I have been beaten up. Beat beyond recognition. I wander the streets among the masses. No one gives me a second look. No one offers me a hand. What is wrong with this city? With this world that a beaten person goes unnoticed? Can they not see the blood? The bruises? Old cuts now partially scabbed over? Do they not notice the smiling monster strutting beside me gripping my hand tightly? I want to ask for help but the genuine smiles and hopeful glances directed only at the monster keep me silent.
The monster returns the smiles with an appreciative gleam in his eyes. He is fond of admiration. He is even fonder of his handiwork. My bruised, scarred, battered, and battle-weary body is his masterpiece. I don’t look up. I won’t meet the eyes of these passing admirers with my own swollen eyes. I am ashamed. Ashamed that I have brought this on myself. Ashamed that I have stayed with this monster. Allowed the monster to break me down into pieces that are unrecognizable.
We stroll on as the monster releases my hand and casually places his arm over my shoulder to draw me in closer. I am his and he is mine. He is at his highest when I am at my lowest. How can this monster causing me such pain also bring me so much happiness when he chooses to shine his light on me?
We pass a store-front, the sun briefly blinding me as it reflects off the windows. I look over to watch a handsome couple walking. The man is smiling. He seems happy as if he has the world at his feet. The lady is looking back at me. Her eyes are swollen and she looks tired, but she is still beautiful. Her face is lined with fine wrinkles; but her skin is clear and her clothes are immaculate. I stare at the reflection, shocked by her outward wholeness as my haunted reflection stares back at me.
My husband squeezes me a little closer. Murmurs, “I love you.” I pry my eyes away from my image and look him in the eyes and the sunlight that is his face and I smile.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Inspired by true events and the reality of narcissistic abuse.
In support of World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day—June 1, 2019.
Growing up, my family moved around—a lot. I attended a total of nine schools-in six cities-in four states before my first year of college. My first attempts at writing became a series of short stories inspired by the antics involved in making those numerous moves—from north to south and east to west—with my oddball family. Two local newspapers picked them up; running one story per month in a humorous memoirs column for a couple of years and that had me hooked. I continued to write, entering contests and submitting stories to a popular local news blog. Most recently, I have completed my first book, a compilation of letters to my sister-in-law describing my first year as a new-hire flight attendant in Boston called, "Dear Melinda, How I Met Your Brother." Now the hard part, finding a publisher. I have two children (now in their 30's) and reside in North Texas with three rescue dogs and a WFH job as an environmental compliance manager. I am continuing to write part two of my book, Dear Melinda, How I Married Your Brother. You can read more of my work on my website - Lisa H. Owens.