It became ever increasingly apparent to those around me that something was going on behind closed doors.
Will was losing control while we were in public. A laundry list of incidents became more and more noticeable. Though, no one said a word. If anyone raised an eyebrow, Will would shoot a cold glance at them, causing any comments about the incident to fall by the wayside.
A good deal of those saw me on a regular basis managed to pull aside from time to time to ask if I was okay. Many times anything that was done in public would include threats about what would happen when he and I were alone at home or he would pinch me, hard.
I grew close to a Darlene, whom I am still close to today, she is like a Mom to me. She saw and over heard many of the exchanges.
Though she never said anything out loud, there was an occasion where she would say something snappy to de-escalate the situation.
My favorite fast food had really good beef sandwiches that I couldn't help but stop and grab before I opened the store, also ordering one for Darlene for lunch, randomly on a Sunday at lunchtime. She would often return the favor by surprising me with a yummy beef, waiting for me on the front counter.
One Sunday afternoon, she had stopped off and said she brought me a sandwich! I was tickled, the smell of the drippy, soaked beef sandwich and fries caused my stomach to grumble! I couldn't wait to dig into it, the store wasn't very busy at this time, so I eagerly took a bite. No sooner then I started chomping did the front door open and Will walked in. He had gotten off work early and decided to surprise me by dropping by. He quickly walked to the front desk, demanding to know where did I had gotten the sandwich.
I shuffled my feet, nervously wringing my hands, feeling beads of sweat forming above my eyebrows. I had an upset churning in the pit of my stomach. Will, barked back that I was getting fat why the hell was I eating junk food? I told him Darlene had bought it for me.
“You’re not eating this!” He proceeded to pick up the beef and eat it.
I was flustered, I had barely squeaked out a sound to protest, when Darlene had come from the back of the store, seeing Will interrogating me about lunch, she said, “Hey! What’s wrong? I bought that for Mel!” She walked up to the counter and added that if he was hunger he should get his own lunch!
His face turned crimson in the matter of a millisecond. I interjected that I wasn't that hungry and appreciated her kindness, hoping to soften the situation.
Darlene had looked at me, her eyes seemed to ask if I was okay. I nodded and she walked away. Will had left about a half hour after storming in, with a full tummy and a reminder that I would have to speak to him later about this situation. He said I must be bad mouthing him when he wasn't around.
I breathed a sigh of relief that he was finally gone, calling the kids to alert them that Will was on his way home, to pick up the house and make sure to play well.
Darlene came to the front and noticed Will was gone. She asked me if I was alright and asked me if I really was not hungry. I shook my head. She could tell I was visibly upset. Deep in thought for a moment, she said that he was an asshole for eating the sandwich and treating me badly. She gave me a big hug, letting me know if I wanted to talk she would listen and that I was too nice to be treated the way he treated me.
Every time he left a situation or gathering, the air seemed lighter and the mood was lifted!
I worried myself sick on the way home about what was to come. I dreaded the trip home. When I walked in the situation seemed to be forgotten until later that night in bed, after the kids were sleeping. I had hoped he would have dropped the whole incident. He told me that I was not accept any food from anyone and forbid me to speak to Darlene as she is turning me against him. If he ever caught me talking to her other besides talking about the store, he would kick my ass.
He moved quickly, straddling me holding down my wrists, his full weight over 280 pounds coming directly down on me, he was angrily repeatedly telling me to say that I agree with him to never talk to Darlene.
I defiantly turned my face away from his gaze, saying nothing. He roughly grabbed my face with one hand and my neck with the other, chocking me. He was yelling that I was a bitch. Perhaps I was fucking Darlene and was planning on leaving him for her.
Spit was running down his lips covering my face. I clawed at his hands with my free hand, bucking and trying to twist him off me.
I panicked, furiously trying to save myself, thrusting, scratching and kicking to no avail.
I began to feel light all over, I couldn't breathe, and felt as though I was suddenly in a tunnel, seeing his outline fuzzy and faint.
I woke up several hours later, sore, hurting, scared, hearing him snore next time, I breathed a sigh of relief. I slid out of bed as gently and quietly as I could, hoping the weight leaving would not wake him.
I tiptoed into the bathroom to survey the damage, hearing the heavy sounds of breathing from the other room. I softly closed the door behind me. I checked myself in the mirror. There were hand prints on my neck, which was sore and raw. My face was marked with dried spittle and tears. I had dried blood on my lip, not recalling how that happened. My wrists were bright red in spots from being held down. I was still felt light headed.
Suddenly, the house grew quiet, I paused like a deer sensing danger, all at once the door swung open and Will walked in, staring at me.
He shuffled past me to use the bathroom and said, “Good morning! Sleep well? I slept like a rock.”
“Hello? You okay?” He asked with a deep concern etched in his face.
“I’m fine, just going to wash my face and get moving.” I advised.
“Well you look like hell Mel, what did you do? Whatever it was you better be careful.” He nonchalantly walked past me.
I wasn't surprised. This was typical after an assault. I busied myself with getting myself together, making sure to wear something to cover my neck and long sleeved.
I had to open the store in a few hours. I felt as though I wanted to just stay home and lick my wounds.
I couldn't. It would not be allowed.
I told the kids that I would be leaving soon; ordering them to eat breakfast, clean up and to play outside rather than play video games or watch TV.
The kids had no idea what transpired. We had a whole house fan that was used regularly also Will regularly played the radio loud to get to sleep, so they didn't hear many of the altercations that happened between Rob and me.
I gathered my purse together feeling with the night’s events fading into the background of the rest of the day as I rushed for the door.
I was halted in my tracks by Will, coming from the dark of the basement; he grabbed my already tender wrist as I was walking past the hallway to get my shoes.
Drawing me close to whisper to remember what he told me last night. He gruffly barked out that he would have people watching me and he may stop by unannounced as well so I better be a good girl.
He let go. I felt my throat tighten, tears springing into my eyes. He kissed my forehead, “I love you!” he said, staring at me, waiting for me to return the comment.
“I said I love you Mel! What do we need to have a repeat of last night?” He snarled.
“No, Will sorry my throat hurts a bit. I love you.” I murmured, trying not to come off snarky.
He never came into the store. Nor do I believe he ever had anyone watching me at the shop.