It was a hot day, but to her, it felt cold as ever. She could feel the chills running down her spine. She looked around the room. Everything was perfect and neat. Not a speck of dust to be found; not a morsel out of place. Perfect.
She got up from the floor and walked over to the mirror. She stared at her reflection and everything became all too real. She froze as her eyes wandered over the several splotches of blue and purple that marked her body. She was so used to this that she was no longer able to even shed a tear. Perfect.
She’d thought about leaving him; she’d thought about starting over with a new man, but she knew things wouldn’t change. Every man before him had done the same thing. From the jokes about her weight to the countless fists she’d taken to the face for her disobedience, she knew no better situation. But nobody could know, not her family, not the very few friends she was allowed to have. Nobody. Everything had to appear perfect.
She walked over to her already laid-out outfit, and put it on. She then returned to the mirror and put on her makeup, concealing every flaw visible to the eye. Because of course, everything had to be...perfect.
By the time she was done, she looked like the woman she always pretended to be: the prim, proper, perfect one. The flawless one. She looked at herself in the mirror with dull eyes. The sparkle that was once there was lost under all that makeup and those layers of clothes. She thought about killing herself, then she thought about killing him. She often dreamt of the day when she would build up the courage to make one of these dreams a reality. She always stopped herself when she realized what had become of her. She thought about it. Dreams. Most people dream of making it big one day, becoming famous or building a beautiful family and having a career; she dreamt of ending her life and her husband’s. This was the price she paid for always appearing perfect.
As she adjusted her jewelry, she heard, “Honey, our guests have arrived!” God, she hated the sound of his voice. The way he pretended everything was peachy, as if he hadn't been in this very room brutalizing her just minutes before. But what could she do about it? Nothing. She was powerless over him. Her strength was no match for his brute-like ability. She did only what she knew how to do. She dragged herself over to the bedroom door with her head down. She needed to mentally prepare. As she slowly opened the door, she picked her head up and looked out at the room of guests. On her face, she had plastered the most graceful yet forced smile anyone had ever seen. Perfect.
Her husband put his hand around the small of her back and pulled her forward into the crowded room of guests. His grip was firm. He pressed into her back so hard the pain from one of her bruises made her wince. She noticed the change in her facial expression and immediately fixed it back into a smile, but it was too late. She looked around the room. People noticed. They began to stare in concern. To the left of her, she heard a voice. “Are you okay?” It was a calm, gentle, caring voice. She was not okay. All she wanted to do was run into this person’s arms and express that. Maybe if she said something, all of her pain would end, but before she could even fix her lips to mutter a response her husband pulled her in closer, worsening the pain from her fresh bruises. “She’s fine,” he replied for her. He then gave her a look to reassure her what her position was. She nodded in agreement to reassure the guests. He then went off and began to mingle...Perfect.
All throughout the evening, people kept coming up to her. They knew something was wrong. Every “Are you okay?” just made her think about her pain even more. Perfect. Everything was perfect. She tried to avoid them, avoid the questions, avoid the people. She looked over at her husband. His look of happiness was genuine. His smile was true and he laughed like nothing was wrong. He was perfect.
It made her sick. How could he be happy causing her so much pain? How could he be happy taking her life away? How could he be happy being the gutless man he was? Every move he made had the word booming in her head. Perfect.
He made a joke and the entire room laughed. Perfect.
He smiled at her. Perfect.
He walked over to her. Perfect.
He grabbed her. Perfect.
He looked over at his friends. Perfect.
“Let me introduce you to my beautiful wife, the apple of my eye.” Perfect.
He went on to tell his friends lies, stories about the good times he pretended they had together. Perfect.
Every word he said was replaced in her mind with “perfect.”
She froze and her face froze as well.
She couldn’t shake the thought.
Once more, a guest walked over to her, concerned.
“Are you okay?” She’d heard it enough.
“I’m fine,” she replied. Perfect, more or less.
The guest wouldn’t stop.
“Are you sure?”
“You don’t look fine.”
“Someone get her a glass of water.”
The voices kept coming from every which way, and the thoughts wouldn’t stop.
Her husband, annoyed, gave her a look as to change her demeanor, and fast.
“Really everyone, she’s okay,” he lied once again.
No more lies.
She looked over at the dining table. A beautiful shiny knife lay on it.
The light hit it as if it were calling her name.
Her husband came closer to her.
He whispered in her ear.
“You don’t want another repeat of this morning, do you?”
Without even thinking, she swiped the knife from the table and slit his throat in one swift motion. The guests stared at her, aghast and in terror. She let out the biggest sigh of relief. Someone in the crowd called her name.
She smiled and stopped them in their tracks.
“Don’t worry, everything’s perfect.”