“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
So I made my great escape, and Ope didn’t come after me, just like I knew he wouldn’t. It was not my proudest moment. But I was finally free, to live as I pleased.
I didn’t tell Tony about the baby until the morning after, when I had moved into his home, and spent my first night in his bed. I had had another bout of morning sickness, and I saw him watching me, when I exited the bathroom. His eyes begged the question, and I confirmed that I was carrying his baby.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting him to say, but it certainly was not, “Get rid of it.” Just like that, no emotion, no asking me how I felt or wanted to do, no moment of contemplation. Just a command.
I simply raised an eyebrow at him and returned to the bathroom to brush my teeth. “You’re getting rid of it, right?” he came in to ask, looking at me through the mirror.
“Of course,” I muttered, not able to look at him, feeling hurt at how he had dismissed my feelings and the baby as nothing but an inconvenience.
“We need to be more careful,” Tony said. “We need to get you on the pill. The last thing I want is another mouth to feed.”
I nodded. I didn’t want to keep the baby either. I didn’t care for the burdens of motherhood, nor for losing my figure. But something was different in the way he was talking to me. I wondered if it was only because of the news of the baby.
“I know a guy. I’ll arrange for you to get it removed this weekend,” he said matter-of-factly. “Okay, what’s for breakfast?”
So that ended our talk about our unborn child and the termination of my pregnancy. I hadn’t expected much, but if he had shown a little interest in my feelings, it would have made me feel a little more special…even if we later decided that abortion was the best option to take.
Aborting the baby was only slightly more inconveniencing and painful than having my wisdom teeth removed. I went in for my appointment pregnant, and came out childless about an hour later, sparing no thought nor grief for the life I just ended. Tony had not even bothered to accompany me for support.
Living with Tony was a world of difference from living with Ope. At least when I was coming and going, I could manage his mess for the brief periods I visited. But I was soon to learn of his many bad habits. He was like a child in need of a mother. And I think he took advantage of having a woman around to cook, clean and do his laundry.
After about a month, I decided it was time I seriously considered getting a job. Plus Tony hardly stopped complaining about me carrying my own weight financially. I never knew he was so stingy! I guess we never dated, and he didn’t have to wine and dine me or buy me gifts or anything. We were sex buddies turned room-mates, and hardly knew each other.
It was amazing how our sexual activity declined once I moved in. The once randy Tony was now hardly in the mood. He was stressed out after work and seemed somewhat irritated by my presence in his home. I asked him a few times if something was up, but he would just tell me I was thinking too much, and everything was fine.
Getting a job proved harder than I had anticipated. I have never needed to work in my life. I’d lived off men since I was in Secondary School, and my Sugar Daddies had paid my way through University. My lack of job experience was now presenting a challenge. Tony even tried to hook me up with a job at the Gym where he worked, but they said I was too old for the position they wanted to fill!
It wasn’t long before I began to miss my comfortable set up with Ope. I never wanted for anything with him, and he was generous and loving, not like Tony, who nagged day and night, and still needed his mother to look after him. I still didn’t understand why he had turned cold towards me, until we had our first major row.
I had suspected he had been cheating on me, though he had been careful to keep me from finding out. But it appeared his disdain for me was growing, when I returned from the supermarket to find another woman in his apartment. She was straddling his lap when I entered. The lady, who looked barely out of her teens, gave me a sweet smile and introduced herself as Titi, as though she thought I was his sister. I didn’t take her hand nor return her greeting. I just stood and glared at Tony.
“So is this what we have come to?” I asked. “If you wanted me to leave, why didn’t you just say so?”
He ignored me and escorted Titi out, while I stood fuming, waiting for him to come back and answer me like a man. However, he acted as if nothing had happened between them, when he returned. Instead, he asked me what I had bought to prepare for dinner.
“Are you going to ignore me and pretend that I didn’t just catch you with another woman?” I demanded to know.
“Don’t get you knickers in the twist. So I had a side screw, what’s the big deal?” I watched him as he returned to his previous position on the sofa, to continue watching TV.
“What’s the big deal? What’s the big deal?!” I exclaimed. “Did you not promise to stop your whoring when I moved in with you? If you thought this was an open relationship, I would have loved the heads up, because frankly, I’m getting nothing from you!”
He just shook his head and replied, “Look who’s calling who a whore!”
“No problem,” I said, while unpacking the things I had just bought. Two can play that game. “Now-I-know.”
He came up behind me. “I don’t think you get the situation at all. While you’re in my house, eating my food, you can not be screwing around on me! Don’t confuse me with your husband!”
“So what, you think you own me now?” I turned around, getting madder by the minute.
“What, do you think after that horrible stunt you pulled on your husband, he will take you back? Do you think anyone else can put up with your crap? After I promised to drop the others for you, that was when you decided to show me what a skank you really are. Having Andrew fuck you in front of your husband; in front of me…that was priceless!” He spat at me. “You disgust me! You’re one lazy, selfish bitch, and your pussy isn’t made of gold. So, you know what, I do think you’re at my mercy, Missy!”
I swallowed hard, realising the origin of his new found contempt for me, and seeing myself through his eyes. I hadn’t thought of his feelings when I’d asked him to join in our prank. Even as he spoke, I knew I had dug myself into a trench. I really had nowhere else to go. Not with five suitcases and no money of my own!
Then I remembered that Ope had opened a savings account in my name soon after we were married. I’d never needed it, because I had access to his cards for my needs and household shopping, so I had forgotten about it.
I smiled. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to put up with me anymore. I’ll be gone in the morning!”
“Like hell you will!” he retorted. He looked down at me, with unveiled scorn. “And it’s high time your ass earned a living around here!”
The look he gave me sent chills down my body. Like I was being scoped by a human trafficker, wondering what he could get for trading my body. I dared not ask the question that hung at the tip of my tongue. I didn’t want to give him any ideas. Maybe he was just talking about me earning a wage through a normal job, like we had been trying to do. But for the first time, I was afraid of Tony.
If not for the fact that the following day was a Saturday, I would have left as I had intended to do. But the Banks were closed, and I wouldn’t be able to withdraw from my savings until Monday. The thought of returning to Ope crossed my mind, but I was too proud to run back to him and admit that I was wrong. I had been so foolish. I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone. I had traded love for sex, and now, I had neither. How do you have sex with someone you loathe?
Tony returned early from work on Saturday. It turned out he had been fired. I wasn’t to learn the reason why until much later. His job loss only heightened the tension in the apartment. A small part of me felt sorry for him. But the larger part that loathed him was glad to see him humiliated. I feigned concern, by asking him what happened, while thinking that I was glad I had an exit plan.
He didn’t want to talk about it. He just wanted sex. I wasn’t in the mood. But he wasn’t having it. I pushed him away, when he began to touch my body, which was now dead to his touch. “I said NO, Tony!”
That was when I got his first slap. I looked at him stunned and started to fight back. But he held me by my throat and raised me up against the wall, where he proceeded to rape me, the whole while I was choking to breathe.
When he was done, he released me from the choke-hold, and I dropped to the floor. All I could do was cry. He left me there and went out. I thought to run, and I wish I had done so. I wish I hadn’t placed so much hopes in my plan, and just gotten the hell out of there. But I never imagined it would get worse…and so quickly.
Tony was gone for a few hours. In that time, I cleaned up the apartment and had a long shower to cleanse myself from his violation. Since Uncle Bill, no other man has violated me like that. I had been the one in control. I had always been able to choose to have sex, with whom, how and whenever I wanted. Sex was for my enjoyment and it was my empowerment. But that day, I saw a different side to sex. Rape only took from me. It stole and broke and destroyed…and left me with fear, where I only previously knew power.
Tony returned at about ten o’clock that night. I had just finished a light bedtime snack and was cleaning up after myself in the kitchen. I turned around from washing the dishes to see that he had brought home company.
I passed him and mumbled “Good evening” to the three men with him, before entering the bedroom I shared with Tony and shutting the door. Tony had quite a few male friends, but I had never seen these ones before. He usually just hung out with one or two, and only entertained a larger company when there was a football match. I decided not to think much of their presence, and prepared myself for bed.
While I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I heard someone open, close and lock the door. I figured it was Tony and continued brushing my teeth. Then I saw the biggest of the three men behind me, through the bathroom mirror. I screamed and turned around. “Get out!!!”
He smiled at me and revealed himself. “I hear you like them big…”
I was horrified. What was Tony thinking? “Tony, please!” I begged, as I tried to scurry away from the bulky man. “Please don’t do this. Please, I’m begging you.”
The man seemed excited by my fear and continued towards me. “Don’t worry, you will like it,” he smirked.
“Tony! Tony! I’m sorry, please! Oh, God, please!!!” I cried, as I began to pick things to throw at my attacker. “Get away from me!”
But it was hopeless. Tony did not come to my aid, nor did I truly expect him to. The bulky man had me at a disadvantage, being a petite woman. He easily arrested me with one hand and ripped my clothes off my body with the other. The next thing I knew was searing pain, pain that didn’t seem to end.
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