Never Again

trigger warning: abuse, rape

After fixing my turtleneck sweater, I lightly touch the concealer from my ring finger to the dark circles under my eyes. Sleep has been escaping me more often than usual lately. Last night was the worst one in a while. I suppose I only have myself to blame for that. He told me he was going to be working late, so that would give me a chance to clean up the house a bit. I promise I did, and it exhausted me so. I fell asleep without even washing my face or combing through my hair. I don’t think I was asleep for long, though. When I opened my eyes, the sun had barely set, bursts of faint orange streaking along the horizon. 

He had a tight hold on my ankle, ripping me from the comfort of our bed. I looked at him, wide-eyed, unsure of what I had done this time. I asked him, again and again what was wrong, as I was yanked from under the sheets, hitting the floor with a loud thud. He wouldn’t answer. I immediately covered my face with my hands as defense. He switched his grip from my ankle to my hair, clutching it tightly, like a sword in battle. It was sudden relief when he let go, only to be replaced with a blow to the side of my head, clashing with the dresser. I brought my hand up to feel the sore spot. No blood at least. 

I kept my eyes on the floor until he crouched down next to me. I peeked at him through the hair that had fallen in front of my face. I tried not to flinch as he delicately pushed it back behind my ears and caressed my cheek. I thought maybe all was forgiven, but I should’ve known it was too quick. His hand moved down to my throat, where he squeezed it as tightly as he held my hair earlier. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of desperately trying—and failing—to pull his fingers from my neck, but when I tried to breathe in air that wouldn’t come, I couldn’t help myself. I tried to dig my fingertips in between his hands and my neck, but I could barely manage to get any kind of grip. Instead, I settled for letting my hands rest pathetically on top of his. 

"Why didn’t you put away the wine glasses from yesterday?” he grumbled. 

He released me slightly to let me answer. “I washed them,” I whispered. My voice didn't sound like my own. “I was letting them air dry. I was gonna put them away tomorrow. I didn’t want to leave streaks like last time.” Last time the drying towel left streaks, and I had to call off of work the next day to avoid questions about a black eye. I thought this would be better. 

He stood without another word, went to the bathroom, and started the shower. My knees were shaking too much for me to stand, so I just stayed where I was until he came back. He was dripping water all over the floor, not bothering to wrap himself in a towel. Crouching down again, he kissed my cheek and lifted me into the bed. 

"I'm sorry,” he whispered in my ear. “Baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get so upset.” He kissed my cheek again, my neck, my chest. “I’m sorry,” he kept saying, taking off my shirt, my pants. “It won’t happen again. I promise. Never again.” 

"Never again,” I repeated softly, barely moving my lips. 

"No, never again.” 

I closed my eyes, a few tears spilling over my cheeks as he pushed himself inside of me. Waiting for him to finish, I turned my head and stared out the window, watching the color disappear, leaving me with nothing but darkness.