She asks the questions I expect to hear. I answer. I detail the experience. I do not hold back.
I have been wanting this conversation for ten years. I have been needing this conversation for ten years. I am so ready to say this. I can no longer not say this.
And so it goes. Questions. Answers. Details. Dirty, dirty details.
I am strong. I am capable. I can do this.
Now it’s time.
Say the name.
I have to say the name.
I try to push it past my stubborn teeth. I stammer. I slip over my tongue. And I get a name out. The wife’s name. Not his name. I don’t know if I even have it in my head to say.
The name propels me through parallel worlds and time machines and suddenly, I am there. I am watching my little self. I see her sitting against the door. I see the bat in her hands. I see her pushing against his weight on the other side. I see the forbidden phone clutched in her hand and I hear the voice coming through saying DON’T LET HIM IN…
And now I am screaming…and I am shaking…and raging…as my little self…calmly holds the bat…and coldly sets her feet in place…and sits…holding strong…keeping guard. Although she will not lose this fight…he is already deeply burrowed in her fragile heart…and she feels nothing but the cold emptiness of betrayal as she waits for the night to end.
And here I am, floating above time and space, begging the terror to subside as I desperately herd all my little selves back into the therapeutic nest they belong in.
When the shaking stops and I can feel my hands, I become aware of her voice, thanking me for the information. She says she knows it must be hard. I say it’s not. I lie when the truth rushes through me with violence. I lie so that she doesn’t have to hear what it’s like to run through hellfire and let the burn in.
I hang up, weary…tired…sad…
And then I think of the little girl again…and how every night she would put a little boy to bed…and sing with him…and tuck him in…and wish him a good life…a happy life…and hope against all hope…that he wouldn’t grow up to be…like his father…and suddenly I am afraid…because I said the name…and it’s his name…and her name…and maybe…I shouldn’t have…