Stevie finishes off her beer, “We'll go with you. I need a smoke anyway.”
“I need a minute to myself. I know it's not rational to feel this pissed at you guys. So I just need a minute to get some fresh air. 'Kay?”
They both nod and I head for the back exit, weaving my way through the crowd. Once the cool night air hits my lungs I feel better. I slump against the brick wall next to the door and close my eyes, concentrating on deeply breathing. I shouldn't be this mad at them. I obviously have bottled-up anger over what happened with Will that I wasn't recognizing...or didn't want to recognize. I would be concerned too if I was them and witnessed what happened between Will and I back in March.
One of Will's cousin's throws a kick-ass St. Patrick's Day party every year. Before we left that year, Will had me change three times because each outfit I had chosen was “too slutty,” and then later that night he cut me off from drinking after I had had only two gimlets. His excuse was he didn't need me getting drunk and embarrassing him in front of his family. At the time it made sense; I tend to lose my clothes the drunker I get. It got ugly when a guy tried dancing with me, despite my refusal. Will saw it as me dancing with another guy and went ape-shit on the guy, beating him senseless and then grabbing my wrist so hard I had a hand print around it for days. He told me to quit being a fucking whore and dragged me upstairs to a bathroom, forcing me to sit under the shower to “sober up” while ice cold water pelted my skin. The next day he apologized over and over and I stupidly forgave him. Nothing that drastic happened again until recently, but he had grabbed hold of my arm a bit too tightly a few times and continued to demean me verbally.
I hang my head down in shame, cradling it into my hands. My friends have every right to be concerned. Had it been the other way around I would be furious at the guy. I should be furious at him for myself.
I don't even recognize myself anymore. I'm so far removed from the girl I used to be. I can't say for sure when the transformation occurred. It was a slow process, one Will had molded over the two years we were together. He was the most amazing, perfect boyfriend in the beginning. He was smart, clever, funny, romantic, all the things one looks for in a partner, so when he started making suggestions to me about what I wore, how I acted, who I spent my time with, I listened; I trusted his advice. It was only a few months into our relationship that he started to become bossy, controlling, and smothering, but I had always found some excuse as to why it was okay.
I groan into my hands. What is wrong with me that I would allow this to happen?
“Hey,” a man's voice spoke a few feet in front of me. I lift my head up to find three men peering at me with hooded eyes and sinister smiles.
Adrenaline starts pumping and my body's flight mode kicks in. I reach for the door knob next to me, only to find it locked.
They smile more wickedly at me and step closer.
“My boyfriend's waiting for me around the corner. I hate when he smokes so I'm waiting here for him to finish.”
“Bullshit,” one of them smiles and every instinct in my body tells me to flee.
So I do.
I run to the main street and veer left, knowing the entrance of the bar is around the corner.
To my delight I hear no feet following behind me, and just as I'm about to turn the corner to the safety of the main street I run face first into the chest of a man.
“Where do you think you're going?” The man easily lifts my hundred and ten pound body. I try fighting against him but I'm too weak; my small frame and tiny bones are no match for this guy. I do the only thing I can think of and scream. I scream from the center of my core and give it everything I have.