Yet I still have another cheek to turn, and when I see the glow of a cigarette outside later that night, when I know his anger is appeased, I approach him. Timid hands rest upon rigid shoulders before I wrap myself around his chest and lay gentle kisses upon his back. He softens, turns to me, and in the gleam of the streetlight I search fragmented eyes. My face reaches closer to his and I grab handfuls of wild hair and as our mouths touch I taste nicotine and we kiss until we suffocate in one another. He awakens me and we grip each other’s bodies there under incandescent light and I know I cannot walk away. He needs me. He needs me.
But too soon fallen leaves are replaced with grey sleet and the pastel light that once illuminated us disappears, and we too exist in shadow. I have turned both cheeks so many times there is no longer any cheek left unmarred, my body now embellished with bruises from the very hands that once caressed me. My heart is rife with verbal bullets and I try to stitch the wounds with hands that tremble but the cotton is threadbare and won’t hold under the weight of his cruel tongue.
Winter leaves me laden, my face as downcast as the slate-grey days that have no end. I know what I am now; I have heard the words so often they echo through the hollow cavities of my soul. I am a whore, a slut, useless and worthless. Without him I am nothing, I know this. There is only he and I now; my family no longer reach out to me, my friends no longer try. He tells me he is all I need, I don’t need them, and I am thankful for the way he carries me when the weight of my shame is too heavy for everyone else. He stays with me when we both know he could do better. And even though he hurts me, he says he loves me and I believe him. I will never find anyone who loves me the way he does and though his soul is as broken as the bones in my chest I cling to him as we both drown.