Content Advisory. Alcoholism, PND, Minimal Adult Language & Sexual References, Domestic Violence.
I was originally going to post this under the recent mental health meme for SB4MH, however, a collaboration post with May More placed this in the drafts box. The adaptation is close to me and therefore I felt it should see light.
“Fire – I need to report, an incident.”
That’s how the day ended, and in all honesty it didn’t start much better. Actually most days were just a living hell.
There wasn’t any signs in the beginning that things were not working out. Travelling across India with a backpack and stick certainly certainly felt like adventure. He had grown a nice looking beard and had his head shaved down short. He looked the part, like a seasoned backpacker you shouldn’t mess with. His skin had gone a nice healthy light brown and his eyes seemed to be brighter in colour. Life was going well and his decision to take a sabbatical was working out. He had witnessed too much death in the last few months, and although being a firefighter had the tag of a hero, he was a mess. Some traffic incidents just stayed with you, especially the kids. The kids always got you. But things had taken a surprising turn having got off the boat in Goa. It was a simple and quite normal passing of pleasantries,
“Hi, I’ll take a beer thanks.” He said to the barman.
“Make that two.” She said.
He turned his head and saw a bright smiling face. Her mouth smiled, her eyes smiled and, well, she just looked lovely. Four weeks later they were back in the UK exchanging text messages and planning to meet up. In five months they moved in together and in six they were married. All was well, no cracks to be seen.
He drank regularly at home in moderation, mostly red wine, and occasionally met with old friends, but having got married in secret, didn’t see much of them. One or two made a big effort to stay in touch and when he did go out he drank like there was no tomorrow. He was always one drink away from hospital bed on these rare occasions. His friends would say he liked a drink, but they also knew he had problems and just washed over it.
She was great about the long hours he worked and accepted once in a while he had to blow off steam due to his job. He never spoke about work or what he may have witnessed. She accepted that too. And then came children, two girls, 18 months apart. Her post natal depression over lapped from the first baby to the second and triggered something in her that should never have been released. She became paranoid and he drank more.
The children were the stabilising element in the relationship. By the time they were of school age and the house empty, the demons took over. Medication was prescribed which made her extreme and acts of violence towards him were becoming common. She wanted violent sex, to be hit and slapped, and even raped. He would not entertain her needs and tried to be a good husband and provide support, she just wanted extremes. The kids never witnessed any of this, mummy and daddy were always kind and helpful when they were all together. Never a crossed word and always well behaved.
One day he went into work with a torn ear and tiger stripes down his face. He had been drinking and she had had an episode. He would never have hurt her, and so he allowed her to vent her rage. First the words, then rantings and finally the assault when he wouldn’t perform for her. She had stood in the garden naked and shouted up to the windows,
“You’re a fucking cock less cunt! “
This she repeated over and over again until finally sticking his head in the fridge again to get another beer, the shouting stopped. He started to close the door lined with chilled jars and butter, but it was suddenly kicked closed catching him on the side of the head. He went down, dropping the beer, and was instantly subjected to a near mechanical threshing machine of nails and punches. It was over as quickly as it started but he was left with blood pouring down his neck and a burning across his face. She sat cold, naked and shaking on the floor. He couldn’t help noticing her nipples and the shock of black hair between her legs. Without saying a word he left the room to find a blanket, returned and draped it carefully about her shoulders. Grabbing another beer he popped the top and sat down on the floor next to her.
“You okay?” He asked.
She didn’t answer. He didn’t ask again.
By the time the kids came home he had cleared up his face, made a rehearsed speech for the girls about it being a work related injury. They made a fuss of him by wrapping their arms around him and encouraging her to do the same. Of course she wanted to, desperately, but only managed a weak smile. With the kids bathed and in bed he sat on a computer looking at porn and she started again to sink into darkness.
The next day he arrived for work at 6am, scarred and sore. By 8am the text messages started.
Ping – I hate you
Ping – I’m cutting your fucking horrible clothes up
Ping – I know you’re reading these
He ignored them, until,
Ping – I’m going to set the house alight. Will you answer now?
He made an excuse and used the Fire Service area car. Blue lights (illegally) on to get through traffic he arrived home. Tearing through the house he searched for her and kept thinking he could smell smoke. It was only after checking the entire house and garage did he hear the noise of destruction. The sounds of thudding and metal on metal did not create a picture in his mind until the alarm sounded. The car!
Looking out of the window he watched her land a another blow with one of his golf clubs into the windscreen of the Fire Service car. His private life had just literally collided with his professional. He felt so very, very tired. Walking to the fridge he took his mobile phone from his pocket, paused, took and then opened a beer.
From his vantage point he could see her systematically destroying the headlights. He dialled 999, waited for ‘what service do you require?’ swallowed a mouthful of cold beer and said,
“Fire – I need to report an incident.”