* contains explicit language*
The mirror lay shattered on the floor, my reflection split over a thousand shards. A glimpse of smudged mascara, a fragment of eyes, red, puffy and salt stained, a flicker of fatigue. I never knew a mirror could shatter into so many pieces. Lodged into the weave of the carpet I still find tiny fragments years after that day. The clean up was fast, panicked. I hurriedly picked up the larger chunks of glass not caring about the nicks in my finger and tiny pricks of blood appearing. The hoover choked and spluttered as it sucked away the evidence of any disruption. The police had been called. I had to make it normal, nothing had happened, nothing had happened, nothing had happened, nothing had happened.
I’d barricaded the door with my clothes chest, its strong bulky frame no match to his rage. An unsuccessful errand had made him tired and I hadn’t cooked him dinner, it made him ‘trip’. No, wait, I had made him trip, see red. Fucking bitch. Lazy cow. It wasn’t his fault, why the fuck was the door barricaded? He wasn’t a monster before I met him, but I made him into one. My fault.
I saw the error of my way too late as he repeatedly slammed the door into the chest of drawers moving it forward with each SLAM, I’d trapped myself in this room, this was not a safe place, nowhere was safe.
I had my eyes closed. I wasn’t this woman, this wasn’t my life. I’d written articles on domestic violence, I’d sat on committees for the prevention of domestic abuse, I was a strong intelligent woman, how had it come to this? This couldn’t be real. I hated myself for what I’d allowed myself to become. I felt him enter the room, his presence, his pure rage knocking my breath out, his vile words filling my ears and polluting my mind, he was all consuming.
I opened my eyes, his hands trembling with pure hatred, hatred of me, snatched a mirror off the wall. The mirror I used to apply my make-up, brush my hair, to practice my smile, was now flying across the room towards my head. Oh, but he never aimed to hit me with his missiles, cups, glasses, electric fans, plates of food, whatever came to hand. No, he was clever, he would never leave a mark I couldn’t cover. My body reacted instinctively and I ducked. He was there in front of me now, I felt my body fall to the bed, shoved so hard I bounced on the mattress, he brought me back down with his hand, clasped around my neck. In his other hand, a shard of mirror. A large chunk of glass, silver sparkling with jagged edges. In his hand. On my neck. He smiled a twisted smirk, the skin around his dark empty eyes crinkling
“I could kill you if I wanted”
Fight or flight, I struggled, I kicked, I screamed, I swore. I was so defeated I didn’t care if he killed me but I wasn’t going to make it easy for him. His sweet, young, childish, still playing with her teddy bears, daughter ran into the room, tears pouring down her face. She jumped on him, her whole body shaking, her whole being screaming for him to stop. I told her to go to her bedroom and stay there, he would not hurt her, she would not see this. He moved away from me, backed away from the bed, in that second I grabbed my phone and shaking called 999 so he couldn’t see. He saw.
“What the fuck are you doing.”
“I’m calling the police.”
He snatched the phone from my hands. Always had to be in control. The operator had answered, “What is your emergency?”
“I am going to kill her, send someone to stop me” and then a flash of reality in his eyes, the rage fading with the consequence of his words, his mind processing the situation and working out an escape route.
“I’m not really going to kill her we’ve just had a fight”
“No no, she’s fine”
“You want to speak to her?”
He thrust the phone into my hand, my lip was trembling, I struggled to control the tears, whilst he stared at me, the piece of glass shimmering threateningly in his hand. I stayed quiet. I breathed in, breathed out the words “I’m ok”, I breathed in, breathed out “no please don’t, it’s not necessary”, breathed in and thought of his children seeing their father carted off to the police station, breathed out “ok”. They have to send someone anyway. Its standard.
And so it is, a clean bedroom, bed made sheets pulled tight, no creases. A non-existent mirror, a perfect husband, children doing their homework, bin empty, hoover bag full and thousands of minuscule splinters of glass embedded in the carpet.
The police knocked at the door, but nothing had happened. Nothing ever did.
3 years out of the relationship… I realised it’s not my fault it happened. And it did happen.