'Don't let go! Please! Hold on to me', he cried as he held her hand as tightly as possible. She couldn't, for the life of her, remember how they found themselves in this situation. How his life, his fate, seemed to end up in the palm of her hand. Literally. All it will take is a miniscule release of the tension in my arm. The tiniest of motion of the muscles, and he will plummet to his death. The raging currents of the river will carry his lifeless body, crashing into rocks until there's nothing left of it. Just like that. For the first time in their relationship, she didn't feel utterly powerless. This was it. A way out of the shackles.
Should I do it?
She woke up with a start and was somewhat relieved to find herself in the solace of her room. Just a dream she thought to herself. Her relief lasted less than half a second when she was hit by the cold, stinking, heartless bitch named Reality. She didn't want to get out of bed.
A few minutes went by, she found herself standing lifeless under the incessant currents of a cold shower, pondering if she really needed to go to work that day.
It had been almost two weeks since they broke up. She was the one who ended it. And yet, she couldn't shake off the feeling if she did the wrong thing.
She called Allison, her closest friend in the world. She'd help her bury a dead body if it came to that. Probably not, but close enough.
Sia: hey.. I- I have to tell you something.
Ali: Hey Sia. Tell me.
Sia: Not on the phone. Mclaren's after work?
Ali: Is everything okay? You sound weird.
Sia: No it's okay, I'll see you tonight.
Ali: Alright. See you.
Sigh. She sat at the edge of the bed for a minute, still in her bathrobe, a pair of blank eyes staring at a blank, faded white wall. A blank canvas, upon which some of her most vivid memories projected itself like a time capsule.
She drifted through her day at work, catching herself multiple times trying to find the right sort of combination of words she would say to Ali in a few hours.
Mclaren's was the local watering hole downtown. A dingy, old bar with the characteristic smell of a dog's urine. Ali was already sitting at the bar sipping on a beer when Sia arrived. She felt ready, to finally let someone else in on her secret.
She was in no mood for formalities. She knew she needed to get it out before she lost her nerve.
Sia: Hey Carl, two tequila shots. No lime.
Ali: Hell no woman, no shots for me as long as I'm still able to make sound decisions.
Sia: Don't worry they're both for me.
A: Kinell' girl who died? At least pace yourself.
Sia said nothing. Gulped down the two shots in three seconds without so much as a flinch on her face, took a deep breath, grabbed Ali's hand and said, "come with me".
Sia dragged Ali briskly towards the restroom.
Ali: Oh great now you have to throw up, don't you? I tell you right now I'm not holding your hair back.
Sia: Stop talking.
She took off her jacket and started taking off her full-sleeved solid black top, revealing her bra of the same colour.
Ali: woah hey ho absolutely not woman I am straight as an arrow. I know that night at our college reunion got weird but that was just because we'd had too much too drink and I didn't even-
Sia: Shut up Ali. Look at this.
She turned around and displayed her back. There were at least half a dozen scars, intersecting lines of varying lengths. Some fresh, probably a couple weeks old, black scabs on some of them. Some just linear indentations on the skin, probably a few months old.
Ali: I- what- WHAT THE HELL? WHO DID THIS TO YOU? IS IT MAX? IT'S MAX, ISN'T IT? OH I'LL KILL HIM. I SWEAR TO GOD I'LL-
Sia: hey, hey Allison. Look at me. Listen, calm down, no one's killing anyone.
Ali looked into Sia's eyes and started crying and strangled her half naked body in a fierce hug.
Ali: I'm sorry Sia, oh I'm so sorry. I don't know what to say.
Sia: Yeah I know. But look at me, I'm fine. This is why I broke up with him.
Ali: That's not enough Sia, you have to report it. You have to go to the cops.
Sia: Meh. It's okay, I'm okay. I mean I'm not "okay" okay. But I will be. And he's not going to bother me anymore.
Ali: how do you know that? You don't know what these men are capable of.
Sia: I mean, I know a little bit about what they're capable of, you know, having been raped and all.
Ali: I didn't mean- oh my god I'm so sorry!
S: It's okay I was just teasing you. I just needed another person in this world to know what I'd been through. And now you do. And that makes me feel better. Now come on, grab a couple of bottles from the bar and let's go back to my place. We'll have a nightcap.
Ali: Um okay. Yeah. Okay.
They're both fairly hammered by the time they reach back to her place. Sia let her heels fly in the general direction of the shoerack, dropped her handbag on the couch and said in a slurry, inebriated voice, "you. grab snacks from the kitchen.. and put on somethin' cool on netflix. while I go take a quick shower, and.. maybe..throw up.. just a little bit."
In the shower, her intoxicated mind with no more filters, brought back flashes from the other night. 13 nights ago. Her place. She, bent over the kitchen counter, tears in her eyes. He, holding her down with all his strength. Hitting her. Multiple times. All over her body. She looked to the right. An apple. An uncapped bottle of water. A knife.
She opened her eyes with a jerk. Got out of the shower, dried herself, put on her PJs and went downstairs to find Ali slobbered on the couch stuffing her face with some potato chips and a half empty bottle of wine in her other hand.
Ali: Hey girl... come here. let's.. drink this. I love you.
Sia: This is empty Ali. there's another bottle in the cupboard in the kitchen. be a doll and fetch it please? Pretty please.
Ali: no! I ain't going back in there woman. When was the last time you had this place cleaned. It smells like somebody died in your kitchen.
Sia looked at her for a second, smiled wryly, shook her head slightly, went to the kitchen, glanced at the knife in the corner and said to herself: yep, he's not going to bother me anymore.
She got the bottle of wine from the cupboard, curled up on the couch with her, and stayed there watching reruns of some shitty netflix sitcom until the faint light of dawn arrived through the crack of the window.