Marked. Part I: The missing Link

By: J.M.Sevilla

“Naw, I prefer to stay with my mom. It's nice to have a break from my brothers and their friends. Plus, I can go see him whenever I want to.” When my parents divorced, my dad bought a house a few blocks down from ours so he could be easily accessible to us. Lucky for Seth and me, Jill loved the house and wanted to stay living there when they got married.

Stevie takes another shot of whiskey, “Is it weird living at home again? I'd rather saw off my own arm than have to live with my dad again.”

“It's not so bad. I love not having to use laundromats, there's always an abundance of food, and consistently hot water. Three things my life has been lacking since I went away to college. The part that sucks is having someone needing to know where I am at all times again.”

Stevie lets out one hard laugh, “Will was no different. He had to know what you were doing every second of the day, and if he didn't he would text you every minute until you called him.”

“True, but it's different when your boyfriend does it than your mom.”

“I disagree. Your mom does it because she loves and worries about you. Will did it because he needed to control you and had some weird sense of ownership crap with you. He was fucking obsessed.”

“That's being a bit dramatic. He wasn't that bad. He just needs order and structure. He can't stand not being in control of all aspects of his life.”

“Did he get violent any other time?” Naomi casually asks, but I can tell she as been brewing on this, “I mean, he always seemed to have a temper with you.”

“Are you asking if we had an abusive relationship?” My stomach starts churning and my chest feels heavier, making it hard to breathe.

An unspoken conversation transpires between Naomi and Stevie. They've obviously been talking about me behind my back.

“Kind of. We just always worried that he might one day. After the St. Patrick’s Day party, we've been a little afraid.” Naomi speaks cautiously, as if this was a damn intervention. We are already broken up!

“No, it was the first time,” I sneer, grinding my teeth. “What does it matter now anyway? We're over.”

Both eyes flicker to the bouncer, my neighbor, and I feel my blood start to boil.

“You both think I'm attracted to him because abuse is all I know!” I keep my voice low, but the menace behind my words is not lost.

There is another secretive, knowing glance between them. Now I'm getting pissed.

Stevie sighs, “It's not that, we're just worried about you. You don't want to talk about it and keep pretending like it's no big deal.”

My breathing is becoming erratic as I try to calm the rage I feel building up. I didn't even realize I had been chewing on my lip until the distinct taste of blood hits my tongue.

“That's because it's not.”

“Two years is a long time to be with someone for what happened to not affect you,” Naomi has turned on her authoritative tone that up until now never bothered me, “but to be honest, I was more worried you two would get married and he'd take his weird sense of ownership of you to another level.”

“How long have you two felt this way about me and Will?”

They shoot another glance at each other and I tighten my fists in aggravation.

“Almost from the beginning,” Stevie softly answers.

“And you never came to me about it?” I'm proud of myself for keeping my voice at a steady level.

“You really liked him, but there was always something about him that was a bit off. At first we both just didn't like him. It wasn't until the St. Patrick's Day party that we began to worry.”

“So you're telling me that the two of you have been talking behind my back for two years!?” I shout back at them, feeling hurt and betrayed.

Naomi reaches for my arm but I shrug it off. “It wasn't like that. It's not like we consistently talked about you and sat around gossiping.”

“I need to get some fresh air,” I finish my drink and set it on the bar.

Stevie finishes off her beer, “We'll go with you. I need a smoke anyway.”

“I need a minute to myself. I know it's not rational to feel this pissed at you guys. So I just need a minute to get some fresh air. 'Kay?”

They both nod and I head for the back exit, weaving my way through the crowd. Once the cool night air hits my lungs I feel better. I slump against the brick wall next to the door and close my eyes, concentrating on deeply breathing. I shouldn't be this mad at them. I obviously have bottled-up anger over what happened with Will that I wasn't recognizing...or didn't want to recognize. I would be concerned too if I was them and witnessed what happened between Will and I back in March.

One of Will's cousin's throws a kick-ass St. Patrick's Day party every year. Before we left that year, Will had me change three times because each outfit I had chosen was “too slutty,” and then later that night he cut me off from drinking after I had had only two gimlets. His excuse was he didn't need me getting drunk and embarrassing him in front of his family. At the time it made sense; I tend to lose my clothes the drunker I get. It got ugly when a guy tried dancing with me, despite my refusal. Will saw it as me dancing with another guy and went ape-shit on the guy, beating him senseless and then grabbing my wrist so hard I had a hand print around it for days. He told me to quit being a fucking whore and dragged me upstairs to a bathroom, forcing me to sit under the shower to “sober up” while ice cold water pelted my skin. The next day he apologized over and over and I stupidly forgave him. Nothing that drastic happened again until recently, but he had grabbed hold of my arm a bit too tightly a few times and continued to demean me verbally.