The crash reverberated down the hallway, ricocheting off the front door. Her mouth hung open as she watched him pull his fist back out from the hole in the beige wall, her brain scrambling to catch up with her eyes. Her eyelids seemed to climb frantically up her forehead, widening, desperate to take in every detail.
What had she done this time?
He kept his fist clenched tight, the blood rushing from his taunt knuckles. She could not help but wonder if his own blood cells wanted to escape as badly as she did. His eyes seemed to burn a tunnel into her skull, almost pitiful in their assessment. Jaw working the inside of his cheek, he spit a chunk towards the broken wall.
“You think I like babysitting you? Head in the toilet, whimpering like you’ve never even had a hit before — I do not do sloppy, you understand?”
Her head bounced up and down so fast, it felt as if it may snap off her neck and go rolling into the kitchen.
Please, do not be mad. Please, I will do anything.
“You are nothing but problems — I do not have time for this. If it were not for that girl cleaning up after you last night, I would have wasted my high taking care of your pathetic . . .” He paused, seeming to weigh his next words carefully, eyes softening a bit around the edges.
Her heart leapt, hopeful.
“Look, Ashley, I love you and I want all this to work out, but you are not any fun anymore. I need a girl I don’t have to worry about embarrassing me or making me look bad. I want that to be you, I thought that could be you—”
“Oh, it is. I promise. I’ll get better, Nick. Please . . . Please let me prove it to you.”
“Next time, I will just leave you there to take care of yourself, got it?”
She smiled up at him and nodded her head, eager for it to be over. For it not to be her fault anymore.
Please love me.
* * *
She turned onto her street and glanced at the dash.
She sighed, sinking into the Volvo’s leather upholstery.
She could picture her dad waiting in the living room chair counting the minutes, hands crossed angrily across his chest. She had had every intention of being on time that night, but after the fight with Nick earlier that evening, she wanted to make sure everything was okay – more than okay – before she left. She felt the old fears creeping in again, wrapping themselves around her heart.
What if he wakes up tomorrow and realizes I’m not good enough?
She pulled the car into her parent’s driveway and flicked off the engine. Heavily she sunk her forehead against the hard steering wheel, thoughts skipping back to the phone conversation she’d had on the drive home.
“It is not always your fault, you know, Ash. He should not talk that way to you. I wish I had been at that party last night, I would have . . .”
“But, it was my fault. I should not have had pre-partied so hard. I guess I should have told him I had had enough already. I just did not want to tell him no and make him mad, again.”
Ashley heard her friend exhale into the phone, steadying her voice as she spoke, “I know you love him, but honestly, I worry about you sometimes. This kind of stuff is not like you. You always said you did not need to party to . . . that that kind of stuff was for people with no imagination. But, ever since you met this guy . . .” Another sigh. “Will you please read that chapter like I said last week? I really think it could help.”
Ashley had hung up promising her she would; anything to make her friend feel as if she were not completely a lost cause.
Ashley lifted her head and stared at the garage door. All her fears felt like anchors dragging her heart down into her stomach. She wanted to throw up.
Reluctantly, she reached into her purse and found her iPhone. Tapping quickly, she Googled “Psalm 139” and began reading.
* * *
5 minutes later, Ashley looked up from her phone. She remembered.
Thank you, God. Thank you that I do not need Nick to tell me I am somebody. I am somebody because you created me and find me valuable. Help me to replace the lies I have believed with your truth. Give me the strength to fight against the seeds of self-doubt and the wisdom to know truth from lies. May my identity be rooted in you, and you alone.
Her lips broke into a smile as her buoyed heart floated back into place.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s
I praise you, for I am fearfully and
Psalm 139: 13-14 (NRSV)
Author: Madison Slinker