April’s and my relationship could definitely be considered rocky after the Avery fiasco. Around that time, I was relying more and more on Cotton. He and I had become closer over the past few months, and I got into the habit of texting him when I needed a buffer. See, he lived in O-house as well, and so could appear to diffuse a situation he didn’t even know the depths of.
I want every reader to, in their head, whisper ‘bless Cotton’ because that is what he deserves.
Though I will say, during that time, the film adaptation of ‘Gone Girl’ had come out in theatres. And hell, knowing that April was spoiled while growing up, how she bragged about how she didn’t have to talk as a toddler– she would just scream until people scrambled to guess and retrieve whatever she needed just to stop the screaming– I could see a lot of Amy Dunn in her.
And an uncomfortable amount of Nick Dunn in me. You know, incapable of conveying appropriate reactions and emotions, unintentionally dismissive, having ‘cheated’ on my partner only weeks before. Cotton had the grand idea of taking April and I both there to see it. I squirmed in my seat, seeing Amazing Amy’s scheme of faking her own death turn the media to damn-near lynching her husband.
Especially in the end, when Amy had revealed herself as the manipulative, calculating, cold-hearted fucker she was and Nick realised he was stuck with her. Stuck pretending to love her, feeling as if they were damned to one another.
In my memory, I whispered to Cotton, ‘Why do you hate me?’ He remembers quite clearly the words being, ‘Fuck you.’
Both are plausible.
At the time, I was also getting closer with a new friend called Kaspar, who’d just gotten out of an abusive relationship. We’d had quite the cinematic event in the inworld that solidified our bond– I’ll tell the full story in another blog, but I was in grave danger of falling in love with a second person other than my partner.
April and I didn’t really discuss my polyamorous leanings. She offered the alternative of myself being allowed to kiss someone as long as she could watch. I squinted at the text for a full minute before pretending I hadn’t seen it.
She once proudly announced to me that she told her class she was in an ‘open relationship’, and how no one seemed to understand her advanced lifestyle. I remember bitterly thinking that I was surprised to learn that we were in an open relationship. But who needs facts when you’re having a grand ol’ time playing The Enlightened One, eh?
Funny enough, that wasn’t even what triggered the powder keg. It was work, of all things. See, I was constantly at the inn, just to escape from having to deal with her. Volunteering for extra shifts, and the like. Given that my roommates were borderline-dangerous Craigslist rejects (again, its own story), I didn’t necessarily want to be home, either. I started looking into whether I could do Overnights.
That’s the thing about private, family-owned inns. Chain hotels, they have a Night Audit– someone who’s paid to sit at the desk from 11pm-7am. It’s why most hotels never technically close. If you wander down to a hotel lobby at 3am, there will generally be a pallid, anti-social number-cruncher that doesn’t get enough sleep or sunlight to deal with bullshit.
Private inns, they have overnight innkeepers. Typically, at this inn, the job belonged to the owner’s sister-in-law. She had her own apartment within the inn and would stay there, all night– allowed to sleep, play video games, watch television, until the phone rang to signal a late check-in or some sort of emergency. She wasn’t paid hourly for it, but she, in exchange, could live rent and utility free.
And she was about to move out, thus opening the position vital position of overnight innkeeper. And me, with the constant financial struggling, the roommates that were making my house unlivable, and a yearning to live downtown where restaurants and cafes were within a ten minute walk– that practically seemed like winning the lottery. Hell, to a 21 year old, it was.
I was about to live ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’, for fuck’s sake! A free apartment in a downtown square, in a historic inn, already furnished. Hell, after seeing how many of my SCAD friends cringed away from the area I lived in, I couldn’t help but feel bloody boastful.
The decision was finalized in November of that year. I made it a toast at my 22nd birthday party. I proudly told April’s dad, when he was in town for the weekend, that his daughter wasn’t dating a complete dead-end. I mean, I’d crashed his car the year before, so his impression of me definitely had room to improve.
April was… I guess supportive would be the strongest compliment I could give her reaction. After all, she was nearing the end of her tenure of SCAD and she was mostly looking forward to a lot of student loans and a large, ominous possibility of moving back to Ohio. So, it probably shouldn’t have surprised me, when she said, passingly, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m fine with it. Just as long as you let [Amaterasu] and I crash on your couch after SCAD.’
A few other comments like that, and the realisation slowly dawned on me that this wasn’t a joke.
April presumed to share the unlikely success. And to move in with me, in my studio apartment. With her dog. She hadn’t asked, that’s just what she had assumed was happening.
I silently cursed myself for my idiocy. Of course she would do that.
I want to say that we were… around the Forsyth park area, walking back. It was night. We were planning on swinging by the inn, so I could show April the courtyard I’d shown Avery on a date– probably as some sort of apology. It was the last day before she was going back to Ohio for Winter break. I forget where we’d been prior. April’s father was still in town. I knew I had to tell April the bad news, but, you know, do the mature thing and blame someone else. The truth would’ve been, “Hey, Darling, you should probably know that I would rather live in a Guantanamo Bay cell than share a studio with you, no offense.”
What I actually said was, “Hey, I don’t think [inn owner]’s going to go for you crashing with me, as the apartment is kind of for work. That, and he doesn’t allow dogs there.” Particularly not your yowling demon.
She didn’t take that… well. I think, for a time, she tried to use the status of her dubiously-titled service dog as the excuse that the owner would Have to let her and the dog stay with me. I’m pretty sure I clumsily let slip, at one point, that I didn’t want her moving in.
It was back to her tried-and-true method of walking away from me in a darkened city. If there was a name to this game, it’d probably be, ‘Damned If You Do.’ If I were to heartlessly abandon her to the night, where she may be snatched up, assaulted, or killed– How dare I. I’d be duly guilted after. If I were to follow her, it’d be considered stalking. A breach of boundaries and space. Again, how dare I?
I made the foolish mistake of voicing that I’d noticed this pattern. “So, either I follow you and I’m a stalker who won’t give you your space or I go home and I’ve abandoned you in your time of need? This is getting old.” She turned and threw a book at me. Hardback. It bounced off my collarbone. I don’t remember feeling it, but I remember the bruise after. “Just go back to your dorm. Or to your dad’s hotel room.”
“I’d rather not,” she’d say coldly.
We rounded the corner towards the Gryphon Tea Room. I remember that was the point where she threw her wallet at me. In true Hot Topic fashion, her wallet had about three separate chains coming out of it. All of which hit me in the face. A nice, diagonal line between my left eyebrow and my upper lip.
Come to think of it, one of my alters has a scar like that.
It’s strange details, I remember of that night. I know was wearing my velvet frock. I had my leather satchel bag with my heavy Dell laptop in it. I don’t remember the precise date, only that it was sometime in early November between my birthday and when SCAD students left for break.
I was texting April’s father, at this time. I actually liked her dad. He was more reasonable than her mother– nicer, more level. Had never threatened me bodily harm… I was saying that autumn finals had left April having a stress-induced breakdown. I was updating him with our locations via text as we walked.
And gods, my idiocy continues. I looked up that entry in my journal and I had actually offered to pay for an apartment for her after SCAD. Like, since I didn’t have to pay rent on my apartment, this seemed like a reasonable thing to offer. I could just pay April’s rent, right? Then she wouldn’t be mad at me anymore.
I read my own words from that entry and I still think ‘What the fuck?’ But I’m still the same blighter who recently responded to verbal abuse by offering to pay for surgery, just recently. After a certain betrayal, the money’s currently going towards decorating my study.
I think I may have hated myself for offering. Then and now.
April had finally paused her walking in circles at Hayman’s Hall.
It… escapes my memory, where the conversation had turned to that point. I know I was still texting April’s dad, updating him on where we were. I know April was yelling at me. It’d been more than an hour that we were having this bizarre little stand-off. Eventually, I yelled back.
I’ve yelled, probably… less than seven times in my life. I replied to one of her phrases with, “Well, you’re not going to convince me to move in with you by screaming LIKE A BANSHEE!”
That’s when it happened.
I was on a lower step, and she was on the top one. She’d pushed me away from her, causing me to roll parallel to her. I vaguely remember that she was furious at me for yelling at her, but I don’t remember what the fuck she even said. Calling me an asshole? Berating me for finally yelling back? I’d only be guessing.
I’d rolled, crouching to start to get up. Then she started kicking me.
Again and again and again, right in the stomach and ribs. Don’t get me wrong, April was probably 95 lbs soaking wet, but she packed one hell of a kick. She’d also stomped on my back, but more continuously kicked me.
She was wearing boots. With spikes or a piece of metal something on the end of them.
I heard, more like– I felt– a cracking. It was somewhere in between hearing and feeling… Some hybrid sense I can’t even describe. But I knew I had my MP3 player on me– this thing was like an electronic teddy bear to me. I couldn’t afford it breaking, so when I felt– heard? something break, I thought of it. It’s like I couldn’t feel what had happened to me.
When I got to my feet, I checked my Walkman. The screen was still intact, Locked. April’s dad pulled up by then.
I remember going to his car and re-iterating that hell, maybe finals had just stressed my partner out. Defeated, April finally stalked to his car and got in.
Somehow, just after, I ended up at Kaspar’s place. My ribs were finally hurting, pain lacing through them like delicate strands of lightning– the left side, the bottom portion. They sent these sickening shocks of pain to me whenever I moved too– rashly. It was enough to bring a sheen of cold sweat onto my brow. It’d be years before I reached the conclusion that my rib-cage had been cracked during that night.
Kaspar had been physically abused in their last relationship. I think they’d seen the boot-print etched in the velvet of my frock. I wouldn’t tell them what happened. Hell, with all the encouraging I had done for them– telling them to leap right into independent, solo-polyamory, to leave co-dependence behind– I’d feel like a hypocrite if I told them I was in a relationship with someone who’d just beaten me.
And it also wasn’t connecting in my brain that I had just gotten beaten? April had thrown belts at Neb during Ohayocon 2011. She’d thrown things like wallets and books at me before. Occasionally, she’d slapped me. In the shoulder, in the face.
Kaspar was asking me what’d happened. I can’t remember what I said. Kaspar would later say, ‘It was disconcerting, to say the least. I could see what had happened, plain as day, and you kept making jokes and laughing and changing the subject…” Finally, Kaspar asked to see my bare torso.
I’d resisted at first, as I hadn’t had top surgery yet and would have to take off my binder. Kaspar offered me a glass of champagne with a shot of lavender syrup if I were to take off my shirt and frock.
I remember that moment keenly– Kaspar trying to hide its gasps, its empathetic exhales, and the sound of it chewing on its bottom lip. I remember its slender fingertips running down my back and my sides, tracing the dark spider-web bruising. I remember stiffly sipping the champagne while keeping my breasts hidden with the binder, wrapped around my arms.
I’d avoided its questions. Especially when it asked me if I needed to go to the hospital. It eventually stopped asking– the atmosphere was too tense, too awkward. I made my excuses and I wandered out into the night.
I’m under the vague impression that Kaspar was on vacation to Savannah?
Just by itself. I can’t remember the precise location. I remember that it seemed to have a suite, with a living room you couldn’t see the bed from.
I didn’t remember how I ended up there.
I wandered away from wherever it was staying that night. In my journal, I had this to say:
“Maybe it’s time to call it quits. At this point, I would, if not for the messyness. I… don’t know where to go from here. I don’t. I fucking don’t. I’ll be miserable if I let her take all of my resources and spit on them when they’re not presented in a way she likes them. It hurts.
It only adds to the fact that I never fucking belonged anywhere in the first place.
I can Gatsby all I want.
But he found out as well that he just wasn’t meant for this fucking world either.
I’M TRYING, okay?
I know this isn’t my reality. I know. I don’t belong here.
I just wish a few people in this would seem to want me here.”