The Rough Morning (a short story)

messy bed

The scars. Three on my arm and two on my head. Those will heal in a few days…but the other one, the massive one on my heart, I am not sure that one will ever heal.

He lied. Well, according to him, it was merely an omission of the truth. Instead of being honest about where he was when he was supposed to be at work, he chose not to respond to my inquiry regarding his whereabouts. So yes, technically he didn’t lie. He just chose not to tell the truth.

I called and confronted him. I always do. Against my better judgement. The argument that he omitted the truth to avoid, ensued. “Why are you always checking up on me?”, he grumbled. “Why do you feel the need to lie if you’re not doing anything wrong?”, I shrieked. “Because you always overreact!”, he screamed, clenching his fists. “I wouldn’t overreact if I felt like you were being honest with me.”, I said, feeling defeated. Communication has never been our strong suit, I thought to myself as I hung up on him.

I’m in the bathroom when he comes in a few hours later. I hear the garage, followed by the door, followed by him walking up the stairs into the bedroom. I say nothing. Neither does he. I finish my nightly routine of washing my face and brushing my teeth in preparation for our usual Thursday night TV date, though I am sure he will not want to watch TV with me tonight.

He’s in his pajamas and in bed before I even finish tying up my hair and out of the bathroom. I get in bed beside him, reluctantly. The bed feels extra cold tonight as if there is a pile of icicles occupying the space between us. I test the water.

“Are we watching TV tonight?”, I ask. “I guess”,he says in a way that makes it seems as if nothing happened and I am the one with the problem. “Turn on the TV then”, I say, with a hint of playful annoyance. Am I annoyed that he has a nonchalant attitude about blatantly lying to me earlier or am I annoyed that despite his lying, I still want to have TV date night? I am not sure in that moment.

Shondaland begins, ends, is followed by the first five minutes of the news, TV off, lights out, and him turning over, his back to me. Just leave it alone and go to sleep, I say to myself. And I do. For about three and a half hours, according to my sleep tracker watch. Four and half if you count the thirty minutes on each end that I tossed and turned.

It’s now four a.m. I turn on the lamp next to the bed. He is startled from his sleep. “Wake up”. He groggily responds with a sigh that says he knows we’re about to argue. “I am really bothered by the fact that you lied to me earlier”, I say. He pulls the cover over his head to signal that he really is not trying to have this discussion. But it’s weighing heavily on my mind so I don’t care. Why should he get to sleep soundly while I am up stewing?

He engages and we spend the next hour and a half bickering. I hate that he lies to me. He hates that I “smother” and “check up on” him. He’s a grown ass man and doesn’t have to report to anyone. Blah, blah, blah, with no resolution in sight. He looks at his phone and gets up abruptly to shower. “So you’re just going to leave the conversation like that?”“I don’t feel like we were having a conversation”, he says from the shower. By this time, I am standing in the bathroom, feeling dejected that yet again, he is trying to turn this around on me.

“Fine”, I say, as I turn off the bathroom light and walk away, disappointed in myself for my level of pettiness in that moment. “You are being really petty”, he said angrily. It’s true. I was. “You do not want to go there because we can take it there”, he continues, as he hastily finishes his shower so that he can make his seven o’clock appointment.

The bickering continued and he demanded that I leave the bathroom, our bathroom. I rolled my eyes, slowly turned to walk away, and before I realize it, he is on my heels. So much so that I walk out of my slipper.“I need my shoe”.“No, get out”, he says as he tosses me into the hallway and starts walking back to the bathroom. I walk behind him to get my shoe when he angrily grabs a pair of beard trimming scissors, runs behind me, pushes me into the bedroom wall, and begins choking me, while holding the scissors in front of me like he is going to stab me.

We’ve argued many times and he has even yanked me up and choked me a time or two but he has NEVER threatened me with a weapon. I stare into his eyes, trying to read his next move, and I realize that I am looking into the eyes of a stranger. A stranger in a rage. In that moment, I honestly didn’t know what would happen. I had a fleeting vision of my family reacting to the news of my death and a will to fight came over me, though I still felt helpless up against the sharp end of a pair of curved scissors. He let go after what seemed like an eternity, picked up my lost house shoe, and threw it at my head, hitting his target.

I leave the room, feeling some kind of way that I am unable to describe. I go into the guest bathroom and sit on the toilet. I should be getting ready for work but I can’t risk letting my guard down enough to get naked and shower. No, not while he is still in the house. It dawned on me to turn off the bathroom light so that maybe he would forget that I was there while he finished getting dressed for work. That worked for a little while but before I knew it, he was back at it. Choking me while I’m sitting on the toilet before blocking the bathroom door daring me to “move” him to get out. I calmly got up and stood in front of the sink, listening to him loudly berate me for the next fifteen or so minutes. Honestly, it may have only been five but it felt like an hour. I pleaded with him to lower his voice. The walls of our townhome are thin and the neighbors are nosy. He responded by getting louder. I thought for sure that the police would knock on the door at any moment. They didn’t. When he finally walked away, I knew I needed to act quickly. I grabbed a pair of shoes, a jacket, and my purse, and headed out the door. By this time, it’s about six thirty in the morning and I am in my pajamas so I am going nowhere but for a drive that is just long enough for him to be gone when I get back home.

When I pull up in front of the house, he is pulling out of the garage. Perfect timing. I have just enough time to shower, get dressed, go to work, and pretend like nothing happened.

Moral of the story: Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. You have no idea what your colleague, classmate, or Starbucks barista had to deal with before facing the outside world. We may see physical scars on people but we have no idea the emotional baggage and wounds that even the most put together individual may be carrying.



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