I guess there were a lot of things about him that interested me. Part of me was drawn to the way that he walked around the busy Brighton shops, and the way that he waved at an old lady in the street. The way that his ocean blue eyes captivated me, like my favourite film. The fact that he could hypnotise you with a single smile. I was enchanted by the sound of his deep voice, and the touch of his soft hands. I liked that he made me feel beautiful. I loved that he loved me.
It was a small house; basic, common. Just a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and two bedrooms, which is all you really need. The first bedroom was ours, I’d painted it a plum kind of purple when I first moved in as it reminded me of my childhood room, but the colour had almost faded. The second bedroom was empty, except for the mattress on the floor. A few friends stayed round before so that’s why we had it, there wasn’t really any other use for it. There wasn’t even a window in there, and the light switch was pretty hard to find in the dark. The kitchen was black marble with a white table centred around all the cupboards and appliances. There was stains on the surface tops from incorrectly followed recipes, and a mark of the ceiling from the failed attempt of Shrove Tuesday. The lounge was grey themed: grey sofa, grey chair, grey rug. All slightly different shades, just to give that stylish edge. 3 weeks it took me to change it from the beige situation it was in previously, but it was definitely worth it.
I was sat in the corner of the room we shared, staring out the rusty window. The view was far from spectacular to say the least. All I could really see were some bricks and bushes. The bushes had gone through a lot of throughout the years. When I first arrived, they were green — a ripe, healthy type of green. Now they’re almost dead. The leaves have been engulfed by a mouldy brown sort of colour, and the edges were frayed like an old piece of fabric. And the bricks were that standard orange colour. All lined up perfectly, except for one. One brick had a big chunk missing from the centre, like when you take the first scoop from a tub of ice cream.
The room was silent and the only sound I could hear was mind. That little voice was reminding me that I needed to wash my hair that night. I peered round the small room as I heard footsteps approach me.
“I brought you a cup of tea,” he spoke, with laughter evident in his voice.
I took the mug from his hands and looked down at emptiness. He laughed hysterically, thinking he was some sort of world famous comedian. After placing the cup on the floor, I went back to staring out the window. He came over to me, still giggling, and hugged me from behind. We gazed at the ever-changing world before us, not letting go of one another.
I thought about all the times we had done this. So many of our days were spent looking at bricks and bushes, like they were the most exciting things ever. I guess to someone who hadn’t really seen much of the world, they were.
The window was brown round the edges — rusty, old. It had that weird cross through the middle of it, you know the one that no one understands the purpose of. There wasn’t really a lot to view from any of the windows in the house but this one was my favourite.
After letting the clock tick by for what seemed like forever, I decided to make us dinner. I drifted into the kitchen, running my fingertips along the marble surfaces, and unlocked the fridge. There was a pizza, some celery and a packet of Revels — he hadn’t been shopping in a while, I guess. I cooked the pizza and plated it up.
He waltzed through the door and sat down without a word. We ate in silence, we watched TV in silence and we went to bed in silence.
The next day, I woke up promptly, eager to get the day started. I spent the morning hours cleaning, and preparing for his friends to come over that evening. All the rooms were spotless after around 4 hours and I was ready to have another sleep. My exhaustion took a turn for the worst and he decided that I was too tired to join him that night. From the (lonely) comfort of my own bed, I listened to laughter, and karaoke, and swearing, and people purely having a good time; something that I hadn’t heard in a while.
The weeks carried on like this. By the time I had completed what I wanted to do for the day, I couldn’t do what he wanted to do. Selfish, I know.
We still shared intimate moments here and there, but overall we had drifted apart. He’d come home late most nights, eat the dinner I had made a few hours prior and then go to sleep. My heart told me to find out if I had done anything wrong to make him behave this way, but my head told me to leave it.
So I left it, and let the burning desire to know eat me alive.
The house became vacant, like the cup he once brought me. There was no life in it anymore; just two people, sharing a roof.
Except, it was just me. He would hardly ever come home, and when he did, it never ended well.
There were blood stains on the wall from the time he came home to no food in the house. He had told me to stay in, so I did. But somehow I was supposed to have picked up food on my way from one side of the room to the other. He told me that I was a pathetic excuse for a girl, and that I had to find a solution to every single enquiry he made. When I screamed as he cut me down, I remembered that I wasn’t allowed meant to answer him back.
Rule One: Do not answer him back.
Rule Two: Do not disobey him.
Rule Three: Do not feel anything other than love for him.
There was a dent in one the chest of drawers in the back right corner of the room. He had pushed me, and my legs couldn’t hold me up. My head smashed against the top of the wood so hard that it caved in. It didn’t heal for weeks, there was just a dark purple bruise reminding me each day whatI had done. How I had broken the rules.
I waited anxiously, every single day. That creaking sound of the door opening, followed by the trudging of his footsteps, had become part of my daily routine. It took him thirteen steps to get to the kitchen, twenty-one to get to the lounge, and thirty-seven to get to the room we once shared. I would count each time and figure out whereabouts in the house he was; cowering to the corner if I counted over twenty-one. I wasn’t scared of him, just cautious I guess — his mood could change in a heartbeat.
After months of this, he actually stayed home one night — I wish he hadn’t. He watched me the whole time — eating, cleaning, every little movement. His body language hinted that he was livid, his fists clenched and back hunched. He sat in the middle of our shared room, ready to pounce any second. My breathing felt far too quick and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just assumed that he was pissed off at me because we had drifted apart.
“What have I done?” I bravely whispered, still not looking at his piercing eyes.
“I told you not to speak,” he said.
“I told you not to speak, and you disobeyed me again.” His hoarse voice ricocheted in the small room as I backed away slowly. “When you first came here, I made the rules clear. I also made it clear what happens when you don’t listen.”
I don’t like to talk about that night. He lost his temper, everyone does once in a while. We moved past it and continued on with how it was before. But after it, I trembled if I counted more than twenty-one steps.
Often he’d be loving, like he was one summer. I think it was 2014, but I’m not entirely sure. We went to Bulgaria and skied down mountains and drank bubbly in hot tubs. He taught me how to snowboard, but I was no good at it. He made me keep on my pink, fluffy ski mask; he said that my beauty was for him only. We then travelled to France, because he said that the Eiffel Tower was an experience I couldn’t miss out on. He took me to a small café where we drank tea, and ate scones, and talked for hours on end. I felt like I could easily talk through his whole life after.
When we arrived back home, he unpacked all my bags for me and prepared the most amazing dinner I had ever had. He told me that he loved me, and that nothing else matters apart from the bond we had. He said he was glad he chose me.
I guess I was glad too. I just didn’t like being alone so much.
I’d grown so bored of my own company that I started to draw, on the wall. The wallpaper in the back-left corner of the room was peeling away from the wall, along with the fact that I had pulled it up. Not enough so that it was noticeable, but enough so I could have my own drawing pad. My nails acted as the pen, and I was free to keep my own little secret. I only really drew lines though — a tally, I guess. One line for every night he doesn’t come home. I’m running out of room.
The next time I saw him after the incident, he was different. I noticed the small beard once evident on his face was gone, and yet he always used to ask for my opinion on it. Whether I wanted him with a beard or not. His eyes were bloodshot, surrounded by bruising. The veins around his face were as prominent as a weapon at a crime scene. His hands were shaking, and he kept clenching his fists again. This only gave me flashbacks.
If I looked more at his whole body, I could see specks of blood, scattered around his clothes and pale skin. It was fresh, I could tell. The red wasn’t as dark as it would be if it was dry. It was that perfect red that you look for in a lipstick, or a prom dress. There was significantly more around his stomach, and hands. His once white t-shirt was half crimson, and there was a metallic smell in the air. It smelt like that time he lost his temper.
His hands were covered in cuts and bruises, especially around his knuckles. It looked like he had repeatedly punched a wall.
He didn’t look like he was going to breakdown, but his eyes were slightly filled with tears. I could tell that the slightest wrong move would make him cry so I just stood still. My eyes wandered around his body but that was all.
Unexpectedly, he tackled me to the ground like a rugby player. My limp body crashed to wooden floor while his landed perfectly on top. My tangled legs trembled on his muscular frame as his large hand caressed my face. We remained in silence, and although I could feel his eyes cutting through my soul, I fixated on that window. I was too low down to see the bushes and bricks that reminded me of the life I once led. My heart yearned to be out in the world once more.
We stayed in this position the whole night and I think he fell asleep in the end. I couldn’t even close my eyes without having a frightening thought. The darkness combined with being entombed by him brought it all back.
My best friend, Poppy, and I were walking down to the pier in Brighton. School was such a bore at the time and we decided to pretend to be sick and not go in. I pretended to be her mum and vice versa — perfect plan. We skipped blissfully down the street, laughing and singing along to our favourite songs.
When we approached the pier, she wanted to go and buy candy floss but I didn’t want my hands to get all sticky when we had the whole day ahead of us. I told her that I’d wait in the queue for the ghost train so we could go straight on once she had her food.
My head nodded along to the beat of One Direction, deafening in my ears. My bubble-gum pink headphones were stuck in firmly; I didn’t want them to fall out due to my animated dancing.
All of a sudden, a large hand seized my face and instantly clamped over my mouth. My singing rapidly turned into screaming. I was violently hauled into a vehicle of some sort. I remember a piercing pain in my head…and that’s it.
I woke with my face tight from tear stains. My puffy eyes peeled open, greeted with an absence of light. I squinted in an attempt to make out where I was but the darkness was not forgiving. My hands scraped along the rough concrete below me as I sat up in pain. Slowly, I swung my right leg round in front of me and ran my hand down it. Just above my knee, there was a gash: open skin and dry blood which made me shiver. Cautiously, I picked off a piece of skin, only to be met with a wincing shot of pain. I threw my head back in agony and clenched my teeth.
I must’ve sat there for around 20 minutes. I grew frustrated with myself. Pushing through the pain, I stood up and leaned on the wall next to me. I made my way around the room, feeling the walls and the floor as I went. My leg trailed behind me like a bored child, following their mother round a shop.
The wallpaper felt like it did in my old room. Not that it was mine, nothing ever was. The day he took me, everything changed. And I thought he chose me because he loved me, but, I couldn’t have been more stupid. How can you love someone, when you’ve never even met them?
My mind had blocked out all the bad stuff because I thought that everyone goes through rough patches. But everyone also gets choices in life, and I hadn’t made a decision for myself since the day he took me.
When I was younger, I would watch documentaries about kidnapping and child abuse and domestic violence. For some reason, I found it incredibly interesting. I wanted to understand the psychopathic thoughts that went through someone’s mind when they took away their life. I never thought about him that way, because I never thought that he could be thinking those thoughts.
I was kidnapped.
My eyes became overflowed with tears and my hand flew straight to my mouth. I let out an animalistic cry as I fell back onto a wall, my head hitting hard as I screamed over and over again.
My leg felt heavy and my arms weak. I could feel a liquid oozing from my hands and as I put them towards my face and smelt that all too familiar metallic smell, I realised they were cut open in various places. I rubbed my hands together in an attempt to get rid of all the peeling skin but it was more painful than I ever could’ve imagined. The wallpaper was rough to the touch and yet I found it comforting. I had spent so much time tracing it in the room that it had become a safe place for me. A reminder that I’m probably still at home.
I collapsed to the ground, feeling turned up wallpaper as I fell. My hands traced the wall, and I gently peeled at the fabric, revealing what I felt to be a bare wall. I scratched a line for the last time and gave up.
There was nothing.
There was no door, no bed, no chair, no light, no bricks, no bushes, nor sign of life. There was no evidence that I was in Brighton, or England, or on Earth. There was just a room, and just me.
There was no happy ending.
I’m still alive; if living is just a beating heart.