. He is home when she is working, and she is home when he is working. There is never an even balance.

The clock on the nightstand shows a light blue 3:00am. A sigh escapes her lips as she throws her head back, eyes closed tightly as exhaustion weighs down on her, the now bruising welts on her back and behind screaming at the pressure from the bed. This is how most nights go- with her alone and lonely; dreading waking up in the following 2 hours. She thinks over the events of the earlier parts of the night.

She couldn’t shake how Mr. Moon had seemingly waited for her to leave work, anticipating stopping her and talking to her. There is no way he could have seen the marks, her blouse wouldn’t have allowed a clear view. He just knew she had them, a spontaneous guess most likely estimated after hearing many statements from those before her. He really was clever. She can’t wrap her head around why her boss allowed him to come in, why was he called? Someone like him is extremely dangerous to the campaign, not that Mr. Anderson himself isn’t dangerous in his own right.

A shiver runs up her spine and she pulls the blanket over her head, her mind remembering what happened in the office. He usually uses a ruler that he keeps in his desk drawer, but he must have been exceptionally furious tonight; opting for his belt. “Why did I lie?” she asks herself, thinking back to her conversation with the journalist. “I could have said the truth, been done with all of this.” It’s a question she knows is justified, she had every right to tell the truth, to protect herself the way she should have. “Why didn’t I?”

Fear, maybe. Something that controls everyone to some extent. The fear of not being believed, the fear of losing her job, the fear of never being hired again because she is a whistleblower. But none of that is worth her pride, she will admit. None of it is worth her safety and rights. “So why do I allow this?” It’s easier to ask than answer.

The front door to the apartment opens then slams shut, causing her to jump a little before smiling, pulling the blanket from over her head. “Hey, babe!” Her voice rings through the rooms, being greeted by an equally as smiley face as he walks through the door.

“Hey, why are you still awake?” Haize asks, pulling his shirt over his head and flinging it over the chair in the corner of the room.

“I couldn’t sleep, it was a long day.” Her lips curl into a pout with this as she sits up in bed, her night dress falling a little low. “He was in a bad mood towards the end, so it ended as usual.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, babe. Do you want me to put lotion on your back after I shower?” Eyes wonder over her cleavage then back up to her face, smiling softly as he pulls down his pants leaving himself in only boxers.

“Yes, please. He did it bad this time, I don’t want any scars.” A few of the hits had broken skin this time round, causing the areas surrounding to already start bruising all shades of yellow and green.

“What got him all worked up this time? Did he lose some clients? Did he see the recent speech Roberts gave at the square?” Haize throws his scrubs into the hamper and goes to sit on the bed. His face appears relaxed, but inside he is frustrated. He hates hearing about her boss, about what he does. Facing it with nonchalance has become common for the two of them, but it’s a routine he doesn’t agree with.

“It’s a long story, go shower then I’ll let you know.” He pats her on the head and nods, “ok, I’ll be back.” He returns a good, hot shower later and finds her curled up in the bed, fast asleep. Sighing deeply he covers her more with the blanket, kissing her on the head before returning to the bathroom to put on his sleep boxers and skin care routine.

As he puts on his moisturizer his phone starts to light up. He glances at it briefly, not interested in the sender. It suddenly starts to vibrate loudly, shaking the counter top as he fumbles to grab it. “What do you want?” He asks, not too happy to answer the call this late.

“You’re not supposed to call this late, I am home. No, message me in the morning then. This can wait, I’m going to sleep. No arguments, good night.” He hangs up and walks to the bed, plugging his phone in and laying down next to Mona, pulling her into his arms.

“Who was that?” She mumbles, still half asleep. Her sudden words startle him a little, since he didn’t know she was awake, and he tightens his hold on her. “Just my coworker, he was calling about some paperwork.”

“This late at night?” Her head turns a little to peek at him as he buries his face into her hair. “You know how it is, ain’t no rest for the wicked. Work never ends in my line.”

She chuckles, “I didn’t realize nurses were so “wicked.” He pokes her on the belly, making her push back against him a little.

“We’re the most wicked.”

“Uh huh, sure. Try telling yourself that the next time you have to wipe an old persons-” He covers her mouth and she laughs into his palm. “Nope, enough of that. Sleep time for you.” She pulls his hand away and holds it between her palms, pressed against her chest comfortably.

“I hope I wake up when I should.” She whispers, glancing at the time again, seeing that she must be up in an hour.

“I’ll stay awake for you then, just fall asleep. I’ll watch some TV in the meantime.”

“Are you sure? Don’t you have work tonight?” She asks, turning to him to look into his face, his blue eyes looking intently at hers.

“I’m sure, I don’t have to go in again until Monday. So just work hard today then come home to me. We’ll have the whole weekend to ourselves.”

“That sounds really nice, Haize.” He smiles and brushes a light strand of her hair out of her face.

“It does. Now go to sleep, I’ll wake you up in an hour.”

“Thank you, you’re the best boyfriend.”

“I wouldn’t say the best, but I’ve got your back. Good night.” He kisses her forehead.

“Good night!” She cuddles into his chest, wrapping her arms around him before allowing herself to fall back into sleep.

Beep. Beep. Beep. “Babe, wake up!” Haize calls from the other room, causing her to roll over groggily in the bed.

“5 more minutes, please...” She begs, curling up in the blanket, effectively burrito-ing herself in the warmth.

“Come on, I’m making breakfast! You’re favorite! Scrambled eggs and turkey bacon!” His voice is too cheery for her, especially with it just being 5am. He hadn’t slept at all, just gotten up again to do this for her.

“I really don’t deserve him,” she thinks to herself as she sits up, stretching her arms over her head. Cracks and pops resonate from her joints, the air of the room kissing the goosebumps on her skin. “Well, if he’s gone out of his way to make it, then I might as well eat it.

Foot steps patter on the ground as she walks into the kitchen, not bothering to change into her work clothes, yet. “What’s the occasion?”

“What? Can I not cook for my girlfriend every once in a while?” His pearly white veneers flash at her as he gives a grin, “I just wanted to do this for you.”

“I can accept a little pampering then, I suppose.” Her arms wrap around his waist as she hugs his back softly. “Thanks, I honestly really needed this.”

“When will you...” he hesitates, holding a strip of bacon in the air mid flip. “When will you leave that job?” She sighs, having expected this. It’s a common conversation between the two of them. A topic that has caused many fights.

“Haize...”

“Look, I know you need this job, or you at least think you do. But this isn’t right. He can’t be doing this to you. You can leave your job and I’ll support us. I make enough to be able to pay for this apartment on my own until you’re back on your feet-”

“I can’t, Haize. This is the perfect job for me. I know this is wrong, I know I should report him for this. But I can get in a lot of trouble reputation wise if I go through with it. I need proof of him doing it, and there’s no legal way to get that at this current point in time. And I can’t rely on you to pay for this all by yourself...” He turns around and wraps his arm around her waist, pushing her back against the counter.

“There is nothing wrong with me supporting you. And your reputation won’t be hurt. There are plenty of people going after him. Plenty of people that want him out of office. This is a chance to do that, Mona.”

Her hands rise to his chest, softly pushing him away. “I’m going to go get dressed.” She turns to walk away but he grabs her arm, squeezing it a little.

“I haven’t finished breakfast, go sit down, I’ll bring it to you.” A strand of blonde hair falls into his eyes as he looks at her, his gaze hard. She nods, but pulls her arm away.

“Let me go get dressed. Then I will eat.” Her stomach turns a little from the gesture as she goes back to their room. His intentions feel genuine, he does want her to be safer in her work environment. And she knows he is right. But at the same time she knows what is best for herself career wise and she just can’t let go, yet. There is part of her that wants to hold on, push through. There are many benefits if she can.

As she picks her dress for the day her mind starts to wander again to Mr. Moon. She knows he could help her. He could make people believe her. “No, it’s not going to happen.” She picks a longer dress than usual, but one that is still within Mr. Anderson’s length preference. It’s black and form fitting, with a semi-v neck collar. She pairs it with her favorite black heels and goes to the mirror, taking an extra long moment to look at her reflection. Hazel eyes look back at her and she scoffs a little, moving to the sink to her contact case.

Dark brown circles float in the solution, urging her to pick them up. One by one she puts them in her eyes, soaking them before doing so. She feels more like herself when she has them in, when the eyes looking back at her are far different than they naturally should be. There is comfort in the stranger in the mirror.

She straightens her hair, taking long, quick swipes to get through the long tresses. A little make up is all she’s ever done. Her skin care, powder, mascara, and a lip gloss. It’s all she ever needs or has the will to do. Returning to the kitchen she sees Haize placing two plates full of food on the table, looking up at her sheepishly.

“I’m sorry for pushing you earlier. I won’t promise to not bring it up again, but I’m sorry for going too far with it. I understand it’s your choice, it’s not my decision.” The food on the table has steam rising from it, a piece of bacon wafting up into his face as he grabs it and takes a bite.

“You’re right, I should do something about it.” She admits, sitting down across from him, picking up the fork to her right and scooping up some of the eggs. “I’m just not wanting to, yet. I want to feel more secure before doing so. I want to plan this. Get what I want from the company, get the experience I’m needing, before I try to leave and blow the whistle.”

“I understand. Just... Please stay away from him as much as you can.” Blue pleading eyes stare at her as he takes another bite from the bacon.

Nodding and smiling, she makes a “mhm” sound like she agrees. Deep down she knows it’s a lie. It’ll happen again and again and there is nothing she can do at this point in time to stop it, other than to tell the police. And she isn’t ready. Some day she will stand up for herself, but she needs to secure some things before that time comes.
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