Episode 7 – Part 1: Belle Retrieved
I married a difficult man. Troy…I thought that if I just loved you enough you’d soften up somewhere somehow and that my love would be validated in a way that I would consider tangible. I thought, maybe I’m just not up for the challenge or maybe I wasn’t as up to par as I thought. I mean, I’m an amazing person so why I am I just not good enough for you half of the time? So I resolved to walk away, over and over again. But, every time I got too fed up and had one foot out the door… you’d amaze me with kind words and tell me how much you wanted me there with you.
Every critical insult was somehow made up for. You said you would be embarrassed to shop for me because I wasn’t a size two. You humiliated me standing there calling around lingerie stores asking if they had my size so you could tell me where to shop for a corset. Then you bought me an outfit. You said there was a reason you didn’t want to hold my hand in public. Then you walked hand in hand with me for blocks. You said you’d rather be elsewhere, and then when you had the chance you cancelled everything to be with me. You went out of town for a business meeting and would by something for yourself, then begrudgingly give it to me claiming you hadn’t forgotten to “surprise” me like you promised.
I thought maybe you were just torn and freaking out because you always said that no one on this earth had ever loved you like I did and that it scared you because you didn’t always know how to respond.
I should have known you’d run away. And you did. You told me you had nothing better to do, so you married me. You told me that you were leaving, that you were glad you were leaving, didn’t dream of me, wouldn’t miss me, and would have a long and happy life without me. Cheers Belle. Those were your words.
So, you left and as much as it hurt me to see you leave I had an overwhelming sense of relief. I thought. “Great, now I won’t have to kill myself later when his critical words kill me slowly over the years to the point where real death won’t feel any different except for the silence.” That’s what I thought. It didn’t matter if I gave you the whole world on a silver platter, you’d think of something you didn’t have and then nothing would be good enough and only because I had given it to you.
I kept holding onto the idea that once it hurt about the same to stay or to go then I would go. The prospect of living without you always hurt more because it was too late by then. I already loved you. I was already stuck. But when you left, the world was lifted off of my shoulders.
… Then you came back for me.
“Belle. Stay calm.” Troy told me.
I slapped him so hard I felt like I smashed my hand with a hot iron. It stung. I turned to leave. I was furious. God help me there’s cutlery in the house! How dare he come back to my home after telling me that I was nothing but something to do to him and that he wouldn’t miss me and then turn around and have the nerve to say he needed me to leave with him.
“For what? So you can finish the job!?!” I snarled at him.
“What job?” he asked bewildered.
“It wasn’t enough for you to break my heart and kill me, you have to the nerve to show your face after telling me the divorce was final by sending a postcard with a picture of you and Grace on it!” I said storming away from him. Fight or flight consumed me. But, I didn’t want to go to jail, so I kept moving away from him.
“Look Belle. I’m… I’m in the CIA and some people found out about you. They were gonna kill you Belle. I had to do something. They…” Troy continued as I locked myself in the bathroom. “I don’t know how they found out what my real name is. But I had to save you.”
“That’s lame and you’re a bad liar!” I screamed at him.
He had no imagination. That was on this week’s channel 7 soaps. And even they were more inventive about it.
“I am not a bad liar.” he whispered sulking. He had a point.
“I’m not leaving with you and for the record my life isn’t the one in danger right now.” I brooded.
“Grace was my partner. She was compromised and I had to leave you then go and try to save her and another field officer. I failed and she died. I have to save you before they come for you Belle. I know I hurt you. I said some truly horrible things and I did Belle, I lied convincingly.” Troy continued.
“You are a pharmacy tech Troy. No way.” I said stubbornly. “You just want the money you left in the safe. Get it and leave.”
Mind you I already put it in a safety deposit box at the bank and planned to use it to pay for my next wedding at the turn of the century just to spite him.
“I left that money for you. And how would a pharmacy tech have $50,000 to just leave behind? Think about it Belle.” Troy’s smooth voice whispered through the door.
I hate that! I hate how easily he can get to me when he’s near me. It’s so much easier to hate him when we’re not in the same space. That way I can play back the echoing sound of his voice telling me that he never wanted me over and over and hate him with real resolve.
But, I missed him. I miss him right now and he’s on the other side of the door doing the sweet believable voice he does when he wants something I don’t want to give him. Like that one time he talked me into hiking in the desert and we had to run for two miles because he thought it would be cool to get too close to a pack of coyotes.
“Nope.” I remember how he’s always getting his way. Not this time. “Let’s go with what I want today. You wanted to leave. So leave. I want you to leave, so leave.”
I want him to leave before I break down and wrap my arms around him so I can feel normal for two seconds and not like a wounded animal about to die and yet unable to finally kick the bucket. I sat on the edge of the tub and buried my head in my hands. Trying to hide the frailty my resolve hinged on. He must have heard me sigh or something because he knew I wasn’t standing next to the door.
Bam! He kicked the door in and looked at me as though I should finally take him seriously.
“Any idiot who’s seen half an episode of a cop show could do that.” I smugly said to him and reburied my head.
I was waiting for him to criticize me and tell me why he was so superior and how I just had to take his hand because I’m wounded and helpless. I waited and waited and tensed up every muscle in my body waiting for the blow of his words to hit me.
To my surprise he quietly sat down on the tub with me and wrapped one arm around my shoulder pulling me in.
I completely, involuntarily, uncontrollably, started sobbing and sank into his arms. He stood me up and hugged me tightly. I sank to my knees and he sank with me. I don’t know how long I cried. I don’t even remember getting into a car and leaving the house.
All I remember was a gentle “Shh” whispered into my ear and I finally felt whole again for the first time in months.
I hate that even after all this time and all of my trying to let go, heartache, and failing that still it’s him. The person who broke me is the only one who can fix me. But, I know that even if he tried, there would always be a little part of me that would never truly believe anything kind he would ever say to me and what it would take for me to believe was too great. Not worth the effort of trying.
He made me feel so horribly rejected and unwanted. I seriously thought that he would rather slit his wrists and die slowly than have nothing but me to look forward to until death do us part. He had no reason to flip on me like that. I hadn’t done anything. It’s like some shiny toy passed before him and suddenly I wasn’t good enough and would never be able to compete against it. I’d have to flat out be somebody else in order to win my husband back and that hurt me so deeply.
Then the warmth of his arms around me drowned out all of the hate I feel for him. And again, because of this man, I felt stupid.