My dirt mingled with his sweat, bodies strewn across sheets and twisted in unnatural angles – as if dead. Sometimes, I thought I could even hear screams but I wasn’t sure if they were mine or his. It was far from the PG-rated, gentle depictions one sees in Hollywood movies and shelves under „this is what love is supposed to look like“.
It was messy, often painful, competitive, aggressive, unapologetic and primal. Sometimes he put both his hands on my throat and squeezed them tight, to see if I’d fight back. I never did. Self-destructiveness had been my religion of choice long before he came along. Then again, I wasn’t a victim like so many times before. I scratched his back, and he didn’t fight either. He let me leave wet, red marks all over his body like a dog – marking my territory, making sure that, when the night came and he went to one of his usual haunts, there would be no mistake in who had claimed him first.
The battles we fought with words were more sinister. He begrudged me what he perceived as my indifference and I turned up my nose every time he mentioned an ex lover. I wanted us to exist in the vacuum of our battles. I was, I guess, the only person in the world who didn’t wish for peace.
I desired morning-after bruises. I prayed for scars.
Nothing else seemed real. Nothing but physical damage lasted long enough. I didn’t want my body to heal, because I knew that once it did I’d be left with an even worse wound in the core of my brain that nothing could fix. If my body was pristine, there would be no way to anchor the pain.
What his reasons for loving me that way were, I never found out. Perhaps he wanted to take his revenge on those who’d come before, and I was the vessel. Perhaps he didn’t know any better.
When I woke up one Sunday morning and looked in the mirror to see a purple eye, I smiled. He was still sleeping, a railroad map etched in blood on the skin of his back. I sat beside him and gently caressed the lines with the tips of my fingers. I was empty. Happy, too. It was over.
As I closed the door behind me, I couldn’t tell if either of us had won, or even survived.