Comfortably Numb

July 10, 2008
By Sarah Cunningham, Sherwood, OR

I heard a sickening crack as my head connected with the headboard, but the ensuing pain seemed to be delayed from the sound, like lightning from thunder. I tried to summon the strength to fend off my advancing attacker, to land a punch or slap that would stun him long enough for my escape. He crawled slowly to where I laid in a crumpled heap at the base of the bed. My heart beat faster as I caught the animalistic look in his eyes. It's going to be a long night, I thought.

I heard his deep baritone voice speaking somewhere in the distance, saw his full lips moving, but I couldn't make out the words. "W-what?" I managed to get out as blood trickled down my forehead and into my mouth. I spat sideways.

"I said, how's your head?" he repeated as he brushed a lock of black hair away from his piercing green eyes. He smiled, flashing a set of perfectly straight white teeth framed by dimples that would melt any girl's heart.

"Great," I muttered, suddenly awake enough to attempt to roll off the bed. He caught my ankle, stopping the process with a fierce expression on his godlike face.

"What was that, Mya?"

"My head feels absolutely incredible, Zach," I answered defiantly, kicking at his hand with my free foot. He responded to my rare and bold rebellion by hoisting my frail body onto the bed and slapping my face with an open hand, so hard that I was sure a bruise must be forming instantly. I closed my eyes and prayed that one wouldn't. I could no longer take the questions from suspicious and concerned friends, coworkers, parents.

"You want to change that answer?" he demanded, laughing cruelly. I opened my mouth to speak, but he struck me again, this time with a closed fist. I tasted blood, but I wasn't sure if it was trickling down from my forehead or pooling in my wounded mouth. "I asked you a question!"

I helplessly tried to form words, but it was impossible to speak while enduring the continual blows of his powerful fists. I let the soft jazz music playing in the background distract me from the pain, singing along to the smooth words in my mind. He let up for a moment. "Open your eyes," he commanded. I did as I was told. "How's your head now?"

"It hurts," I admitted as quietly as I could. I braced myself for the next blow, a punch to my ribcage which knocked the breath out of me.

"Why does it hurt?" he wanted to know.

"You threw me into the headboard," I replied matter-of-factly.

"Why would I do such a terrible thing?" he asked mockingly, wiping my blood from his fingers onto our white duvet. Great, another thing to replace, I thought.

"I don't know," I answered truthfully, wincing as his hands moved deceptively gently up my arms. His fingers traced the angle of my collarbone, the curve of my neck and my strong jawline.

"You should think about that," he said finally, proceeding to leave my bleeding and weak form at the foot of the bed as he crossed the bedroom to the doorway.

"I will," I called feebly as he closed the door behind him. I laughed and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to a dozen pink roses on the bedside table and an empty bed. A hastily scrawled note was perched next to the roses.


I love you, baby. Try not to leave the cap off the toothpaste next time.

Love, Zach

I went through my day comfortably numb.

The author's comments:
This story was inspired by the experiences of a friend. It was intended to expose to the despair and occasional absurdity of abusive relationships.

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