I hear the all familiar creak of the floor boards as the all too familiar feet make their way towards my door.
I know who it is.
I know what she wants.
It’s her way to creep as if she thinks I don’t hear her.
She’s hoping to catch me out. See me in the spare bed when she thinks after the abuse of the evening I want to sleep in her bed.
In her head she is already ridiculing me.
Pointing out that if I was a real man I’d take her on, compete, not lay down and take what she dishes out.
But there is only so much and I am at my wits end.
The children are sleeping now. Unaware of the terror I am about to experience. They see enough in their waking hours to know what I tolerate. I do so to protect them. I deflect from them when she attacks for any indiscretion. The washing up not done to her liking, their rooms untidy, a note from school pointing out some issue in the Maths class, once again.
She screams at them that they embarrass her, she has a reputation to uphold and they are bringing her down. The eldest girl cops it most. She is supposed to be leading by example but she is a wayward child, she flouts the rules, she pushes her mother’s buttons, deliberately I know. Mother retaliates with raised fist, she hit the eldest just once before I step in and stop the onslaught. Both want to engage in the violence but I tell the daughter to go to her room. The mother then rains her frustrations down on me. I am used to it now. I don’t care what she does to me so long as the children are safe.
Tonight I know who goes there. I am ready for the torment. The words of derision. She’ll say her bit, I’ll listen, I’ll go lay on the floor. I’ll wait till goes away then crawl back into the bed.
In the morning we’ll start all over again.
At least for the present.