She sat up from the pillows crossed against the bedhead, her back straight, eyes locked on me. How did I think she felt? I spent every night in my study. I never wanted to talk. I hadn’t touched her in weeks. Couldn’t I see she was hurting? I stood in the doorway, looking at the white bed sheet she was gathering up into her fists. Then, she started crying. She called herself an idiot. Idiot, idiot, idiot. Suddenly, she punched herself in the face. And again. She cried she was a fool for loving me. I had no blood in me. I was a mollusc.
I didn’t argue.
Even as I tried to say calming things, tell her we’d work it out, I looked at the drywall behind her, thought how thin it was, and that our neighbours could hear every word.
When I was a child, my bedroom was opposite my parent’s room, just a few feet of hallway between us. I’d hear my mother at night, whimpering, “No” and “Please”. I knew it was for my sake she stifled her voice, and it wasn’t much louder than a whisper. I’d hear my father grunting.
I want to believe there was a time when I wrapped a pillow around my head and pressed it hard against my ears. All I remember are the years I searched for faces and objects in the moonlit water stains on the ceiling, waiting for him to finish and later, falling asleep before he had.
I wish I hadn’t said anything about that. The part about my mother and father, that is. I want to stop making that a part of the story.