I scanned the hallway as I put my key in the lock and turned the knob, letting myself into my empty apartment. The darkness took me by surprise and my heart rate increased. I always left a light on so it wouldn’t be so dark when I came home late. Maybe a light bulb had just burned out. I went to turn on the nearest light switch, feeling along the wall, when the reading lamp next to my favorite chair suddenly switched on, illuminating the profile of my ex-boyfriend. I jumped and took a sharp intake of breath. My whole body began to shake. “How did you get in?”
“You know I’ve never had any trouble getting what I want when I’m motivated.” His deep voice sent chills up my spine. Suddenly I was the frightened girl in the corner, hands covering her face in self-defense. The girl wearing long sleeves in the summer to hide the bruises. The girl ready with an excuse for anything. I remembered all the terror he had put me through. I froze in place unsure of what to expect next. His voice rose without him moving. “Be a good girl and pour me another drink. We might be a while love.” He lifted the glass in his hand and I could see he had already started drinking, another sign that things might not go my way tonight. My mind frantically raced through my options while my body seemed calm, crossing the room to retrieve his glass, a slight smile of acknowledgment to appease him.
I refilled his glass with whiskey, unsure of why I still kept his favorite brand in my cabinet. My hand shook and I spilled some on the dark wood counter. I stared at the pooled liquid and remembered the previous times I had spilled liquor, the punishment sure to come later for the few precious drops of nectar I had cost him. Unconsciously I wiped the spilled liquor with the sleeve of my sweater then took the drink to him. I began to plan my escape route.
I sat on the sofa across from him as he drank the whiskey, only halfway listening to him prattle on about how we were meant to be together. The fact that he was so calm, so impassive, worked in my favor. “I have to admit love, you definitely stumped me when you left. I thought I had lost you for good. But you just threw me off the trail. You’ll never lose me. Understand, love?” His blue eyes pierced through me and I felt them all the way to my soul. I whimpered and nodded because at that moment I knew I would never escape him.