I laid alone in the hospital bed, trying to breath in the least painful way. My right hand in a cast to hold my fractured bones in place but nothing much could be done for my broken ribs except pain killers that stopped working hours before I could receive my next dose. My lip was beginning to scab over and the three nights I had already spent in the hospital under guard for my protection had not afforded me much sleep.

My mind was consumed with the mere minutes that  had placed me in this state. My attentive, kind and gentle, actor boyfriend of nearly eight months had come over to my apartment; not as himself but as the heartless violent and jealous thug he had been loaning his face to for a film.

He had flung my front door open with a crash, a framed photo of us at a Red Carpet event smashed to the ground and glass shards spraying across the floor. I rose from the couch as he shouted.

“Why didn’t you answer your phone?” I reached down to the coffee table confused and unsteadied by his demeanor and actions. He shouted again, knocking my phone from my hand. His voice rang threw me, vibrating my very being. It felt like his voice had grabbed the house and shock it like a snow globe and everything was flying around me, the floor under my feet was gone, the furniture swirled around like debris in a storm and his hand flew at me like an arrow toward a target.

His hand found its bulls-eye as it railed across my check and to my surprise I found gravity again and struck back with a balled up fist, it met solidly with three sharp snaps, my recoil was instant as was the understanding of what happened.

His eyes burned with molten fire as he stepped toward me, I hurried to back away and tripped, falling to the ground. Unable to get at me with his hands he kicked at me with his heavy boots finding resistance against my right side. I kept trying to back away and regain my footing but his second, third and fourth kicks landed with cracking exclamations. I cried out only to find more pain in breathing. He stopped kicking and I hoped he had regained himself but when I found his face his fury had only increased.

He grabbed me by the arm and jerked me to my feet. “Stop, stop, please.” I pleaded with him. He shock me by the arm wrenching tears from me.

“Just answer the phone and I won’t have to do this.” He growled at me. His voice again shacking me to the core. I freed my arm, having learned from my previous error, I struck out at his nose using the heel of my hand, breaking it with minimal effort. His hands flew to his face and blood appeared between them.

Without hesitation I ran toward the door of my apartment and feel into the arms of my curious neighbor investigation the noise of Garrett’s rampage. He was the one who had brought me to the hospital. I don’t know who had set it up but there where two very large security guards stationed in the hall by my room since I had been wheeled into my room.

The only visitor I has was my nurse who would check on me every couple of hours. Thus far in my stay I had only had two nurses, one in the day and the other at night. Rebecca, my day nurse, was not hardened by years of this job like the night nurse was, Rebecca from the first moment she saw me lying in that bed, with dried tears and blood on my face had a look in her eyes of “you poor girl”. I remember how gently she spoke as she cleaned me up and when she had gotten all the blood of my face said “What a pretty lady we have here.”

I couldn’t look her in the face that first day I was her. It wasn’t until she was almost off shift that first day. She was about to leave my room when she stopped and turned to face me. “Its not your fault.” I turned my head toward her and she repeated. “Its not your fault.” She walked over to my bed and took my broken hand in her’s “No one can blame you, no one will blame you.” I looked up at her with tears in my eyes. How could she have know, that I had been blaming myself for Garretts actions since he first walked into my house that day, how could she know what I felt but she did. My face and eyes questioned her. She sighed and pointed to a small scar on her check, “For three years no one told me this wasn’t my fault, just like this,” she gestured to the cut on my lip and my injured hand. “Isn’t your fault.”

I hadn’t noticed it before but the scar on her check was not the only one she had, there where small circular scars on her forearms and another darker scar just under her ear. She knew perfectly what thoughts where going threw my mind because she has lived with them. I was still discovering them. I didn’t know how to thank her besides looking her in the eye but as she patted me on the arm we both understood what the other wasn’t saying.

In the next few days it was clear to me that I had become the talk off the floor and that my story had hit the News with full coverage. I had been worried that reporters and people would be crawling all over the hospital trying to get there scoop but besides the normal hustle and bustle of a hospital my floor stayed quiet. It was clear to me from the looks on the other nurses faces what they thought of Garrett, I wished I could have told them they had it wrong but with every breath I took I knew they where right.

It had only been about an hour since Rebecca had checked on me but something was different in her demeanor as she peeked her head around my door, almost like she hoped I was gone or asleep. When she caught sight of me she stepped into my room and closed the door, and pumped a dob of hand sanitizer into her palm, as she always did. Normally she would ask me how I was or if I needed anything or at least tell me what she was going to do. But this time she just walked up to the bed and started to fuss with my IV bag like she was avoiding something. She didn’t seam the type to run out of words. Breathing was painful enough for me that I didn’t feel in anyway eager to speak so I waited, hoping the silence would not continue indefinitely.

She breathed out pointedly, “You have a, visitor,” using the term like it didn’t truly suit the moment. “HE is waiting at the nurses station.” Her dramatic “HE” was not lost on me. I didn’t move, or look away from her. I didn’t know what to do. Four days ago he was all I would have wanted or needed for a visitor. He had always been the perfect boyfriend, asking nothing of me but my company and silly conversation. He had never raised his voice in my presence much less yelled at me. He treated me like I was a porcelain doll. I asked him to play one-on-one basketball with me once but all he would do was pass me the ball and kind of stand in front of me. He told me later he didn’t like the idea of battling with me, all he could think to do was protect me.

Rebecca’s voice broke in on my memories. “I’ll tell him to go away.”

I raised my arm to stop her, “No.” but the motion caused me to grown.

She stepped back to my bed. “You don’t have to see him.”

I held my response telling myself to remain still. The words came slowly and deliberately. “I will see him, but can one of the security guards be in the room please.”

“They both will be.” She stated.

“One will be enough.” I paused as she consented to my demand. I looked away from her. “I’m ready.” I told her, she hesitated for a moment and then I heard her turning the door handle and a muffled conversation in the hall. In another moment a large muscular black man in a security guards uniform entered my room and stationed himself at the foot of my bed facing the partly open door.

His figure seamed to fill up the before empty room, the ceiling felt like it had fallen to be within inches of his head and his shoulders cast a shadow across the length and width of the room. His arms where crossed over his chest and the sleeve of his shirt that  boar the emblem of his employer was stretched so tightly across his biceps that it look like it would burst. His muscles rippled as he stood ready to respond to any threatening gesture.

I wondered what Garrett would have to say or do. As I struggled to keep my face from showing all the emotions that tramped across my heart, I noticed the security guards eyes. His head was still facing the door but he was examining me out of the corner of his eye. His eyes snapped to the door as it creaked open. I fought to keep my eyes on the security badge on the guards left arm and slowly counted one, two, three then I slowly turned my steely eyes on him. I breathed in with a half gasp.

He had black and blue rings around both his eyes and the bridge of his nose was swollen and discolored. I almost forgot that I had hit him. In that first moment I surge of pity filled my heart but then reality hit me with shooting pains thru my side. I remembered back to the first time we meet, how all the sounds and people just melted away and how we talked for hours. I could still see his smile and his eyes and smell his cologne when I remembered back to that night. He had a way of turning the volume of the world off when I was with him and for a split second he had done it again.

His boots clicked on the tile floor as he slowly stepped forward, looking from the security guard to me, Garrett laid his hand on the back of the chair next to my bed with a question in his eyes. I looked to the security guard, who’s head tipped down in a half nod as he glared at Garrett with intensity in his face. I noted Garretts movements, they where slow and deliberate, leaving no room for a misunderstanding of intention and with a distinct look of fear and passivity. He sat leaning forward with elbows on his knees and hands clasped in front of him.

“Anna.” He almost whispered. I closed my eyes, his voice pierced me, how sweet it used to be, it was the perfect sound but now it was like acid in my ears. “I know I could have sent someone, else, to tell you what I’ve come to say. But I would have regretted it. I don’t want to hurt you, more, if that’s even possible after what I’ve done.” He took a breath and I forced my eyes open doing all I could to hold my pain inside. He continued with a very business like tone. “I paid off your apartment and its yours now, you can keep it or sell it, its yours. The same with the car. I promised you those and I will not take them back.”

I was confused, he had promised when he moved me into that apartment that I would never have to worry but I didn’t imagine he had meant now and it was truly the last thought on my mind, but before I could process this he continued.

“I took my stuff out so that you wouldn’t have to face me or be reminded of me after today.” He paused looking down at his feet. When he spoke again his words sounded like his voice had thrown a net over them as they passed his lips. “I understand what I’ve done and I can’t take it back no matter what I do, but it will never change how I feel about you. I won’t forgive myself for losing you this way. I’ve become the thing I hated in my father and now so much more in myself.” He stopped again to find composer. “I started anger management classes and I’m taking a break from acting.”

I knew that he had at least three more months of filming to do for his latest film. How could be take a break now, acting was the only other thing in his life besides me. He wasn’t a quitter, he always finished what he started. He finally raise his eyes to meet mine and looked me in the eye for the first time since he had attacked me. “But it will never be enough, to forgive what…” He looked away as his eyes filled with tears. “There is only one thing I dare ask of you.” He raised his eyes back to mine and I tried to hold his gaze eager to know what he would ask but my heart pulled my eyes away.

“What is it?” I mumbled unsure of my own voice.

“Talk to me, like you used to, just this one last time. Don’t hold back, but please, let me hear your voice. One, last, time.”

I closed my eyes and laid my head back on my pillow. “Do you remember when we first meet?” I paused waiting to hear his reply but there was only silence. I looked over to him and he nodded unable to speak. “I was never afraid, when I was with you, never, not even once. All the times we pushed our way past crowds of people or appeared together on TV or anytime or place, I was never afraid, Never, never.” I trailed off. Still unable to look at him for more then a few seconds. “I don’t know what to do now, when I look you in the eye all I see is the fury in your face when you broke down my door and attacked me.” As the last words crossed my tongue I heard a squeak as my body guard shifted his weight and raised himself up to an ever more domination stance. I looked over to Garrett who hunched over more in submission to the gesture.

“I can’t trust you anymore but I don’t know how to stop loving you.” My voice quaked and a few tears escaped my eyes to roll down my checks. “I want to be safe again but I never will be with you.” I could fell my words like blade as they drove themselves into Garretts heart and my tears came in steady streams. I looked at Garretts face one last time before he rose and left my life, the marks I left on his face would be gone in a matter of time but the scars of what his anger had done would be evident on both our heart forever.

******

When I returned to my apartment a few days later, I was like he never existed. All his things where gone, the photo that had fallen from the wall was replaced by a picture of my alone in England before we meet. I went into the bathroom and discovered all his things where gone, the blue towel he had brought over so he could use my shower, his razor, toothbrush and hair gel. They where gone from the medicine cabinet, the space filled with Band-Aids and lotion. The leather bag he had used to bring over his things was gone from under the sink. Altho he had never stayed the night with me, he had liked to get ready at my place, he used to say it was because he hated to be away from me anymore then he had to.

I went to the kitchen, his special mug from his college futurity left an empty space on the mug tree, the pile of scripts and letters that used to overflow the basket at he center of my table was gone and a single envelope lay in there place. I opened it. On top was the title to my car with a sticky note, reading ‘Sign here and notarize’ A similar note was on the second sheet, this one was the deed for the apartment. I laid them back on the table.

He was gone, truly gone from my life. I stopped, wondering, there was possibly one thing he had forgotten. I went to my closet pushing my clothes aside and knelt down in the floor. I reached back to the darkest corner of the closet and pulled out a small suitcase and gently placed it on the ground in front of me, like it held some fragile relic of ancient times. I held my breath as I pulled back the zipper and peeked into the darkness. I slide my hand down to the bottom and my fingers where engulfed in a soft fabric. I gripped and slowly pulled out a worn blue sweatshirt. I cradled it in my hands, raising it up and burying my face in it. I rocked back and forth sobbing into the last piece of Garrett that I had. My brain knew that his cologne had worn off month ago but my longing heart brought back the scent from memory.

I cried into his sweatshirt until I had not more tears left then I slipped it over my head and let it wrap me up in comfort like his arms used to and I laid down on my bed completely ignorant of the world that was rushing past me just outside my walls.

 

Note: This is Fiction, and in now way is it based in anyway in truth.

Until Then…

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