When he asked you yesterday why you had married him, it was your wedding day that immediately came to mind, and the hope that had filled you throughout that day. You had been so full of happiness, and he made you so many promises on that day. He seemed full of joy that you were going to be together, forever, and he showed you in so many ways that you would be the perfect wife, and that he would be the perfect husband.
He made you feel giddy with the excitement of it all, especially when the horse and carriage turned up to take you to the church; this was a dream event you had told him of in one of your quiet moments together. That picture you have in your mind, of his face when he turned around from the altar to watch you glide step-by-step up the aisle, holding on to your father’s arm with a shaking hand, is still very strong.
The memory of your honeymoon would always be a beacon of happiness in the darkness ahead. How sweet he was, and gentle with your first time, lulling your nerves, and changing them to need, and then passion. The joy with which he showed you Venice, and Rome. Then taking you back to his home in the madness of the city, and all the tiny, hidden places that only a local would know about. Hidden places that very few people would ever think to look at.
When did it go wrong? When was the defining moment when you learned that he wasn’t what he had seemed? Was it the moment when his fist connected with your cheekbone because you dared to say no to sex just after the baby was born? Or was it when you woke up in hospital, ribs wrapped to keep them from piercing your lungs, and a face unrecognisable – not that there was anyone there to know you by now.
It was the insidiousness of his working on you that had lulled you. First, the disparaging comments about your friends, until it was easier to put them off visiting, than to suffer the constant little comments he would whisper in passing. Then, when you were good and pregnant, the suggestion that your job should now be at home, making things right for your child when he came.
That was something that you had breathed a sigh of relief at. When the consultant told you it was a boy. The sick feeling went away for a little while after that, until those seconds after his fist had struck, and the consequent ‘husband’s rights’. A rape in any other name. But you were caught by then. You had that tiny child to think of. The child he threatened to take away from you if you ever complained. The son that was gone now, because you dared to tell. And now you are in his hidden place, at journey’s end. No more.