We Used to Dance: A Short Story *Trigger Warnings*

    We used to dance

     When we first met, it was as if the whole Universe transpired to bring us into each other’s lives… It was one of those moments at the end of a long string of serendipitous scenarios all leading their ways to this one final bliss.  It was that strange exulting moment when both of our souls saw each other and just sort of went, “Oh, there you are- I’ve been looking for you.”  We became inseparable.  We laughed.  We held each other tight.  We read to each other.  We sang.  We danced.

     So what of it now?  What changed?

….

“What the fuck is wrong with you?! Why the fuck are you crying like that?!  You always get all damn emotional, and for what?  Because I won’t say I love you every ten seconds? You’re too damn needy- back the fuck off!”

“I don’t need you to tell me every ten seconds.. Why are you screaming at me?  Every time I just come to you to rub your back or give you a kiss, you get angry at me.. And this is what I get?  For trying to show you I love you?  You react like this?  Why?”

“I’m warning you- drop it.  If you would just let it go- quit pressuring me!”

“I’m not!  I don’t even get how you think I’m pressuring you!  All I did was touch you!”

“Get the fuck out of my face.  All your damn mushy bullshit- what the fuck do you want, for me to go pick you wildflowers every day and sing you lullabies to tuck you into bed?!”

“Why are you treating me like this?”

“Just get out.”

….

I walked out of the room at that moment, but in the relationship, I stayed.

….

I’m the kind of woman who loves with every ounce of my being.  I see the best in everything and everyone, and my heart breaks when I witness the cruelty of the world because I simply cannot comprehend it.  I give and give of myself to show the depths of my love for those most dear to me.  I have often been known to forsake myself in attempt to create cohesion, which has often failed.  I am a lover.  I am a poet.  I am a creator.

I am a committed partner.

….

Eleven days later, I opened my eyes.  I’m not quite sure what happened.  The last thing I remembered was being shoved backward and hitting my head on the banister post at the top of the stairs.  My whole body hurt.

“Miss Demery?”

I tried to turn toward the voice, but the shooting pain in my neck prevented me.

“Oh, Miss Demery- don’t try to turn.  How are you feeling?”  It was a nurse.  Her name tag read “Rhonda H. Massey, CCRN”.  I suddenly became aware that I wasn’t at home.  I let my eyes glance around from their fixed position and it began to sink in that I was in a hospital room… and not just a regular room.  ICU.  Machines all around me, beeping away.  Charts and clipboards in slots on the wall just inside my door.  Rails up on both sides of me.

“Um.. I feel okay, I guess.  I’m sorry.. I’m confused.”

“It’s okay.”  Her voice was calm, soothing.  She smiled slightly at me as she walked over to check my vitals.  “You’ve had quite the ordeal, I’d expect you to have a little confusion.  You’re in the ICU, and you’ve been unconscious for seven days.  Do you remember anything from before today?”  She said all of this to me as coolly as if she were just letting me know my shoe was untied.

“An ordeal?  No, I don’t remember what happened.  I mean, I know who I am… I think. I’m Melissa Demery.  I live on Chestborough Road.  I’m 32.  And I think I fell down my stairs at home.”

“Well, you’re mostly right!” she said with a pep in her voice that seemed abnormally chipper given the setting.

“What do you mean, ‘mostly right’?”

“Everything looks good here.  I’m giving the okay for you to have a visitor- are you up for talking?”

“I guess so- but I’m still confused.. what’s ‘mostly right’?”

“I don’t think I’m the one to talk to you about all of this, sweetie.  There’s someone here though, who can talk to you if you’d like.  Can I send them in?”

I was so agitated that she wouldn’t answer me. “Sure. Send them in.”

A tall man with dark brown hair, light brown skin, and green eyes walked into my room.  He had on a long jacket, slacks, and shiny black dress shoes.  He pulled a badge from his pocket as he approached me.  His eyes were so hypnotizing.  “Miss Demery, I’m Detective John Austen.  First of all, how are you feeling?”

“Detective?… Um.. I feel okay.”

“Good.  I’m glad to hear that.  Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“That’s okay.”

“Thank you.  I want to start by first asking you what you last remember: where were you, who was there, what was happening? Anything.”

“Sure.”  My head hurt so bad.  I couldn’t really think.  I kept looking around with my eyes, trying to grasp at something, anything beyond that flash at the top of the stairs.  I couldn’t come up with any more, so I just started.  “The last I can remember, before here, was that I was at home.  I hit my head.  I think I tripped and fell on the stairs.”  I knew I was lying.  I didn’t want to tell him that I had been shoved.

“That’s good, keep going.. anything else?  Were you home alone?  Did you call for an ambulance yourself?”

“I… I can’t remember.”  Lying.

“Alright, that’s fine.  Don’t strain yourself- you need to rest.  We can talk again later if you’d like.”

“When the nurse was here, I told her who I was, where I lived, and what I can remember- she said I was ‘mostly right’.  Why?”

“Now, Miss Demery.. I don’t know if you’re really ready to hear everything just yet.  You rest.  I’ll be back.”

“No!  I want to know what’s going on!”  I was getting pissed.  Sure, I’d lied about being alone, but what the hell did he know?  I needed to find out why I had just waken up from a fucking seven day coma.  Detective Austen raised his hands, flat palmed toward me, motioning for me to calm down.

“Okay, Miss Demery..”

“Stop calling me that.”

“Melissa.”  He looked straight into my eyes.  I held my breathe.  What the hell had happened?  “Melissa, David’s dead.”

“What did you just say?”

“David’s dead, Melissa.  And the evidence is telling us that you killed him.”

….

I was lying. I remembered killing him the moment I woke up.  And I was happy.  That sack of shit deserved every bit he got.

….

They moved me from ICU two days after Detective Austen had first come to see me.  I spent another 4 days in a hospital room on the fourth floor with a view of the mountains and a roommate who never shut up.  I said before that I always see the good in everyone- and sometimes the good I see is when they stop talking.  I knew this woman’s entire life story, including the back story of her entire extended family from England and Ireland.  It was exhausting.  I just wanted to go home… I didn’t really think of it till then that I probably couldn’t go home.  It was a crime scene.  Not to mention, I never wanted to go back to that house again.  No. Home was something different now.  It was, instead, a freedom.  Home simply was wherever I might end up that was mine, and I wanted to be there as soon as I could.

I couldn’t take the babbling any longer.  My whole body hurt, but I didn’t care.  I wanted out.  Twelve stab wounds, two broken ribs, a fractured left forearm, and seventeen staples in my head weren’t going to keep me here any longer.  I waited until my roommate was taken downstairs for some x-rays before I made my move.

I carefully removed the IV from my right arm, made my way to good ole Babbles’ closet for a clean outfit, got dressed, and walked as upright as I could past the nurses station toward the elevator.  I had no shoes.  I hoped no one would notice… They didn’t.  People are so unaware…  They go about their days in a fog.  They barely do their jobs, skate by with minimal performance, do just what they have to to earn a check, and then go spend it on things they don’t need… All the while, I walk right past cops, surgeons, security officers, and janitors with a limp and no shoes on, but they all have a job to do that keeps them from even seeing me.  So busy looking busy, they develop a sort of tunnel vision- “That’s not part of my job!” they’ll say when a woman goes missing.  Not that I’m berating them, no… I get it, I really do.  The world is so big, and there are now a million and one ways to do anything.  It’s too much.  How can a security officer notice me leaving when his job is to assess those coming in with such scrutiny that he has them walk through metal detectors?  He’s only trying to keep everyone safe.  I get it… Like I said, I see the good in everyone and everything.

I went to the house.  I parked the car I borrowed two blocks away, and walked through back yards of neighbors I knew were at work. When my own house came into sight, I could tell that there was no one there collecting evidence or investigating, and the police tape was still crossing off the doors.  It looked quiet.  How many horrible screams and fights had this house heard?  Too many to count, but no more.  It was finally done.

I climbed the steps of my back porch and pulled the spare key out from behind a loose piece of siding.  I let myself in, making sure to leave the tape untouched, and closed the door quickly behind me.  I marveled in it.  The blood stains were like a Jackson Pollock all over the walls, art at its most chaotic moment.  I see the beauty in everything.

I walked through the living room, past the kitchen, and I climbed the stairs.  I stood at the very top, and I let it begin.  Suddenly, I was being shoved backward.  I heard David screaming at me, “What the fuck don’t you get!?” as I fell back.  I turned and saw chunks of my scalp still clinging to cracks in the corner of the banister post, dark brown stains running halfway down the shiny white paint.  I felt my body tumbling side over side and end over end as it made its way violently to the bottom of the stairwell.  Wispy blots of blood traced every bash my brain had made on its way down. I watched from the top of the steps as I lay there, half unconscious.  I felt stabbing pain in my side, and it was hard to breathe.  I glided down gracefully to meet myself, and offered my hand to help me get up, but I was already back on my feet.  David was coming down the stairs.  I could tell he was scared.  He’d really hurt me this time.  He didn’t mean it.  Now is when he finally felt empathy and wanted to hold me and tell me it would all be okay.  Now… after he almost fucking killed me.  It took him nearly fucking killing me to care.  Asshole.  His turn for the cold shoulder.  His turn for the rage.

I was hurting, and pretty dizzy, but I managed to make my way past the kitchen and through the living room.  I found the baseball bat we kept next to the back door, and I turned around just in time to crack it through David’s left arm as he reached for me.  It was like they say when you’re in a really shocking scenario- everything slows down…  I watched as his arm buckled under the northern white ash of my Louisville Slugger, his skin separating as the bone pierced its way through the flesh, blood spraying the wall in an explosion of release.  His scream was music to my ears.  This time, he wasn’t screaming at me.. He was screaming for himself… And it never sounded sweeter.  He fell to the ground, and rolled to his back as he used his right arm to try to hold the other together.  I stood there, watching myself look down at him, a wry smile on my face and a glaze in my eyes as David writhed on the floor.  After his cries of pain, he took a deep breath, and looked up at me, his nostrils flaring, his eyes lit with fury.  He was pissed.  I saw my face the moment I decided it, that moment when I knew he would never care how much he had hurt me, the moment I knew how much I wanted to hurt him.  I watched myself raise the bat and swing it down into his right knee.

I can still feel the force of the grip in my hand vibrate through my wrist as I watch pieces of bone fly from David’s leg.  I realize in my rage that I’ve just fractured my own arm from the force of impact, and I don’t care.  It’s worth it to see him coming apart, literally.  This is when I know what I want to do.  I step out of my way as I pass to go into the kitchen.  When I return, I see I have a blade in my hand.  It was my favorite knife, perfect for cutting raw meats like they were marshmallows.  I whirled around to see David, I knew he had to be pissing himself now.  I loved it.

The first swing caught his right arm, just above the elbow as he was trying to block my advance.  The spray of blood hit my face and soiled my furniture as it spouted out like water from a sprinkler in the front yard on a warm summer morning.  Just then, David mustered up whatever small bit of adrenaline and energy he had left in him to fight and grabbed the knife from my soaked hands.  Before I could make it across the room the stop him, I watched as he swung the blade back up into my stomach and I fell to the floor beside him.  He collapsed sideways on the floor, but he wouldn’t give up.  He kept swinging, and swinging, and swinging- and I couldn’t seem to get my hands back around the handle.. He was so fast.  I felt each and every inch of that blade.. all twelve times it entered my torso.  It was like a pin striking a water balloon… that split-second moment before it pierces where the pressure builds, and then finally releases.. The pain didn’t come for a few moments.  Ripping off a band-aid. Get it over with.  I watched his eyes glaze and flutter the last time he plunged the metal spike into me, and before he could pull it back out, his head flopped sideways to the floor unconscious.

I reached down, slowly pulled the knife out of me, and raised it to his throat.  I laid there, resting my head on the floor, my eyes locked on his face, shaking uncontrollably in shock with the blade resting just over the small pulsating patch in his neck where I knew his jugular vein hid.  I wanted to vomit looking at him.  I hated him.  I hated everything about him.  I hated that he had made me hate him.

I used my last bit of strength to press the blade down, feeling the release of his flesh under the razor sharp edge, and I watched as the blood poured and pooled under his rotten fucking face.  Die, asshole.

Then black….

….

I have no idea who called for paramedics that day.  Must have been the neighbors who’d heard enough of our fights to know that this one was different.  Either way, I lived, and David died.  Hooray for me.  I’m free.

It’s been two years since that day.  Every now and then, I’ll see some midnight special where they flash my face on the screen and ask, “Have you seen this woman?” I imagine calling in and saying I’ve seen myself somewhere outside of Houston or Phoenix just to see if I can get them to step it up, but I never do.  I like being Addy Smith.  I wouldn’t want to start over again… I’ve created a beautiful life.  They go on to talk about the beauty I created that night, the absolute horror authorities found when they came rushing in, two bodies in a room painted in blood.  I think it’s funny that they never show pictures from the inside of my house, though.  Sometimes it makes me chuckle.  It’s always just some lame shot from the street, like “this  is the infamous Demery home where love went horribly wrong..”  It’s cowardly.  If their going to report on it or talk about it, they may as well do it the justice it deserves- Show what that fucker had coming to him!  Show everyone what happens when you forsake the most amazing, loving, giving, and understanding woman in the world…

But they won’t do that.  And I get it… their jobs are to report and sensationalize, not actually enlighten… It’s okay.  At least I’m free now… Like I said, I see the good in everything.

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