First is the worst

August 1, 2010
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No matter how many times it happened, the first time was always the most memorable. Stuck in my head like an overplayed song, permanently burned into my memories, killing everything that it touched. The fear that choked me and left me speechless; that feeling of confusion on why somebody that had claimed to love me wanted to hurt me. I remembered the fierce look of anger in his eyes, like I deserved everything he had given to me. He said those exact words later that night, actually. And I believed him.


It was just another summer party that he had dragged me along to. Or at least it started out that way. I sat quietly in a lawn chair with a can of soda, like the cute little obedient girlfriend I was, and watched as he downed beer after beer; watched as he started to trip over his feet, slur his words when he talked. I watched him transform into a mindless idiot before my very eyes.
I didn't know why he always wanted me to come to these things. He didn't talk to me, or even really acknowledge that I was there at all. The only people I ever talked to at parties like these were the other girlfriends that had been shoved aside for the night while their boyfriends got wasted. The forgotten ones; the ones that the guys knew would still be there in the morning, no matter what. Even if they got caught making out with some s**t in the woods just the night before.
I wanted to go home. I didn't want to stay here, not for one more second. I was having a terrible, terrible time, which was lately always the case. Chris was so wrapped up in his friends and alcohol and pot that he didn't ever really even notice that I existed anymore. It was time to break up, and I was going to do it tonight, when he dropped me off at my house. I rose to my feet, and walked over to where he was standing.
"Chris?" I lightly tapped his shoulder, and he looked up at me, glassy brown eyes barely registering that I was there at all. His wavy brown hair was rumpled and messy. I didn't want to think about how it got that way.
"What's wrong, baby?" his words were incoherent and all seemed to connect together. God, he was in no condition to drive me home.
"I want to go home. I'm gonna go call my dad to come get me." at the moment, I didn't really give a damn that it was midnight and my dad thought I was upstairs in my room, sleeping. He could ground me if he wanted, I just didn't want to stay.
"Don't be stupid, I'll drive you. Come on." He got up, but staggered and fell back a step before regaining himself and stumbling in the direction of his car. I reluctantly followed, though I had no intentions of getting in that car with him. I knew better than that.
"Chris, stop." I grabbed his arm once we were out of sight and earshot of the party.
"What is up with you lately? You're no fun anymore, you're always so serious and moody. What's your problem?" I knew he was getting angry now, and I shouldn't add fuel to his fire, but I didn't want to spend one more second as Kassi, Chris's lapdog.
"Chris. I want to break up." I said it evenly, despite the fierce pounding in my chest.
"Don't be stupid. That's not funny Kass." I was still holding onto his arm, I realized. I let it drop to my side.
"I'm not kidding, Chris. I'm not having any fun with you anymore. You don't pay any attention to me." I paused, and decided to get bold, "You have a serious problem with alcohol. And drugs. And until you get some help for that, we're through. I'm sorry." I turned to leave. Where I was going, I didn't know. I assumed I would walk down the street a ways and then call my dad.
Chris was not allowing that. As I took a step forward, he grabbed my arm, spun me around and slapped me; so hard that my neck snapped back. His hands were angry, leaving a trail of fire on my skin, burning and throbbing painfully. Fear and panic rose in my throat, making it hard to breathe. I tried to back up, but there was no escape. He was far larger than me, and had much more muscle mass.
"You stupid B***H." He spat the words at me angrily. He picked me up and slammed my back against a tree. I felt the bark scraping against my skin, rubbing it raw; felt little trickles of blood running down my back.
His hands were strong and rough on my shoulders, keeping me securely against the tree. He got right in my face, eyes flashing angrily like I had never seen before. My breath was coming in short little gasps. Tears were welling in my eyes, but I was too stunned to cry.
"You listen to me. We're not done until I say we're done." he shook me, and the bark slammed into my back again. A little scream of pain shot out of my mouth. He smiled mischievously, like he was enjoying this reaction he was getting out of me.
"What, are you gonna cry now?" He laughed once and then spoke again, "You're such a wimp, Kassi. You always have been. Just a little crying w****." He smacked me once again, for good measure I guess, and then dropped me. I tried to get to my feet, but my legs where shaking, knees knocking together so much I could barely support any weight on them.
"Get in the car." He pulled me to my feet, and shoved me in the direction of the passenger seat. And at that point, I got in the car. Not caring that he was drunk and I could get myself killed. All I cared about at that moment was not getting hit again. Chris got in the driver's side and took me home, going much too fast, but I didn't care. I stared silently out the window, my body rigid with tension. By the time he pulled into my neighborhood, I was shaking uncontrollably.
He dropped me off two houses down from mine, like always, and I walked the rest of the way. Let myself in through the front door and walked silently up the stairs. At that point, I collapsed on my bed in a shaking, sobbing mess. The crying didn't let up until the sun peeked over the tops of the trees outside my window.

***

{I'm down at the stop sign. Come see me.} My phone buzzed at 8AM two days later. I had been avoiding Chris, not answering his calls, ignoring his texts, but I couldn't get out of this one. If I didn't go, he would get mad, and then who knew what might happen the next time I saw him. So I got dressed. I put my hair up. I didn't want to put on any makeup, so I slipped out the front door so I wouldn't have to explain why there was a huge dark bruise on my cheek.
He was waiting for me when I got there, leaning up against the stop sign. At the sight of me he stood upright, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me to him as soon as I got close enough.
"I'm so sorry. Let me see." He turned my cheek and brushed the hair from my face, inspecting the damage that he had done. Chris bit his lip, like he felt bad. Like he was holding back tears. My heart was squeezing together, aching. I wanted to reassure him that it was alright, and it didn't even hurt that much, even though just the brush of his fingertips was enough to make me clench my eyes closed in pain.
He leaned over, eyes full of apology for what he had done, and kissed the cheek with the bruise. I found myself leaning against him, like nothing had ever happened. Like I wasn't afraid of him. I wanted him to do that again, brush his lips against the hurt and make it disappear.
"I promise you, Kassi. I will never do that ever again. I won't ever hit you again." Then he kissed me, and I was powerless to resist. I kissed him back. It must have just been a one-time thing. He didn't mean to. It was just a freak accident. He told me all of those things.

And I believed him.





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