A psychologist is treating a severely abused young woman, and she raises
some issues which cause him to question his own relationships - shounen ai
She sat on the hard, precisely made bed in the stark room. It had been
pained bright white many years ago, but time had dulled it, and so it was
now mostly grays. She rocked back and forward, clutching her sides
whimpering. Red bruises ran down the sides of her face, and under her thin
eyebrows. She curled into herself.
"Josie. Josie, talk to me." She bent further over and cried louder. "Come
on, now. I won't hurt you." I flipped open the file. " I know you've been
hurt before. These records indicate you come from an extended history of
sadomasochistic relationships. It's okay if you don't want to talk about
it. If you just want to listen for a while, I can do some talking. Perhaps
it will help prompt your memory of the night. Josie, I think you're still
hurting, on the inside. I can help you. I think you're feeling fragmented,
you were victimized, you became the support to fill the emptiness in your
lovers disintegrating identity, but you can't let it stop you like this." I
tried to make eye contact with her.
"In my experience," she spoke painfully, baring her neck, displaying the
bruises "the handles of the waffle iron are the first thing to go. Dinner
plates, mirrors, my books, they went next. It was when he - he took away my
escapes. Smashed my CD collection, as he'd always threatened to do. Had the
telephone disconnected. I sometimes wonder, if we'd been poorer, if I could
have escaped. I cold have made it out there."
Her gaze wandered to the barred window. Behind the bars was really no place
for her. She pulled her collar down to scratch at a large scar running
across her chest, healing with time. The report said the stitches could
come out sometime next week.
"He kept the mobiles, the cars, with him, or locked away in the garage,
when he had to go out. And he started talking about moving to the country
house, permanently. I think that's one of the reasons I freaked like I did.
All I ever saw was him and he was trying to isolate me even further. Wasn't
it enough already?"
She was crying again, and I passed her a tissue. She reached out from her
spot cross-legged on the bed and took it between three fingers. Her pinkie
didn't sit or bend with the others; it was curled around, and I think that
symbolized most of it to me. She had been forced to be bent around the
little finger. Snapped. She was never really going to heal; she would carry
those scars with her for the rest of her life. Everyone would look and
point, and stare at the rags of beauty, and say "there goes the black
widow, she should have done time for that." I'm just glad she didn't.
It is better, I think, that she comes here. It is protected, I know that.
Protected from the outside world. I know we are paid not to think like
that. Not to think, there is not hope. But as the frayed husk of a woman,
hollowed and dried out like an empty coconut shell you might find on the
beach, washed up from some long island vacation, sat used, abused and
broken, hunched in front of me, I knew I'd been preaching a lie. I always
used to hate those people, in movies, who did that. I wished that they'd
have their own medicine bought back on them.
I suppose it took this one poor, frazzled remains of a human being to get
me to realize that I was in a potentially abusive relationship. I didn't
have scars - not that he'd given me, anyway. I may have had access to
society, but it was deteriorating. I had quit my job to be with him, twice
already. He'd asked me to move with him. I suppose I agreed, because I had
the fatalistic idea, that whatever happened was meant to happen.
She wiped her eyes with the tissue. "What about your life, doctor?" Had I
been expressing my thoughts on my face? If I had, then I think my quick
frown confirmed her thoughts that I had.
"Aren't you supposed to be using examples of a happy and stable domestic
environment to appeal to what was lacking in mine?"
I refuse to be psyched out by a patient.
"I think it's time for your medication."
"Yeah, sure. You're such a bloody hypocrite. So drug me up then. Whatever
makes you happy, you bastard."
"Jodie . . ." I swallowed. I can act. I always could. "My partner is not
some weird personality type whose ego-identity is diffuse and shifting. We
are perfectly happy. Perfectly."
"Not weird, just a little queer. I know what they say. And I know . . .
other things, too." She looked up at me. I strode to the door, and buzzed
to be let out.
That night, I almost told him. Early on in this Job, after I gave up that
one in the occupational therapy, he'd told me one evening, "don't you ever,
Ever speak of what goes on in that madhouse to me, ever again." Not that he
pays much attention, anyway. I wouldn't break client confidentiality. I
think he just was a little scared because I started talking about things he
didn't really understand. I haven't done it since.
Oh, our communications breakdown isn't all that serious. We keep work and
home separate, that's all. I know when he goes out to the site; he doesn't
tell all his work mates that he's living with me. I know because the one
time I went down there, he acted all like he had no idea who I was. I got
quite upset after that, But it was really my fault. They would have beaten
the shit out of him if they'd found out, I suppose.
Friday nights, he comes home late. Usually he goes out to the pub with his
friends. My friends all have strict bedtimes, and aren't allowed alcohol
incase it interferes with their medication, so I generally just watch the
tele. There aren't any good movies on, and I'm not interested in sport.
Never have been.
When He comes home at eleven thirty he's roaring drunk. He brings with him
two of his mates, who he said could crash here rather than go home to their
de facto wives. We live in a small, tiny house, one of those mobile homes
that they can deliver on the back of a truck. I didn't want to live here,
but he insisted it was only temporary while he was building the house, so I
agreed. The walls are cardboard, and the windows plastic. Everything
vibrates, as they stamp in at take their steel-toes boots off. He knows I
don't like cleaning up after him tramping orange clay all through the
"Where's all the food gone, eh?" I feel like a fat bar wench surrounded by
all these sodden builders. Kinda vulnerable, definitely poor.
"There's some pizza in the microwave, and I think there's still some
Chinese in the fridge."
He lumbers into the tiny kitchen. I wonder, if we had been richer, if it
would have been different. So we didn't have to work, we could live in a
big house, a house where there are separate rooms for the guests. One has
already passed out on our bed, and the other is settling into the couch
next to me. I move to the armchair to give him room to stretch out.
He comes out of the kitchen, and goes into the bedroom, shoving the guy on
the bed onto the floor, and climbing in, fully dressed. I'm in flannelette
pajamas with trains on them. I wasn't expecting him to bring all his
friends home with him. The doorbell rings, and I get up to answer it. It's
close to midnight, but I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised.
The thin wooded door opens, and there are three women, all looking angry
and powerful, out looking for a fight (or for their husbands), strong red
make up like war-paint on their stern faces. They push past me and into the
room, and attach themselves like a motor on the back of a boat. They nag,
push and pull, and manage to lug their men home. That's one of the good
things about Him. He always comes back. I lock the door, turn out the
I go into our room, and get under the covers.
"Tony and Jake went home." I whisper to him. He grunts, and rolls around to
hold onto me. He sighs and rubs his hands around my shoulders.
"I love you," he whispers close to my ear.
He falls asleep, doesn't pay much attention to my reply. I don't think he's
ever really paid that much attention. I don't think he even knows the names
of my parents.
I've never owned a waffle iron and I don't intend to get one. I lost all my
literature I didn't need for work in a garage sale two years ago, and about
six months past, the small house we'd been renting burnt down. Really, it
was no one's fault. My CD's were in the car. The dinner plates, in our
house, we throw out every night. He won't cook and I don't have time, so
cardboard is always disposed of in the recyclables bin.
He has never, ever hit me. Not seriously. I'd leave him immediately if he
did. Well, sure there was that rough and tumble, as a game, but that's all
I lay awake all night next to his snoring silhouette, trying to weigh up
all the arguments for and against. Hen morning came; I had dark circles
under my eyes. He woke up at five to be at work again for six. He kissed me
goodbye; it was mechanical and reflexive. I almost asked him, then. If you
don't love me why do you come home each night? Why do you stay? But then I
remembered. It was his house. I should be asking myself these questions.
But I'm scared of the answer.
Coz I know it already.
*Sadomasochism is the combination of sadism and masochism in one person.
Sadism is the sexual condition characterized by the enjoyment of inflicting
pain or suffering on others. Masochism is a condition which pleasure (esp
sexual) is derived from one's own pain or humiliation, or the enjoyment of
what appears to be painful or tiresome.