She pushed the nightmare away, shut her eyes tightly and buried her bruised face in the sweat-drenched pillow. Just a bad dream, she told herself. Only a nightmare.
But this nightmare was all too real.
When she thought about it, she guessed that perhaps he had wanted to be rid of her for some time. Perhaps her confrontation of his cheating had given him just the excuse he needed to send her away.
She could, by an effort of will, recall how it had been when they first began. His calmness and strength had drawn her. In moments alone, in his strong embrace, she felt like she finally found safety. Knowing that shelter exited for her had made her stronger and bolder. Even her parents saw a change in her, and told her they took pride in the woman she was becoming.
If only they’d known.
When had his strength stopped being a shelter and become a prison wall? When had it become, not the comfort of protection, but the threat of that strength turned against her? How could she have continued unaware of how things had changed, of how he was changing her?
She wasn’t that stupid, she admitted now. She’d known. But she’d stumbled on blindly, excusing his cruelty and slights, blaming the discord on herself, pretending that somehow, someday soon, things would go back to the way they once had been.
Had it ever really been that good? Or was it all a dream she had manufactured for herself?
She rolled over, pushing her tender, aching cheek into the dank pillow and closing her eyes. She would not think about him or how things had once been. She would not dwell on what their relationship had become. Right now, all that mattered was that she was, once again, safe.
Back in her childhood bedroom, she whispered forcefully into the stink of her own sweat and tears.
“I want a divorce”.