We sat on the floor of his bedroom, down in the basement, as cluttered and full as ever. Two bare bulbs hung from the uncovered wood floor beams. His television displayed an old black and white movie, something scary. His bed was tousled. His clothes were everywhere. Why did I date a man who lived in his friends’ basement?
We sat on a small rug in front of his bed. It was like the kind you’d sit outside a door to clean your shoes on before entering your home. No comfort. Barely kept the cold of the cement floor from creeping up into my skin. Why did he want to sit on the floor?
Control. He was in control.
I sat, cross-legged. His legs surrounding me. His arms around me. Trapped. He was in control.
His hand was at my throat. His voice was in my ear.
“Hard or soft?”
“Hard,” I said, just despite him.
He started to squeeze. I couldn’t breathe.
Would he kill me now? Would this be it? This man who told me I made him better. This man who tried to tell me he loved me. This man who I once loved. Who was this man?
His free hand brought out a blade. Showed it to me.
I wasn’t dead yet. Even with his grip around my throat, even with air being almost gone, I wasn’t dead yet.
This was not the same man. This was not the man I dated, the man I loved. This was not the man with the sly smile, the huge hugs, and an arm in which my head cradled at night.
This was a monster. With crazy panicked eyes full of menace for me. With hot putrid breath that filled my nostrils. And with a stench of sweat that slathered on my skin as he held me.
His knife hovered, too close to my eye.
He scared me. He horrified me. But I would not relent, would not let him have the pleasure of my fear even as inside I trembled with terror.
“Hard or soft? Hard or soft?” He played with the knife in front of my eye, swaying it with his words.
“Hard” to the left. “Or soft” to the right.
“Hard,” I said, despite him, rebellious, unrelenting even to the end.
And then everything went black.
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