CAT'S GOT YOUR TONGUE
“You dumb, stupid, idiotic bitch!”
Those were the last words I heard, as Chub’s fist rocketed towards my face, again and again. I remember falling to the kitchen floor, then I woke up here. Stark white room, glaring lights and a rock hard bed. I was in hospital again. The doctor was telling me something about my ‘taking a turn’, and a neighbour finding me in the floor in the kitchen. The doctor’s face was concerned and I knew he didn’t believe the story he was hearing.
I turned my head towards the door fearfully and saw somebody standing there watching me. She was a familiar face. An officer from the domestic violence unit, here to make a statement. We knew each other well; she was called Marie and was a lovely woman. The doctor left us alone and Marie came to the bed. I knew I didn’t need to lie and cover for Chub, because I knew Marie could do nothing unless I agreed, so I began to tell her what happened. It wasn’t anything she hasn’t heard before, even from me.
In between sobs and gasps for frightened breath, I told her, “I’m not sure what I did wrong this time. I remember Chub coming home, late again, drunk as usual. He was hungry and sat down at the table. I placed his supper in front of him immediately and retreated quickly back to the kitchen. He finished eating and shouted for a beer. I brought two for him, knowing he was going to want more than one. He threw the second one across the room, calling me a stupid cunt because I couldn’t even count to one. Then he looked me up and down and sneered his usual insults, telling me how disgusting and fat I was, how useless, and how he couldn’t believe he was stuck with me. I just turned away like I always do, hoping he’ll fall asleep quickly on the sofa, and I’d be safe to go to bed.”
Marie gave me a look of understanding and a motherly pat on the arm. I smiled a small watery smile and continued, “But not tonight; tonight he was determined that I was going to stand there and listen to every word he had to say. Every insult, every putdown. He thought that because he was my husband that he had a right to speak to me this way. So, the tirade went on. It felt like hours before he let me go back to the kitchen. He liked, no preferred, me to be in the kitchen. Barefoot and pregnant, my place was in the kitchen and doing as I was told, or else.” Another sympathetic pat from Marie, who handed me a tissue for my tears.
“I never answered back. That would only result in my face being pulped a lot sooner and I was trying to avoid the inevitable just a little while longer. He followed me into the kitchen, but I kept my back to him and closed my eyes. I bowed my head and tried to block out his constant stream of abuse. That never worked of course, because as always, he grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. He was spitting in my face, his own face contorted in anger and his finger pointing to the floor. I looked down to see what he was shouting about this time. Then I laughed, I couldn’t help myself. It was a slug. A stupid slimy fucking slug on the kitchen floor causing him to lose his temper. But then, it never takes much for him to find an excuse. I thought he was settling down a little before that, but I’m never that lucky.” My eyes slid to Marie and I saw her nodding her understanding, her hands swiftly moving over her paper pad as she wrote everything down ‘for the record’. I waited, wiping my tear-filled eyes, until she looked up again, indicating that she was ready to hear the rest.
“So, the slug was on the shiny, clean, kitchen floor. He was pointing at it, his face all distorted in anger, and all I could do was laugh. It was the most ridiculous situation to be in. but of course, he thought I was laughing at him, and that’s when the rain of blows onto my face began. I only remember screaming and trying to cover my face, and then I woke up here.” Marie wrote all this down dutifully, and gave me a speech about how brave I am, and that I’m how I’m going to be fine. Then she stood up, and with a promise to be back real soon, she left my room.
I watched her leave and then turned my head towards the window, so my face wasn’t on show to anyone who might look through the door, and I smiled. My hands travelled to protect and embrace my swollen, pregnant belly, and I smiled again. I had to wonder why Marie never told me that Chub was dead. Maybe she thought I’d been through enough trauma for one night.
She didn’t know that I already knew he was dead. I killed him, last night. I’d been planning it for a long time. I knew that the first thing I had to make sure of was that his abuse was firmly on record, both at the hospital and with the police. Once that was done, I had started to plan. I couldn’t just leave him, you see, because he always told me that if I did, he would always find me, drag me back and teach me a lesson. I knew I’d never be free, so this was the only way.
Besides, my baby was due to be born soon, and I wasn’t going to bring my precious child up in that environment with a monster.
So I waited and I planned, but I was running out of time. I knew I had to do it soon. He goes to the pub after work on a Friday. So in the morning I prepared. I thought it out carefully. Everything was in place when he got home. He didn’t disappoint me; he started his screaming within a reasonable time. Giving him the wrong food set him off easily, as did getting two beers when he’d only asked for one. The ignoring him thing really gets on his nerves, as he likes me to look attentive and listen as he tells me how much he hates me.
But last night, it went like clockwork. He had followed me into the kitchen, like I told Marie. I had turned around, but not to hang my head and close my eyes, but to reach the carving knife I had carefully placed down the side of the microwave, out of his sight. As usual, he grabbed me and twisted me around, and I let the momentum of that work for me when I slid the knife into his stomach. I looked him in the eye then, for the first time in years, and his eyebrows shot up in surprise. I’m not sure if it was the pain of the stabbing or the hate in my eyes that surprised him. Maybe it was both, as I genuinely believe that he thought I loved him, even after everything that he’s done to me throughout our marriage.
I pulled the knife out and he fell to his knees clutching his stomach. Feigning shock, I babbled some sort of apology and helped him up. We made it to living room, where he lay down on the sofa. I told him I was going to call an ambulance, but I really went back into the kitchen, picked up the knife with a tea towel and wiped it clean. Then, the handle still covered with the tea towel, I carried it into the living room. He was relieved to see I had brought something to stem the flow of blood coming from his wound. He couldn’t see the knife.
I knelt down beside him and told him that I needed to see the wound. He took his hands away, whimpering like a baby all the time, and I opened his shirt and felt for the wound. When I found it, I picked up the knife and plunged it in again at exactly the same spot. I pushed down on it as hard as I could. His body tensed and he made a strange wheezing sound, then went still and quiet. I held my breath and counted to one hundred before I moved a muscle.
I took away the tea towel and placed his hands, as best I could, around the handle of the knife. Then I really moved. I cleaned his blood off the kitchen floor, washed the tea towel and then phoned my neighbour. We had a chat and I promised to pop round first thing in the morning. She’s a good friend, and she knew that I always go round there when I say I will. I knew that she’d come round here to find me when I didn’t show up at her house. I went to bed, listening to Chub groaning weakly, his voice getting quieter and quieter as the night wore on.
In the morning, I went to the kitchen and knew that the hard part was coming. I had to be beaten and unconscious when Carol, my friend and neighbour, came round. Deliberately throwing your face into cupboards and doors is not an easy task. It’s much easier to do when your husband is throwing you into them. But I had to do this, so I took some deep breaths, placed my hand on my tummy to remind me why I’m doing it, then ruined my face over and over again on the doors and cupboards. I cleaned my blood off the cupboards, but left the spatters on the floor where they were. Then I lay down and waited for Carol to find me.
The only thing left to do was to put on the performance of my life when they came to tell me that my husband was dead, suicide, probably from alcohol induced remorse. They aren’t going to suspect me of murder. They know perfectly well how scared of my husband I am and can see by my face what he did to me.
So now here I am lying in my hospital bed, hands on my stomach, telling my baby that, unlike her four brothers and sisters, she was going to have the chance to be born. I told her that daddy won’t do to her what he did to them. It’s just us now, and we’re going to be okay. Yes, me and my baby will be fine. I smiled again, stroked my tummy tenderly, then feigned sleep as I heard the door to my hospital room open.