Love in any form manifests itself into various ways and this narrative is about the myriad colors of passion.
To see a battered woman. It is like nothing you can imagine. The split lips, a swollen face, misshapen—the colors of a spectacular sunset just before nightfall, in a twilight of every color, blue, yellow, purple — with some of the bruises fading into a yellow green.
I’ve seen faces worked on in emergency rooms. Her lipstick is uneven, her bangs badly chopped and an apple-sized bruise on her cheek that sets you thinking — of bones that had not broken and areas that had not blossomed with more bruises.
Victims of spousal abuse and assault. Recorded on her chart as POSS DA, or Possible Domestic Abuse. There would be an “again”—and always, it happens. What provokes the complex attraction and destruction, the inexplicable feelings between two people who are connected in ways they will never understand. This is a story of three women, the names I’ll call them are not their own.
Obscuring their identity to respect their good names is secondary. The primary reason is to protect the Moonlighter from their wrath, once they realize I’m writing their sad and gruesome stories. They related to me as a cry of help. On a personal level, I am hoping to help these hapless souls to share their terrible secret—something wrapped in shame and silenced in strangled sobs—and still be respected and have a career, as your Moonlighter has.
For Agnes, the first time her husband hit her, she was just eighteen. She couldn’t wear a sun dress or frolic in the beach the whole summer. The marks of his beatings were like a tattoo. The next night he kissed each spot with his tears, wetting the spots like it would wash it away.
He was so sorry, he cried. His sorrow and regret seemed so palpable. She wept with his sorrow more than hers. Next mornings, they were holding hands, gazing at each others eyes, acting like nothing had happened. Put in togetherness of eight years, that was what the police blotter.
Rosa had a 10-year-old daughter who kept her secret. The child had to have heard the countless sound of the slaps, the thumps of the punches, the birdcall of her mother’s sobs, the sharp intakes of breath in pain. In the morning, her mother tapes herself up, swabs herself off, as she tried to put her pieces back together again—a repetitive scenario.
She had seen her mother’s bruises, remembers all those countless mornings after the horrible sounds and screams. Over at the breakfast table, her father calmly sits, drinking coffee from his favorite mug. Her mother comes in, with a breakfast tray filled with garlic fried rice, eggs and longanisa as if everything was just as it should be.
On the outside, Angelita looked fine. She was a registered nurse, had a beautiful home, three kids, a husband and a smile. Nobody got to see the hitting, which was really the humiliation, which turned into hatred. Hatred for her husband and the life she had lost. Her cringing self was afraid to leave. Divorce was a dislocation.
She stayed because she thought things would get better, or at least not worse. She wanted her kids to have a father and she wanted a home. But the real truth is that she loved her husband and no one had ever gotten to her the way he did. And he knew that…that is why he made her an accomplice in all the abuses he inflicted.
Three women and their sad stories. If they told their children they have had broken noses, collarbones, black eyes, split their lips by walking into the dining room in the dark. They would have gone past some point of no return…they would have killed the child in every kid, the woman in what was left of them. Women who only knew to love viscerally, with no regards to events, oblivious to the damaging things that happened and are kept in silence…Shame that surrounds that silence infecting that already wounded past, locked in a landscape of longings.
Many years ago, I have been in that distant place — a place where no lights illuminate dreams or fairy tales. But I learned in the process is redemption. Your children make it impossible to regret your past. They’re the finest fruits and sometimes they are the only ones….And when you made your choice and everyone tells you that you did the right thing, then maybe they are right.
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