10.21, 10.22… 23, 24…. as Sally watched the numbers change on her digital alarm clock, she felt the familiar knot in the pit of her stomach. It was Wednesday night and judging by the lateness of the hour, it wasn’t going to be much different from any other Wednesday.
For the past 7 years, she had dreaded Wednesdays. What started out as a game of golf with the boys and the obligatory pint in the pub had turned into late night sessions for him and misery for her. No matter which way she played it, it always ended up the same way and she didn’t see anything changing.
10.56 and she wasn’t sure of what she was aware of first; the tyres crunching on the gravel drive or the headlights reflecting on the magnolia bedroom wall but he was home. Despite everything else that would or wouldn’t happen, he was home……safe! How many conversations had taken place about his drinking and driving? How many threats to report him to the police but they were hollow just like her threats to leave him.
She heard him fumbling to open the front door. How was she going to play it? Pretend to be asleep, confront him or act with indifference? Why was she even rehearsing it? The result would be the same, so she elected for the sleep option. She heard him head to the kitchen, and the predictable sound of a cork popping from a bottle of wine. One thing she could never understand was no matter how much he drank, he always had to open a bottle of wine for bed. Most people are satisfied with a cuppa or a hot chocolate but not him.
Soon he was clumsily climbing the stairs and she turned her back to the door and prepared to feign sleep. In he came and down went the glass with that familiar clunk on the bedside table. He stumbled as he removed his shoes and then collapsed onto the bed as he tried to negotiate his trousers. His polo shirt always stayed on and as he got into bed, he rolled over to kiss her goodnight.
The smell of alcohol caused Sally to flinch and the game was up.
“What’s your problem?” without giving her chance to answer, Bob bawled at her again “What’s your problem?”
“Nothing, I’m fine” was her strangled reply, “Just sleepy.”
“Just sleepy.” he mimicked her voice “So, what is your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem. I just want to go to sleep.”
“That would be right; you never have a problem do you? Your just a stupid bitch always whinging and whining about something or another. Well I ain’t done nothing wrong so don’t even start with me.”
Sally didn’t respond but this only served to invite Bob to verbally abuse her a bit more. All the confidences and weaknesses she had shared with him over the years just became weapons to hurt her with. It could be old boyfriends, her work, her hobbies, her medical condition or her family. Everything was fair game and a stick to beat her with when he was worse for the drink.
As she lay there listening to the spite and anger in Bob’s voice she wondered why the man that claimed to love her for 6 days of the week, could be so unkind and wicked on a Wednesday? She had heard the same accusations, the same cruel and spiteful comments hundreds of times before but every week they hurt a bit more. They confused her and left her feeling unloved and lonely. Tonight was no exception. He ridiculed her again and told her over and over that he didn’t want her anymore.
“No man would want you. You deserve to be by yourself. You’re a miserable bitch and I would be better off without you. When I was with Cally, she was great in bed, always up for it but you, you are useless. You have no idea how to please a man.”
How many more times was he going to use Cally to score points? They had split up years ago but each Wednesday she still she had to listen to how wonderful Cally was. She could feel the tears burning her eyes but she stifled the sobs because she knew that her sniffles would give him more ammunition, so she choked back her sobs and the tears ran silently down her cheeks and soaked the pillow.
All had gone quiet and she hoped that he had gone to sleep, she didn’t dare move because if she moved a muscle, he would be awake and belittling her again. As she lay in the dark, she wondered why she didn’t just get her stuff together and leave him but despite everything, Sally loved Bob. Leaving would mean having to admit to her family and friends that she had married an alcoholic and no matter how many times he hurt her, she didn’t want other people judging him and thinking badly of him.
With pins and needles threatening her left arm, she moved to free herself; he stirred and used the opportunity to throw his arm around his her. Again she froze which seemed to have the undesired effect of jolting him awake.
“Get your clothes off and spread your legs” he grunted as he drunkenly tried to fumble Sally.
“Leave me alone.” she shouted. “Just leave me alone.”
As the sobs broke free from Sally, Bob turned away from her leaving her weeping and alone at last.
Sally knew that tomorrow would bring apologies and promises but she also knew that it was just 6 days before next Wednesday.
12.47, 12.48, eventually the tears blurred the time on the digital clock.