(Belle’s split personality.)
I slept next to him still hoping to hear a distant heart beat emerge from my chest. I never heard anything though. Not from him and nothing from myself. He held me like he used to, but I couldn’t sleep. Not really. I kept looking at him as he slumbered thinking ‘How could you throw me away like that? How could you leave me like that Troy?’ I tossed and turned in his arms unsure if I was truly happy to be there. I felt unwelcome. Like somehow I was the other woman.
How did it come to this? Lying next to each other like nothing’s changed. Like I don’t want to scream at him and ask how it is that leaving the only person who ever cared enough to truly get to know him, accept him, and be the one that always showed up was ok. You’re happy with someone else so I’m supposed to be happy for you because I’m your best friend except you’re supposed to be my best friend and I’m heartbroken. I’m abandoned and trying to figure out how to function because the other half of my life left.
When you get a divorce, it’s not like ‘oh you don’t need a man go find someone else.’ No, it’s I can’t make dinner and that be normal because he’s not in the kitchen with me talking and half dancing with me in between chopping this and stirring that. I come home and it’s just empty. Watching a movie wrapped up in a blanket, but not with his arm around me and us shifting our weight here and there so my leg or his arm doesn’t go numb and stopping to look into each other’s eyes, that’s gone.
We’d be out for pizza and he’d look up at me, and just hold my gaze looking deeply into my eyes refusing to look away until I was blushing. Or folding laundry and making the bed together. Or just having a reason to even go into the garage and watch him tinker, handing him a tool here and there and trying to remember why I cared how an engine worked just because I wanted to be there with him singing along to the radio, laughing and talking about everything and nothing.
It wasn’t just “having a man” it was having someone so close to you that they were an extension of yourself and without them it feels like limbs are literally cut off so that even normal daily activities seem out of place… THAT is what getting a divorce means.
Being jealous because he’s cooking with someone else is what getting a divorce means. Knowing that it’s another woman’s perfume on my side of the bed and that even though he’s not in my house I know what side of the sink he sets his toothbrush on, how long it takes him to take a shower, what order he puts on his clothes, and how he must look into her eyes and smile right before he kisses her. That is what getting a divorce means. And it hurts to know that my life with him was taken from me and given to someone else when I didn’t do anything wrong and am somehow being punished for loving him and giving him the best of me.
And now I’m dead. Like something out of a horror movie. Like a book I read somewhere while I tried to convince myself that not having him lying there next to me wasn’t going to kill me. Like watching him leave me in every dream every night and waking up only to realize that the nightmare is real and there is no escaping it, even in unconsciousness, is just something I have to accept.
Literally screaming to wake up and find myself drenched in sweat and tears as visions of him simply walking away and treating me like a stranger he’d never met after all of the color drains from his face and he stares into my eyes with hatred looking like a deer caught in a pair of semi-truck headlights. Dreaming of him presenting his new wife and her lovely ring to a table full of his friends, all of whom I know and met and even dined with. Knowing now that those dreams, those nightmarish hellish visions that stole the escape of sleep from me were merely visions of a future I would gladly embrace one day. Because one day I’d want him to walk by and not say a thing, just leaving me alone, to continue figuring out how to be okay again and I was almost there. Then, BAM! He’s back.
And he’s here. With one arm wrapped around me. And I know this is what I wanted. I know this is what I thought would fix me. I know I thought if only I could have one more day… And I feel like I’m a stranger lying next to him because he didn’t change. I did. I changed because of the pain. And I can’t believe he threw me away. Like all the time and love and hope I had was just inconsequential and easy to turn away from because he settled for me. Like any other woman on the planet would have been acceptable no matter how horrible she might treat him, as long as she wasn’t me. Troy, you discarded me like a used snot rag and the joke’s on you for having to rummage through the garbage to get me.
I hate that he acts as though I did this to us. Like I’m the one who made the decision to leave. I hate that he makes it sound like I’m a piece of shit and therefore any shitty treatment I get is something I deserve and shouldn’t be the least bit surprised or upset about. As if, I’m a poser acting like I’m a human being with feelings. Oh, how dare I feel anything but adoration and smile and tell you how great you are anyway. But, you can’t stand for me to repeat your words back to you. Because unlike me, you are a person with feelings and how could I say such a thing and you don’t remember ever being so vicious and unkind to me then snarling an apology because you don’t like having a mirror put up in front of you and it only showing your ass. You want to be revered as a beautiful person while doing ugly things and you get mad when I don’t let you get away with it. Because you’re allowed to be a person and I’m not. I don’t know what you see when you look at me, but a person with feelings and a heart and someone who’s in a constant stream of pain that you caused is not it.
If I had said and done these things to you and you somehow loved me enough to try again… I’d remember every single second you recounted to me as painful and every day I would make every effort to think before I spoke and make sure that I made you feel safe and like I really was trying not to hurt you even if that meant I could never put my guard down and just be comfortable with you again. Because apparently, if this whole situation were reversed, it’s only because I am comfortable with you that I can just say anything and expect you not to feel it. Or so you say.
I laid very still next to him and waited for the sun to come up, unsure why laying next to him felt just as empty and hurtful as it did to wake up from crying in my sleep because he passed by me like a stranger in a nightmare. Once we were awake he showed me a few simple maneuvers in order to run quickly in vampire speed without effort and we were at Elle’s house.
Now I’m trying to convince myself that it’s okay to fall asleep in her car and fight the almost overwhelming thirst for the grossest thing anyone could ever want to drink. I fought to keep my eyelids closed. I fought to keep my mind from wandering. But, deep down inside I didn’t know if I was more afraid of dreaming that Troy was leaving me again, or that he had come back and that I’d see him again for sure.
I gave up and threw the blanket off of me. “Mind if I drive for a while?”
“Yes and no. Not that I doubt your driving skills, but if you haven’t partaken yet I know you’re thirsty.” Elle told me kindly as she handed me a soda she picked up at the last gas station.
I looked at her with raised eyebrows.
“If I wasn’t so dead set on being a good example for you I’d have had a go at the attendant. I know you thought about it too. Don’t even lie.” Elle continued, laughing as she tore open the wrapper to a chocolate bar. She took a big bite eating half of it and offering me the rest.
Who was I kidding? The attendant smelled delicious and if Elle had attacked him I would have insisted on getting half. I ate the chocolate bar playing out different scenarios of how we would have divided him up, hidden the body, and driven away after setting the little place on fire. She must have caught me in my thoughts.
“See what I mean? You can almost taste it. But, we need to blend in.” Elle continued.
“How much farther do we have to go and what will we do once we get there?” I asked as I turned to search the back seat for more chocolate bars. I found two and handed her one.
“We wait and see what we can find out about why demons were sent in the first place. I tie up some loose ends of my own, and figure out what to do with you.” Elle told me matter of factly.
I hadn’t considered myself to be a burden. But, I hadn’t really let it all sink in yet either. “Sorry.”
“Nope, don’t be. You didn’t ask for this. I just meant, it’s not likely Primus would have you killed as a new flatliner. And I don’t really know why Troy is hiding you. I mean, it’s not you that Primus is after. So, in terms of what to do with you, it’s a matter of how exposed you can be. That’ll determine where we go next.” Elle explained.
“Oh.” I said trying to see the situation with fresh eyes. “I had a portrait.”
“I don’t know if you left it at my house.” Elle said concerned about how that would impact keeping me hidden.
“Me either.” I said sadly. Maybe I should try and concentrate on anything else but Troy. But, I can’t. It’s like my heart got ripped out all over again and this time it’s somehow worse because I actually died.
“Time will tell.” Elle said sighing.
We passed a sign saying we had about 150 miles left to go and I tried to go back to sleep. I didn’t dream of anything though. The next time I opened my eyes I saw the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip and when I saw all of those people I drooled on myself a little. I’m so thirsty.
We drove way out of town to a little apartment building. She had a key to the place in the ashtray of her car. We went in, showered, changed into comfortable clothes and ordered pizza.
Troy came the next day.
I waited for that old familiar love for him to come pouring over me. I watched and observed him carefully. Trying to remember what it felt like to love and adore his every breath, his smile, his laugh, his eyes when he looked into mine and just felt numb inside. Somehow he was just a guy. An insensitive sarcastic man that was trying to reconnect with me through his humor and sweetness.
But you threw me away and told me you never truly wanted me in the first place. Why torture me then and accept all of the love I had to give now? Are you back to not having anything better to do dear? What act of God was it that brought you back to me? Do tell.
It’s like he’s two people. One that loves me and one that hates me. The one that hates me won and left me standing there alone in the world. The one that loves me doesn’t understand why I hate him because I only see the guy that hated me enough to hurt me like this.
That’s the only reason that makes sense you know. You don’t hurt someone that badly if you love them. You don’t, you fight to keep them safe and free from harm inflicted by your hands. He had to have stopped loving me at some point for him to have done this to me and now… I’m this awful person who wants to rip his throat out at any given moment because I’m afraid of what he will say and how it will hurt me.
I showered that night and stared at the towel drying visible hair in the mirror wondering in awe at how finally the mirror had captured how inconsequential he made me feel up until now. I’m a vampire and now somehow worthy of your attention hmm? Belle the human was never good enough. Now that I don’t have a heartbeat, this heart is good enough for you? Why’d I have to literally die to have any value to you Troy?
I got dressed and slipped out of the apartment. I knew they noticed but I guess I was allowed to get some air. But, outside on the hood of Troy’s car was a little note on top of a small velvety box. It was in Troy’s handwriting and read “I do.” Inside was his wedding ring.
I crushed the little box forgetting my new strength and spent the next half hour trying to make the ring semi-circular again. I kept thinking ‘Why bother trying to fix it when I’m just going to throw it at his head?’ But, a little part of me wanted him to recognize what it was and a crumpled piece of metal simply wouldn’t do. So I worked at it cussing and grumbling to myself.
“Let me help you with that.” a smooth voice came from behind me.
I saw a black tuft of smoke from the corner of my eye and was suddenly petrified. Was it a demon? Or worse, my ex-husband? I turned around and was instantly mesmerized by his soft hazel eyes. He put his arm around me and dipped me as if we were dancing until my head went through the car window.
* * *
“I think she found the ring.” Troy said smiling.
“Yeah, you’d better go and check on her.” I told him.
Troy got up and froze standing at the door. I immediately joined him wondering what frightened him so much.
And there he was… Primus in all his glory had tipped Annibelle’s head into the car window. But, it wasn’t a window. It was a reflection, a mirror, that had been turned into a doorway to hell. It looked like he was holding her decapitated body with her head lost in flames.
I sunk to my feet in horror for the pain she must have been in. Why kill her? Why?
I just sat there and watched unable to move or speak.
Primus slowly pulled Belle’s head out of the flames. She was unharmed but her brown eyes were silver and her dark hair was flaming red. She spoke to him in what had to be hell’s native language and walked away with him.
“Glad to have you on board. You will make a fine replacement for Grace. It’s been a pleasure meeting you Elle.” Primus told her and vanished in a dark cloud of smoke. That’s right, he can still teleport a bit.
He thought she was me.
She stood there afar off sort of stumbling towards us. Troy immediately crashed through the door to help her. One eye returned to its natural brown and parts of her hair faded from the fiery red to the dark brown it had been.
“I am Grenhelda.” she managed weakly in a high pitched voice and blacked out.
Troy and I stood over her and looked at each other. We instantly knew what Primus had done and what he had planned for me. He split her personality. Her fiery counterpart would do his bidding and when she was normal she’d be locked up in Grace’s old room. Grenhelda was the new council member. And Belle’s split personality from Hell.
How in the world are we going to explain this to her when she wakes up?