*Wordcount: 1895 words.
*Discretion is advised with this one*
She never saw it coming, and everyone told her that she couldn’t have. That there was no way to know that someone so close to you would do something like that.
She did not find that comforting. She found herself scouring her memories, despite the people who told her she needed to move on. She couldn’t move on until she understood, until she knew the signs.
She realised that it had been in his eyes. The way he would watch her, with something not quite tangible but clear as day lurking behind them.
Of course he had had his own problems, at work and at home. He had been depressed, she thought. Now she thought that his world had been slowly bending to some twisted logic that he had latched onto, or maybe he had just been preparing.
She wished she had seen it coming.
She heard the door close, and jumped. She put down the knife she was using to chop vegetables, and went to greet her husband. He had been having trouble at work, and it looked like they might be laying people off soon. For some reason he thought he was on that particular chopping block, but she assured him daily that they needed people like him at the office.
She embraced him and planted a kiss on his cheek, all while he stood dead still. He hadn’t said a word, or lifted his arms up to meet her hug. He was carrying a packet, and she couldn’t tell what was inside.
“Went shopping? Anything for me?” she said playfully.
She looked at him, and saw a look on his face she had only ever seen once before, when someone ran over their dog right in front of them before taking off.
“Are you okay? Honey, what’s wrong?”
He walked past her, and upstairs.
She followed behind, not asking anymore questions (sometimes he needed his space) but worried sick.
He went into their bedroom, and set the packet down beside the bed. He picked up their alarm clock, and stared at it.
He spun around, tearing the clock from the socket on the wall and knocking over a lamp. He swung the clock into her head, hard, and she fell.
When she woke up, it was dark. She couldn’t see. She tried to move her arms, and then her legs, to no avail. Her head throbbed, and her eyes painted swimming colours in the dark.
She felt herself panicking, and her breathing growing rapid.
She’d attended minor first aid classes before, and also had the internet, so she knew that a concussion was possible. She had to calm down, and focus – easier said than done.
She thought, which was a start. Where was she? What happened? Who was she (you never know, she’d also seen a lot of daytime TV and that always seemed a relevant question)?
Her name was Janice, she couldn’t tell where she was, and her husband…
Her pulse quickened again, along with her breathing.
He had… Hit her.
She tried to move her arms and legs again, to no avail.
She felt rope pull at her wrists and ankles.
Oh god no. No no. Please, god, please… Her thoughts went on like that for a little while.
This kind of situation normally ended in murder. And they said that loved ones were more likely to murder you. But it couldn’t be, something else had to be going on. Her husband loved her, they had a happy marriage. He wouldn’t, no, couldn’t do something like this.
Her rationalising was cut short by the door slamming open.
The light streaming in around the dark silhouette revealed that she was in their bedroom, and tied to the bed. The curtains were closed, and it looked like some of the furniture had been dragged around.
Her husband stepped into the room.
She didn’t say anything, and felt her heart skip a beat.
“Janice. I hope you’re comfortable, I left you a pillow.”
She hadn’t noticed, but he had.
“I’m sorry I had to hit you. It’s easier this way. Please tell me, is there anything I can get you?”
Janice shook her head, tears starting to roll down her face.
Her husband walked up to hear, and reached out to hold her face. He pulled it close, and looked at her.
“Why are you crying? It’s all going to be okay, right? That’s what you told me, day after day. It’ll be alright, it’ll work out, they need you.” He released her face, and she pulled away from him as much as she could (which was not much).
“It’ll be okay Janice. Right? I’ll bring you some food and water later. As for the toilet… Well I don’t plan on sleeping in that bed again, so do what you must.” He walked back to the door. “I’ll leave the light on for you.” When he switched it on, she saw the workman’s clothes he was wearing. She’d never seen him dressed like that, which added to the terror that had a firm hold of her mind by now. He left the room, and locked the door behind him.
Janice was wracked by sobbing.
This went on for days. He would come in, and talk at her. She was too scared to say anything to this man that was not her husband. Her husband had been sweet and shy and liked to laugh. This man… No, this man was still her husband. For whatever reason, her husband was doing this to her.
She heard noises from the guest bedroom, drilling and hammering and thumping. He was doing something there, and she tried not to think about it.
She’d hear the phone ring every evening, and would weep if she was hydrated enough. Her mother would phone every night, and they’d chat about their days. Janice would give anything to hear her voice.
On the fourth day, she heard a knock on the door, and talking. She couldn’t make out who was talking or what they were saying, but this was the first time something like this had happened. She was terrified, but she knew this might be her only chance.
Janice took a shaky breath, and screamed.
The door slammed, and she heard stomping up the stairs.
The bedroom door clicked, and flew open. Her husband looked at her with fury in his eyes, and moved towards her.
She braced herself, her eyes closed tight, waiting… Nothing happened.
She opened her eyes and looked up at her husband standing right over her.
“Why would you do that? I’ve taken such good care of you. You will be punished. You will regret that, you bitch.” The word itself felt like a slap, and every word came out from clenched teeth. Her husband left the room, but came back in about ten minutes.
He was holding something long and jagged in his hand.
“Now, Janice. Hold still.”
He waited a while before starting, holding the saw over her leg just below her knee. The anticipation cut into her, and she could almost feel the pain in her leg before it happened. All the while he just stood there, watching. For the first time since he left for work that dreadful day, he was smiling.
Janice screamed, a lot. It was agony. He was sawing just below the knee, and it hurt. He went slowly, waiting about ten seconds in between every pull and push.
The wet cutting sound filled the room, and she clenched her teeth so tightly it felt like they might pop out under the pressure.
She strained against her restraints, and thrashed as best she could. It did little to stop him.
After a few minutes he stopped, and left the room.
She lay there, the saw still in her leg, shivering and crying.
He came back into the room with a grimy cloth, and shoved it in her mouth.
“Shut up.” Was all he said.
He then returned to the gruesome torture.
He started leaving and returning to saw just a bit, presumably to draw it out. Janice lost track of time, and all she was aware of was the pain. It started hurting as if he were still sawing even when he left the room.
It was the most painful thing Janice would ever experience.
At one point, in the middle of sawing, her husband left the room cursing. She wasn’t even sure how much of her leg was still attached, or why she hadn’t bled to death yet (she later found out he had set up a makeshift tourniquet at some point after he started).
She was so engrossed in the pain, she didn’t hear the sirens.
The sound of gunfire caught her attention, and left her even more fearful. She heard people running through her house, and muffled talking. She heard doors opening, getting closer and closer.
A man in a blue uniform opened her door, and suddenly there were more. They crowded around her, talking at her and asking questions. Janice didn’t answer, feeling dazed and woozy and still in so much pain.
The ambulance arrived not long after that, though she barely remembered being loaded into it or the trip to the hospital.
She had suffered more blood loss than she realised, and was only barely saved in time. After her screaming, the whole ordeal only lasted maybe half an hour. Her mother had come to see if everything was alright, and was in the process of being turned away by the husband when she heard Janice screaming.
She had run, and called the police. She had saved Janice’s life.
Janice’s leg, however, was a ruin. The stop-start sawing had been brutal, as he didn’t always pick up in the same place. They had to amputate from the knee down.
Janice spent months in physical therapy to learn to walk again once she was well enough, and spent years in actual therapy to come to terms with the incident.
She felt she never would.
After 9 years, spent going to weekly therapy and living with her mother, she met a man. She felt love for the first time in a long time, and it wasn’t easy for her. She was wracked by random panic attacks when they were alone, but he would give her her space and actually helped her get better. Although she never got over a fear of construction sounds (after being rescued, she was told that her husband had soundproofed the guest bedroom and was building what was, basically, a torture chamber. She still had nightmares about that).
Eventually, she moved in with the man who had helped her trust again. They didn’t get married, Janice didn’t really ever want to marry again, but they were happy.
Janice started noticing something, the last few days. They’d been living together for five months, and she hadn’t noticed something like this before.
It was something in his eyes, something intangible. Something clear as day.
She heard the door close, and jumped. She was in the kitchen chopping vegetables. She gripped the knife tighter.
“Hey, I’m home! How was your day?”
She walked out to greet the man who had been so good to her. Whose eyes had changed, ever so imperceptibly. She wouldn’t be a victim again.
The knife was hidden behind her back.