Power Struggle

     I wanted to bring him to his knees, to bring him down crying to his non-existent heavens. I wanted Michael to squirm and feel like a small useless creature as I had for so long. I wanted him to mean nothing to me. Do not call me mad or think of me as some lunatic bitch, but rather understand the importance of this need to seize back my dignity. I wanted to break free of the torment. After months of mindlessly following him around like some pathetic puppy that follows the master that beats him, he had tossed me aside, leaving me an empty shell of a woman. He had the last say and I was the one left in the dust, weak and used. For months afterwards, I felt ashamed for the fact that I had fallen for his fake stature of intellect and his ridiculous romantic prose. Thankfully I have been brought out of my blindness and see him for the disgusting pig he truly is.

     Despite this clarity though, he holds onto some of that power. Even after months since I last saw him, he somehow holds the uncanny ability to twist my arm and send me writhing in pain. Every thought, every mention, everything that reminds me of him stirs up a storm of hate that I never knew could exist inside a woman. He continues to be the vile cat that he is, berating me about my beliefs, pointing out the physical flaws in my body’s design. I am simply his precious victim, some captured, mutilated mouse that dangles from his claws, tearing away at me with horrid memories of torment and cruelty. It’s absurd and it’s time to change.

     I know that I would have to approach him calmly and wait for my chance to pounce. I cannot reveal any emotion to him, for emotion is weakness: not love, not pain, not even the anger that burns deep inside the fiery depths of my soul. In order for everything to go well, to shift the control, to gain my freedom, I have to remain calm no matter what idiotic or arrogant thing he is bound to say. And I know I can do it, I’m a different woman now. I am no longer one to fall victim to the raging hormones inside me, allowing them to take control over my every action. I am not some screaming preteen girl. I am a woman, so hear me roar. I know that I can act cool though there will be a storm behind my pale, blue eyes. All I have to do is wait, and hope that my chance arises to say all the things I have wanted to say for so long.

     This small coffee shop is the perfect place for a romantic afternoon. As I sit outside, waiting for him, I shake my head at the absurd scene before me. I know that he chose this place to torture my soul to stare at the memories of our relationship as I look around and see the countless number of couples. There are fall leaves and a slight breeze hitting faces like the light touch of soft skin upon the hand. How pathetic they look, and yet I yearn to be so carefree, so happy like that once more, without the worry of being blinded by wishes of creating a prince out of a stubborn mule. I watch the girls gaze longingly at their men, turned on by the romantic aroma of coffee and chocolate. Such a scene used to make me smile, thinking about the beauty of young love. Now all I can do is sip my coffee and wonder how many of these young girls are blinded followers, like I was. I sigh. Soon their love will fall and crumple like dead leaves on cold concrete.

     I roll my eyes as I continue to look around. I know he did not choose this place by mistake. I know that he thinks me some stupid blonde, but I know his style. How poetic and yet, how incredibly ridiculous he was to make the conscious decision to meet at the place where we had our first kiss, and our last. I figured he wanted to watch me squirm some more, a junkie looking for another hit. I would do all I could to make sure I did not fulfill his cruel needs.

     A breeze blows my hair out of my face and the smell of hellfire from the end of a cigarette burns under my nose. And so he approaches. I shake my head slightly and take another sip of my coffee. Despicable. His uncombed hair gets knotted in the breeze, his smoke stained teeth show through his brown-lipped smile. He walks like the arrogant son of a bitch that he is, with his chest held high, thinking he is the best damn specimen of man women could ever set their eyes on. He throws down his cigarette and waves. Asshole. I just wave back and smile. He strokes his unruly beard before opening his arms to embrace me, though I remain seated in my chair.

     “Ma cherie!” he exclaims and hugs me. I roll my eyes while his head is buried in my shoulder and say hello in the most cheerful voice I can find. At the same time, I try not to vomit from the smell of his unwashed clothes and smoke drenched hair. Everything about him sends my stomach into a swirl of knots. The way he lifts his nose in the air as he talks, waving his hands in grand gestures to signify his greatness, appearing more absurd than confident. He tries to speak eloquently, spilling out words that are pointless, making him sound more moronic than intelligent. He pulls out cigarette after cigarette and blows out the smoke into my face like some steam engine, coming off more disgusting than exotic. To think I once fell for such charm.

     “So I see you still believe in God,” he says to me, pointing at the silver cross around my neck. I shrug my shoulders and wait for the same berating speech I had heard countless times before. “O Jessica, you silly, silly girl. I would have thought you would come to your senses and realize there is no God. It’s all just some myth made up by the church to create a profit out of mankind’s pathetic need to hope for something grander than life. It saddens me to see you still follow such nonsense. I thought you had a better mind about you.”

     “Well, what can I say?” and he goes on. I take a sip of my coffee, biting down on the plastic rim to keep myself from spitting at him. I must remain calm. I grab hold of the chair as I twitch with every single word that spills out. The smacking of his putrid, wrinkled lips as he talks hits a pitch that makes my skin crawl. I try to concentrate on something else, but my mind shifts to the single vein in his neck that throbs as he vocalizes his thoughts. I want to reach over and strangle him to silence the inanity. I try to keep hold of my mind as I tighten my grip on the chair. My toes curl in my shoes as he puffs out another cloud of smoke in my face, and I take it all in. I have to remain calm. I know him too well. I know that if I speak up now against everything he is saying to me, he will still hold the power because to act by impulse is to be weak in his eyes. I must show him he does nothing to me, that he means nothing. And so, I sit here, hoping for an opportunity to act properly, smiling and only giving slight comments to deceive him into thinking everything is alright between us, as he once deceived me.  

     “But anyways,” he says, puts down his coffee, and looks at me. “I have a confession to make. I have reason behind the madness of asking you to coffee. I have missed you Jessica. It seems that I am surrounded by couples and every time I see them my mind wanders to you. Scalding me are the past memories of the time we spent together and I realize the mistake I have made. I miss you, and I can see in your eye that you have missed me too.”

     I smile at the opportunity God has presented to me as I stare back at him. I laugh inside at this idea, of God giving me something I had spent nights praying for.  I laugh at the countless minutes he had just spent on the absurd idea of a God existing and here we were. Here I was, presented with the opportunity I had so wanted ever since he uttered the words that had shattered my heart. It was God who had gotten me through my heartache, and I feel it was God now presenting me with this chance to do what I should have done in the first place. I can see he wants a response and I would give him one that was sure to dangle his pride like a mutilated mouse in front of his face.

    “You have?” I said, meekly smiling.

     “Yes, and I can see that you have missed me too,” he said and grabbed my hand “Haven’t you?”             

      I smiled to myself, amused at his words. Here he had been, once again, spouting words of  romance, but it meant nothing to me. Had I missed this man? No. I had spent many hours thinking about him, but I did not miss him. To think he thought I had had made me want to laugh. No. I did not miss this man. I looked at him. He was smiling. I wanted to smack him. I did not want him to feel anything that would produce that smile. I wanted him to feel the same pain he left me with to suffer for so long. I wanted to thrust a knife into his heart and allow the blood to spill out of the open wound.

     “Haven’t you missed me Jessica?” he repeated. This time I answered back.

     Tonight we celebrate our three month anniversary. Everything has been going perfectly. He has once again showered me with compliments and presented me with flowers. He recites poetry and writes me love notes. And I have gone along with it all. Tonight, he plans to take me to the park where we had our first date several months ago. He wants to make tonight the night when we truly start fresh, and erase the past. I can feel the moment coming. I put on my earrings, first the left, then the right, and I smile as I picture how the night will go.

     There will be candles lit and a beautiful home cooked dinner spread out on the blanket. He will carry me across the grass to make sure my heels do not get stuck in the dirt and then sit me down. We will talk about books, movies, and our many interests. He will tell jokes and I will laugh as if I find them amusing. Then, when dinner is done, he will bring out the dessert. It will be crème brule, a dish in my opinion best served cold. He has become pathetically predictable. We will then feed each other spoon fulls like any other love-sick couple. When the dessert is done, he will lie back and take me into his arms. Then he will turn to me, and I already know the words he will say.                                                                                                                                           

     “Jessica, my darling,” he will say. “There is something I have been dying to tell you the past few days,” and he will brush his hand along my face, then kiss me lightly. Just to play along, I will kiss him back, ignoring the ash-tray taste of his mouth.

     And I will smile, but his words will mean nothing to me. When he leans in, and whispers those three little word, I will only smile. It is those three words I have waited to hear. Those three words that are meant to create happiness, but for him, they will be his downfall. I will seize the moment, and shatter the world he has created in his little head. I will at first play with him, shyly looking away, blushing, all that mushy crap. I may even let him continue on with some grand speech about why he loves me.  And then the time will come.

    I will smile, and with a kiss on his cheek, I would betray his hopes and dreams and leave him stunned. I shall stand up and look down at him. How small he will appear to me. How incredibly small and pathetic.  I will leave him to rot in his own misery. I will lean down, and whisper those same words he had said to me many months ago.

     Then I will leave him there, stunned, confused, and hopefully with his eyes filled with tears so that he cannot watch me walk out of his life.

by Allison McGrath


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