The Big Sleep

He is abandoned asleep on the sofa. His breathing is light and even. How peaceful he looks, childlike and vulnerable, cocooned in his private inner space, where the outside world cannot touch him.

When I see him like that, I imagine how his mother must have looked at him whilst a baby cradled in her arms. I wonder about all of the associated worries and the overwhelming protectiveness for her tiny creation. She probably spent countless hours in silent contented observation of the soft pink gurgling bundle, as she mentally built up her dreams and expectations for him.

What would she think of him today?

I don’t dare make a sound while he sleeps, knowing full well that when he collapses like this in the middle of the day it means he has reached extreme limits of sleep deprivation. So, I let him be and I continue to sit quiet as a mouse while studying his sleeping form.

Relaxed, this way, his beauty is staggeringly evident. However, while awake you would be hard pressed to notice. The lines, folds and shadows produced by the facial contortions of fury and hate distort his classically handsome features. During his episodes, with threats and spittal exploding from his mouth, teeth bared, eyes wild and deeply furrowed brow, he becomes downright ugly.

I met him when he was, unbeknownst to me, already approaching the edge and, when his dangerous good looks and charm could still hide the sickness inside him.

And then it was too late. He had locked onto me. And so had his odious, unapologetic mean spiritedness.

I shift my body on the floor where I am sitting, tied to the radiator, to get the blood flowing back in my legs. Just a few more hours to go and then I will be untied and can go about the business of preparing our dinner and tidying up the place.

Today’s explosion has resulted in shards of dishware and glassware all over the kitchen floor as well as torn curtains and broken rods.

I need to go to the bathroom but have learned to control my bodily functions during these periods of “captivity”. The first time I had peed myself, from the sheer shock of the situation, and he had ensured the shame of it would never be forgotten.

From that fateful day forward, I swore I would control myself. Control was the key. Watching what I said and did and how I said and did things, knowing when to make myself small and not make a sound, knowing when to be available and forthcoming.

Yes, control was the key to making life bearable, to keeping the peace and most of all…to keeping me alive.

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