Flashback on Flashback
As three officers stood in the entrance of our apartment,
I couldn’t help but feel guilt by association.
I stood still and silently glanced across the room to where Eric stood.
As he waved his hands back and forth theatrically, I watched his mouth twist and turn as if everything depended on the web he was currently weaving.
I strained my mind to focus on the words Eric and the officers were exchanging before me, but their words fell like heavy rocks on deaf ears. Remnants of the words they spoke banged against my ear drums as muffled, unintelligible sounds.
My brain felt as if it were going a hundred miles an hour without moving an inch.
I still hadn’t processed what had just happened to me, when all of a sudden I was tossed into a whole new situation. This was my first experience with law enforcement- at least in this context.
Calling the police on Eric never had entered my mind, but I had always imagined if they were to ever naturally stumble upon what he was doing, their reaction would be straight out of a movie scene. A toned officer with chiseled features would rush in and sweep me away from it all as if sweeping 20 year old girls off their feet and away from their problems were printed in bold font within his job description. The end credits would start to roll with my name in large print as the camera would begin to pan out across a wider view of siren lights illuminating the night while I sat with a blanket around my shoulders recanting what happened to an older, wise-eyed officer. He would put his hand on my shoulder, and everyone looking on would know everything was going to be okay.
But, of course, that is not what happened (for starters, it was too early in the day to have the lighting just right for a moody domestic scene).
As one of the officer’s approached me, I was able to make out, “Is that what happened?”. I wasn’t sure the officer knew the weight of the question he had just asked me.
I slowly moved my eyes away from him back across the room where Eric now stood silently looking at me.
It would have been so easy to just whisper, “yes”, or easier yet to just nod my head, but I couldn’t.
As I stood torn apart, I had little awareness of the situation that had just unraveled. My mind hadn’t had time to wrap itself around every action and word that had been let loose moments before, however, every other hit, push, pull, choke, bruise, cut, scrape, welt, smack, verbal assault, slap, and punch that I had ever spewed out of him was now clawing at my insides wanting out.
As I stood torn apart, I knew this could be a defining moment, and yet all I could do was silently stare back into Eric’s eager eyes.
I had the chance to stay where I was, or speak up and shatter our whole dynamic.
I couldn’t speak, though- not with Eric’s eyes shooting into me.
I couldn’t believe the officers couldn’t see the fire blasting towards me from across the room.
My eyes danced back and force from the officer to Eric, Eric to the officer, and then the officer to Eric trying to somehow silently point out the source of the arson. It was a motionless game of charades where I was to act out “reason why I cannot talk currently”, only the officer obviously wasn’t playing my game. Another officer across the room, however, was.
After an eternity, and yet before I knew it, I was being whisked into the hallway of our apartment building away from Eric. Now, I stood with my hair askew, face smeared, and clothing still pulled about where the whole building had a chance to see. With my bare feet digging into the dingy hallway carpet, I felt more vulnerable and bare then I had standing in the corner of my apartment (which is something I hadn’t thought was possible).
Again the officers asked me what had happened. Two of them now stood in the small hallway space in front of the stairwell with me, while the other had been left behind within the apartment with Eric.
I felt adrenaline punching my insides, making me squirm in my own skin- I felt as if I were a small creature caught in headlights unable to move when all I wanted to do was get the hell out of the street- I felt my senses blur as if I was giving them up in hopes I would be able to channel even one word.
And then, something changed… I was able to speak.
This was my chance to change everything.