One Chance to Get Away
I had a chance to get away.
More significantly, I had the courage to take it.
In the early part of my ‘marriage’, (synonym for extraordinary rendition) I’d had a number of chances.
Because he knew I loved him and wanted to be with him he’d tell me he’d ‘soon come’ and go out for hours.
When he returned he wanted to hear me ask, “Where were you...” so he could jump in my face, maybe box me, telling me I 'didn't own him', that he didn't have to 'babysit me' twenty four seven..." and leave me crying...
Crying because I missed him, crying because I felt abandoned, crying because I felt hurt, crying because I was insulted, crying because he'd hit me, crying because I was in pain....
When I learned his method of 'soon come' I usually left the flat a few minutes
after he did.
I could visit Dee and get back and Nick would never know I’d been gone.
Soon as I heard his key in the lock, I’d hop into a shower. A few times he’d be in a good mood and laughing, jump in with me and I’d act ever so happy.
Sometimes he’d just go into the living room. If he didn't advise me of his return I'd act as if I hadn't heard him enter and go into the bedroom.
This behaviour convinced him, at least at first, that I wasn't aware of how long he'd been gone, or when he got back...sort of an unconcern which was more powerful a weapon against him than any other.
Then he changed his pattern.
Changing the Pattern
Maybe he suspected I didn't stay 'Home Alone.'
Maybe my lack of response to his absence made him reconsider, but he changed.
He might go out and return in ten minutes. There was no way of knowing how long he'd be gone once he left.
I was lucky in that he’d almost caught me, but something had told me not to go out the front door.
I’d slipped out of the bedroom window, gone around to the front, and there he was, standing watching the door. Blessedly, his back was to me so i had been able to scurry around, climb back in, hang up my jacket, get off my boots, plant myself in front of the television... sure enough he came barreling in as if he’d expected me to have tried to sneak out.
Again, I was blessed in that there was one of those gripping news reports I could pretend to be intent on, so didn't notice him standing there, almost trembling in rage.
Other times he’d go out and not be back for five hours.
I never could know, for certain, how long I’d be off the leash.
So I didn't often try to leave my prison.
I’d seen the little card in his pocket yesterday.
His friend Winston was having a dance across town.
Nick usually left for a dance about ten or so.
If he went out on Saturday night at 10, that meant I could grab my bag, my money, get out of the flat,, into a cab, to the train station.
Money was not a problem. I’d been hiding money for almost a year. Few dollars here, a few there. I'd steal soda bottles, return them to the supermarket.
I had the money; any chance I got, I was gone.
I’d been to Miami before. I knew a special hotel that took a few guests while it trained the mentally challenged. It was incredibly cheap and right in the middle of the city.
I’d practiced packing, knowing just what to take and what I wouldn’t miss. One knapsack and a shoulder bag with my documents and money and a few cosmetics.
I looked at the dance card again, put it back in his pocket and made myself relax.
If he thought I knew, if he had an inkling....
It was Saturday.
I was in my nightgown at nine, yawning before the television. He saw me. I muttered about tired, and reached bed at 9:40 and lay down.
He continued to watch television and I heard the 10 pm news come on. Then I heard him shut the television.
Oh please go....go...go... I prayed.
I heard him in the bathroom, taking a shower. I lay and listened, afraid to move, to breath, just lay there until I heard him go out of the hovel. I didn’t move. I felt he was watching the door.
I felt he might be standing in the corridor just to see if I opened the bedroom door....
In the dark I put my bra and panties on, but kept on my nightie, just in case.
I packed the knapsack, I didn't need light, I knew precisely where everything was.
I moved as silently as I could, listening for his steps, waiting for the bedroom door
to burst open.
After the knap sack was packed I pulled on my jeans, my sweater, my jacket, and opened the bedroom window. I went out, closing it behind me.
Quietly I came around the building, but went over the fence, not around the front. I jumped into the next yard, then onto the road and down.
I was almost running, then saw a taxi.
I couldn’t breathe,
I was so afraid Nick was behind me.
I sat in the Taxi trying just to hold myself still, not think, not dream, just pretend to be calm.
It wasn’t until I reached the station, wasn't until I was sitting on a moving train, that I could breathe.
Tears rolled down my face for the death of my marriage, the end of my life as it
had been, but an overwhelming feeling of freedom filled every atom of my body.