Music Monday: Face Down

Monday, December 01, 2014


Face Down
A fictional interpretation of a song by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

You won’t know she’s damaged just by looking at her.

She hides the bruises well, and puts on a lipsticked smile that almost looks genuine. But there’s a kindness and empathy in her eyes as she takes care of the women in the shelter she volunteers at three times a week. It’s obvious she understands exactly the pain they’ve been through. Husbands and fathers who beat them; boyfriends and brothers who tried to kill them. You can’t understand that kind of pain unless you’ve been there.

And she has.

***

The first time it happened, she convinced herself she had it coming.

She had never seen him get so angry before. He had always been so kind and nurturing. The lawyer with a heart.

His name was Jeff, and they met in court. She was there to support the woman who had died in the hospital two days before. The woman’s husband was the one on trial, charged with the second-degree murder of his wife. Jeff was his lawyer, though he would later claim he didn’t want to be.

“He was completely guilty. Without a conscience guilty.” Jeff would tell her over dinner many weeks after the case. “I could have gotten him off, but why should I?”

“Are you saying you threw the case?” She asked him.

He leaned in close, his brown eyes glittering with proud deception.

“I’m saying I’m a really good lawyer.” He said.

Then, he winked at her, and changed the subject.

Three weeks later, they were living together.

***

She thought they were moving too fast.

But she didn’t say anything. How could she? Why would she?

He was barely home. He worked all the time, sometimes even through the night. It wasn’t like he was disrupting anything or taking over her life. Sure, she had to cut her visits with family and friends short many times because he would call her, and expect her to come home to him. 

“I don’t have a lot of time.” He would say. “I want to make the most of it…with you.”

And she wanted that too.

It didn’t seem manipulative, the way he only ever seemed to have free time when she made plans. She could spend weeks alone at home, and he wouldn’t have a second to spare, but as soon as she made plans, he was suddenly urgently available.

She assumed it was just the funny way life worked sometimes.

But she was wrong.

***

The first time it happened she was eating breakfast.

She had good news, big news to tell him.

“I’ve been offered a promotion at work. I’ll have to travel a lot, but it’s really good pay and will be a great opportunity for me.” She said. “So I’m going to take it.”

He smacked her hard across the face, stood up, and walked out of the kitchen without a word. She sat there with her hand on her bruising cheek, and her lips parted in shock until she heard him leave for work.

It was so casually unexpected that she convinced herself she imagined it. It didn’t really happen. Even when the bruise appeared the next day.

He didn’t come home for three days.

She turned down the promotion.

***

He told he was just surprised.

“I thought we were going good together, and then you go and make this huge decision without me, and I don’t know…I just snapped. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t hurt you, did I? I’m so sorry…”

She told him he was right. That she was fine. That she shouldn’t have accepted an offer so huge without consulting him first. They were good together. How could she have thought it would be okay to make such a huge decision without including him?

She blamed herself, and in the back of her mind she knew that was a warning sign. Violence is never the victim’s fault. That’s what she teaches the women at the shelter, isn’ t it? It’s not your fault.

But in her mind she was saying,

It’s all your fault. You should have known better. You did this.

***

She became an expert at hiding bruises with makeup.

Her wardrobe became a collection of long sleeves and loose fits. Her friends and family would mention the change, but she quickly defended it.

“I’m comfortable.” She said.

But she wasn’t comfortable. 

She was terrified. 

***

The end came the night before her sister’s wedding.

He didn’t want her to attend the bachelorette party. But she was the Maid of Honor. She was hosting the party. It was her sister, and she had to be there. 

She knew by now that to call him ridiculous was dangerous, and she also knew better than to try to argue with him. He made his living winning arguments. She didn’t stand a chance.

But she fought anyway.

Her sister found her face down in the dirt outside her house, dressed in a pink sequined dress, repeating the same line over and over again:

I’ve had enough.

***

She doesn’t remember that night very well.

She suffered a concussion and multiple contusions. Two broken ribs. One broken collarbone. A twisted ankle.

But she remembers her brother-in-law’s voice, angry and shouting.

“Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Does it make you feel better to see her face down on the ground? Huh, you piece of shit! How do you like it?” 

Her sister later told her the whole bachelor party showed up. Jeff didn’t stand a chance. The tables were turned.

The official ruling was justifiable homicide.


Enough was enough.

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