“Maybe I should have slept with Eden, if you keep on insisting I did.”
That was it; he lost himself in the rage her words elicited. She had pushed him over the cliff. He almost did not realize it, it happened so fast. The slap fell so hard on her left cheek she tumbled to the carpet like a sack of potatoes.
Floored and confused, her left arm soothed the throbbing cheek as she gathered her wig and wits using the other. She never saw it coming. Trey had never so much as pointed a finger at her. Never! She was bewildered and somewhat ashamed looking up at him on her fours.
His face was taught, his teeth gritted as he towered above her like a victorious wrestler. She had never witnessed her husband so cross and unapologetic. His breathing was heavy and Meralda could not see the husband she knew in the man standing in front of him.
Slowly and confused, she picked herself. Her hand still holding the impact point, she managed to get back vertical. Seemingly stripped off her decorum her eyes glared at him wide open like a weary donkey. Her hair clumsily clutched and her dress no longer perfectly cupping all the right curves.
“You slapped me Trey!” She screeched.
“Never mention that man’s name in my house again!” His words may as well be squeezing through his teeth.
With that he turned and left her in the bedroom, breaking the first rule they had based their relationship on; to never walk out on each other.
It was all too much for her. Her fingers rose to her mouth like she was gnawing on them, wig still in hand. She had to make sense of what had just transpired. She blamed herself, she should have been more careful with her words. She never should have let her ex-boyfriend pick up the car from the garage nor drive it to the house. She never should have been in any contact with Eden period.
The woman trotted towards the bed, it felt like a journey. She felt her entire world had been unraveled by her husband’s violent outburst. She knew that no matter what, the entire relationship would take on a new path after that. The bed was her only solace as she sank into it and let the duvet absorb all her tears.
Trey on the other hand was shuffling down stairs to get as far away as possible from her. Suddenly he bumped into the house help. An absorbed mind failed him and he did not notice her dusting the leaves on the potted plant at the base of the stair case. Immediately he knew that she could tell that something was not okay. He could not leave the house. She had always been too observant and snoopy for her on good.
After a furtive apology, he excused himself and made a bee line for his study. In the solo confinement of the low ceilinged room, volumes upon volumes of books loaded the shelves running along the walls. They dutifully held other people’s ideas and thoughts for him, but if only there was a worse day. That day all that concerned him were his thoughts. He had to put a lid on them. They were busy stoking up his deepest fears and past memories.
What had he just done! Nothing could ever justify raising his hands on Meralda. His fears had come home to roost. Maybe he was just like him. His mind took him back to a time he wished he could forget.
It was close to midnight and the lights were still on in mama’s and papa’s room. They were talking, loudly and at each other. Then the talking and shouting would abruptly stop and the screaming and grunting would ensue. It was the same old pattern, just like yesterday and the day before and would definitely be so tomorrow. Mama would scream and yell, but papa wouldn’t stop. He wanted to go in there and help her, but he would be taking sides. Instead he pulled his blanket over his head and hoped it would end earlier today. Then he would call upon God and beg him to make it go away. He would promise him things, lots of things, if only He would make papa and mama be friends again. But nothing he said would move God. The lights would still stay on late the next day, and he would have to pretend that everything was fine the morning after.
In the evening, mama would tell him things about papa. Things that made him feel that papa was bad. She planted the seeds in him, and every night papa would water them. With each passing moon he despised him more and more. So much he did not cry at his funeral.
One night the lights stayed on late as usual. Then mama would start screaming and papa would grunt. He already knew the drill. Pull the blankets over the head and cover the ears. That night their door opened and he could hear mama running towards his room. Papa was chasing behind and cursing. Suddenly there was a huge thud on his door and the commotion ceased.
That night is still as vivid to him as a plan. He remembered being utterly terrified. What made them run out of their room? What was that sound at his door? Why was it so eerie suddenly? He tried to perk his ears but nothing was forthcoming. Had he killed her? Mama always said that he wanted to kill her.
Scared stiff and confused, he froze in his bed. The slightest movement of his legs felt like blown out rattling. It was almost an hour before he could gather enough courage to step out of the bed. Nothing was forthcoming from the other side of his door, and so he hesitantly tip toed towards it.
He had barely turned the handle, when the frame of mama’s almost lifeless body pushed it in. The sight was horrible. He immediately took her into his arms and started calling her. She did not answer, she could not answer, it’s the blood that just kept on flowing from her multiple wounds. Her arm was bleeding, her fore head was busted, her left eye was soaked in blood and she hardly responded to him no matter how loud he called to her.
Scared and breathless, he rushed into the living room. That is where they kept the phone. The front door was wide open and he used the street lights to make his way around the furniture. His fingers, bloodied and unsteady, finally got to dial those three all-important numbers, 911. The lady on the other end promised to arrive fast at the address he had just given them. Then he ran out into the night. He had to get to mama Susan’s place. Susan had always bragged that her mother was a nurse. In his mind, he would rather have a doctor but a nurse would do in the circumstances.
They got mama to a hospital and managed to stabilize her, but that day would be a bookmarker of all his memories; a key point in everything that is his past and the biggest factor in shaping who he had become. A lawyer who ran a charity that provided pro-bono services to victims of domestic violence. His fulfillment came from helping people who could not afford justice, alternative safe abodes or a means to start over.
Trey had also been involved in the drafting of the domestic violence act and put a lot of effort into making sure it sailed through the legislative house. Not satisfied, he had spearheaded a lobby that ensured a special police unit had been set up to deal solely with DV cases all over the country. All his valiant efforts over the gone decade had made him the country’s face of refuge. Loved and reviled in equal measure.
In that study, at that moment he did not care about all that however. He was worried about himself. Maybe there was no escaping it, he thought to himself. Perhaps he was just like his father. The thought burned his insides but he had to face up to the possibility.
His clenched fists forcefully banged his desks as the man fought his own devils. He refused to accept that he was in any way like his father and made a point to prove it to himself. He was going to walk out of that office and right back to Meralda and apologize for everything. He would do everything in his power to make it up to her and make that whole incidence just go away.
The front door bell rung the second he stepped out of his study. The help rushed to get the door and he decided to stick around just in case they were his visitors. Auma walked backed into the living room with two officers of the law in tow and right behind them, that man Eden shadowed.