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“Just who do you think you are?” she challenged. Things had grown increasingly tense in their relationship and this fight was just the result of residual anger from the last. And that of the fight before that. Constantly following the same tired template. She would offhandedly say something crass or make some snide comment. Usually just something passive aggressive. He simply was incapable of turning the other cheek, and as a result. It would escalate quickly. They’d spit venomous words, throw and shatter glasses, do or say things that they’d ultimately regret solely in the effort to hurt the other. They’d make vague but genuine apologies. Promises that, always seemed to be made too often, and kept rarely. Then they’d go off to lick their wounds, and wait for the cycle to continue. “But it’s love.”
With tears in her eyes she whispered, “You’re wicked”. Debris and shattered glasses at their feet as he continued to explain that she was overacting. “You’re a ridiculous fucking brat!” he shouted with tears in his eyes and rage in his throat, walking away. She couldn’t actually remember what had started the fight. But she was incapable of admitting that. “Fuck you!” She yelled.
BOOM! A fist through the dry wall. Out of the next room he came with a purpose. Now in her face, grabbing her by the shoulders, “Why are you like this!?”
“Because you’re a piece of shit! All you care about is yourself.” She said. Defeated. “You don’t care at all about how you treat me or how I feel.” He let her go. Red prints of his hands on her pale shoulders. She wasn’t completely right, she hoped. He was selfish, and he didn’t care about how he treated people and she knew this, but she desperately pleaded with herself. “He cares about me. I’m all he has,” for obvious reasons. “I love you”, he submitted.
“He loves me…” When she was with him she was comfortable. There was no pretending or faking how she felt. She needed him. She needed the stability that she tried to offer him, despite the fact that they were both anything but stable. “I love you”, again just as plainly.
“Then act like it” she whimpered, stepping into him as he draped his arms around her. Exhausted and ready for a ceasefire she asked, “Why do we always do this?”
“You make me like this,” he replied, annoyed.
“I’m sorry… I don’t mean to”
“I know you don’t. But you can’t do shit like this and not expect me to get mad.” He said stubbornly, as if his word was law. The red on her shoulders fading into her sleeves of black and blue. The ivory in both of their eyes stained red. “You really hurt my shoulders ya know”, she said innocently as he steered her into the bedroom, stepping over broken glass and around sideways chairs.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! A thunderously impatient slamming on the apartment door. Mr. Vega, the landlord, had given her every warning to keep the noise and her “little pendejo”, to a minimum.
“Why don’t you tell him that yourself!” she insulted confidently, just hours before this altercation as she made her way in from her night at work, already tired of the impatient old man. But as she opened the door expecting to see his nostrils flaring and brow furrowed she was surprised to be greeted not with a look of rage, but of concern. “Yes Mr. Vega?” she said nonchalantly as she hid behind the cracked door, eyes puffy and knuckles still white. She inhaled sharply through her nose, “Can I help you?”
The old man peered in with a frown. “You’re neighbors called me and told me they heard shouting Laura.”
She inched the door closed and used her little body to hide the battleground, “I’m so sorry. Must’ve had the TV on too loudly,” she laughed frailly.
He looked at her with concern and disappointment in his eyes. “TV huh?”
“Haha. Yeah…” she replied with soft smile that didn’t quite involve her eyes.
“Laura. Mija. Is everything alright?”
“Why is he talking like that?” she contorted the surprise on her face back into the mask of a stoic woman as he went on telling her how if she needed him to call someone he could. “Why is he talking to me like I’m a child? No. Like I’m some sort of victim. He looks like he’s talking to a child who’s just broke an arm. Like I need him to babysit me? I’m capable of taking care of myself.” She smiled that same smile, “I appreciate the concern Mr. Vega, but we’re fine.”
His eyes shifted about her face and into the residence. “Alright… Just try to keep the noise down please”. He said as he reluctantly retreated.
“Of course, thanks have a good night”, Laura said as she sealed herself in.
She’d seen the look before. The look of somebody who just didn’t understand. Somebody who just didn’t get it. Because sure, when things we bad, they were bad. But when they were good they were great! “Besides,” she thought, “He loves me.”
“Who was that?” he asked from the bed, as a square wrapper hid between his fingers. “Mr. Vega,” she replied casually. The air around them changing, it grew tense and charged. Like just before lightning strikes the earth. “Who?”
“Mr. Vega”. He continued to stare at her. Rage suddenly once again behind his gaze. “He’s been coming around a lot lately,” he said impatiently. “Even giving you shit”.
“And..?” she trailed off, nervous. He was right. Vega had been checking up on the two of them often lately, primarily Laura. Even going so far as to encourage her to “defend herself”.
“Fuck that guy” he said as he sat up. “Why?” she asked, confused and nervous. He looked intently at her, looking for something. “Are you screwing him?” he accused now walking towards her. “What?” she said, crawling into herself. “You are aren’t you? You’re fuckin screwing him!” He was in her face now screaming down at her. “No I’m not w-what are you talking about?” BOOM! Her head slammed against the wall as he shoved her. As she ran out of the bedroom into the kitchen he followed her leisurely. “ARE YOU FUCKING HIM?” BOOM! Fist against the wall.
Laura threw pots and pans out of the cabinet as she searched desperately. “Just in case,” she reasoned. BOOM! A chair slammed to the ground. “ANSWER ME!” he screamed as he struck her.
She let out a shriek. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Banging on the door. Laura continued to look with desperate ferocity as he made his way to the door angrily, “Found it.” Laura wrapped her hands timidly around the cold heavy metal, pointing it at him “Stop!”
He peered over his shoulder coldly, “What? What are you going to do with that? You can’t even use that. You’re a weak little fucking coward,” he spat, stalking towards her, “You’re nothing without me. What are you going to do huh!? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA FUCKIN’ DO?”
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!