Word Count 500
By Sam McManus
He wasn’t traditional in any sense of the word, save the sense of mortality he felt every second of every day. Otherwise he was as varied as you could possibly get, which was funny since he wore mostly black, some white, and a face generally wiped clean of all emotion. Some days he wished he were other than what he was, but those days were few and far between, neither stitched together nor well worn. For the past year he had been here, doing this, and he couldn’t see that changing anytime soon. He was nothing if not practical.
“He beats me with wooden spoons until I break,” she admitted to him on Thursday night. She always came on Thursday nights, with her high-pitched voice that would be comical except for the things that she said.
“It’s not that they hurt so much, at least at first,” she continued. “But the indignity of it all, that this man who says he loves me does things to me that are unspeakable. Except I speak them to you, and when I hear them out loud I shudder to think that I just take it all. I’m not an animal, and yet I let him treat me like I am.”
He sat there unmoving, unspeaking. She has told him horrible happenings before, about what goes on in her house that is not a home, and he feels for her. His heart went out to her as surely as if she were his own flesh and blood. Yet he sat there without one word touching his lips.
“I wonder where my sanity has gone, that I can sit there without crying, that I can lay over his lap without tears when he beats me raw,” she said, her voice low, tiny. “I should just leave, simply vanish one day and never look back, but I never do. I never have. I never feel one tenth as strong when I’m there as when I’m here. When I’m there I feel like I can never leave, like he has some demon’s hold over me that is too strong to shake. Am I making any sense here?”
This was not foreign to him. Pretty much every session went the exact same way, with the listing of abuses, with the abuses she piles onto herself in the telling, with the pain so deep down it’s hard to even hear it in her voice anymore. Then the questioning, the blame game that she always seemed to win, the reaching out to make some sense out of what had always been senseless.
“Am I making any sense here?” she repeated, her voice finally shaking with the effort. He too was shaking with the effort of restraint, but he answered her firmly, evenly.
“The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak,” he replied, hardly recognizing his own voice. The words were typical. Her reaction was not.
“Maybe you’re the weak one,” she said. Then she got up from his bed.