“W” is for “Wicked” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

I don’t even know where to begin so I’ll start where it makes sense.

But to be honest, it was such a whirlwind – you may need to get yourself a box of wine and a few bags of chips. That’s what I have with me right now as I type this out…

Remember that girl Gaby, the one who drove me home from the clinic?

Well, from out of the blue, she called asking how I was doing and how I was coping. Since I was at work, I couldn’t talk freely but in a way, that was a good thing. I felt totally weird and embarrassed at how I had unloaded such heavy and personal issues on her that day – a total stranger. After our pleasantries, Gaby asked if I’d had any more issues with Dex. I told her that I hadn’t seen him since the incident and that he even had a new girlfriend. I was shocked when she asked me if his girlfriend was “Becky”. I was even more shocked when she said that Becky was a regular at her eatery and that she had personally witnessed the two of them in a huge public argument at her establishment.

I know what you are thinking. How did Gaby recognize Dex?

Like you, I didn’t remember that I had shown her a photo of Dex when I groggy after the clinic so she did know what he looked like. And when Gaby had left me her card, I had slipped it into my wallet without taking a good look at her credentials. As Gaby told how Becky had gone ballistic on Dex, I quickly fished it out of my wallet and lo and behold, Gaby’s card did list her as the owner of that pretentious vegan hangout I had met Becky at months before.

Was that a coincidence?

I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. No, it was more like fate.

Without even asking, Gaby told me blow by blow how Becky had accused Dex of lying and cheating on her. Then right before slapping him and storming, she had wished him dead. I was speechless. Gaby warned me to be on the lookout for Dex’s return from the dead because men like him were like vampires looking to feed again.

Vampire. That was the word she used, not mine. I never told anyone about my vampire dream. Like I said, no coincidences. Before we hung up, we promised to keep in touch.

I don’t need to tell you that I immediately wanted to tell Sam what I had heard but I couldn’t. She knew nothing about my visit to the clinic or meeting Gaby. I had to keep the information to myself.

But then the next crazy thing happened. A few days later, Becky reached out to me.

Can you imagine that?

At first, she emailed asking if we could meet and I gave her my one word response – NO. Been there, done that.

But she wasn’t taking no for an answer. Since we worked in the same building, she totally ambushed me at my desk so that I couldn’t ignore her. We took ourselves out into the hallway away from curious ears and this time around, I was the unpleasant bitch.

This is how the conversation went:

“What do you want?”

“So…yeah…Dex is cheating on me. Is he back with you?” I folded my arms and refused to dignify her question with an answer. “Uh, yeah…I’ll take that as a no. It’s what I thought.” Then she got quiet for a moment and folded her own arms. “You were right about him. He’s a fucking liar.”

Yeah, maybe Becky had smartened up but I wasn’t about to start commiserating with her. Her entire personality and vibe as a person just wreaked of toxicity.

“If you stay with him, you’ll realize that he’s more than just a liar – if you haven’t figure it out already.” I wasn’t about to say anything more than that. “If that’s all you wanted to say Becky, I have work to do.” I started to walk away and she held me back by my arm.

“Uh…sorry about how I acted… you know…before. But I swear to God, I’m going to make him pay…”

I walked away without accepting her apology and not interested in her dreams about payback. I was done. Done with Dex, done with her, done with anything and anyone associated to his sick world.

But just like Gaby had warned, Dex wasn’t done with me.

Texts from him started blowing up my cell a few days after Becky’s chat with me. It started with a “Hey” to “Hope you are ok” and quickly progressed to “Still thinking of you” to “We loved each other once, we could still at least be civil, can’t we?”…none of which I ever responded to.

I had the “No Contact” rule on full blast and would never slip again. I had finally broken the mirror and left him with seven years of bad luck. Or so I thought…

Dex resorted to calling and eventually left me a voice message that I ignored. I left that message notification hanging on my cell screen for days, not interested enough to even access it for deletion. To be honest, I actually forgot about it until a hysterical and crying Becky called to break the news to me.

“Oh my God Cara! Dex is dead! They found him dead in his apartment!”

All of my breath left my body. The office walls started to close in on me and the room started to spin. Before blackness took over my sight, I managed to ask her how.

And the two words I heard her whisper before I fainted were these:

“Anaphylactic shock…”

Yeah, I know what you were thinking because so was I.

But I swear to God, it wasn’t my fault. It really wasn’t.

Wicked is as wicked does…

Cara

Continuation: X is for “eX-files”

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“V” is for “Vampire” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

I had a dream last night.

I was being chased by a chupacabra, a vampire and Dex. I was running away from all three of them with all my might until I hit a dead end and had no choice but to stop.

Of course you know what vampires are but I’m almost certain that you’ve never heard about chupacabras. I won’t get into the folklore of it all but they are said to be small fast moving bat-like evil creatures spotted on the roadsides and in fields that get frightened when hit by the light beams of a car or a flashlight. They supposedly suck the blood from goats and are said to prey on sleeping humans too.

Go ahead and Google it – I’m not kidding. See for yourself just how ugly they are.

In my dream, I couldn’t escape them so I gave up. I turned to face all three of them and opened my arms as if to embrace whatever it was they were about to do to me. But instead of what I expected, they lost interest and ambled away. As I stood there alone in that dark corner of my dream, a calm sense of freedom washed over me.

Weird.

As a kid, I remembered Abuela saying that my grandfather was just like a chupacabra because he had sucked the life right out of her. I’d heard all of the stories about his charming ways, manipulative nature and the cheating around their village. I’m not one for folklore so I wouldn’t call Dex a chupacabra but he was a sort of vampire which is basically the same thing. I mean, they both survive by feeding off of whatever they can prey on, if you let your guard down.

Maybe it’s some generational curse – my grandmother, my mother and then me? Well, if it is, I’m going to find a way to break the cycle. But I wonder if I’ll ever be able to trust a man again. I think that one of my feet will always be outside the door, ready to run. That’s probably why Abuela was bitter until the day that she died. That’s also why she had so many pieces of advice to pass onto in her ramblings.

Why am I telling you about a crazy dream? Because I think it’s the universe telling me that I’m no longer afraid to speak the truth. Whether it be dreams of vampires, chupacabras and Dex, I was moving on and refused to run.

What’s done in the dark, always come to light and being the vampire that Dex was, it was just a matter of time before he truly got what he deserved…

Cara

Continuation: W is for “Wicked”

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“U” is for “Unpack” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

I was doing quite fine until Dex’s blonde (let’s call her “Becky”) emailed me from out of the blue asking if we could talk.

Yeah, you heard me right. She wanted to “talk“. We had nothing in common except for him and I had no interest in that topic. Sam suggested that I ignore her but the more I thought about it, the more curious I became.

Was she reaching out because Dex was starting to unravel early into their “courtship”? Had he begun mistreating her too?

Becky might have been a catty bitch the first time we had seen her at the coffee shop but at that point, she wouldn’t have known better, right? I was torn but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and agreed to meet her after work at a trendy vegan-style eatery she suggested around the corner. You know the kind of hipster joint where you feel a bit out of place because you’re not a “hardcore” vegan and recognize nothing on the menu? Well, let’s just say that Becky must have been a regular by the way that the staff greeted her as she sauntered twenty minutes late for our meeting. Yeah, twenty minutes late.

Becky acknowledged my presence as she headed straight to the counter and ordered something “to go” before sitting down at my table. From the moment I locked eyes with her, I knew that she hadn’t called me to commiserate over diabolical Dex. She meant business and wasn’t about to be friendly.

“Thank you for meeting me,” Becky said very formally. “I’m surprised that you came.”

“So am I,” I admitted. “Why did you want to meet me?”

Becky raked back in her chair and folded her arms. “You need to stop chasing Dex.”

“What? Excuse me?” I was totally confused. “Me? Chasing Dex?”

“Don’t play stupid Cara! He told me how you want him back and how you threw yourself at him after I started dating him.”

I was almost speechless. “Is that what he told you?!”

“Yes, he came clean and told me everything. I forgave him for sleeping with you because it was basically pity sex. And we had only just started dating so I can’t hold it against him. But I have a problem with you trying to get him back when he is with me now!”

The more she talked, the more Becky’s face reddened with anger. This girl had only wanted to put me on notice based on a bold faced lie from an abuser and rapist! She wanted to unpack her luggage of insecurities onto me. Can you believe that?

Becky stared me down, expecting some kind of bitchy response and I was just about to oblige when one of the waitreses placed a brown paper bag with Becky’s order between us. I couldn’t help but notice the scrawled writing on the bag next to her name – “Spicy Thai Chickpea Veggie Burger x 2 NO NUTS!!!” Those burgers were obviously for her and Dex and it was clear from the “NO NUTS” that Becky was looking out for her man’s safety. I know it was a stupid thought but wondered how macho non- fruit eating Dex had embraced vegan anything…it had to be for show. Becky handed the girl some cash as she quickly gave her change, obviously not wanting to present for a cat fight.

“Dex is lying to you Becky. Not only do I never want to see him ever again, we definitely did not have sex! He…”

Realizing that I was about to say something I didn’t want to, I stopped myself. Becky didn’t need to know my business and she wouldn’t have believed me anyways.

I got up from my chair. “I feel really sorry for. If you knew better, you would get out now and never look back.”

“I don’t scare that easily Cara…”

“Sorry to hear that! I guess that he’s all yours then…”

I made my way back onto the street and headed home, pulling out my cell to tell Sam what had happened. Little did poor Becky know that she was head over heels in love with a ticking time bomb.

Should I have insisted on warning her? Was there more I could have done?

I don’t know.

What I did know was that I had absolutely no remorse about taking the Epipen from his medicine cabinet and “misplacing” it at the bottom of his bathroom vanity drawer like what he had done with my birth control pills, keys and cell when I thought that I was going crazy.

As I walked away, I wished that I had simply thrown it away.

Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

Cara

Continuation: V is for “Vampire”

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“T” is for “Therapy” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

I didn’t tell a soul about what Dex did to me until the day I met that stranger at the clinic.

But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The day after it happened, I called in sick, cried the entire weekend and then on Monday, I went to work like nothing happened. Sam noticed how quiet I was but I brushed it off on being tired from my running schedule. I blocked that night out of my mind for days, weeks and months. Until I could no longer ignore that my clothes were feeling tighter, no matter how much running and careful eating I was doing.

Dex had finally done what he had tried to do months before when I realized he had hidden my birth control pills – what he wanted was to keep me tied to him forever knowing my stance on abortion. You know, I never thought I would find myself in that position but there I was between a rock and a hard place.

Call me a hypocrite but I didn’t even blink an eye when I made an appointment at a clinic across town. I was so anxious that I didn’t sleep the entire night and showed up hours early for my scheduled time. I just needed it done and over with. As I sat and waited to be called, I was nervous as hell. The slightest of noises had me jumping out of my seat.

“It’s going to be fine,” a voice came from a few seats down. The woman speaking to me had long dark hair, the most gorgeous features I had ever seen and her crossed legs seemed to go on for miles. “Where is your person?”

“Uh, my person?”

“Yeah, they won’t let you leave here unless you have someone to drive you home.”

Having decided to keep things quiet, I hadn’t thought it would be a strict rule.

“Oh, I can drive myself home.”

The woman cocked her head to the side and shook it. “They won’t let you. I’m here to drive a friend home for that very reason.” She gave me a thoughtful look before she turned her full attention to her friend who appeared back in the waiting room. She took her by the arm and they disappeared through the exit.

I’m not going to get into the details of what went on when the nurse finally called on me an hour later. I did what I had to do and when the nurse asked me who was driving me home, I lied and said that I had a friend in the waiting room. Back in the waiting room, I sat and gathered my thoughts. My options were limited – either I would have to take a taxi (which I preferred not doing with my grogginess) or I would have to call Sam (which would require spilling the beans about everything).

That is, until I looked up and saw that dark haired woman floating through the doors towards me.

“I kept picturing you sitting here alone so I came back to offer you a ride. Don’t worry, I’m not an axe murderer or anything like that.” She was quiet for a moment and when she asked my name and exactly where I lived across town, I told her.

“Wait, how did you know I lived across town?”

“It was a good guess.” When she extended her hand, I got up from my seat “I’m Gabriella but you can call me Gaby. Let’s jet.”

I was dead silent thinking about how this had been the second time in a year that I had let a stranger drive me home. But this time around, I was bawling by the time she pulled up to my building. “I get that you may want to do this alone but you should call a friend. You really should.” I knew this stranger was right but I just couldn’t do it. “Do you want me to follow you up to your place?”

I nodded. When I look back now, I realize just how distraught I was to not only let a stranger into my home but also into my deepest thoughts. Once inside and behind closed doors, I spilled the tea on everything, except the Epipen thing. All she did was nod and I could tell she knew exactly what I was going through.

“Don’t feel bad. Believe me, I have met my share of pricks who have done me wrong. Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.”

I was floored that she had used the same saying Abuela used to say.

“My grandmother used to say that all the time!”

“Well, until my mother took off and left us high and dry, she used to be full of those sayings too.”

When Gaby asked to see a picture of Dex, I fished out one of my deleted photos and showed her the stupid smug look he always had. This total stranger listened until I could no longer talk and then she insisted that I get some rest. “This is my business card. If you ever want to talk again, give me a call okay?” Gaby left it on the coffee table and headed for the door. Before I could even thank her properly, she was gone.

Was I crazy to share all that had happened to me with a total stranger?

Yeah, it was crazy and quite foolish.

But in getting so much off of my chest with her, I realized that I needed to get professional therapy, something I should have done a long time before.

I know that you’re wondering what this stranger has to do with anything, right?

Have some patience. They say it’s a virtue. Let’s see if they are right.

Cara

Continuation: U is for “Unpack”

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“S” is for “Survive” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

Survival is not always about fighting to stay alive.

Sometimes survival is about doing nothing to get out of a bad situation. At least that’s what I learned that night.

While the thief who stole my soul slept off whatever he had (supposedly) taken, I dared not move. The last thing I wanted was to wake him up and chance him having another go at me. I lay paralyzed like a dead person next to him. In a way, Dex had killed me but he had also given life to something else inside of me – a calm raging hate that burned my heart clean of him for good.

What is it that people say? That there’s a fine line between love and hate? Well, I’m here to say that there can also be a very thick line between love and hate when you choose for it to be.

I won’t go into detail like I did yesterday. But I will tell you that when he finally woke and sauntered off to the bathroom to take a shower, he didn’t even look twice at me. It was as if I wasn’t even there and nothing had happened. As I listened to him humming in the shower, I pulled my pants on, checked that my cell was still in my hoodie pocket and sat on the edge of the bed.

No, I didn’t run for the door.

No, I didn’t call anyone for help.

And no, I wasn’t panicked enough to do either of those two things.

Somehow all of my fear had drained from my body. I was just totally numb.

I heard his heavy steps coming closer and then he appeared at the bedroom door with two steaming mugs of coffee, taking up like where we had left off months before. Without saying a word, he handed me a cup. The thought of throwing the hot liquid into his face crossed my mind but I didn’t. My hand was in the lion’s mouth so instead I refused to take it. He shrugged and set the mug down on the night stand. Then I observed him as he nonchalantly got dressed for work.

“You rape me and then offer me coffee?” I heard myself asking. My voice didn’t even sound like my own.

Without looking at me, he continued putting on and buttoning his shirt up. “You are crazy. I didn’t rape you. We had sex.” Dex wasn’t even fazed by my accusation and all I kept wondering was how I ever could have fallen for this criminal.

“You raped me. You forced yourself on me. What you did was sick and wrong.”

“I did what you wanted me to do Cara. You said that you wanted me, remember?”

Of course, I remembered being forced to say those words but like I already told you, I really had no choice.

“You made me say it. Otherwise you would have hurt me…”

By that time, Dex was fully dressed and gave me his full attention.

“Hurt you? You don’t have any bruises and I didn’t force you to say anything. If you didn’t want to have sex, you should have said no, right? If I forced you to do anything, why are you still here? Right now, I’m not forcing you to stay, am I?”

To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to have such a calm conversation with such a sick bastard.

“You didn’t use a condom.”

“You’re on the pill and I’m clean. No big deal.” Dex picked up his keys and wallet. “Lock the door on your way out.”

And just like that, Dex dismissed me and left, tossing me aside like the condom he hadn’t used.

It all sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

I know it does because when I think back to it, it sounds crazy to me too. But I’m telling the God’s honest truth. That’s how it all went down.

When he was gone, I went straight to the bathroom and dry-heaved the little that was left in my stomach into the toilet and then splashed water on my face. The eyes of the girl staring back from the bathroom mirror were vacant and hollow. My head was pounding and when I opened his medicine cabinet to find some Tylenol, that’s when I saw his Epipen staring back at me.

Do you remember when I told you that Dex had a peanut allergy? Well, I hadn’t thought about it in such a long time that I had almost forgotten too until I opened that medicine cabinet. I had argued with him once about being macho by not having one handy at all times. I remembered his stupid response about how very careful he was about what he ate and that I need not worry.

You won’t believe me when I say that both Abuela and that Epipen whispered to me:

“Camaron que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.”

So yeah, Dex violated me, left me alone in his apartment and I was not about to miss this opportunity.

You know what I was thinking. And you know what I did…

Because you would have thought and done the exact same thing as me.

You’re only human just like me. And when life hands you a lemon, sometimes making lemonade is just not enough.

Cara

Continuation: T is for “Therapy”

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“R” is for “Rape” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

*TRIGGER WARNING*

*This post depicts a scene of sexual violence. If you feel you may be triggered by it, I strongly advise you to skip this installment and return for tomorrow’s “S is for Survive”*

*TRIGGER WARNING – *This post depicts a scene of sexual violence. If you feel you may be triggered by it, I strongly advise you to skip this installment and return for tomorrow’s “S is for Survive”*

Yes, I’m going to tell you about this.

To this day, I have never told Sam and Kaley that I ran over to Dex’s place that night because…I don’t know…

I mean…after all of their guidance and support, I was embarrassed to admit that I’d let my guard down.

I could hear all the different voices in my head:

Sam: Why didn’t you just call 911 if you thought he was going to kill himself?

Kaley: Why would you believe that he would really kill himself? Are you kidding?

My mother: What did you expect? Good girls don’t go to a man’s apartment!

Worst of all, I could picture myself reporting the incident to the police and being asked: If you feared him, why did you willingly go to over to his place?

So no, I never told anyone except for one stranger a few months later..

And now I’m telling you.

But if reading about how Dex raped me is going to upset you, do yourself a favour and stop right here if you don’t want to know the details.

I still get nightmares about it and when I do, I feel like I’m in that moment all over again.

I remember…

How I ran over to his apartment, found his door ajar and the entire apartment trashed. How I called out to him and he didn’t answer. How when I walked into his bedroom and found him laying on the bed looking dazed and confused, an empty bottle of Jack on the floor next to an empty container of pills.

I can feel…

How he grabbed my arm when I tried to shake some sense into him and he suddenly pinned me face down onto the bed. How my face was smothered by the comforter and I could barely breathe. How I couldn’t free myself from his hard calloused hands that felt like they had multiplied all over my body.

I can hear…

How his voice hissed in my ear from behind as he pulled down my yoga pants and pressed his entire weight onto me. How he whispered, “I knew you cared enough to come here. I know that you still love me. I missed you so much. Did you miss me babe?” How his body was solidly against me, I truly couldn’t breathe anymore and I couldn’t get away.

I can’t forget…

How he said, “We said that we would always love each other right? And we need to keep our promises. It’s time to stop playing hard to get. I’ve learned my lesson. I can’t live without you.” How when I instinctively continued to struggle, Dex slided his hand from my waist to the back of my head, grabbing a handful of my hair and yanked it so hard that I thought my roots had detached my scalp. How he said, “Oh, you want to play hard Cara? If you want it rough, I’ll play rough! Keep fighting me and I’ll give you a ride you will never forget!”

I will never forget…

How his weight shifted to the side and I heard the jingle of his belt loosening, then his zipper and his words, “Tell me that you want me.” How my mind raced, wondering why I had been stupid enough to think he would actually kill himself. That no one knew that I was there. That if he were to kill me, it might take a while to be found in the last place I should never have been. Being blamed for putting myself in this position. Thinking that if I fought him, I would pay even more dearly for it. Deciding that I shouldn’t fight him. Realizing that not fighting was my only option to survive in that moment.

Hearing him say, “Tell me that you want me Cara.”

Me having no choice but to lie and answer with, “I want you Dex.”

And for those next slow-moving minutes, I shut my brain down, barely aware of his grunts and sick whispers in my ear until he was panting and shuddering against me. Eventually, he shifted his weight from me, forced me to turn over and cradled me in his arms. Then he fell asleep and I dared not move. I remained deathly still, in shock but acutely aware at how calm I was.

And that’s when Kaley’s words ran through my head: “If you give him an inch, he will take much, much more than a mile. Give him an opportunity and he will always find a way to reel you back in. He will ruin your life for the hell of it. Think about his weaknesses and try to use them to your advantage. I had to move across the world to get away from my ex-husband but you can try to find a way to cut him off at the knees so that he can never get up again.”

As I laid there in his bed next to him and completely numb, I thought about how it would be my word against his, how I would surely be re-victimized if I told and how I would likely always lose against him. He had sucked my soul dry…

But to be free, I had to find a way to cut him down so that he would never ever get up again.

I had to find a way.

Cara

Continuation: S is for “Survive”

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Bisous,

M xoxo

“Q” is for “Question” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #IfMyWoundsWereVisible

*Trigger warning – scene alludes to suicide*

You know that feel-good vibe you get when you make vacation plans and you start to get that small twinge of excitement as it gets closer and closer?

Well, I wasn’t feeling “excited” but with each passing day, I did feel more hopeful about getting on with my life. I was making a huge effort to regain some normalcy back into my day-to-day. It had been weeks since I had bumped into Dex and though he always lingered in my thoughts, I wasn’t at the level of “obsessive” like before.

Maybe seeing him with that blond had shifted my perspective for the better. Maybe it was a type of closure – I don’t know. If that blond wanted him, she could have him, just like Sam had told her. And maybe, just maybe if she hadn’t been such a bitch, I might have warned her about him. But you know what? All is fair in love and war, right? I’m sure that she had no clue that Dex was still leaving me voice messages. Messages that I still promptly erased without listening to.

I started doing things I used to do to treat myself, like getting my nails done at the salon with Sam, hanging out at my favorite second hand bookstore and I even slowly started reconnecting with friends I had lost touch with. Whenever I found myself thinking about how stupid I had been, instead of stress eating, I started going for long runs, one of my pre-Dex activities. Not only did I need to lose the extra pounds but running gave me a sense of freedom and a feeling that anything was possible. I did my best thinking during my runs and realized two truths – I needed to look out for me, myself and I, first and foremost and that when shit hit the fan, the only person I could ever truly count on was me.

I even took an overdue trip down to Toronto to visit my parents and relatives, enduring all of their interrogations about my relationship with Dex. Instead of telling them that we had broken up, I dodged their invasive questions and refused to let them pin me down. My love life was no one’s business until my mother called me on my cell out of the blue during one of my evening runs.

“Is something wrong?” I tried to catch my breath and was a little annoyed that her call had interrupted my flow.

“You tell me hija. Why are you breathing like that?” I could picture the horror on her face, thinking that she had maybe caught me doing something sinful.

“I’m jogging Mamá.”

“At this time of night? That’s dangerous!”

I didn’t even bother responding – it was only 7:00pm and it was still light out.

“Is something wrong?” I asked again.

“Your novio just called me.” Even in Spanish she said the word “boyfriend” as if it was a bad word, which always irked me. Growing up, I had no clue why she harped on the importance of marriage but the thought of me dating was somehow sinful. But after reading ‘Como Agua Para Chocolate’ (Like Water For Chocolate), I totally saw my mother as Mama Elena. But that’s an entirely different story for another time. Let’s just say that my folks had totally oldold-country non-North American mentality.

“What? Dex called you? What did he say?” Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, my heart started racing from more than my long run. What the hell was he doing calling my parents?

“He was crying and said that you broke up with him, that he misses you and that he was going loco without you. My God, the times that we met him, he seemed like a nice enough boy. What did you do?”

Okay, are you following what I just said? Did you catch what I just dropped on you? My own mother automatically assumed that I did something wrong. But that was the way she always treated me – guilty before proven innocent. They were the main reason why I had not only saved up every last penny I had to buy a condo but I also made sure to move a 5 hour drive away.

“I didn’t do anything Mamá! He was the one being awful to me and he was probably cheating too!” I wondered why I even bothered because she always found a way to boomerang blame back onto me.

“Cara, you’ve got a hardhead just like your father and your abuela. Beggars can’t be choosers. How many boys these days would call a girl’s mother? I like that. He said that you wouldn’t talk to him and asked me to tell you that he was sorry for everything! He even said that he dreamed of marrying you one day and he doesn’t know what to do now without you. Maybe you should give him another chance.”

I was about to blow a gasket right there on that sidewalk. My mouth was bone-dry with disgust. “Did you not hear me when I said that he was awful and was probably cheating Mamá?”

I heard her snicker on the other end of the line. “All relationships have problems hija and boys will be boys. When you realize that’s the way God made them, you’ll grow up and…”

Her words made me think back to the knock-down-drag-out fights that she and Papi used to have when I was growing up. For some odd reason they had thought that just because they were behind their closed bedroom doors, we didn’t realize what was going on.

I was fuming and for the first time in my entire life, I hung up on her.

Before I had time to think it through, my fingers were dialing Dex’s number. He picked up on the sixth ring with a very subdued voice.

“What the fuck are you doing calling my parents? My parents! You’re no longer part of my life Dex! Is this some kind of game to get my attention because if it is, you succeeded! What are you trying to prove?”

Oh, I could have kept going but I’d run out of breath and had to stop before people on the street thought I was nuts.

“I’m sorry. I fucked up. I didn’t know how else to get a message to you,” Dex said in the meekest voice I have ever heard come out of his massive body. “I’m sure that you don’t listen to the messages I leave and I can’t reach any of your friends. You hate me so much that you had our friends block me…”

“No, not our friends My friends!”

I heard him sniffling and his breathing was heavy. “I just wanted to say that I was so sorry before I…”

My patience was way past gone. “I don’t care about your apologies Dex. Get over it and me already! You’ve moved on with someone else so stop apologizing and leave me alone! Just leave me alone and don’t you ever call my folks again! You hear me?”

“That girl could never replace you because…she’s not you. And don’t worry, I won’t bother your folks, you or anyone else after tonight….”

And that’s when Dex started to cry uncontrollably. Whether they were crocodile tears or not did not concern me. What concerned me was that he had begun to slur his words and was becoming incoherent. Add in the desperate resignation in his voice mixed with his tears took me, it took me off balance. But he totally floored me when he said, “Cara, I have one question for you. Do you ever wish that I was dead?”

Oh yeah, you know that I was angry enough to spit some fiery truth at him.

“I wish that you were dead ALL THE TIME Dex.”

I wanted to cut him as deeply and sharply as that knife he had stabbed into my table all those months ago. His crying subsided and his voice was a whisper.

“I will always love you. Just remember that after I’m gone. I can’t go on like this and you would be happier without me. I wish that I were dead too.”

And that’s when I heard a loud thud on his end of the line before it went dead. I stood on that sidewalk looking at my cell as if it would tell me what to do. That’s when I noticed that during the time that I had been speaking with my mother, Dex had sent me a three word text message:

Goodbye my love.

Goodbye? Was that some kind of suicide text? Was this the reason he tried to reach out to me through my mother as a last resort?

All I could think about was that I had just agreed with a desperate sounding man I still had feelings for that I would be better off if he were dead.

Panicked at what Dex was about to do or had already done, I sprinted the entire three blocks to his apartment like my feet were on fire without thinking twice. It never dawned on me that he might have been playing me…

Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.”

Look, we’re all human beings, making our way through life. I’m subject to failings just like you. So don’t you dare judge or criticize me, okay?

Cara

Continuation: R is for “Rape” (*trigger warning*)

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. Graphic above created with Canva.
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