just the thought of our bed
makes me crumble like the plaster
where you punched the wall beside my head
and i try to draw the line
but it ends up running down the middle of me
(most of the time)
– ani difranco
i was sitting on the floor of my one bedroom attic apartment, looking around at its emptiness. i wanted so badly to love that house- it’s charming red and yellow kitchen with the polkadotted wall paper, the clawfoot tub in the aqua-coloured bathroom, the slanted sunroom with broken screens. everything about that place was charming. i loved the original wood floors, the heavy doors, the smells, the sounds it made at night. i loved the crinkling sound of the records spinning in the living room as i put away our clean clothes in the bedroom. i loved the dining room- even after he’d painted one wall blood red, on a whim. even after i’d moved our misfits poster from the bedroom door, to the wall behind the front door, to hide the broken plaster where his fist had gone through that one summer night.
we had a 13inch television that sat on an empty moving box in the living room and we stole cable from the neighbours downstairs. we had a computer that didn’t work, sitting on a broken desk. we had an old blue sofa i scored online for $20. we had a tiny table big enough for two, and we had a chess set. we had an old futon mattress for a bed and one black dresser- we shared both. we had an empty fridge and empty cupboards. we had one lamp, and a pile of books. we had a record player and two records. we had a dictionary, an old barrel we used for a side table, and one plant i couldn’t even keep alive.
i often wonder what our neighbours thought- if they could hear his yelling, and my crying. if they could hear us running after each other down the stairs, and into the night- screaming at each other in the middle of the street. i wonder if they were nervous when it was quiet- too quiet. i was always scared they’d call the police, they’d take him away, and i’d be alone again. i wanted anything but to be alone in that house again.
i started having night terrors when he wouldn’t come home. i’d have these vivid dreams where i’d wake up to the sound of a record spinning in the living room, and when i’d go in to turn it off, something would grab me by the legs and drag me through the house, screaming. and when i wasn’t having night terrors, i wasn’t sleeping at all. i’d lay in bed with the cat and just stare at the walls… contemplating my way out, wondering if i could ever live without him. wondering if i could escape him, if i even tried.
i look back now and wonder why it took me so long to leave- why i was so in love with him despite everything. we had so many plans to fix our horribly broken relationship- we thought we could rebuild ourselves in that tiny little apartment. and we tried… we’d have long bubble baths in our giant tub, and we’d read books together in bed. we would lay on the couch and rub each others’ feet and watch cartoons. but when the money ran out, the food ran out. and then it became a fight for survival. we had no hope and i had become too tired to try anymore. so we stopped trying at all. he’d be high on drugs and the adrenaline of effortless hate, and i would be the target. i was always his fucking target.
but i wanted so badly to be the one to fix him, to fix us.