Gavin poured hot water into the mug, “if you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine.”
“No, it’s good for me to talk about it I think. Lets me get it all out.”
Gavin nodded and placed the mug in front of her, “If you need to stop, or take a break at any time-”
“Don’t worry, I’ll say.”
Stacy wrapped her hands around the mug, “I’m not really sure where to begin. There was never a moment that really started it, it was always there. By the time I realised what was happening I was already in too deep. It seemed so normal then, that it was just the way the world worked.”
She took a sip of her tea, “I was doing everything, working all day, coming home to a filthy house, cleaning, then cooking dinner. I don’t know how the house always managed to get into such a state. Plates would be piled in the sink, dirty clothes were everywhere. I could never understand it. Now I think he purposely did it, went through the dirty clothes and scattered them around. It always made me think I was going crazy. I’d tell him that I just cleaned the room yesterday and he’d frown and look at me with these slightly sad eyes and tell me that I had done that days ago.” She shivered slightly. “I questioned everything I did, always terrified that I was forgetting something else.”
It was hours later when she was finally done, she felt tired, drained, but better. Gavin had said little as she talked, only occasionally interrupting to ask a question or two. After he had hugged her and she had cried. She couldn’t remember the last time someone just held her, where there were no worries, no fears, just the warmth of another person.
That night she lay in bed, she had told Gavin most of it, but not the worst. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him that, she didn’t think she’d be able to tell anyone that. Even if she did no one would believe her. As it was everyone thought Tony had just packed his bags and left her, the poor battered, abandoned wife. But that wasn’t what happened.
It appeared soon after it all started, Stacy never said anything, she was too afraid. The hulking shadow that prowled their home, always near Tony, hovering around him. She knew she was seeing things, she had to be. Tony had always told her that he could get her locked away in some mental hospital if he told people what she was really like, so she kept her mouth shut. The thing wasn’t that big at first, maybe five feet, but at the end it was hunched over, its head still brushing against the ceiling as it walked.
The night it happened had been just like the others, home, clean, cook, sit in silence, bed. Sometimes Tony would make his fumbling advances, hands that grabbed and pinched and moved in all the wrong ways. Sex was never something she enjoyed, it was always just a duty, like the cooking and cleaning. It was easier to just get it over with. He had been handsy that evening, she expected him to roll over and start pawing at her, but it didn’t happen. She had laid in bed, staring into the darkness waiting for the hands that never came. Sometimes during the night she rolled over, she couldn’t sleep, the room felt hot, stuffy. Tony was wheezing in his sleep again. She reminded herself to tell him, but she knew she wouldn’t. A part of her, a secret part, hoped that maybe he’d just stop breathing and then he’d go away for good.
Stacy had gotten out of bed and went to the bathroom, squinting in the harsh light of the hallway. She pushed the door open when she returned and there it was, lying on top of him, mouth pressed firmly against his, its long hands were holding his arms down. Tony’s eyes were wide and frightened and looking directly at her. Stacy didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know if she even could do anything. She closed the door and moved away. It was just in her head, that was all, just a dream. Everything would be fine in the morning.
But it wasn’t. Tony wasn’t in bed the next morning, she hadn’t slept that night and knew she didn’t hear him leave. The thing was gone too, that hulking shadow. She didn’t know what to do, how to explain. It had been a blur then. A rush to pack some clothes in a black bag, which was thrown into a donation bin. After that was done she had started ringing people, asking them if they’d seen Tony. It wasn’t long before the news had spread that Tony had left her.
Stacy rolled over and closed her eyes, she wasn’t afraid of the monster coming back, she knew it was gone for good. She closed her eyes and saw it again, the thing hunched over Tony, his wide, panicked eyes. She smiled slightly and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.