Chapter Three

Chapter Three

A Chapter by Raven Starhawk

1

      Shallow thoughts streaked a summer sky gray. Eve twisted her face away from the window and regarded her half eaten baloney sandwich with a grimace. With the pad of her thumb she rubbed off a drip of butter that had fallen onto her plate. It wasn't enough for a taste and yet she found herself licking it. She angled the tip in her mouth, her thumb nail gently scraping the underside of her tongue as it whisked back and forth over it.

      Thursday nights were her favorite. It was the only time Rory indulged himself in something other than forced sex and food. She didn't know much about it other than it was a sort of club and in attendance were so called friends that knew Rory since grade school, including his step-brother Weston Van O'Gaea who she had met only a handful of times though liked.

      She lowered her head. Most Thursdays he would stop by for a few crude words, grab his duffle bag and wait outside for the same dark tinted window sedan to pull up. He usually strode to the car with a cocky kick in his step. She watched until it drove out of sight and then breathed a sigh of relief.

      Glancing at the clock mounted on the wall she took a deep breath. Though questions concerning his dealings in said club were forbidden she often wondered what on earth it was they actually did there.

      Soon time would fade like so much paradise under a decaying eye. She straightened. The wood backing of her chair creaked. Soon spikes of pain crept up her spine and she shoved the plate to one side. Shuffling to her feet she stood and stepped closer to the window where life sped away on the street below. A frown found her face, pointed the corners of her mouth down ever so slightly.

      Her eyes changed direction. The sky drew them in. She stared as fluffy white clouds drifted from one end of the horizon to the next. They almost seemed to be staring back at her. She imagined their tiny eyes conceiving her from their great distance. She must have looked like nothing more than an ant.

      Standing by the window her thoughts shifted course. She pressed a few fingers against the pane and closed her eyes. There had to be a way out of this nightmare. There had to be someone who could help her to escape, but as she pondered the idea her hopes sank. No matter where she went, no matter who helped her, Rory would always find her. It was like the man knew exactly where to look when he needed to find her.

      She rubbed her shoulders. A cold chill had settled over them. Turning away to survey the contents of the room, Eve wandered into the hallway where she paused and looked off into the bedroom. A place she dreaded more than anywhere else in the apartment, she padded toward the floral bedding and sat down. The mattress sagged under her weight as she folded her hands in her lap.

      That was when she heard keys jangle in the door. Her heart leapt into her throat and she stood.

      "Come out wherever you are," Rory's voice bellowed.

      She ran her palms down her shirt, took a deep breath and slowly made her way back into the hallway where she saw him swing his frame into view. That look was one she knew far too well and despised.

     "You are home earlier," she whispered, unsure exactly what to say.

     He clicked his tongue and waved a finger in her face. "Do not speak until I give you permission to speak," he growled. "I make the rules around here and if you are too f*****g stupid to follow them then I think we need to have another talk, don't you think?"

      She took a step back. It was no good to argue, yet she did not know what she had done wrong. What was it this time? What now justified his rage? Gazing into his eyes she saw a flicker of insanity. It wore on his contorted features like a bad Halloween mask.

      "I wanted you to be sitting on the couch when I got home! Instead where do I find you? You are just as lazy as all the rest. Get your a*s..." He grabbed her by the arms and tossed her against the wall.

      With a thud she slammed against the plaster and bounced off. Lying face down in carpet she cried out as he placed his boot across her back and stepped down with all his weight. She cried out again until he reduced the pressure, feeling her body flare shudder as pain flared throughout her spine.

      "I work hard all day," he said, kneeling down beside her. His sweat drifted to her nostrils in short bursts as she turned her head to look at him. Her eyes lingered on the crack along the bathroom door while he continued. "And then I come home to an ungrateful b***h who does nothing but sit around. How do you think that makes me feel?"

      Her mouth opened but sound refused to come out. She swallowed hard in hopes of regaining her speech as she felt his eyes burn into her skull. Slowly she pushed herself up into a sitting position and brushed back strands of hair that stuck to her cheeks.

      No matter what she said she would be wrong in his eyes. No excuse would be suitable to tame his rage. She blinked. Her lips quivered. Did she dare to speak?

     "I asked you a question! I expect a  answer," he bellowed.

     "I was just doing a last minute check. I wanted to make sure everything was in order," she said quickly. She knew lying was against her best judgment, but with Rory it came almost natural and a second line of defense if all else failed.

    "Well, we will see about that," he said and stood. He stomped into the bedroom.

      She grimaced as she leaned against the wall and climbed to her feet. The pain never had fully faded and as she moved toward the living room it reminded her again of its power. Behind her she listened to Rory as he then pressed into the bathroom followed by the kitchen and finally the living room where she sat idly by on the couch.

     "What is that smell?" He asked, sniffing the air as though he were a Bloodhound following a scent, and wandered to the window. He took in a deep breath through his nose and exhaled sharply. "Is that men's cologne?"

     The question almost made her laugh. The absurdity of it was outstanding and she had to wonder if he was looking for a reason to kick her around some more. It wouldn't be the first time. She had been his punching bag long enough to determine every hit, punch or kick was fueled by either anger or frustration. On a few occasions his constant suspicions led to it and as he crossed the room she saw it flare in his eyes.

     He reached out for her, his oversized hands fleshy hooks and pulled her up by her shoulders. His breath fanned her face. She repressed the urge to squirm free as the overwhelming stench of hot sauce and Doritos filled her nostrils. As he grinned she observed a nacho cheese residue packed near his gum line and between each tooth.

     His fingers widened their hold, spreading to seize more flesh as he yanked her up against him. The tip of his erection pressed against his trousers and her upper torso. It was then she knew without a reasonable doubt what was on his mind. She closed her eyes to filter the stare and gagged as he clamped his mouth over hers.

      Using the hell of her palm she shoved at his chest as he crushed her breasts with a wild hand. His fingers dived into her waistline and burrowed beneath her panties. She struggled to avoid the plunge of a finger inside her and managed to step back in time. It did not stop him though from trying again.

     The taste of his salvia was repulsive as it filled her mouth. His tongue licked her teeth and tried to pry open them open in order to swirl deeper. She wanted to bite down on it and send him reeling backward in agony, but she restrained the urge. It would only provoke him, she figured and continued to shove at him until finally she broke free.

      His sloppy kisses were enough to make her sick. She had wanted so desperately to knee his groin as he lunged for her, but instead she fly down the hallway and slammed the door shut. She backed away hearing him quickly follow her steps. She didn't bother to barricade herself inside. That never worked. He always managed to enter regardless of what she stacked in the way.

      "Listen," he said, swinging the door open. "You are mine for the pounding. Now get over here and let's do it"

      She scoured the dresser behind her for anything that might serve as a weapon. Her fingers tipped over bottles of perfume and makeup. Then she felt her hairbrush and threw it at him. She missed only by an inch and resumed her search for something larger.

      "No," she heard herself say. It was always a mistake to talk back. It only made his advance that quicker.

     "Playing hard to get turns me on," he said in a husky voice. The statement made her stomach tie into knots. "If I have to come over there to collect you I will make you regret it. Now do as you are told and let me lick that tight pink twat of yours!"

     Eve whimpered. She knew resisting was pointless. He would have his way. It was to be expected. She learned that prolonging the unenviable actions displayed by this barbarian did her no good at all. Though fight was still within her she sank to her knees. Hot tears filled her eyes and burned.

     As his shadow fell over her she wished again for a miracle. She wanted nothing more than to rid herself of him and his absurdities. Still, as she felt his hands seize her, yank her up, she knew nothing in this world seemed to be listening to her prayers. She was all alone in hell and he was the devil. Though she had never been a religious woman she solemnly believed that.

 2

     Love was a fantasy word. She blinked and a tear coursed down her cheek. Moonlight poured through torn curtains and highlighted the contours of her womanly shape. She ached. Though his hands on long since ceased their rough exploration, she could still feel them on her.

      She sat up. Darkness settled over the room as clouds rolled across the sky. She watched them in hope they somehow could ease the agony, but after all they were just clouds. They were useless. She swung her feet over the edge of the bed, felt the carpet for her slippers and slid into them as she stood. Moving only provoked the pain swelling hot between her legs.

     Padding over to the closet she reached inside and pulled out a robe. As she tied closed the front with a neat bow she turned toward the door. It hung ajar, allowing faint light to seep in through its crack. He had left over an hour ago. She should have felt a lift of tension but as she entered the hallway it raced through her ever more.

      What was it he did at those meetings, she asked herself. Where did they hold them?

      She paused just before the kitchen and stared up at his soft light. There had been times when she wanted to explore the secrecy of his belongings stored in a locked trunk at the foot of their bed, but the key hung around his neck and he never took it off. She managed to catch glimpses however of dark robes and strange symbols attached to satin cord as he pulled them out, but soon after the key would slip into the lock and the tumblers would click into place. Then he would hurry off with whatever he gathered together tucked under an arm. Tonight was no different.

      She frowned. If the same pattern of events followed their usual order he would return smelling of strange scents with the garments and symbols tucked again under an arm. Where did he change into them at? She wondered as she resumed her slow walk. He always returned them just as quick to that infernal trunk and checked to make certain it was locked afterwards, the key dangling in his grasp just before slipping it back over his head where it draped inside his shirt. Her fingers itched to loosen the knot tied in the cord around his neck so that it might fall without his knowledge; so that she might scoop it up, but the courage to do so failed her.

     Thoughts of affairs and late night drinking binges had long since crossed her mind and died. Wherever Rory went with his step-brother Weston was a well guarded secret. She would watch from the window until they drove out of sight and then pace. Sometimes she would indulge in whatever was on cable television. Regardless of what she entertained herself with her thoughts always returned to Rory and his private meetings.

     Pulling a cup from the dish drain she rummaged through a cabinet for the hot coco mix. It was the one drink that soothed her whenever her nerves were rattled. Holding a packet in one hand she turned the faucet with the other. She waited until steam rose from the long metal neck and then ripped open the shiny envelop. As she poured the powder a rich scent of chocolate drifted to her nostrils and she placed the cup under the water.

     She didn't know how long she stood there before the feeling crept over her. She lowered the cup to the counter and slowly turned to see Rory standing behind her. She gasped, her heart somersaulting as she stared at his face. It was sweat slicked, pinched and contorting.

     "I didn't hear you come in," she said, alarmed at how unsteady her voice sounded. "Are you feeling all right?"

     Her examination dwelled lower. The absence of his robes and symbols was no need for concern she told herself. He probably just had already put them back into the trunk. But surely she should have heard him, right?

     His voice was soft, strained and ever so usual as he said, "I will be all right. You need not concern yourself, Eve. I am going to take a shower and then go to bed."

     She arched an eyebrow as she watched him sling himself into the hallway. Slowly she peeked around the corner. He staggered against a wall, paused and then shuffled into the bedroom. A moment later he emerged with a change of clothing and stumbled into the bathroom. She listened to the door as it shut and waited. Sure enough the sound of water beating against tile could be heard as she inched closer.

      Rory hardly ever showered, she thought and bit her lip. It wasn't as if he was filthy, but in all her time of knowing him he seldom bathed on a regular basis. She supposed it had something to do with his overall laziness. She sniffed the air. There was something other than odd incense floating in his wake. It was almost sweet like candy though not too terribly so. She doubted very much he had anything to eat. He wasn't farting and burping like after every other meal.

      She pressed her ear to the door. She jumped back. Was that a growl? No, it couldn't have been. But then what was it? She licked her lips and waited before leaning in for another listen. Again she leapt back. It was a voice, not a growl, but not Rory's. Was someone in there with him? She wondered. No, he came in alone, didn't he?

      She backed away into the bedroom where she collapsed on the bed, still staring at the closed bathroom door as she grabbed a pillow and hugged it tightly.

 3

      Memories compressed her once again. Though she stared straight ahead at the wall before her she saw the past instead of plaster. Perhaps she saw truth to the random flashes behind closed lids as her eyes drifted shut. She wanted to say something, but words failed her. There were seconds that passed where the only sound was the ticking clock mounted behind her.

      Eve sat up. She did not want to look toward the bedroom. She did not want to think about him. Still as she collected her thoughts and stood she found herself wandering in his direction. Slowly she pushed open the door. Darkness settled over the room like a thick blanket. A shaky hand covered her mouth. It was the only thing she could do to suppress the gasp threatening to escape her throat.

      "Are you coming to bed?"

      The voice came from the bed. There tucked beneath a comforter was Rory, his features shaded by midnight. The more she replayed his question in her head the more she declared its uncertainty. It was a gentle request more than a command. She shuffled inside. A chill raked down her spine.

     "You look so worn out," he whispered and pulled back the comforter for her. As she slid under her eyes locked on the shaded hand. Its fingers quaked as they curled in the fabric.

     Eve lay her head on a pillow. Her spine stiffened. Taking a deep breath in through her nose her eyes widened. He no longer smelled of sweat, soda pop and potato chips. She stared at his silhouette. Her heart thudded in her ears and she was certain he heard it too.

     "Are you feeling all right?" She asked slowly with a quiver in her voice. Her tongue raced along her lower lip. Suddenly her throat became parched.

      There was a brief silence before his answer came and when he spoke she drew the comforter up to her chin and sandwiched her hands between her thighs. It was the only thing she could do to keep them from reaching over and touching him, making sure he was real and not a daydream.

     "I have never felt better in all my life."

     Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement. She rolled onto her back, sat up and squinted. In the pitch blackness the white closet door yawned. It inched until exposing the contents within. She held her breath and then swung her feet over the edge of the mattress.

     As she stood she asked, "Did you see that just now?"

     Behind her she heard Rory shift under the comforter. "All I see is a beautiful woman whom I love more and more every day."

     Eve froze. Suddenly the closet door lost her interest as slowly she turned to consider him a moment. His profile was still overshadowed by the night but there was an oddity to his voice she could not explain. It was a bit softer than usual and perhaps an octave higher. Chills raced up and down her spine.

     She was about to slid back under the comforter and forget what her imagination was suggesting when the hallway light flicked on then off. This time she stood, her hand clenched into a fist over her racing heart. She shuffled toward the door and paused, poking her head just beyond the frame. At the end of the stretch she saw the switches. She stared as moonlight pumped in through a window onto them. Her gaze traveled to her left where another set of switches were.

      "Come back," she heard Rory sing and she jerked with a gasp. That voice hardly belonged to him and yet as she resumed her study of his dim outline she knew he was her husband. Who else could he be?

     "Did you see that just now?" She asked, "Did you see the light come on and off?"

     He chuckled. "You are just tired. You had a hard day. You will feel better after a good night's rest."

      Eve looked back out into the hallway. She waited, hoping to see someone standing there, but as she continued to survey the area she realized no one would be jumping out and yelling "surprise". She would have heard someone come in and besides, she had just come from the living room. Unless someone was hiding in a cabinet they were totally alone.

      She made her way back to the bed and glided under the coverlet. She eyed Rory. His back was to her. She didn't know how long she lay there for before her eyelids grew heavy. It was all her imagination, she told herself. Maybe there was a short in the electrical wiring or something. As for the closet door seeming to open on its own, a breeze from somewhere might have nudged it. It didn't take much effort. The hinges were new and...

     She bolted upright. With her eyes wide and staring at complete obscurity she pawed the comforter. Her palms were slick with sweat and itched. Was that a growl she heard? She felt beside her for Rory. Where he had laid merely seconds before was nothing but empty space. She patted it in disbelief, her heart somersaulting as she then clawed at the sheet, expecting Rory to materialize any minute. Hot stinging tears filled her eyes and she retracted her hands as though she were grasping a hot brand when all she had was cool linen.

      A shriek escaped her throat. The door to the bedroom had slammed shut and shook its frame. She threw back the comforter and leapt to her feet. Shivering she crept toward it and screamed again when it thrust open. On the other side, standing perfectly still with long robes sweeping the carpet, was Rory with a large cup of milk.

     "I thought you could use this," he said, handing her the glass.

     Eve looked from the cup to his face then back again. With shaky fingers she reached for it and as she slid her fingers around the cool smooth glass she felt her stomach clench. Her legs wobbled, threatened to give out from under her, but as she examined his stride toward the bed she found the strength to move.

     "Better drink it before it gets warm," he said as he slid beneath the cover and pulled it up to his chin.

 4

      She gazed out the window. He had left only a short time ago but that did not ease the dread building up in every fiber of her being. She shivered as thoughts about last night swarmed her mind. They consumed her. When she lifted her head to shift her view she sighed. Nothing worked to rid herself of the suspicion stirring inside her. It was hopeless. She barely caught a glimpse of him before he hopped out the door but even in his quickness he failed to conceal his sickness, if you could call it that.

     She folded her arms across her chest. His pasty complexion was etched in her mind, the dark circles and bags under his eyes unmistakable, and his labored breathing still made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Under the beam of the sun as he glanced up at her his face was a blanket of sweat. Her stomach clenched. She lowered her head and turned away from the constant stream of uncertainty as it stared back at her from outside. What, if anything, could she do about it? Should she even care?

      In the hallway she paused. She waited. Silence rung in her ears and yet there were voices within it; soft voices whispering, chanting and all the while using foreign tongues to speak. She strained to listen. If Rory were here he would tell her it was the radio or someone's television and maybe he would have been right. Sound travelled through paper thin walls. It made no difference how soft or loud it was.

     She inched her way into the living room. Rubbing her arms as a chill coursed through her body, she cast a look at the kitchen. Her belly growled. After a quick breakfast these thoughts would be drown out with house chores, she told herself though knew they would creep back no matter what she did to occupy herself with.

    Last night she had expected Rory to burst in through the door and ravish her. It was the usual thing and he never broke his constant demands for it. Then if everything satisfied him, if her daily duties met his requirements, she would have been able to relax comfortably while scrubbing herself in a steamy heap of bubble bath. Another shiver raked through her.

     She considered the phone a moment. She had been scolded for using it in the past. Rory never liked hearing only one sided conversations. It left room for his imagination to carry him into undesirable conclusions and she paid the price. There was no way getting around it. Eve swallowed hard. She took a few steps toward the shining plastic and then stopped.

     She drew in a deep breath. He was just ill, she told herself as she pressed into the kitchen and busied herself with a sink full of dishes. Tonight he will be back to normal. He'll probably stride in through the door smiling that smile and walking that walk she hated so much and she would know what thoughts registered within his gleaming dark eyes. There would be a few hours of makeup time and afterward her bubble bath would ease the disgust burning inside her.

     She scrubbed a dish and put it in the drain tray. Just wait and see, she assured herself and grabbed another soaking plate from the soapy water. Though what happened if it did? Did she really want to live out her life that way? The question rose in a swell of butterflies as they fluttered in her stomach. The last thing she wanted was to spend eternity with a man who treated her like yesterday's garbage.

     I don't know, she thought. Tears were close. She tried to push them back but they came and stung. She blinked, pulling the last cup from the suds and stood a moment watching the water swirl down the drain. No matter which way she looked at it something was not right. Her shoulders rounded. Her legs stiffened. Was there room for hope or was it like so many other unfulfilled wishes?

     She straightened. There was no use crying over it, she thought. Tears never got her anywhere. There had to be a way out of it. She turned to consider the phone again. Help was merely a phone call away, wasn't it? Then her brows furrowed. She hadn't even thought of it until now. Rory forgot to hide the phone. Every night when he stalked around he would fish for it in his secret trunk at the end of their bed, retrieve it and set it up in order to call one of his buddies, but by morning it would be put right back in the trunk among the garbs he did not want her to see.

      She raked her teeth over her lower lip and drew in another long breath. He never forgets a thing like that, she reminded herself. He was always so attentive and determined to sever her from the rest of the world whenever he was not around. He would never allow her the chance to reach out and connect with a potential threat to his happiness. In all their years of marriage this had stuck with him.

      Her fingers glided over the smooth surface of the receiver. It was strange to have it fill her palm without prying eyes looking over her shoulder and plotting her every move. Her heart sped up. Maybe it was a test. Maybe he purposely left it out to tempt her. Maybe he was using it as an excuse to lay his hands on her. She stepped back.



© 2019 Raven Starhawk


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Added on March 4, 2019
Last Updated on March 4, 2019
Tags: horror, fantasy, occult, paranormal, supernatural, fiction