Living in the Dark Place


She rises in the morning with a smile and happiness in her heart. She tries to greet each day with renewed hope and joy. She hears him as he goes about his morning routine and prays this day will be different, it will be better. She combs her hair, splashes water on her face, and steps out of the bedroom ready to greet the man she has loved for many years. She wishes him a good morning, but he doesn’t respond. She makes the coffee and sets two cups out to be filled with the morning wake up drink. She hears him as he pounds away on his phone or computer grumbling because once again, something is working the way it should. She squares up her shoulders and heads into the room.

She breathes deep, still smiling, still hopeful, still praying for a better day, but those hopes are short lived. He growls when she asks how he is feeling. She picks up her computer and begins to click away at the keys looking for someone, anyone to greet her with a good morning or to share a happy blessing with. She sees him over the computer getting madder and madder because the phone or computer are frustrating him. She takes a deep breath and he responds, “What’s wrong with you this morning?”

“Nothing,” she responds, “just taking a deep breath. I find I hold my breath a lot these days.”

“Well,” he growls, “cut it out, that disturbs me. Makes me think something is wrong with you. When’s breakfast?”

“As soon as the coffee is done.”

She turns back to her computer, but the smile has faded from her face. She sets the laptop down, and heads to the kitchen to pour the coffee. She wants to drink a cup of coffee before she cooks, but she knows he will get angry if his breakfast is not ready very soon. She carries him a cup of coffee and waits, clearing her throat to let him know she is there. He continues to pound away at the keys ignoring her. She reaches in front of him, sets his coffee down and turns back to the kitchen. “Next time, don’t sneak up on me!” he yells.

“Sorry, anything you want for breakfast?”

“Yeah, how about a T-Bone steak, eggs, potatoes, and biscuits.”

“You know we don’t have a T-Bone steak, will bacon be alright?”

“It’ll have to do!”

She hums while she cooks hoping his mood will improve after he eats. She is so tired of his anger, but what can she do? She loves him, but the eggshells she walks on is getting thinner. One day, she knows the eggshells will break and she will fall through into the dark place once again. She hates the dark place. She shuts those times out of her memory and dwells just on the light, the good times. She hums a little louder trying to boost her spirit.

“Shut that catterwhopping noise out. You’re disturbing me!”

“Sorry.” She lowers her voice and hums softly to herself. Breakfast is ready. She fills his plate, carries it to him, and waits once again for him to notice she is there. She clears her throat, “Honey, here’s your breakfast.”

“Damn you, woman! Can’t you see I’m busy. Just set it down and leave me the hell alone!”

A tear tries to rise in her eye, but she pushes it down and turns back to the kitchen. The smile gone, the hum quieted, the hope quelled, the prayer changes to one for peace. She picks up her plate and carries it to her chair. Although he is here, she is alone. His head in his phone, his food growing cold, his anger increasing. She scoops a bite up on her fork and quietly takes a bite. Once again, she eats in silence. He is here, she can see him, but she is alone, and under the circumstances, maybe that is a good thing.

He picks up his fork and scrapes up a bite. “Damn it, woman, can’t you ever get me my plate while it is hot? Do you have to serve me a cold breakfast every damn morning?” He takes a sip of his forgotten coffee, “And the coffee is cold! Why the hell is the coffee cold?”

“I brought the coffee to you before I made breakfast. I’m sorry it is cold; do you want me to warm it in the microwave for you? I brought you your breakfast just as soon as I took it up. You were busy. I guess it got cold waiting.”

“Oh, so it’s my fault my coffee and food are cold! How dare you blame me! You should have told me they were here! One day, I’m going to get sick of this and be like Ralph Cramden and ‘pow, right to the moon’ with you!” He shoved another bite of the now very cold food into his mouth and pounded harder on the keys of the phone.

“Honey, I thought maybe we could do something together today.”

“Sure, whatever you say! You always think, don’t you?”

She knew they would not be going anywhere. He would spend his day on the phone or on his computer. She knew she would live this day alone. She could not go without him, that had proven to be a very bad idea when she tried because when she returned he was extremely angry, and she felt the blunt of that anger. She would call someone, but he would not let her talk without his interfering. The call would end quickly because he would begin insulting her or the person on the other end of the line. She could not leave the room because he would grill her on where she was going, why she was going, and what she would be doing. If she was out of his sight for more than 15 minutes, he would get angry.

She felt like she was living inside a cage. She was the provider, but she was the one caged. She was confined to the small area within her home. He could come and go at will, and she could not ask where nor why he went. She did relish those times he would leave. Those were the only times peace reigned in the home. There was no chain attached to her ankle, but it was there in virtual reality because she was tethered to the house. She felt used, unloved, unwanted, and worthless. She could see no reason to continue to live, but she refused to let him push her to the point of ending her own life. One day she would find a way to break the bonds that bound her to him and to the home. But, until she could find the way to break free, she would live in this storm, this dark place. At least, for now, the hitting had stopped.

Sometimes she longed for the hit, because then people could see the abuse, but the virtual chain, the anger, the words, the internal pain could not be seen, and to the people outside the walls of the home, he was the good guy. He was the clown, the happy guy, the guy everyone loved to be around. He made people feel good about themselves. He once had made her feel that way, but no more. Marriage had brought out the other man, the man that stayed hidden behind the walls. The man only she knew. People didn’t believe her when she tried to talk to someone about how she had to live. He had convinced people she was the one with the problem. When they were out, she seemed to fit what he said, because she never looked anyone in the eye, she seldom spoke to people, and she would ask him, no tell him, to calm down when he would get to crazy. She looked to the world outside the walls to be the culprit of their marriage problems because no one, not even the marriage counselor they had gone to see could see the man who lived behind the walls of the home.

Yes, she was trapped, but one day she would break those bonds. She knew she would have no place to go, but go she would have to do. One day he would go too far, and the only way she would survive would be to flee. Until that day, she would live in the dark place with him but alone. She would hide her pain deep inside until that day. She would smile on the outside while tears flowed deep on the inside. One day she would find a way out of her prison. Her prison had no parole, no end time, but one day she would find the escape hatch. One day she would be free. Until that day, she would continue to pray for peace, comfort, joy, and most of all protection.

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About Elaine Rhoades

I am a 69 year old grandmother, mother, wife who earned a BS in Psychology with a 3.97 GPA at the ripe old age of 62. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Phoenix July 2012. I have begun my own business of editing for authors and writing a novel, which is currently in editing stage. If you are interested in obtaining editing services please contact me at rhoadesediting@att.net. List of editing projects: A Forever Family Series - children's books - Author Sal Edwards. UoP essays and class papers for my class teams. 40 + years as Administrative Assistant in which I edited textbooks, sales flyers, newsletters, catalogues, letters, and other office projects. Writing Projects: Novel: "I'll Cry No Tears". Short Stories: Various - not ready for publishing Poetry: One published poem 1963 Various stories for friends and family Office Newsletters: Editor of "Southside OBGYN Office News"
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