The mind(control) over - oh it doesn't matter universe
This was just strange. Diane looked across the table, shifting her gaze from Paula to Tami and back to Paula. Tami had just refilled Diane's wine glass after being told "No thanks, I've had enough." Paula simply brushed off Diane's refusal and encouraged Tami to pour the wine. Strange indeed, first they cancelled their mall crawl, and now they seemed determined to get her drunk. Diane sipped her wine, set the glass down and pushed back from the table. "That's enough for me. Now does either one of you care to tell me what's going on or is it time for me to go home."
The startled expressions that danced across Paula and Tami's face were unsettling to say the least. It didn't help when they yell "No" in unison.
"No ... no to what? No to telling me what's up with the two of you or no to me going home." Diane was flummoxed to say the least. The three of them had been friends and neighbors for over three years, yet over the past couple of hours Tami and Paula had been acting peculiar if not actually down right strange. "Well..."
Paula and Tami glanced at one another and at Paula's nod, Tami spoke. "You know that we care about you..."
Diane shook her head and started to stand.
Paula burst forth "Do you remember when we all went to the spa last month." Diane nodded. "The masseuse who gave you your massage pulled Tami and I aside while you were dressing. She said that she saw all kinds of things in her work. She asked if you ever said anything about your husband ... about him being overly physical."
Tami jumped in, "She said that - oh Diane - she asked if we knew that your husband beat you ... that he sexually abused you."
"What?" Flummoxed became gobsmacked quicker than Diane could spell it.
"She said — oh oh — she told us that she noticed a number of very faint bruises on you body in areas that are associated with women who have been beaten and sexually abused. She told us to "just be on the lookout." Well, yesterday you were wearing a long sleeve blouse on a fairly warm day which normally wouldn't have meant anything but ... well, we both noticed..." Paula pointed to Diane's wrists. "He tied you up before he beat you didn't he?"
Diane didn't know whether she should laugh, cry, or scream. If it weren't for the deep looks of concern on her friends' faces it would have probably been the laugh. She was as surprised as the two of them when she blushed. God how was she going to explain this?
Tami felt her heart sink as Diane's face got redder and redder. She couldn't imagine how embarrassing it must be. She had taken a class in college and seemed to recall that victims of abuse often felt tremendous embarrassment and vulnerability at their situation. "Don't be embarrassed Diane, we want to help."
Diane looked at her with unmasked incredulity. "I don't need help ... look Tami, Paula, I appreciate your concern."
"It's true Di, we're here for you. Let us help you." Paula reached across the table, placing her hand on Diane's.
Tami quickly followed suit. "You're safe now. You don't have to go through this alone. We won't allow him to hurt you ever again."
"What are you talking about? Mark hasn't hurt me."
"There's no need to protect him anymore."
"I'm not protecting him."
"It's okay — you're safe with us."
Diane fought the urge to roll her eyes. She knew Tami and Paula meant well, but really, could they possibly be more out of line? This really was too much. Paula had a death grip on Diane's left hand and would not let go. While Tami stared goggled eyed at the red abrasions the circled Diana's right forearm. Both sputtered on in growing outrage.
"You don't have to put up with this abuse. We'll protect you..." Tami spoke with such sincerity that Diane untangled her wrist from Paula's grip to pat the back of Tami's hand in reassurance. Paula chimed in again, "I have the number for an abused woman's shelter - we can call..."
This went back and forth as Diane sought to dissuade her friends from action. It was only when Paula started punching numbers into her cell phone that Diane took control of the situation. Diane sighed as she realized a simple explanation wouldn't satisfy - this was going to get very uncomfortable.
"Close your phone Paula," Diane pitched her voice low and authoritative. "Right now." She nodded when Paula quickly complied. She was going to pull her sleeves down over her bruises but decided to leave them in view. She sighed again.
"Oh God there's no way to explain this except to tell you things that really are not any of your business, but I can see from your faces that if I don't tell you, poor Mark will be on your shit list for the rest of his life." Diane reached for her abandoned glass of wine. She downed it in one healthy gulp.
"I can't begin to tell you how deeply touched I am by your concern and willingness to "protect" me. But the simple truth is I don't need protection. You are right about these rope bruises and the lash marks the masseuse saw on my bottom last month - Mark is responsible, but its not his fault." Paula and Tami erupted in disagreement. Diane shook her head and raised her voice.
"Wait, wait, wait a second will you and I'll tell you everything. There are occasions - maybe once every couple of months or so when Mark is forceful in the way that he takes me..."
"Forceful, it's abuse Di. He's an animal! He has to be stopped before he really harms you! Why are you making excuses for him!"
"Stop it you two. Stop it right now and let me talk - please. I am going to tell you things about me that no one else knows and I am placing my trust in you that the two of you will honor this confidence.
"I love Mark with all of my heart, he is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life. But the reason I have these (Diane lifted her forearms) goes back to a time long before I even thought that someone as wonderful as Mark would ever want someone like me."
Diane looked at her two friends and smiled, "Hello, my name is Diane, and I am the child of alcoholics, and I myself am an alcoholic and a drug addict."
Tami and Paula sat in stunned silence; mouths slack, eyes wide, breath suspended.
"Good, now that I have your attention. A little about me..." Diane smiled. "My mom and dad were raving alcoholics; they were abusive to each other, and they were abusive parents too. My mom would beat the hell out of my dad when he was passed out drunk - I mean she just wailed on him sometimes. Dear old dad would get back at her when he sobered up - which wasn't often - by dragging my mom to their bedroom and sexually assaulting her. First you'd hear her screams of resistance when she knew he was in "one of those moods", then her pleading, begging, her agony as he would beat her and whip her with his belt. Then he would start ... fucking her, and her screams became those of pleasure; "don't stop, harder, deeper, fuck me baby, fuck me." They'd be all lovey-dovey for a couple of days then one would start drinking again and the whole thing would repeat.
"I responded by staying away from home as much as possible and poured all of my efforts into school. I only applied to colleges that were many states removed from where we lived. Once I got accepted I left and I literally never went back. In college I had to study to keep my grants and scholarships viable, so I didn't party or even date much. I did have a couple of relationships, real low energy stuff - nothing even overtly passionate. I was better at giving myself orgasms than any guy I hooked up with.
Diane refilled their three glasses with white wine. "Then I met George."
"I was working in a small cafe when this older - well at the time I was all of nineteen so a guy in his mid thirties seemed so very ... mature," Diane waved her hand dramatically. "Anyway this guy, George, came in one day and ordered a coffee. He kept looking at me - nothing creepy, just a quiet, smiling, nodding appreciation. When he left, there was a twenty dollar bill sitting there. He started coming in every day and did the same thing - $1 cup of coffee, fifteen maybe twenty minutes of quiet sipping as he glanced at his paper, then leave with a twenty dollar bill sitting there. I wasn't complaining, I needed the cash - but I it did make me think. One day curiosity got the better of me and I sat down after giving him his coffee. I was about to ask him what he was trying to prove when he just took my hand and asked me out on a date. I started to say I hardly knew him when he just smiled and said, "I'll be happy to answer any and all of your questions over dinner. Please dress formally."
"He picked me up in a limo and we went to this incredible French restaurant. He was charming, witty, and a great conversationalist. When we got back in the limo he looked at me and asked if I was going to let him kiss me before our date was over. I said yes and right then and there he kissed me; a long, slow, soft kiss that took my breath away. He was a very sensual man, always touching, always close, very much a man in charge. Well, to make a long story short, George swept me off my feet. On our second date he screwed me silly in the back of that limo. I moved in with him a couple of weeks later. I was so happy and secure. I honestly thought I had found The One.
.... There is more of this story ...