The sun was unusually high in the sky for nine a.m. in Dublin. I saw the wicked gleam in Chris’s beautiful hazel eyes that heightened my anxiety. Suddenly my stomach churned. My body was drained. I was spent emotionally and physically. What was he up to now? I could not cope with his emotional blitz of my life anymore. I never knew when or where or how that blitz was going to happen. The siren would always come when it was too late after he ambushed me.
We were on our routine drive to Toranfield House, just outside Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow, to visit our psychotherapist Mary. Chris organized the therapy, realizing that I was ebbing closer and closer to a breakdown. This visit was our sixth in just ten days. Chris striking at the core of his crazy making suggested I was not stable; I needed to be institutionalized.
We stopped as usual at a quaint coffee shop in Enniskerry so that I could get my morning wake-up staple, a weak and extra hot latte to go. I had to hide it in my bag as I entered the clinic; they had a strict policy that no substances were allowed in, including coffees or teas. We came off the highway and continued along a quiet, narrow, windy country road, and the jeep just brushing against the hedge growth. Toranfield was hidden behind large electric gates, then a long driveway engulfed by lush country growth eventually leading to the building. Chris parked up, we stretched out legs as we embarked, made our way to the entrance and pushed open the unlocked glass door entering the building. As usual, we made our way into the consultation room down a corridor, at which time I retrieved my precariously placed latte from my handbag.
We waited a few minutes for Mary as she was slightly delayed. I cupped my latte in my hands, sipping it slowly, as we sat there in silence.
“Is your latte hot enough?” Chris asked me knowing I like it piping.
I nodded. He caught my chin in his hand and turned my face to his.
“I love you. I never wanted this to happen.”
“What do you mean?” I implored.
I sunk my head down to my knee my arms stretched out tightly cupping my latte.
“I can’t take it anymore Chris. You’re killing me. I can’t cope.” I snuffled
Mary arrived as Chris was extolling,
“I am sorry. It will be okay. I promise I will look after you.”
“Good morning. I see you sneaked your latte in again Aliki.”
Mary smiled gently. She was probably one the most intuitive, kind people I had ever met.
“So how are you both today?”
To my astonishment and without respite Chris immediately released a fresh batch of artillery. He could not cope with me anymore, I was pulling him down, I had destroyed his business, and I made too many demands on him. He fired them out one after another without catching a breath. The blitz was on full attack. He wanted out, never wanted to see me again, but he could not go, could not leave me as I was threatening to destroy him. God help him!
I whimpered, not believing what I was hearing, my heart pulsating wildly against my chest. This attack was an entirely different sentiment to the one he shared on the drive. He was concerned about all the weight I lost. All he wanted was to have back the old Aliki whom he first met. He would help me, and be my soul mate. Chris kissed me and held my hand on the drive telling me how he loved me more than anything in life.
As tears welled up in my eyes, I dropped my face into my hands, the tears evolving into wailing. Chris tucked in close to me on the small couch, stiff and upright, not a flinch, not a flicker, entirely still. The air was thick, suffocating me. A moment suspended and another. I felt the soft touch of Mary’s hand and her gentle voice,
“Take a deep breath, you will be okay, I will help you. Just tell Chris how you feel about what you just heard.”
As my pulse gradually resumed its normal rate, I slowly turned my face to him.
“Look at me please,” I asked.
He turned to me, his eyes frozen like blue ice. I swallowed hard, and in a ragged breath I gasped,
“You can go. Do you want to go?”
The sobbing mucus was catching in my throat, my mouth dry, I struggled to get the words out,
Chris hesitated, shifting, the heat of his arm against me abated, his eyes fixed on his clasped hands resting on his knee.
I heard the Mary sternly say,
“You heard her. You can go.”
“Will she be okay, I need to make sure she will be okay,” he asked
“She will be, I will take care of her.”
Chris pulled himself up from the couch; tears once again welled up in my eyes; he was leaving me. I looked up as he lingered for a couple of seconds; his eyes softened he bent down and kissed me on the lips, whispering,
“I love you. Sorry.”
I fell forward, rocking my body and sobbing, I felt like I was drowning in a tidal wave of blackness.
“Just leave, leave her alone. Stop giving her mixed signals. If you are going, just go.” Mary admonished him.
He faltered at the door.
“You know I did not want this to happen.” He implored.
Miriam stood up and walked to the door opening it for Chris,
“By the way, Chris just before you go. You should give Aliki back her money. Organize it through a friend of hers. Don’t make contact with Aliki again, please.”
My face buried in my hands I heard the door open and shut close.
Then he was gone. I screamed,
“Why did you make him leave?”
“I did not make him leave. He left of his accord. He had the choice to stay or go, and he went.”
Her voice was gently firm.
“You don’t understand; he will come back, he always does.”
“Not this time, this time, it’s over, and he is gone. Aliki. Trust me you will survive this. You will.”
I was inconsolable. I scrambled for my mobile in my handbag, found it, and started to dial the number.
“Don’t do that. He won’t answer. I saw it, and I heard him. He was clear. It’s over, and he wants out. Let him go.”
“No, he does not go, he can’t be gone.”
I called Chris. The phone rang out. I called again, and again the phone rang out. Sobbing hysterically, I surrendered my mobile as Mary carefully took it from my hand. She put her arms around me and hugged me. She hugged me tightly and lovingly, as I choked on the thick mucus from the sobbing. I slumped into her arms.
For what seemed like an eternity, I fought for breath. My mind spiraled out of control into a tidal wave, and my body trembled with the fear and terror of losing Chris. There were no words spoken; there was only the sound of my sobbing. Mary hugged me in consolation. Suddenly, my mobile rang. I grabbed the phone; it was him, and I answered. Overcome with emotion, I could not get a word out.
“Hello, hello, Aliki, can you hear me?”
I replied, “Y y ye yes.”
Instantly just like a balloon the air-filled my lungs releasing life into my body. Just like a junkie Chris’s voice was my methadone calming my desperation.
“I am sorry, I should not have left you like that. I am coming back. I will pick you up. I promise I will look after you.”
Unable to comprehend what was going on, I handed the phone to Mary. She was terse with Chris, saying,
“You’re playing with her emotions. I would prefer it if you did not pick her up. I have suggested that she stay here for the day.”
She paused as Chris spoke, and then I heard her words;
“Well, if you insist and she agrees, there is nothing I can do to stop her.”
She handed me the phone, saying,
“Chris wants to collect you when you are ready; it is up to you if you want him to do that; there is nothing I can do to stop it. But please I am pleading with you don’t go with him. Let me help you break away. I can see what’s going on. He is abusing you, your emotions your life. Please don’t go with him. Stay with me. I will get you through this. I promise.”
Her words went over my head.
“Yes, come and get me.” I blurted and hung up my mobile.
“I told you he would call; he would not leave me.”
I was pulling my hair around my face, rocking back and forth.
“Aliki it’s only going to get worse. You won’t come out of this in one piece. Please just try.”
“He won’t let me go. I know. He never does.”
“He is sending you all kinds of mixed messages. Can’t you see it’s driving you crazy? I can’t believe his behavior today.”
My mobile signaled I had a text message. It was Chris letting me know he was outside.
We continued talking for another few minutes.
“I am shocked, and this is dangerous for you.” she pleaded. “He is dangerous; you have to work at finding the strength to leave him. Please come and see me again tomorrow, but without Chris. I don’t want to see you both together anymore. He is now manipulating your recovery and your ability to let him go. He is even trying to manipulate me, and I won’t tolerate that. I want to see you on your own.”
I was sinking into a dark hole. I did not know what to believe.
“He won’t let me go. He won’t ever let me go. I have shown you how he has never let me go.” I cried.
“This will end very badly for you, I will help you leave him, do you want that help?”
In desolation, my body was shaking shivering
“I will ask Chris if I can come alone. I am longing for that serenity we once had.”
Mary shook me gently,
“The only serenity you will ever feel again will have to come from you. You are clever and strong enough to get away. Aliki you need to tell him. Tell him you are coming to see me tomorrow on your own don’t ask him. Don’t give him any more power. “
“Okay.” I whimpered, dragging my slouched weary body from the couch. Mary took me in her arms and gave me a hug.
“Take care of yourself. You deserve it.”
Chris held my hand during the drive home, intermittently taking it to his lips and kissing it. On the way, he made a detour to Powerscourt Hotel insisting that he wanted me to eat.
“You look frail. I want you to start eating. I want to make sure you are okay. I love you.”
Despondent I was not able to read the menu. We had eaten and stayed at the hotel on some occasions, so Chris knew what I liked on the list. He ordered me the crab salad and a chicken dish for himself. The food arrives, and the ache of the knot in my stomach tightened as it was put down in front of me. I pushed the food around my plate.
“Please eat something.” he cajoled me.
“I can’t eat. I don’t know what’s happening anymore. I don’t understand what you are at.”
“I love you, but you are terrifying me. I want you the way you were. You act crazy now. I don’t know what to do.”
“I am not crazy. You heard Miriam. I am like this from the way you treat me, play me around. You are fucking with my mind. I don’t know why you are doing that.”
“I am not,” Chris replied meekly
“I am going to see Mary on my own from tomorrow. She does not want you there anymore.”
I felt Chris catch his breath, the blood drained from his face, his eyes flashed with anger.
“Now that you brought it up, I have been thinking. Miriam is the problem. I hate therapists. Ever since we started seeing her, our relationship has deteriorated. I want to love you the way I did, but I can’t as long as you see her. I want us to stop seeing her.”
I looked at him. Tears were welling up in his eyes. I shifted my look at my plate. He watched as I played with my food.
“Aliki, if you are good and eat your meal, I will take you somewhere beautiful for the weekend.” Chris smiled and leaned over giving me a kiss.
“Yes, let me see you eat your meal, and I will phone and book the hotel. I will book a suite. No one looks after you like I do. You can depend on me. You don’t need Mary.”
Each day with Chris created more confusion and despair compounded in his behavior. There was no respite from my tortured mind. And right now he was tightening the stranglehold. I gulped down most of my salad.
I arrived home. I was alone. I headed straight up my bedroom, kicked off my heels, went into the bathroom and ran a bath. In my usual habit I did not bother to shut the bathroom door behind me, wearily I stripped. I ran the hot water. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, watched my tired eyes, drawn mouth, gaunt face dissolve in the misting mirror emanating from the steaming hot bath. My mobile rang. I went into the bedroom and retrieved it from her bag. It was Chris. I did not answer. I went back into the bathroom placing my phone on the ledge, lifting a leg over the side of the tub, I eased my foot into the bath. I let out a hiss and pulled my foot from the scalding temperature. I eased into the hot water, the heat arresting my senses. I leaned back and closed my eyes, falling into a trance.
I gingerly touched the bruises on my throat flinching from the memory of Chris’s beautiful hands wrapped around my throat as he thrust deep into me. He squeezed hard; his jaw clenched, and the veins protruded at his temples. The edges of my vision darkened as blazing flares popped like flashbulbs before my eyes. My lungs screamed in agony. It felt like the inside of my chest was being scraped with a dull knife. Chris exploded inside me, flopped down on me. My eyes slid to the back of my head, inhaling my breath I heard a whisper,
“That’s what I love about you, your craziness especially with sex.” then I lost conciseness.
I opened my eyes a shiver running through her body recounting Chris’s words. In front of me was a razor blade. My mind was mashed with conflicting thoughts.
“I will take the razor and slit my wrist, watch the blood drip by drip turn the water red.” repeated in my mind.
I flinched from the piercing pain as I struck the razor through my vein. I watch as the blood crept from my vein, and dripped into the water. Abruptly my mobile rang, I mechanically picked it up and answered.
“I was calling you. Why didn’t you answer?”
“Chris.” I sniffled, “I am losing my mind. I think all I want to do is die. I need your help.”
“Well, I called you earlier, and it did not suit you to answer. Right now I can’t talk. I am busy. I’ll call you later.”
He hung up. I cut into my body, this time on my calf watching the blood running from my body, exorcizing Chris. The torment building as I cut again, the lacerations a stinging sensation that grows to feel like a blaze. I find myself returning to my body, every cell expands, flooded with electrical shock waves. I gasp for breath, then howl in pain. I can see Chris hovering over my body like a vampire, his beautiful hazy eyes peering down, wickedly sucking on my veins tasting my blood.
Eventide – A dark, profound psychological thriller; two people intertwine in two tales of passion and survival; duplicity and destruction.
I am working with a fantastic editor, and the book is now in development mode. I will continue to blog Eventide as ‘short stories’ to give you a flavor of what’s to come. Eventide was initially published on Storytweetblog.com.
Eventide is a work of fiction based on a factual story.