An original story, published here for the first time.

Liisa Delman

 8/21/99

Testimonial

I watched him forage through the ashtray, scavenging out choice butts -- those with four or five drags left on them. He lit one up, squinting.

"Gimme a hit... please?" He knew I had been watching the whole time, and it was just a matter of time before I asked.

"Get real," he spat out at me. "Get your own fucking smokes." Here he paused, as if to reflect on his own poetry. "In fact, why don't you do something?!" His remarks were in reference to the fact that it was past 2:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon, and I was still in my pajamas in bed.

"Get up and do what?" After all, I had nothing to do.

"Jesus Christ! Get a job, get a life, get up!" He shouted as he frantically waved his arms and leaned over very close to make his point.

I began to cry. A lump formed in my throat as I sobbed, "But... but... but you said I wouldn't have to work. If I just came back you would take care of me."

"What are you? A fucking baby? I thought you were my wife! Take care of you? Yeah, but I have no respect for you. You're pitiful."

Instinctively, I pulled my legs close and hugged my knees to my chest. I wasn't ducking for cover. I knew I wouldn't be hit, but I was preparing myself for the barrage of abuses yet to come. Between my choking sobs, I heard myself whine over and over, "Why me?"

"Lazy."

"Fat."

"No self-esteem."

"No respect."

A tiny voice from deep inside me said LEAVE, but the rest of me was willing to stay. What he was saying was true. I did nothing, and I had become nothing. I stayed, because I felt that this was what I deserved. If even this.

I squeaked out between hiccups, "But I love you."

"This isn't about love; it's about..." At this point, I ceased to listen. My body was consumed with heaves, made only worse by my continued crying.

"What's the matter with you? Don't you have any control?" He stood directly over me, but all I could see was a dark, blurry, menacing shape. I curled into a tight ball and rocked myself into a lull, moaning quietly while tears and spit formed a puddle on my pillow. I knew he had been talking all this time, but I couldn't hear the exact words. Suffice it to say I knew they weren't flattering.

"I'm so sick of this shit." He sounded so disgusted.

That's when something inside me snapped. My body became possessed, and I heard myself scream, "Shut up! Just shut the fuck up! I fucking hate you, OK? I'm here, because you begged for me back and now you're unhappy with what you have! Too fucking bad! I'm what you wanted, and here I am. Where's that guy, huh? Crying like a god-damned baby, 'Come back, pleeeeeeeeeeease.'"

Wild convulsions overtook me, and my arms swung wildly, striking and clawing like crazy. "Why don't you love me? Why don't you just love me?" I cried again and again.

He pushed me off of him, throwing me down on the bed. I started to protest when he landed on top of me.

"Just shut up," he ordered. And he kissed me hard. And he kept kissing me. "C'mon baby, let's fuck. You make me so horny." He said all this while taking off my clothes and unzipping his pants.

Still sobbing, I managed to blurt out, "I love you so much. I'll do anything for you." When I came, I started crying again. And I cried until I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I was surprised to find the room dark. I rubbed my eyes and detected the faint smell of smoke. I spotted a dim shadow at the window, and I saw the red-orange ember raise up, and I heard the drag.

"Baby," I croaked out.

"Huh?"

"Can I have a drag?"

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