It was dark. I felt cold even during a summer night in Phoenix. Tears ran down my face as I rocked back and forth. I was hiding; hiding from him, from decisions, from emotions, from anger and hurt, from reality.
I knew that my reaction was exaggerated, dramatic, and unreasonable. I can’t even remember what set the episode in motion. Truth is the reason didn’t matter because the end result was always the same.
Life moved quickly. I could only handle the balancing act for so long before I fell. The descent was pure torture. The time frame varied. It could be days, weeks or months. There was no pattern. I didn’t know when it would all come crashing down. When I would crash and break apart. I couldn’t tell up from down. Right from wrong, good from bad. Paranoid alternate realities would take hold of my mind. My vision would distort and I would lose sight of my surroundings. Words, if I could understand, were mumbled.
He didn’t appear until after my most desperate threatening message. He could hear my cry for help. I could hear the garage door rise and the truck’s engine turn off. The door opened and he called out my name. “Courtney? Courtney?” I was physically unable to answer. I couldn’t catch my breath which kept me from forming the words. The house wasn’t that big and he finally came to the last place I could be hiding. That is where he found me. Sitting in the backyard on the rock covered ground, body folded up, knees tucked to my chest, against the wall, in the corner. When I wouldn’t or couldn’t stand up and come to him, he came to my level. He sat down next to me and wrapped his arms around me. He felt strong and secure. He was my safety. He rubbed my arm with his rough fingers. He gently touched my face and wiped my tears. He spoke calmly. “Breathe. Take a deep breath, Courtney. Focus.” He would not utter the phrase, “Everything will work out.”, because we both knew it was a lie.
I finally saw his friend standing by the door. He was outlined in the doorway from the light shining out from the kitchen. I didn’t like the light. I needed the darkness. The shadow moved into the house and returned with a glass of water and a couple of pills. The strong arms released their hold and the pills were placed in my hand. A drink of water helped to force them down. “Stand up Courtney.”
After a few moments I complied. I was brought into the house and put on the couch. I was shaking and he mistakenly wrapped me in a blanket. I wasn’t cold but he held me tight and the pressure calmed me. Once the chemical reaction began, the rocking stilled. My heart slowed and returned to a natural beat. My eyes were able to focus. I could see his concern and his annoyance.
I didn’t have the strength to be embarrassed. That would come later. I moved to the bedroom. He tucked me in like a small child. It was an insult but oddly comforting. He laid a kiss upon my forehead and whispered “good night.” He walked to the dresser and turned the alarm clock around. He knew I couldn’t sleep with the numbers taunting me into the early hours of the morning.
I awoke in the morning with a hangover. This is when the embarrassment slapped me in the face. I wanted a pill to stop the wheels from turning. I needed it but I refused to give in so quickly. The thoughts were washing over me like waves. I was drowning. I needed help but I wouldn’t ask. I stayed quiet and pretended to be asleep. I didn’t want him to know I had woken up. I knew I couldn’t look into his eyes. I wanted to postpone his pity. I listened to him shower, make breakfast, pack a lunch and gather his things.
I rolled out of bed once the house was silent. I did not have a job which saved me from calling in with some creative excuse about how I was sick. I thought about eating but I can’t recall if I made a snack. I watched daytime television until it was time for a nap. I wasn’t tired but I needed to escape the onslaught of emotion and depressive feelings. I heard the garage open and smelled dinner. He had brought dinner home. “Courtney, I’m home.” The food held no taste but I went through the ritual of sitting down to a meal at the table. I finished my food and cleared my dishes. I changed into clean pajamas and headed to bed.
The next day started out bright and happy. I dreaded the inevitable darkness.