I get home, just to see her in the kitchen, strongly scrubbing the floor. The day was exhausting; foreign investors were in town, supervising the company’s production, and, as the manager responsible for this area, I had to show them around. The pressure was huge, and the contract’s renewal depended on good impressions.
As I lean to kiss her my back hurts, but I quickly forget about that, as I see the blood on her hands. They have injuries and bruises all over them, on her beautiful pale knuckles, on her palms, on their backs. As I get up, surprised, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, she looks at me, deep in my eyes, and I can see the mascara tears across her face. She is still wearing the black dress, the pearls, and the elegant shoes I saw hear putting on in the morning, before going to work. The lipstick was long gone.
And she keeps scrubbing, compulsively. I gaze around and the floor is impeccably clean. Still, she won’t stop. Why?
“I… must… clean… remove… dirty, dirty, dirty… stained. I must. Clean. Dirty…”.
I kneel and try to hold her, as she cleans the floor. I ask what’s wrong, but she doesn’t answer me. For a moment I ask myself if she’s even aware I’m there, holding her. And it doesn’t take long until I finally realize that no, to her, I’m not there. Or am I? She quietly weeps, and I can’t wash the impression I’m on a dream off of me.
The brush is already dry, and I suspect she has been using her own tears. “For how long is she here?”. I ask myself. She won’t tell me.
I can feel her pain and agony, physically, slowly draining me dry. And then I notice how skinny she has become. She looks weak and fragile, and finally I understand that it–whatever “it” means–has also taken its toll on her.
There are scrapes and bruises also on her arms, neck, legs… were they there in the morning?! I can’t tell… I don’t remember… I guess I wasn’t really paying attention.
I realize I haven’t really been paying attention. More: I realize she must have… discovered. Oh, no…
I know I’m wrong. I always knew. But I was going to tell her!… as soon as the investors were gone… I would be more relaxed, we would go out, have dinner, I would apologize, and tell her the truth. She would be comprehensive, and this would be the first step towards a new beginning for us. Wouldn’t it?
But she found out… Of course. How could I forget? She’s such a smart and intelligent woman; these are two of the many characteristics that got me into her in the first place.
Oh, fuck. I screwed things up. Big time. I brought this on myself–I brought this on her. How could I do that to her? To us?!
How didn’t I notice before?! Look at her!!! I’m a… fucking loser. That’s what I am. Ten years down the drain. Over what? Over nothing!
The sobbing stops. I guess she’s back to surface. She unlocks herself from my arms. She stares at me while she tilts her head. I can see the despair is gone. Her eyes are blank, empty.
She bluntly says “I can’t make you hang around. I can’t wash you off my skin. Believe me, I have tried”.
And as she says I automatically know she really did. She was strong, this one. And still I managed to break her–in a way I have no idea if she will ever be able to repair. Over what?…
She stands up, and mutters “I want something good to die for; to make it beautiful to live. I want a new mistake–lose is more than hesitate…
Do you believe it in your head? ‘Cause I don’t… ”.
She goes out the back door; I get up and go after her, but she’s already gone with the flow.