It’s Not the Same
I wake up.
Pain shoots through my arm.
The sharp memory comes back to me and I start to cry.
I choke back the tears before they are noticed.
The sleeping body next to me is quiet and breathing steady.
I get up slowly not wanting to catch enough attention to rouse my sleeping spouse.
I take my clothes to the bathroom to get dressed.
I look at my arm in the washed out bathroom lighting and take in the ugly bruise on my pale skin.
I wonder idly if something may be broken.
After I prod it a few times and decide I can move it without unbearable pain, I get dressed.
I am thankful that a long sleeve shirt is in season this time of year.
I get breakfast ready.
Pancakes, eggs, bacon, syrup.
I turn the TV on to the usual channel.
I hate this show.
It’s easier to not fight.
I set the table.
I set the food on the plates.
I butter the pancakes.
I hear the tell tale sounds of morning routine down the hall.
I pour the orange juice.
I wait for the sound of footsteps down the hall and I pour the syrup.
I drench the bacon, drizzle a little on the eggs and medium amount on the pancakes.
I time everything to be sure it is well received.
The chair is mounted silently.
The food eaten in happy silence between breaks in comments and laughter at the television.
Unhappy grumbles of “off to work” are muttered in passing as the door opens and then closes.
I clean up breakfast.
I get socks and shoes on.
I leave for work.
The drive to work is the standard morning commute. Fighting in and out of traffic until I get to the office. Work is a normal day. The grind of nine to five is too familiar to wear on me any more. My neighbor is late coming in. She has a black eye. It looks fresh from this morning. We talk as we always do and she gives the typical response that she fell into something on her way to work. This time is was a door knob. When we are on break together she tells me that he did it again. She rants about how she is so unhappy and wants to leave. How he never appreciates her. How he hit her this time because she didn’t hear what he said the first time. It didn’t seem to matter that she was cleaning his laundry and he was watching TV too loud for her to hear him. She was being disrespectful and not listening to him. This time the bastard had been mad about her not getting his beer fast enough. He had to get up to get it himself so she needed to be “taught a lesson.” If you look close you can see the outline of his ring by her cheekbone just under her eye.
It seems to happen every week. Some new reason he finds to have to punish her. The jerk never appreciates her. I’m tired of her always talking about how terrible he is. Why doesn’t she leave him already? She could do so much better. She puts up with way more than anyone ever should. I wish she would just leave him already and go for someone worth her time. I say as much.
She says, “I don’t know… he’s really not THAT bad. He really does love me.” She looks a little more determined than she did a minute ago. “He’s getting better.” She looks at the floor. “Besides, I don’t know how he’d survive without me.”
I get frustrated and give up again because I know that when she gets like this there is no hope. Depression washes over me. She is never going to leave. The bastard will kill her one day and she will not see it until he does.
I feel dread at the idea of going home.
I head home because it is just so much easier if I get there on time.
I walk in the door and there on the couch, watching TV, my love is waiting for me to cook dinner. I think suddenly of her trouble with the jerk.
“Get me something to drink.” He says in greeting.
"He's not that bad." I tell myself. "He's getting better."
I feel trapped where I am with an abusive “partner.”
But it’s not the same.
Not the same.