(content warning: abuse, drugs, violence)
this is an ongoing project inspired by my headstrong weird grandma
Life has a twisted sense of humor. I always felt, the joke was on me.
Eight years ago I quit work. My hands got too shaky to pull the widths of material over my desk, too achy to slice my scissors through the fabric, too clumsy to hold a button and sew it in it’s place. My hands stopped working properly. I had to give up being a dress maker, at the age of fiftyone.
I always feared that day. I’d come home, knowing I had to stay in the morning, the noon, the afternoon, the evening. I’d have to stay the whole day. There was no place to go to, nothing that needed doing, no escape from my husband, Thomas.
Dread filled my heart, dread and disgust. Forced to be alone with him, gave me chills. I would miss work, and that was a fact. I hated my aching and stiff joints for it.
Thomas was a thin, sinuous man, with short temper and unsteady icy fisheyes darting through a room looking for hidden shadows. A nervous man looking for trouble. His drinking, the jealousy, the fights over money, the beatings – he put me through hell, for thirty-nine years. Every week, he gave me new reasons to divorce him. My sense of duty kept me by his side. I had no explanation why, not even to myself. I suspected that there was something wrong with me too, that I wanted all this horrible mess… After all, we both have been through war, as orphans, through a different kinds of hell, and we helped each other to overcome our everyday’s struggle for survival. We made it, only because we shared every scrap of food and clothing we could get our hands on.
He made shoes and bags, and I sewed and washed, till my fingers bled. We figured, we were safer, if we stuck together. So what other choice was reasonable?
We married, after the war was over.
He was jealous, a coward, a drunk. His violent outbursts made my days bitter. He kept accusing me of adultery. His drinking got worse by every day. I started hiding money, so we wouldn’t starve.
I told myself, it would get better.
One particularly bad day, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I begged him to kill me. It was a shock to me. Hearing myself saying those words, I thought I would never speak. By that time we both had split lips and bloody noses. I almost crushed his windpipe and he broke my hand. Clutching my long kitchen knife, he screamed for money. I pulled my shirt up and pointed to the lethal spot, where he could end it all.
That day, we nearly killed each other.
Instead he fell sick. He had no more money for liquor. Delirious as he was, he wandered out at night, so I had to tie him to my waist, so he’d wake me if he moved. Nightmares rocked his emaciated body, he screamed for help, for his father and mother. Even with eyes open, he saw decaying bodies everywhere he went. His delusions sat with him at the table, they were with him in bed. He often asked me to remove the flies and the rats. Of course there were non.
A few days later, his liver gave up.
I thought he might too.
I hoped for it. I prayed for it. I wasn’t proud of my euphoria, but I felt my freedom in reach…
I waited three days and four nights, but he did not die. He lay there, unconscious, in the fresh white bedsheets, soiling everything, with stinking brown liquid leaking from his pores. His face had the color of ash, lips parched with dried black blood. I kept changing the bedsheets every second hour. If he died, nobody would see his filth, not even the reaper himself.
On the forth morning, he woke up a different man.
The old Thomas was gone.
A new Thomas was there instead. A man, who forgot about the last thirty-nine years; one, who cried if you raised your voice at him; one, who was scared in the dark; one, who helped, if you asked him; one, who kissed my hand, when I cooked and washed for him. One, who held my hand, when we walked down the street. One, who bought flowers, because he knew I liked them.
I started to like this man.
This Thomas was a Thomas I could live with.