She has her back against the wall, slowly sliding down. The buttons on the back pockets of her jeans scrape against the dull grey paint, chipping it in some places, scratching it in others. She sits on the floor, pulling her legs to her chest, her forehead on her knees.
"Megan," he calls, voice soft. Her breath hitches in her throat. She wraps her arms around her legs, refusing to answer his call.
"Megan," he repeats, closer, close enough for her to hear his footsteps against the creaking floorboards of their cheap apartment. She buries her face in the safety of her thighs, hoping to slip away into the darkness.
She hears him sit down next to her, but is far too afraid to lift her head. He saves her the trouble, gently reaching in, grasping at her chin, and directing her to meet his gaze. She knows her nose must be colored red, her cheeks wet, with strands of her dark hair stuck to her black tear tracks.
"I'm sorry, baby," he whispers, softly, tracing his thumb against the bruise on her cheek. His eyes look so sincere and she desperately wants to believe him. But she knows that they're two very fucked up people in an even more fucked up relationship. A toxic thing it is, really; it kills her more and more each time she smells the cheap perfume on his shirt, each time she sees the lipstick stains on his collar.
He reaches out to brush the hair away from her wet, rosy and black cheeks, but she swats his hands away. His jaw clenches, the shadow of the stubble on his face more defined, his blue eyes glassy.
"Meg, baby . . . " he tries to touch her, but she shrugs away from him.
"No, no," she hiccups, "Get away from me."
He tries again to hold her, to convince her that he can stop, that things will get better, but she pushes him away, managing to raise her quivering voice, "Don't touch me! Never touch me again!"
She stands up, attempting to walk away from him before he tries to pull her back in, with his big blue eyes, his lies. He grabs at her hand, still kneeling on the ground, squeezing it tightly, despite her struggling against him.
"Let go of me, Drew!" she screams in protest, helpless as he grabs her arms and shoves her back down against the wall. She cries out in protest, but is silenced when his fist flows past her face, straight through their cheap, dingy walls. She feels the cold chills rush down her spine, goosebumps forming on her freckled arms, everything seeming to echo in the hot, humid, tense air. They breathe heavy, glare at each other intensely. She hopes to herself that he doesn't see the fear in her eyes.
She leans her head down, refusing to let him see more tears fall, to let him see the misery and pain he has inflicted upon her. He presses lips, smoother than his lies, against her sweating forehead, whispering, "I'm sorry, Megan. I'm so, so sorry. It won't happen, any of this, ever again. I swear."
She looks up, trying to find the will to protest, to win, but he silences her with a rough kiss.
It wasn't always this horrific, she thinks. She remembers when he was faithful, when he trusted her and she trusted him, when they were in a healthy, happy relationship. She doesn't, however, remember when the relationship had took a turn for the violent, she doesn't know where things went wrong, where they broke and scattered and left her to pick up the pieces. She just knows that she can't live without him.
She fears him.
She loves him.
It's a deadly combination.
"I'm going to the bar, Meggie. I'll be back at eight."
He doesn't come back at eight.
She waits up for him as long as she can, but finally falls asleep at half past two in the morning on their bed in her blue jeans and white t-shirt. She wishes that when she wakes up, all their problems, all of his infidelities will have vanished overnight.
She wakes up early in the morning, her head pounding, her stomach in knots. She looks down over herself, finding his arm slung over her waist, sans pants. She stares at their intertwined hands, a slow smile playing onto her lips, until her vision clears and she notices black sharpie scribbled on the back of his hand. She lifts it to her face, finding a name and number scrawled hastily on his pale skin. Tears prick her eyes as she shoves him off her, nearly off the edge of the bed, awakening him.
She slams the bedroom door behind her, grabbing a green jacket off of the floor and shoving her arm through it.
"The fuck's your problem? Where you going?" he asks, opening the door, his voice sharp and loud as he grabs her by the arm.
"I'm leaving you!" she shouts, struggling to pull her arm out of his grasp.
"The hell you are!" As if on cue, he spins her around, holding her body tight against his chest. She screams, pushing at his abdomen, attempting to get away from him, far, far away, but only manages to slap him across the face.
He looks stunned for a moment, but he quickly recovers, striking her cheek and throwing her down on the wooden floor. She cries out in surprise, curling up into a little ball, like a terrified child, like a pill bug. All previous feelings of courage evaporate, leaving her to drown in her fears and the alcohol that still clings to his breath.
He picks her back up by her auburn hair, catching her arm in his other hand, staring her straight in the eyes as he screams in her face, "Are you still gonna leave, Megan?!"
She cries out in pain, managing to say, "N-No, stop, please."
He breathes heavy and hot against her face as she whimpers beneath him. His eyes begin to soften, and his voice begins to crack as he quickly disentangles his hand from her frizzed hair.
"I'm sorry, Meggie. I'm so sorry," he pauses, to figure out what he should say, what he could say, "I love you so much, and I'm trying so hard. I'm trying to change."
She doesn't answer him, and he keeps talking, "Your mom was right about me. I'm just like my old man. I'm a piece of shit bastard and I never should've taken you from home. You had a future before you met me. But, God, Meg. I love you so much, I do. I swear I do. I love you so much it makes me crazy," he takes a deep breath, closing his eyes, "I'm trying so hard to change."
There's a long pause that follows, broken only by her bitter laughter.
"Do you really love me?" She questions, her voice weaker than she'd like it to be.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't," he replies, his gentle voice growing sharper.
"Then why," she starts with strength, but her voice starts to crack and break away, "Do you do this to me?"
He swallows hard, looking away from her big green eyes, staring at the holes in his socks instead, "I . . . I don't know."
She laughs, wiping at her tears as they fall, as she slowly, sourly asks, "You don't know? You don't know? You aren't man enough to tell me why you do this to me?"
His baby blues fill with something, maybe emotion, maybe love, maybe regret, though she doesn't dwell for fear of high hopes, and she wouldn't be able to see through tears even if she tried.
His grip loosens on her arm, his hand going limp, "I don't know why I do this, why I hit you, and why I'm such a fucking idiot, and I know I'm so stupid, and I'm so ugly, and I'm always angry, and I'm just like my old man and I just don't deserve you, but . . . but I know that I need you. I need you. I love you, Megan. I love you and I know you love me. You love me, don't you?"
She could tell him that she never wants to see his face again, that she wishes she'd never met him, that she hates him. But as she opens her mouth, sees his swollen, parted lips, his big sad eyes, she knows she can't. She can't tell him she doesn't love him. It would be a lie. She just can't lie, not to him, not at all.
Maybe that's why she says, "Yes."