The pounding on the door throbbed through my head. I paused, my hand halfway to the cabinet. My gaze followed the line of my arm until it landed on my face. A web of red lines criss-crossed through my eyes. Stains of dark purple had spread beneath them, and two short ruts stood between them.
“Joy, please! Open the door!”
Mark. I sighed. Why won’t he leave?
A stab of pain flashed through my temple and I grunted. Pushing the side of my head with one hand, I opened the cabinet with the other. Bottle after bottle of medication landed on the floor. Where is it?
“You can’t hide in there forever!”
Ah! Pushing my deodorant aside, I reached for the medicine. I grabbed it and read the label, my hand still pressed to my head. This better do it. It would be the third one I’ve tried.
More pounding. I tossed my head back to give the pills easier access to my throat. One of them stuck, and I swallowed a mouthful of water to dislodge it.
“Joy, listen to me!” The door rattled. “We can work through this.”
I closed the cabinet and stared at my reflection. Why me? I turned to the bathtub and turned on the faucet. Somehow, the sound of the water flowing into the tub helped. I slid to my knees onto the floor and laid my head on the edge. Water splashed onto my face and I swiped at it. Lifting my head out of the way would have been easier, but it felt like a brick had been placed on it to prevent it from moving. More water landed on my cheek and rolled down into the corner of my lips. My tongue slipped out and licked the drop away. It tasted like salt.
I opened my eyes. The pounding had stopped. How long have I been here? I lifted my head, using my hands to help. “Mark?” I felt my heart beating faster. “Are you still there?” I crawled to the door and stretched out my hand to open it. “Please don’t leave me!” My fingers couldn’t grasp the doorknob and I collapsed to the floor, sobbing.
“Why?” My chest heaved and a rush of tears blinded me as I screamed, “Why, God? What did I do to deserve this – this – pain? This torture?” I felt a fingernail break as I tried to crawl toward the door.
I fell to my side and pulled my knees to my chest, squeezing my eyes shut. “Please. Don’t leave me. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost You.” Tears flowed onto the tile and I felt a hand stroke my head. I opened my eyes, but I couldn’t see anything but white.
The pounding started again, then a loud crunch. I tried to sit up, but my strength was gone. He’s back! The door flew open and there he was. I flopped my arm up and he grabbed my hand, kissing it. He drew me close and laid my head onto his shoulder. “Oh, Joy! I thought I had lost you.”
I shook my head, a mere twitch. “He wouldn’t let me go.” I sighed. Mark’s chest started to shake and he held me tighter. I heard voices, and someone told me it would be okay. “I know.”
Mark held Joy’s hand all the way to the hospital. She was unconscious, but a look of peace had settled on her ravaged features. He traced his finger down a tear track, then clenched his fist and pressed it against his mouth. His tears made their own tracks before tapping onto the metal floor of the ambulance.
How on earth could one man cause so much pain in our lives? Mark’s jaw tightened. He looked at his fist. If I ever find him, so help me…
Slowly, he unfolded his hand. His anger would only cause more pain. Justice would be served, but not by Mark. He looked at his wife and smiled through his tears. So much pain and so much sorrow, but nothing would overcome his Joy.