This anxiety is so stupid! I think as I’m quickly packing more boxes while Chris is at work. He won’t let me go.
I’m packing smart, though. Little things of mine around the house that he won’t notice are missing from their place. Not like I have much anyway. I know I need to get this done; I need to get away from him!
I gave myself a deadline: the end of the month. My next paycheck might be my last for a while, but it will get me anywhere but here.
Four years of his abuse and violence, and mind games! It took me four years to eventually build up enough courage to take a stand and think of myself. Four years...
Initially, I thought of sitting with him and discussing our relationship. Like mature adults do in the movies when they want to break up. As fast as that thought came, I scoffed it away. Mature discussion, my ass! He’ll take it as a personal attack on himself and his character. He’ll manipulate me again, playing with my weaknesses: loyalty and hope. His promises don’t work on me anymore. His disappointments are enough that I could build a cottage if they were pennies.
No. I have to do it this way. It feels like the cowardly way to end this chapter of my life. But for my safety and sanity, it’s the most logical. Pack quietly and leave overnight without a trace. I’ll drive until I run out of gas. I’ll change my identity and remove all traces of my life from the internet.
The grandfather clock in the hallway reminds me that it’s four pm and I need to start making dinner before he gets home and has another reason to hurt me.
I smile at Ash, my tortoise shell rescue kitten, as she meows between my legs. I start on the ingredients for roasted pork belly and rosemary garlic potatoes.
Five pm comes and goes, and he isn’t home yet. Which could only mean one thing: he’s at the bar. Fear starts grabbing at my insides, knowing his temper is even shorter when intoxicated. I take his set dinner plate and place it in the oven warmer. I have a quick shower and get to bed. Maybe if I’m asleep, he won’t find my presence antagonizing; I silently hope as I stare at the broken and patched furniture in the room.
Being a PR manager, you’d think he’d be even-tempered and compassionate while being serious. Oh no, not Chris. He got his temper from his father.
I still believe Chris Sr killed his wife during one of his drunken stupors. No one said anything that night. As the paramedics carried her lifeless body away, I overheard one of the medics tell Chris Sr that she had a heart attack. I stood frozen, realizing the path my own life was on.
Lost in my thoughts, I’m startled by the sound of keys at the front door. My body goes cold, and my blood feels like it has disappeared. My heart is pounding, and my eyes are closed. My senses are in overdrive, listening to his stumbling. Please ignore me. Please don’t see me.
Tonight, luck is not on my side, though. The bedroom door flies open, and the whiskey-soaked anger rolls off him in waves. Oh god, please, no!
It’s enough to suffocate me.
He yanks my leg and pulls me closer to him at the foot of the bed. I’m trying my best to act surprised to see him. “Oh, hi, love. Glad to see you home! Dinner is in the heating oven. Can I bring it out for...” and I’m shoved off the bed before I can finish the sentence, hitting my head on the leg of the chest.
“HOW FUCKING DARE YOU TALK TO ME?!” he spits at my face. I cower, trying to make myself a smaller target. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, bitch!”
His first punch landed on my hand, which was covering my face. This made him madder. He grabs my wrists and lifts me to him. My hands are cold from the lack of blood flow in his grip, but I keep quiet. The moment I looked into his eyes, I knew... Tonight, I might die too.
I closed my eyes in submission as blow after blow hit my face. Then my shoulder. Then my chest. I can no longer feel my legs as they give out from under me. This has unmistakably opened me up to a different attack. He took my sprawled body on the floor as an invitation and ran into his next episode. He kicked me in the ribs, butt, shoulders, and head. Wherever there was an opening, his foot connected. I felt his weight on me as he was now straddling me, ready to deliver my death. Blow by blow, literally.
As I felt the light within me dim and all hope lost. Until I felt a sudden urge to fight back for my life. Before I could realize what was happening, I was standing over his body.
Is he dead?
Wait, when did I stand up? What happened? How did he get off of me?
All these questions run through my mind as I hear my heartbeat in my ears. Tonight, he was worse than ever before. There’s blood on the floor, but I don’t need to inspect anything to know it’s mine.
I lean down to his body and try to find his pulse with shaky hands. It’s still there. Phew?
A meow from Ash brings me out of my confused state, and I look at her. My eyes catch a glimpse of a packed box I’ve been hiding. If I don’t leave now, I will die! This is it...
I scramble on my feet, running to fill my arms with boxes to stack in my car. I grab a few and run, throwing the boxes in there. If he’s passed out, the alcohol will keep him down for a while. For how long? Lord only knows!
After a few trips of grabbing as much as possible, I walk back into the house as the adrenaline starts wearing off. He’s still lying there.
I grab a few bottles of water from the fridge, Ash’s food, and my purse and run for my car.
Sitting in the driver's seat with Ash in the passenger seat, I realize I’ve ignored my bruises as I notice drops of blood on myself. I’m fine... I’ll be fine, and turn the ignition to speed out the driveway and into the night. Into the unknown.
Sitting in the motel with a swollen face and a few bruises coloring my limbs, I remove the last of my social media profiles. I can’t let him find me...
As the popup appears on the screen that my account has been successfully deleted, I make sure the location data is turned off for the phone. I know they will be able to trace me here as it was my last known online activity.
I take a deep breath and realize a heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It's the second day on my run from Chris, and the anxiety hasn’t left me. I’ve ignored his calls all this time, and now I think it’s time to take the next step.
Using the heavy seat in the motel room, I lift one side and drop it forcefully on the phone a few times. Satisfied with the smashed condition, I smile at Ash. “Time for the next leg of our journey, baby.”
After checking out, I dump the smashed phone in the ice dispenser and walk to my new car. I sold my one earlier this morning as I wasn’t sure whether or not Chris had a tracker on it.
It was an apology gift from him, after all. I received it when I was released from the hospital after his outburst landed me in the hospital with a concussion and a punctured lung. I cannot take that chance. I need a clean slate. A new book, written by me. Without his presence tainting my pages like blood splatter.
I watched the news, listened to the radio, and didn’t hear any reports on me. I knew the devil was still alive, and my gut told me he was boiling mad, like molten lava, and won’t let me go.
Since Ash and I have been driving South, I decided to change course and head West. We’ll follow the sunset as its orange and yellow glows burn the pages of my book called “Chris.”