Story 52

She took a deep breath before folding the paper and placing it in the envelope. She licked the envelope and sealed it. She had been contemplating this for a long time. Unsure earlier, now she knew she had made the right choice. It was high time. She needed the break. 


For a long time now she had adjusted her life according to his. She had done everything possible to please him. Even now as she finally wrote to him saying that she needed time away, his favourite song was playing in the background. She listened to his favourite songs, she watched his favourite movies, she cooked his favourite dishes. Anything and everything she did was meant to make him happy. She had willingly converted her life into mirror image of his. 


Her life revolved around him; without him she did not have an identity. She felt she owed it to him because he was the one who had taken care of her when her parents had died in a car crash. He was the one who had picked her up in his arms and protected her from the bad world. He was the one in whose house she had spent time growing up into the woman she now was.



He never asked for anything in return for what he did, not in words at least. He did not have a family. She was the only person in his life and she knew that the decision she had taken would devastate him but she had no choice. She had outgrown the kind of life he had chalked out for her. Getting up each day to serve him breakfast, lunch and dinner, washing his clothes, cleaning the house, fulfilling his sexual desires at night and doing all of this with a smile on her face was the only thing she had known her entire life. She would have not minded living her monotonous life had she not been introduced to a possible alternative – just a few steps away from where she was right now.


The thought triggered a feeling inside her that she had never experienced before. She got up from the chair and walked towards the window. Hiding behind the curtains in her room, she peeked into his. She could see clearly into the bedroom of her next door neighbour. The neighbour who had made her realize that she had a choice. She could choose not to live the kind of life she was living. For the first time in her life she wanted to break free.
 

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Her introduction to this man had been a few months ago when he had come to the house to introduce himself as the one who had just moved in. She had been reluctant to let the man inside the house and he had not insisted either. After a short introduction the man had left her standing at the door, watching him walk back to his house.
She had resumed her work and then stepped into the kitchen to make dinner preparations for the man of the house. When he had returned she smelled the liquor in his breath. It was going to be one of those nights, she had told herself and prepared herself mentally for what was to come. She had kept the plates back into the cabinet knowing that there would be no time for dinner. 


He had made her drink with him and then he had picked her up in his arms and taken her to the bedroom. She always offered herself to him willingly; never giving him a chance to beat her, not even a slap. But he always beat her – slaps, punches and kicks, when he was drunk; not because she put up resistance, it was because he could not perform. Beating her aroused him and the more he beat her, more aroused he became – finally being able to complete the act and satiate his sexual hunger. 


As she had sat on the bed and nursed her wounds she had seen movement in her peripheral vision. She had turned her gaze towards the window in time to see her next door neighbour watching her from his bedroom window. She felt his eyes on her naked body and yet she had done nothing to cover herself up. He had then turned around and walked inside. 


The neighbouring house had been empty since the day they had stepped into theirs; hence she had never considered closing the bedroom window before. She wrapped the bedsheet around her and walked towards the window and closed it shut. 


Even though the window was closed now; the neighbour had already seen too much. As he woke up in the morning and kissed her wounds, she could not tell him about what had happened. She could not disclose that their neighbour had watched as he had violent sex with her. She could not tell him about the way the man had looked at her as she had been nursing her wounds. She could never tell him that after he went to work; the neighbour had knocked on the door and insisted that he talked to her. Had she told him about the neighbour she knew for sure that the neighbour would have been lying in a coffin and her life would have continued to be a living hell.

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She had never felt it this way. She had never thought that her life was a living hell. How had things changed? She did not know. It happened – just like that, as if God had flicked His fingers and decided to change her life.


She walked back to the desk and picked up the envelope. Walking to the kitchen she placed the envelope on the dining table next to his plate.
She ran her fingers over the dining table and did the same with the rest of the furniture and the walls as she moved around the house. She had grown up in this house, this was the only place she had known; it was the only shelter she had.
The walls of the house knew her story; they had been witness to her life. She had to admit that her life had not always been this way. Growing up, he had been really kind to her. He had taken care of her, tucked her in bed as she had cried herself to sleep. He had slept on the floor, holding her hand because she had been too scared to sleep alone. He had provided her food and shelter. He had even tried to home-school her but it had been too expensive. She’d preferred not to continue. She should have continued, she told herself now.


He had protected her from the world; even from himself until one day when he had come home earlier than expected. She had just finished cleaning the house and was taking a shower when he entered the bedroom unannounced. He had seen her through the gap in the bathroom door and had pushed the door open. She had been too stunned to move. She kept watching him as he had stepped into the shower and ran his fingers over her naked body. She had stood motionless and watched as he had undressed and got into the shower with her. 


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She shivered as she remembered how he had planted kisses on her body and taken her then and there on the bathroom floor and under the shower; the running water washing away her virginity.
She did not know how her life would have turned out had she refused to let him in. After the first time, she could never object to his advances. Her mute participation in the sex encouraged him to get into bed with her whenever he pleased, he even asked her to start taking contraceptives and she had obliged; except for that time when the neighbour had seen the two of them. She had missed taking her morning after-pill. She had not told him about the pregnancy; she had not even been sure herself whether she wanted the baby or not. She had made up her mind finally and she sought help from the neighbour.


Now, here she was – all set to step out of the only shelter she had known all her life; leaving behind the only life she had known. She looked around the house for the last time; picked up her bag and stepped out of the house.


Read Story 53: A different take on this story

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