M A R C E L L A
She was dead inside, just like her recently departed fiancé. She couldn’t see anything in front of her. She couldn’t breathe, the air was so fucking suffocating. She couldn’t hear anything around her. She could only hear the deafening buzz of lifelessness that threatened to take over her body.
Her lower lip trembled uncontrollably. Her eyes welled up with tears, but none fell. None could fall. She felt so dead that they were held back.
She didn’t care what she looked like to Dante anymore. She didn’t care that she looked completely wrecked and completely weak. She had never been vulnerable in front of him. But what was the point?
She hated this defeated feeling. It meant that the only reason she had for fighting was John. He spurred her to keep going, to keep surviving, just to be happy with him, to live the life she had always wanted with the love of her life. Before, she hadn’t been tied to anyone. She fought for the idea of a free life, perhaps finding a handsome man to eventually settle down with. Then, she met John. And he changed her vision. He changed her dreams.
He was gone. And she no longer had a vision of the future. So, what was there left to fight for?
There had been several people who tried to defeat her. Several people who had tried to take her down, to break her. They never succeeded to break her spirit, the determination. But Dante finally had. He had won. And it was as easy as pressing down on a trigger.
“Marcella,” Dante called out, his voice muffled through her traumatized state.
And then… she stopped altogether. She just… stopped. Her mother was dead. Giuseppe was dead. John was dead.
Who left was there to live for?
But she dug deep inside herself, dug a black hole of abyss so dark it could suck anything in. She stuffed her destructible grief in there, punching it right down. And then she acted as if the hole never existed, that they never existed, that the future she imagined could never have existed.
She could finally see everything around her and the monster who had called her name. Their eyes connected and his eyebrows furrowed in utter confusion. He expected a different reaction from the little girl, perhaps a full break down.
“What?” she asked.
She couldn’t ignore the feeling of her heavy chest. It was as though there was a big fucking anvil dropped on top of her that was making it difficult to breathe. She would wade through it. For what? She didn’t know. But it was instinct to fight anyway. And it was also instinct to ignore her feelings and box them away.
“I…” Dante scoffed and grabbed Mari’s hand. She didn’t flinch away. That felt like too much effort. So, she allowed him. And it also startled him too.
He pulled her flush against his body and tilted her chin up so their eyes could meet.
“Why aren’t you crying?” he asked outright. Her eyes were dry, too dry for someone who had just lost their fiancé.
“Why should I be?” she muttered blankly. “Do you want me to cry?”
“I expected you to cry,” he replied, narrowing his eyes. She couldn’t even relish in his confusion whilst she felt so empty. It was as though her body was one great vacant house that echoed so eerily. Ghosts crept across hallowed grounds inside her, reaching for her soul to consume it.
He consequently tugged her out of the room and into a car and then out again. It all went by like a blur, like a nightmare she was stuck in, like watching something on TV and not believing this was her life. But it was. She just couldn’t accept reality anymore. It was all so overwhelming.
She was led through a bleak-looking house, much like her childhood home, and then into a room much like her own.
“This will be your room until we’re married,” Dante stated. “I got someone to fill your closet with clothes roughly your size and I’m moving things over from your house.”
“Why?” She didn’t necessarily feel curious, but she knew it was something that needed to be asked.
“You’ll be my wife. I’m not a complete monster. You can have material things,” he replied.
He wasn’t a complete monster? He was the sort of thing she feared was under her bed when she was six years old, mainly because a man like him could have been. He was the sort of man one has a nightmare about when they’re young and it would stick forever.
Dante finally left her alone with her thoughts. Her bedroom door was closed, and she sat on the bed, staring around the room.
She was still in the clothes John had given her. They smelled like him. They reminded her of him, of the man she lost. It invaded her senses and pushed the tears to fall. Her face finally gave in to the chaos, her tears drenching her cheeks.
She knew she would again stuff him away, right to the back of her mind in a locked box so that she could never access him. But she needed to feel now. She needed the grief. She needed the guilt. She needed to feel something. It wasn’t right to just forget him.
She curled up on the bed, into the hoodie he gave her, and tipped the hood up. She hugged her knees to her head and allowed her tears to soak the material of the hoodie.
Something arose in her throat and she hurried to the bathroom. She heaved into the toilet bowl. There wasn’t even any food that she ate to throw up.
She woke up in the morning, exhausted and sore. Every part of her body ached. She had a metallic taste in her mouth that she couldn’t shake, perhaps from the vomiting the previous day.
The next few days felt the same. She walked around like she was a corpse already. She expected to die there, in that house, by Dante’s hand as her lover had. Her head pounded every second of the day until it just settled into a dull ache.
She had thrown up every morning, up to the point where she thought she would never actually manage to eat anything. And then… she realized something after the second week in that house.
She had missed her period. She pieced together all her other symptoms and came to only one conclusion. She was pregnant.
What did that even mean? If she wasn’t going to die before, they were both going to die now.
It was a strange feeling, having a life grow inside of her. She had someone. She had a baby to fight for, even though it no longer had a father. This baby was both of them. And if Dante found out, she and the baby would die.
But the fact that she had a baby growing inside of her reinvigorated her. She had something to fight for. She had someone to fight for. And she would do what she knew how to do best: run. The baby fueled her determination, her passion for living. She wouldn’t let this baby die, especially not by Dante’s hand.
She wondered how John would react if he were here. He most probably wouldn’t have been so calm like Mari was. She didn’t know why she was. But she felt like she had something worth a damn. And it lifted her spirits.
She wondered whether the baby would look like John. It would always be a reminder of what she lost, but also what she gained from loving him. Which was so much more than just the good times they had together. It was the darkness too. The way he held her hand through it all, even when they saw themselves as enemies. He protected her. And she needed someone to.
She had to escape before Dante found out. She would have to make a plan, and quickly. He would plan to marry her soon, and after that, she was fair game, as she was all his. And it wouldn’t be long until he knew.
This wasn’t like running from John. But she had to attack it in the same way. She had to understand the man, his motives, why he decided on the actions and words that he did. She would have to learn his responses to certain strategies to determine which would work. She was the best at running, at fighting. She could outsmart this monster, couldn’t she?
She would do whatever it took to survive, for the baby, for John, for the life they should have had together. She was going to live it for the both of them. He might have been physically gone, but he wasn’t gone from her heart, and she couldn’t bury him like he was some childhood friend. He meant everything to her. And he deserved more than to be forgotten. If she didn’t remember him, who would keep his memory alive?