Part 1: I Never Believed It Could Happen To Me
I never believed it could happen to me.
I had grown up reading stories in newspapers about it happening to countless other girls but that was all they were, stories. They were nothing more than factoids on pieces of paper. Unfortunate events that had taken place in some unfortunate girls' lives. They had nothing to do with my life.
I always found myself fascinated by the victim statements. They were all the same. Always bolded in the center of the page was the tearful excerpt, "I never believed it could happen to me". It amazed me that these simple little words, could become the most popular universal excuse. Did they really believe that this couldn't happen to them? Did they really believe that they were so untouchable? Surely, there must have been warning signs. They must have had some way of knowing that they were in trouble. They must have been able to get away somehow.
I never thought that I would be saying those exact same words.
I wasn't one for making excuses, but I thought I was untouchable too. I was supposed to be the strong one. I was supposed to be the girl that never let anything shake her. I was supposed to be the one with common sense, when you are in trouble you either fight or flight. I was supposed to be able to do both, but I couldn't. I was weak. I was fragile. I was stupid. I was pathetic.
I can still remember the moment those stupid little words of weakness permanently emblazened themselves on my mind.
I had, had enough. This was the last straw. I was going to leave and never, ever look back.
It was late November in a small little town. It was freezing cold, a foot and a half of snow on the ground, yet to be disturbed. Until now.
I ran as fast as I could. I had to get away from him as fast as I possibly could, there was no way around it. The wind whipped around my head in a fury, blowing my hair every way possible. The tears that I refused to let fall freezing to my eyelashes. My red piece of scrap metal in the form of a car was just feet away. I was almost free. All I had to do was turn the key and drive away and I would never have to see his face again. The face that had changed in a matter of seconds, the personality that changed with it.
I threw myself into my car and sat in disbelief. Who would have thought that I would be planning my escape from someone I had come to love and who had come to love me? Something changed in him, something I had no control over. He showed me a side of him today that I would never be able to accept. He showed me that he wasn't the perfect man that I believed he was. He showed me that he could be a monster.
I felt a burning sting on my wrist. I slid up the sleeve of my jacket, cringing as I tried to inspect the damage. Emblazened on my skin, clear as crystal, were five distinctive, red finger marks were his own fingers had been just moments before. I was sickly fascinated by them. Something about them intrigued me as I placed my own fingers on top of them to compare. Mine were long, thin and weak, his were short, thick and painfully strong. They stung, burning into my skin, no doubt about to leave a large, unflattering bruise.
I shrugged my jacket off to see what else was different. There were two matching red marks on both of my shoulders, more than likely from when he grabbed me and held me against the wall. My spine was probably bruised pretty badly too. That thought was confirmed when a short, sharp, searing burst of pain shot through my spine causing tears to spring to my eyes.
I never should have let this happen. He should have never been able to hurt me like this. You don't hurt someone you love like this! He should have never been able to raise a hand to me like this or grab me or pin me like this. He should have realized that doing this would force me to leave. It was going to be his loss. I should have left as soon as he hit me that first time.
I scowled at myself in disgust for wasting my time sitting in this piece of garbage when I could have been long gone. I pulled my seatbelt across my body, cringing as pain seared through my arms. I put the key into the ignition and turned it. The car roared loudly ready to run and so was I. I took one last look at the house I had visited so many times, promising myself that I would never come back. I smiled to myself as I turned to check my mirrors. That's when my heart shattered.
Staring back at me was someone I had never seen before, a complete stranger. She looked so pained and broken, it broke my heart. Her eyes were completely lifeless. Pale grey, surrounded by rings of red, purple and blue. Her lip had burst, red blood crusting over at the edges, dried from the cold. Her nose was bleeding too as bruises formed around her jaw and cheeks. She was a pathetic looking human being. She was Sam Tenshaw. She was me.
All I had to do was drive away, but I couldn't. The tank wasn't empty, the engine wasn't broken, the tires weren't flat, but I couldn't leave. My heart hurt too much. I couldn't move, I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe. All I could do was stare at the broken stranger in the mirror as my heart pounded in my ears.
How could I have let this happen? I wasn't the strong person I thought I was. I was a weak, small, pathetic, despicable excuse for a person. The taste of bile rose to my throat. I was angry. I was angry at him for hurting me. I was angry that I looked like this. I was angry that I let him hurt me. I was angry that I didn't know he was capable of this. I was angry that I wasn't smart enough to see this coming. Most of all, I was angry because I knew that all he had to do was apologize and all would be forgiven again. I loved him so much that I would be willing to pretend that this never happened. That it was all just a big misunderstanding. That it was a one time mistake that would never happen again. I hated myself for not being able to walk away when it was the only thing that I should be doing.
This was all my fault. If I had done even one thing differently this wouldn't be happening. I could have talked calmer, I could have explained myself clearer, I could have hugged him tighter, I could have just let him win. Anything would have changed it. If I had done things differently I could be sitting on his couch right now, wrapped in his arms watching a stupid movie instead of sitting out in my car too sore to move.
I punched the steering wheel as the tears I had been holding back rushed out. Why didn't he run after me? He loved me, he was supposed to run out after me and hold me and make everything alright again. Why didn't he fix me? Why wasn't he there holding me, wiping my tears, apologizing to me and kicking himself for hurting me? Why didn't he care that his girlfriend was sitting out in a car, beating herself up inside because he beat her up outside? Why wasn't he drowning in guilt realizing that he could lose the best thing he ever had? Why was I still there? Why wasn't I gone? Why couldn't I just leave?
Why did I still love him?
My cell phone vibrated on the seat next to me, his picture staring up at me. I glared at the phone knowing that he would be able to pull me right back in again. I should have ignored it. I should have stepped on the gas and floored it. I should have deleted it and been done with him. I should have done a lot of things but didn't. I picked up my phone and read the text, "I'm sorry, please don't leave me."
My heart sunk in my chest. I hated myself. Just like that, those six little words made me forgive him. Well, maybe not forgive him, but they made me want to overlook this incident. They made me want to believe that he really was sorry. I hated myself. I reached for the keys and turned off the ignition. The engine cut off and lost all sense of life, in a way I suppose I did too. The stranger in the mirror looked at me with the same look of disgust I felt for myself. I was weak. I was pathetic. I was Sam Tenshaw.
I never believed it could happen to me.