She looked over at him in his chair from the bed, knowing exactly how the next few bits of the conversation were going to play out. And so it began:
“You know, you don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to. Don’t waste my time. Just go home if you’re going to be upset,” he said, his condescending tone heavy with scorn.
I stayed on the corner of the bed, looking at the back of his head, because he hadn’t even given me the courtesy of looking at me when he spoke. But then again, I wasn’t sure I wanted him to look at me; I knew what his eyes were like at times like these.
“Hello? Are you just going to sit there and not answer me?” His tone increased tension; there was now annoyance with the criticism and scorn.
I should say something; this is going to get bad fast if I don’t… “I do want to be here.” I tried my best to keep my anger, my hatred, confined. It didn’t work very well, and he picked up on it.
“It doesn’t sound like you want to be here; you’re not lying to me, are you?”
Oh, God, I hated him. If I could, if I had the ability to, if I was strong enough to overcome him…
But I couldn’t do anything. Life just didn’t work that way. He was above me, always, and nothing I did would ever change that. I mentally sighed, putting in large amounts of effort to reign in the burning hatred that was coursing through me. I could feel my heart beginning to flutter with fear, and I tried my best to calm that too. Serenity was the best way to deal with him when he was angry, usually. Sometimes I just couldn’t help the situation at all, and the only thing I could do was ride it out. And those arguments always ended with me comforting him. Explain that one to me.
I made sure my voice was going to be steady, and then answered “No, Michael, I’m not lying to you.”
Instead of coming out even, my voice had become the outlet for the hatred I’d tried so hard to contain; it was sarcastic, dripping with venom. I surprised myself; I didn’t even know I was capable of speaking with that amount of sarcasm.
He turned around to look at me, his cold, green eyes sparking; I kept my head down, staring intently at the beige rug beneath my feet.
“What did you just say?”
Fuck, it’s over. There was no chance of salvaging this; I was going to have to just stay quiet and let his anger run him dry.
“I asked you what you said to me, cunt. Are you going to answer me? Or will I have to come over there?”
At this last sentence, the fear in my heart began to flood me, mixing with the hatred, thus creating an odd mixture of loathing, fear, and guilt. I really needed to answer him correctly; he’s told me about this before. He can’t deal with tones. Why is it so hard to get my tone right tonight? Usually I can control it and ease things. I took a quiet breath, closing my eyes to hide even more from his piercing, burning eyes.
“I said, ‘I’m not lying to you, Michael.” This time, it was near perfect; but there was still a hint of sarcasm. If I had gotten it 100% perfect, things after this may not have turned out as they did.
After I said his name I felt the bed move, a hand on my throat, and then the mattress behind me as he pushed me down onto it. I kept my eyes closed, but I knew his face was inches from mine and that his eyes were boring into me. His grip on my throat wasn’t quite to the point of cutting of my air supply, but it was close; in other words, I’d still survive if he kept this up for awhile.
“Look at me.”
My heart sputtered in fear, then immediately returned to it’s normal rhythm. I knew there was no saving it. It was time to just endure and not do anything stupid.
I shifted my hold on his hand around my neck; I was holding his hand gently, pleading more out of struggling. I knew he was stronger than me, and if I fought back that only made his anger worse. I had to let him be the aggressor, the one in charge. It was the only way to get through these moments. And he wished I wasn’t afraid of him; he obviously does not know what he does to me.
“I said look at me!” His hand tightened, and he spoke with a snarl; I opened my eyes.
I had always thought his eyes were beautiful. They were green, but a green unlike I had ever encountered before. They were like glass, frozen, cold, and piercing, surrounded by lush, raven lashes. They never missed anything, and they saw straight into me. I could not hide from him.
He looked at me for a few moments, searching the depths of my being for any sign of anything he deemed inconsiderate and wrong; I let my calm heart beat rule me, and focused on nothing but the contractions of the muscle in my chest. I kept my eyes open, knowing what would happen if I closed them.
“Now…are you going to listen to me?”
Of course, you bastard. “Yes,” I answered, the sarcasm seeping through again. Damnit, stop thinking those things!
His grip immediately tightened; I couldn’t breath now. Fuck.
He held me there for a moment, and then slowly bent down next to my ear; my eyes were closed again at this point.
“I said…are you going to listen to me now?”
I nodded, as best as I could; I couldn’t say anything anyways.
“Good,” his grip on my throat loosened just enough to allow air in; I gratefully drank in oxygen, fuel, using too much energy to do so.
“Now…what have I told you about your tones, huh? Don’t you think they’re a little rude? You shouldn’t be speaking to me like that, child. I know you hate me, I know you don’t want to be here anymore. Right?”
My heart stopped; dread filled me, like black, clouded ink. My entire body unwillingly stilled as time seemed to slow to milliseconds.
Why…why this of all things?
I was panicking; my heart was no longer beating slow enough for me to feel it push the blood through it’s system. It was beating as if my life was in danger, because in reality, it was. I was terrified; the adrenaline was beginning to pump through me, my body still frozen, unable to use it.
I felt the way he was holding himself change. And he knows…
My body began to tremble uncontrollably.