Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
“If I see that woman ever again, I swear, I’ll shoot her!”
Nate and Tim didn’t even try to be quiet, despite the late hour they came back and the fact that Scott and I were asleep.
“Shhhhh…” I said, as Scott squirmed in his sleep. The more he slept, the better I felt. I thought of it as less time touching any part of the room.
They continued as if they hadn’t heard me, both clearly worked up over something. That something, though, was a lack of success in finding more money, as if breaking into other people’s cars was simply an act of seek-and-find, and they deserved to find for all their seeking.
“We couldn’t find any money and that bitch took all we had. We have to get out of here before she shows up again. I don’t trust her,” he said.
It took some time before they calmed down and went to sleep, but I tossed and turned the rest of the night. The idea that she might return both scared and excited me. I hadn’t thought of it yet in any terms other than we could get what we wanted, which was the apartment. Her returning to harm us hadn’t even occurred to me. Would she? Was she bold enough to come back after cheating us?
For me, though, danger didn’t come in the form of some so-called grandmotherly woman who would do anything for the next high. Instead, that danger stepped out of the bathroom of our small room the next day.
Tim and I sat on the bed talking and watching Scott play while Nate showered. There were really only three things to do in this room: eat, sleep, and talk. If you counted bathing, that was four, but it wasn’t a pleasure I could indulge in as often as the guys.
I laughed about something Tim said, but it was cut short as Nate busted through the bathroom door, angry and holding the gun he’d come back with several nights before.
The gun wavered in my face. I couldn’t breathe. “Do you think I’m a fool?” he asked, as if either one of us would say yes.
A million thoughts went through my head. I knew how insanely jealous Nate was, even of his own brother, and how talking to other men could send him into a rage. He never trusted me and always swore I was cheating on him, despite the fact that he was the one who cheated.
“I wouldn’t try nothing with your wife! You know that,” Tim said, slowly inching backwards and away from me.
Nate’s eyes, so blue, clouded over. He looked confused, out of place. Maybe he was; maybe he thought he heard something he didn’t. Slowly, he lowered the gun, tucked it away, and put on his shoes. The scene would have been bizarre if not so horrifying.
Instead of walking out the door, he swung at me, catching me in the face with his hand and knocking me off the bed. I wasn’t sure if his hand was open or fisted, but its purpose was effective, a reminder. I’d done something I wasn’t supposed to do.
“You don’t want to do that, Nate,” Tim said, pulling him away from me and stopping him from hitting me again. “Come on.”
I tried not to cry out. Scott sat on the floor watching the whole scene play out, and I didn’t have a clue how much was registering for him.
“Let’s just go,” Nate said. As soon as they left, my breath hitched and I started to cry before I could stop myself. Scott crawled to me and poked at my face, puzzled at my tears.
“Mommy loves you,” I said, trying to stop. “I just want to take care of you.” I pulled him onto the bed and into my arms and held him, despite his protests to be freed. He eventually stopped trying to wiggle away and fell asleep, and I soon followed.
Late into the night, Nate and Tim returned and began re-packing our bags. “We’re going back to Florida.”
I was excited. I didn’t know how we were going back, but I just wanted to leave. We didn’t belong here, and maybe if we went back to Florida, we could fix everything and get our lives back on track.
With Scott in my arms and his baby bag on my shoulder, we went outside. A shiny pickup truck waited for us. I stopped and stared. This was the second stolen vehicle crime I was involved with. I had only been in my criminal justice class for one semester before all this started, but I knew if we were caught, I would probably go to jail too, just for being in it.
Tim took Scott and strapped him in the car seat, and Nate pushed me from behind. “Get in and shut up. I don’t want to hear it.”
We drove all night back to Florida, making as few stops as necessary. By early morning, we neared Williston. Instead of driving right past the exit, Nate turned and traveled the long road right up to my mom’s front door. I was angry that he would take me home, and yet I was happy to see her. Everything was confusing. I wanted too many things at the same time: to be home and safe, and to have my mom and my husband.
“Should I even ask?” She nodded toward the truck, the Tennessee plates visible from where she stood.
I shook my head and looked down.
“Look, maybe she and the baby can stay here for a while,” Nate said.
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” Mom agreed.
I felt like property, as if I didn’t have a say. Not that I knew what my say would be, but I still wanted one.
“I’ll be back in a day or two, then. We’re headed to Tampa, and then I’ll set stuff up and come back for them.”
We kissed and hugged and said our good-byes, and more than anything I didn’t want him to leave me. I was his wife and I just wanted him to stay with me and for us to live here, set up our lives here, be happy here.
“Do you promise you’ll be back?” I asked, tears threatening to spill. I wondered about my sanity, wanting the man who had just put a gun in my face to come back for me.
“I promise. I promise you both,” he said. He kissed Scott, swung him in the air, and then handed him back. As he drove away, Scott waved his tiny fist at him, but Nate didn’t looked back.
A day or two turned into a week. And then one week turned into two. It began to sink in that perhaps he really wasn’t coming back for us after all. Part of me was very much ok with that. The other part, the part that wanted nothing more than to have my happily ever after…that part cried for him every day.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!