A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate. – Emil Cioran, 1911 – 1995
My hands are shaking badly, so I quickly place them under my Navy maternity blouse. My husband sits before me, staring at me as though I did something wrong. I hate him, but with every quiver of the life growing inside me, I realize I love him at the same time. That’s a good enough reason for me to be on the fifth floor.
We share gazes for an indeterminate amount of time before his cold voice breaks our silence.
“How could you do this?”
“What do you mean?”
“How could you do this to me?”
I sit silently, biting my bottom lip until I taste blood.
“Why does this have to be about you? I’m the one in this damned place!”
I quickly realize my voice rose and glance over at the nurses’ station. The civilian nurse, a short, robust, 40-something Caucasian woman with graying blond hair pulled back into a tight bun, catches my glance. She says nothing but I can tell she’s a bit disgusted with us.
“Keep your voice down! You’re embarrassing me.”
I return my gaze to my abuser. I’m seething with hatred. I can’t remember when I ever felt this much hatred. It’s very disturbing. But you still love him, don’t you? I can’t shake that crazy voice in my head. I want to be left alone with my hatred.
“I’m tired of you beating me. I’m tired of you raping me. I’m tired of you trying to kill our baby. So, I don’t give a damn about you being embarrassed. I had no choice but to come here just to save our lives. You are mean, horrible husband, father, human being!”
“Is something wrong with the baby? Did they tell you something?”
“As if you care, you bastard. Screw you!”
My mind is racing. I’m not sure how I really feel. My emotions are all over the place. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant or because I’m crazy or a combination of both.
I press my left hand fingers against my left temple trying to relieve the pressure in my head. It’s aching and throbbing. I hate him intensely. I don’t want to pass that hatred onto my unborn child. I know that sounds silly, but I sincerely believe what we pregnant mothers feel can affect the emotions of our unborn children.
I continue to stare at his moving lips. I don’t hear anything just the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher, ‘. . . wah . . . wah . . . wah.’
As he continues to talk, I pretend to stare into his eyes but I’m really fixated on the bronze wall sconce above the right side of his head. I figure that if I focus on that sconce, I can control my anger.
It’s working. I’m feeling much calmer and the baby has calmed down as well.
“Hey! Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, I’m listening.” I rolled my eyes and returned my gaze to the sconce.
“You didn’t answer me. I asked if you want to be here.”
“No I don’t want to be here but I also don’t want to be with you. I’m safer here.”
“I just told you I wouldn’t hit you again. You weren’t listening.”
“Oh, please. You’ve promised me that a thousand times. I don’t trust you anymore.”
“It’s your choice. If you want to have this put in your permanent military record, so be it. I’m just trying to help.”
“You’re not trying to help me. You’re trying to help yourself. Remember, you said this was embarrassing to you!”
“You’re a bitch!”
“Ahhhh . . . There it is. The monster couldn’t rest for long, could he?”
“You make me angry. It’s always been your fault.”
As usual, Corpsman makes this about him. Believe me, if it weren’t for the nursing staff and security, he would have stomped me without hesitation. I’m beginning to feel ill. I have to end this.
“Please leave and never come back.”
“Do you really want me to leave? If I leave, I won’t come back.”
“Get . . . out. I don’t need you here to make my suffering worse.”
The Enemy’s Departure
He sighs, gets up, walks over to me and attempts to kiss my forehead. I block his kiss with the back of my right hand. I’m sure he’s trying to play the concerned husband role for the staff. He soon he realizes I have cringed at the thought of his kiss, so he walks out. My extremely tensed body begins to relax. Danger has departed the fifth floor.
I sit staring at the double doors he entered and departed through. I’m unsure what to think. I sit here wondering how could I have been so stupid. How could I have not been smart enough to listen to Chief J when she advised to remain at Kirtland Air Force Base. She was willing to mentor me and provide me the emotional support she knew I needed. Chief J was the big sister I never had, but needed so badly. What a big fool I am for believing everything I was taught about marriage in Sunday school.