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This Lipstick Reflection
A bruise so fragile and pompous, mocking and taunting me with its beautiful grace and arrogance, has blossomed into adolescence. So stubborn and brutal it is, housing its market right on me near shut eye. The pain is impeccable but something way too familiar. I take off my robe, which the mirror reveals as a tank top, pink with lace along the breast line. My pajama bottoms are slung low, twisted the wrong way, to the right. The shoulders supporting my arms are covered sporadically in a pigment of sheer purple and blues.
It’s almost like I’m reliving the night before.
I don’t remember much from the night before; all I can recall is this:
I was cooking supper for my husband Jackson and I; a simple meal of mashed potatoes and gravy aside with some steak and broccoli. I started late in cooking the meal because cleaning our apartment, so cozy and quiet, took much of my days’ time away, more time than originally expected. Everything sort of cluttered together in a day’s time, so as a part of my responsibility of cleaning and cooking in our home, I became entangled in the mass that was our apartment. However, when Jackson came home, he wasn’t pleased with my lack of being time manageable.
Could he not see that I try so hard to make him happy, rather than make him angry all the time?
When he walked in the door, his jacket slung on tight around his strong, mystic shoulders was clumsily placed on the coat rack that stood there patiently waiting for his arrival. His face instantly became pale as a winter frost when he saw the barren, wooden tabletop of no edible arrangement in sight. No emotion until the anger swept in like a storm, which you could see brewing silently in his brown eyes. Jackson arrives home every night at six o’clock in the evening, a mere twilight hour, and expects dinner to be ready to be devoured by his ravenous mouth when he arrives home. He’s very sullen at dinner, a mime almost of no tune or melody, except to criticize me of the meal if it has not met his standards of appetizing. This night however, we never got to sit down and eat the meal I was late at preparing. Once Jackson walked through that door, all bets were off and our nice, cozy apartment became a loud and erupting room of he**.
As I was fixing Jackson’s plate and getting ready to make it appear on the table, I heard the door in the kitchen that conveniently leads to the living room open and shut. Jackson appears next to me, and I could only imagine and fear what was to happen next. I look up at him and give him a smile that I hoped could lighten his mood and make him happy to be home, but to no avail, that same angry and defiant look was still on his face and broke my heart every second I had to stare at it. He looked at the plate that was full on the counter and back at me, anguish illuminating his face. Despite the plate having a plausible amount of food in it, he got up in my face, and began to scream in a heightened volume.
“Why the he** is my dinner not on the da** table, Angie?” he screams make me flinch, and I become speechless.
The mirror gazes at me, reviewing my tears as retching sorrow as I look back on it all in my head. In my mind, I am seeing horror, and horror erupts from the bruises and in my head. The emotional pain is worse, and much more surreal.
I gazed at him in fear, trying not to let him witness it. My lips tremble and I choke back a sob before saying “I’m sorry, baby. Dinner was just about to be put on the table for you, see?” I take the plate that is lying right next to me and walk slowly over to the dinette set to set it on the table, but before my hand even reaches the table, Jackson grabs my arm and yanks me back so hard I can feel my arm pop in its socket and the plate plunges to the floor in a waterfall of greens, browns, and cream colored yellows, which soon colors the floor in their lusty takeover.
“Pick it up”, he demands from me
“But there’s glass, I-I’ll get cut”, I tremble to him with searing fear.
“Good then maybe that’ll teach you to put dinner on our da** table for me to eat!”
“D-Don’t you mean for us to eat?” I stutter, and instantly regret what I just said.
His eyes flare up with anger so warm I can feel the heart penetrate my chest and make my heart scream in agony. I can see specks of red in his cold eyes, which were now the eyes of a demon. I am afraid beyond measure at this point as he takes me by the shoulders with both hands and screams in my face “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?! Are you friggin’ mocking me you little b****?”
“No, of course not; I just said ‘us’ because we both eat at th-“
He cuts me off short by slamming me on the ground and steps on my back with his right foot, his steel-toed boot crushing my pack in excruciating pain. I try to scream, but know that I do he will become more angry, and I don’t know how much more pain I will be able to take. My face sinks into the food, mashed potatoes entering my mouth and my hair falling into the puddle of brown gravy. The broccoli, now soggy with the wetness of the gravy, sticks to my face in demand of a forever bonding between us. Glass is also in attendance and sticks to my arms, cutting the right one slowly and painfully, along with my shoulder.
The mirror cuts my eyes and I can feel them bleeding with tears. I see the cuts being reflected in the mirror as the tears blur my vision, and as I touch them, stinging pain washes over my body like rain. My right shoulder screams out in defenseless agony as I touch it, and the pressure becomes overwhelming. Can the mirror see the aching pain that exists in my fragile heart?
I look up at him, tears mixing in with the gravy on face, which I presume is disgusting before I wipe the tears and gravy off my face before I am given a chance to taste it. He stands above me, so much more powerful than me, and taller than the person I ever could wish to be. Around him I will forever be the weakest person alive.
“Well, are you going to clean this up or do I have to teach you a lesson on how to clean too?” he pushes, crossing his arms above me and expecting me to answer him. I honestly don’t know if I can find the words to form an actual valid sentence. My vocal chords are mangled into silence.
“I’m sorry, darling, just give me a second to get up and get the paper towels and-“
Impatience possesses Jackson in a subtle takeover and strangles his emotions into breathlessness, which eventually end up strangling me as well. The hands of my lover Jackson wrap around my throat and choke me possessively like a suppressed demon finally coming out of its shell. I feel him choking the life out of me tartly, and the world begins to spin in a smooth clear light. He punches my eyes, my body, my stomach, my legs, everything remotely alive or that can be broken. He begins to tire and drops me to the ground like garbage, as that is all I am to him. This upsets me a bit, but I have become so accustomed to it it’s almost become a ritual. I am left there weeping until morning light seeps into the window and shines down on me lying in subtle glass and frigid dinner that was never devoured by a hostile man.
Now I am here, staring at my broken reflection in the mirror.
I fall onto the tile floor, on my knees, and begin to sob uncontrollably. I can’t stop crying at all, and it’s almost as if my eyes wouldn’t be able to stop even if I begged them to. My hair, still sticky and matted from the gravy, falls diligently in my face. I let out a soft but eerie cry of misery as I cry, and I feel my heart begin to fall apart. Nothing, not the pieces of my heart or the tears flowing down my face could tell the ugly story of me and Jackson’s marriage. They probably don’t even know the half of it; the cuts, the bruises, or even the ugly words that he tells me that cut me to the core, so very deeply. This is literally He** that I am living in, and every day I am burning my face just to put on one that pretends everything will somehow be fine the very next day.
But not today; today, I am falling apart.
When we were dating, things between us couldn’t be better. We were just two young lovers who overused the words “I love you” and never felt the need to take them back. We meant it every time, and I was sure we’d be together forever from the moment we met when I was only nineteen years old. I was instantly charmed by the man with dark, coal black eyes and dark brown hair. His slim figure shared a silhouette with the sun, and I was instantly captivated by him. You’d think I was foolish, but I knew what love was, and every aspect of it, I found in Jackson. We married two years ago when I was only twenty-one years old, and at first things were great. But things went from bad to worse before they could ever get better. It’s like I was a flower before, but now all I have is a blub, no petals to show off any beauty I could possibly have left within my soul.
I get up from my knees and look at my reflection again. I trace my delicate fingers over the raw skin that was my shoulder. The pink burns in my flesh and makes me flinch from pain as I drag my hands all over my arms just to feel the pain. It’s a sick feeling to want at all, but at least I’m feeling something other than numbness. I raised my hands to softly touch my lips, and tenderly caress myself tightly. This is how every woman should be touched, softly and not harshly like an animal or unimportant object. I have forgotten what it’s like to feel that way: important.
I look over and the shower curtain is staring at me with daring eyes, asking me to step inside and forget everything that could every hurt me. How I wish I could, except the resource to my misery is sleeping comfortably in the next room, the bedroom of which I wish I could sleep in peace. I walk over slowly and turn on the shower, a warm dose of peace that has steam escaping the curtain. I undress myself, wincing the whole time of pain and agony. All I see when I look down at my body is purple and green; it’s almost as if I have no natural skin color. I step into the shower and feel the hot liquid warm my skin to its fulfillment. I wash my hair thoroughly, and although still tangled, I begin to feel its luster. I wash every part of my body, still wincing at the bruises that bring me so much pain when I touch them.
I bring the lukewarm shower to a heartbreaking end, a cessation of which I did not at all want to bring forward. The heated air in the bathroom wraps around my skin and cleanses it thoughtfully in a warming embrace. I step out and dry off, saddened that the steam has covered the mirror in dewy condensation and I can’t review my tousled body just one more time. If anything, I’m thankful for it, as I don’t get to see the gruesome memories in my head.
I become wrapped in my undergarments, along with a sheer black hoodie and dark denim jeans to follow. It seems suitable for this gloomy day, if I have to say anything at all. My long brown hair, so auburn and dark, falls loosely on my back. Although it has been washed with flower scented shampoo and conditioner, the smell of gravy still hints a mild existence inside the follicles. I grab my makeup bag and clutch it tightly before opening it slowly and applying the foundation. It does a good job at covering up the bruises after several coats of applications. I decided to add also a small dose of eye shadow and blush, just to add a better disguise of normality that every woman on should have on a normal Saturday morning trip to the 24-hour grocery store. We need food desperately, and of course it’s my job to obtain it. For the occasion, I make myself look beautiful, or as beautiful as a battered woman can even look. I pray that even just for today, the whole world could be blind for as long as I am to appear.
I walk out of the bathroom, walking towards the bedroom of which Jackson is sleeping in so soundly. I open the door to find his peaceful face sound asleep, off in dreamland as if nothing can ever matter other than him being here. I stare at him; the him that I used to know as someone who loves me. He has turned into the person I am terrified of, and I know that deep inside there is a deeper hatred for me other than an ever growing wonder of love. I wonder if he was ever really the monster he appears to be when he is beating me. Perhaps it was hallowed into a deep unconscious of his mind and was unleashed two years ago. I take another glance at him again, with the clock that lies in its own slumber reading me a bleeding 7:39 am. I soon get the queue to leave now and get back before Jackson leaves for work at nine and do so without a third glance back at Jackson or even a kiss goodbye.
Should he really deserve something as peaceful as that of a kiss?
I leave behind the fear that entered me and escaped me when I first looked at Jackson. Just the view of him makes me terrified, not swooning at his presence. Leaving him behind gives me sentimental findings of peace, which is something that will always seem strange. I enter the parking garage swiftly, and soon find my car to comfortably climb inside of. I initiate the engine and drive off to the grocery store. When I get there, I sit in my car and meditate.
Being away from him gives me strength, as when I’m around him I feel so small and helpless, almost like a child. I am 23 years old, and certainly not a da** child, but at the same time, I am still naïve as one. I have so many chances to leave, file for an abrupt divorce and become estranged from him forever. I could leave when he goes to work, but I don’t. I don’t think I love him at all anymore, but if this isn’t love than how do I get out of this cage of he** I have been locked in?
There is probably no way I can.
Finally, I get out of the car and walk into the frigid grocery store that immediately gives me goose bumps when I enter the building. The looks on people’s face when I walk in are blank and expressionless, almost like they are apparitions floating in the air. I grab a grocery cart from the side of me, and start on my trek of shopping. As I walk down the aisles in the rows of so many people, I become afraid of them. What if they can see the bruises beneath the make up? What if they can see my pain as well as the cuts? I conclude that I am delirious and go to find vegetables. When I reach them moments later, I feel like I feel eyes on the back of my head piercing my heart and emotional state. I begin to breathe hard and slowly turn around to find nobody but a stocker putting food on the shelves. I breathe in a lock of air and try to calm myself down, but to no avail, the feeling of being watched comes back to me again. I start breathing hard once again and turn around gasping for more air. I feel as if I have no lungs, and to my utter disappointment, nobody is there.
This is the same feeling I receive whenever I look into Jackson’s eyes, fear and terror.
You can never escape him, Angie. You are bound to his torture forever.
Before I know it I am gasping for air and falling to ground screaming bloody murder. The world is going in circles, spinning round and round to no ending. A hand touches my back gently, and I hear a calming voice ask me “Ma’am, are you okay? Do you need me to call somebody, perhaps a paramedic?”
I jolt my head around and am face-to-face with a young man with black hair and cold black eyes. He looks like Jackson almost, except a little younger and sweeter.
Looks can be deceiving, Angie, the little voice in my head tells me. It is more right than anything in this world.
I look around, frantic and tried, and see everyone around me staring at me like I am crazy, a psycho without its leash. They stare at me as if accusing me of losing my mind, but how can they not know that my mind is not my own? I get up in flaring movements and leave my cart behind, moving down the aisle and shoving people out of the way so I can get out the door quicker. I cannot breathe at, and it’s almost as if my lungs are breathing for somebody else, not me. The same goes for my heart. It’s scary to think about, but I have nothing else to think of. I reach my car and climb in, the world still in voluptuous blue and haze. I start the car, and before I know it I am driving towards the breaking dungeon of which I live in.
I arrive at the apartment complex, my breath finally returned to the horizon of my lung. I can finally breathe again, and perhaps I can breathe even better when I get inside. I climb the stairs, which is only to the second floor, and arrive at my apartment with a finish of victory. I open the door, and can hear the beating of Jackson’s heart all the way from the doorway. I grin something sick and twisted, and go the drawer that holds a .22 caliber pistol and envelope it in my hands like a blanket around a small child.
I walk towards Jackson’s room very slowly …
Once I reach the doorway to our bedroom, and find him still sleeping in our bed, I raise the gun straight out in front of me, arms entirely relaxed. I inhale deeply and pull the safety back slowly until I hear a soft click from the gun. I smile another sick smile and pull the trigger once, and again, and again, and one more time until I see Jackson’s heart stop rising and falling from his chest; blood oozes out of his chest and head like a river, life truthfully pouring out of him for good.
I whisper, “Try hurting me again, you bastard” and fire one more shot to his head to finalize his life.
I walk to the bathroom with the pistol hung at my side like a companion. For the first time in this he**ish two-year marriage, I am the stronger one. I ended his life to prove I had more strength than he did. I’m not entirely stupid, but I know if I wasn’t careful he would one day end my life, so ending his put irony in this godforsaken story that love left behind. I see my makeup bag on the counter of the bathroom, and the mirror has returned to its original reflection with all dewy textures gone and deceased. I put the gun down on the counter carefully and take out my rouge colored lipstick, and carefully write in neat scripted letters “YOU CAN’T HURT ME ANYMORE”. I smile and cap the lipstick before placing it in my bag. This lipstick reflection not only tells the world the truth, but it also tells my story of how I once loved someone so sweet but someone so secretly vile. It is not my fault that he is dead now, it’s his. Why should I have to suffer any longer?
For the first time in two years I feel complete and whole, without worry or suffering, and that alone is a pleasant feeling. I pick the gun up that is on the counter and put it to my forehead. My time has also come, to die and not live a life of anguish or suffer any more because of Jackson. I will not be tried for his murder like a criminal when in all reality I am the victim.
The last thing my ears hear in their lifetime is the sound from a gun going off, and all that is left behind from me is that reflection, written on with lipstick.
***One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime***
***85% of domestic violence victims are women***
***Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence***
***Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police***
Let’s stop domestic violence for good. If you or someone you know is being abused by their partner, contact 911 or your local sheriff’s office immediately for help.