The day of the big battle was upon us. I admit I was terrified. 'What if I lost?' That would mean that everything I had worked for, would be undone. What a horrible thought. That everything you have worked for your entire life hinged upon one moment.
Yet, here I stood on the precipice of my own creation. Would I rise to the occasion or crumble and fall into the ashes of my own destruction? I didn't know the answer to that question. That terrified me most of all.
The image of sitting in the tub as a child sat squarely in the front of my mind. The sounds of a drunk father echoed in my ears. I turned to look at my brother who seemed otherworldly calm.
A resolution on his face that didn't mirror my own. The sound of footsteps drew closer, the anticipation filled me with fear.
A shiver ran through my naked body, I relieved myself. It wasn't intentionally. Shame. My brother's eyes widened as the urine slid down the drain. He didn't utter a word. The smell of urine and alcohol consumed my senses as I heard the door latch.
It swung open, and I am stuck in the moment of horror when I gaze upon the fury in his eyes. Darkness, as I am brought back to the present.
Michelle smiled at me, as she always had.
"I believe in you," she said. "You can do this."
"I can do this," I replied back.
I don't know if my words came across with the confidence or if she heard the fear in my voice. I do know that I walked with Amanda and my other best friend Jolie. I trusted them both completely. My fate was in their hands. The girls came, to the bus stop. Jolie, with a curly black hair, small frame but big attitude stood in front of me.
"No" I held out my hand to stop her. She turned to look back at me. I looked at the girls surrounding us.
"You will fight us one at a time," I said looking at each girl.
"Why would we do that?" the one standing in front of Jolie replied.
"Because, if you don't, I will find you when you are alone and I will show you the error of your ways. It would be better to handle this one on one, like real women." I pause for effect. My breath catches.
"Show me what you are worth." The girls looked at each other. Unspoken words crossed between their faces. I wondered if they felt the truth behind my threat.
"You don't scare us. But fine, one on one. No one leaves until someone submits." The leader responded while maintaining a calm facade. I could see the fear in her eyes. It was a hidden fear that wasn't meant for my awareness. Yet, that was all I could see when I gazed upon her face.
"Agreed". With no further words exchanged the battle began.
The battle raged and I found myself growing so angry that the skin on my flesh prickled and stung me. I watched the bloody scene before me with agony laced into my bones.
My hands trembled with such a deep rage that I felt I would implode as I watched my friends getting beaten. If they lost, it would be over, but I couldn't intervene.
What had I done? I screamed at them "Get it together!" It was all I could do and this powerlessness consumed me. Yet, for some reason, these simple words were enough motivation to propel them to victory.
They had won. It was my turn. The last girl standing was their leader. Our eyes met. Her green eyes sparkled with sheer will and determination. There was a desperation there but I was desperate too.
We fought. Hard. I won, but just barely. It was not the kind of victory you celebrate over. At the end we were battered and bruised. They submitted to defeat and got on the next bus and just like that they were gone.
It was over. I had won. Yet, for some reason, this victory left a sour taste in my mouth.
What had I really won? The chance to remain tied to someone I despised? The chance to watch Jolie's eye swell or Amanda's bruised lips crust over as my own ribcage ached with the weight of their punches? Was this what victory tasted like?
'What would tomorrow bring to me?' I wondered as I rode the bus home in quiet contemplation. Both Amanda and Jolie sat in a comfortable silence on either side of me. We hugged each other as we parted ways. A part of me wished that I could thank them for what they had done for me.
I should have. I should have thanked them. I got home, washed up, and sat in my room. I stared at my reflection for what felt like a lifetime. Damn it all to hell, I needed a drink or I swear I would kill myself. Tears threatened to break through the barrier that I had created.
I left the house, picked up Amanda and headed to the corner store to purchase some alcohol. Yes, I was indeed becoming the very thing that I never wanted to be. Two forty-ounce beers later and I was feeling much better. It didn't even bother me that Amanda was still dating my man. I rationalized that this was our dynamic, this is who we were. Girls before hoes.
Mr. Beautiful was the hoe. He betrayed me. That's what I told myself and it made it easier to let him go. Turning love and fondness into hatred...that is what I was good at. There would be no happily ever after between us. I'd rather see him burn.
Over time, I became fine with their relationship. On the surface, just always above the rim lie my growing hatred. He and I remained strained but I put extra effort into being kind to him. Remember, I always kept my friends close but my enemies closer. Mr. Beautiful had slowly become my enemy.
I hadn't meant for that to happen but it did. As my heart hardened towards him, I no longer cared about his feelings or his pain. I would tear down his world. He would never be able to trust another woman and he would never know why. That's what happens to traitors. He was a traitor. That's what I told myself.
You think you would have behaved differently? You think that you have it all figured out
"You should have told him the truth." you'd say. "You should have confessed your feelings", you'd complain. "You should have made him believe you" Seriously. You must be making a joke.
Boys only understand one truth, his friend's tongue down my throat. That's all the truth he needed. He was the traitor, not me. He is the one that walked away. His is the one that let his friend cause me pain.
He was the one who didn't see my struggle. He didn't see the pain in my face when Big Oaf's face pulled away from my own or how each time he slid his arm across my shoulder it made my body flinch. He is the one that believed the lies.
He believed Big Oaf because deep down he must have wanted to believe him or he would have asked me. It didn't matter that I never told him my side of the story because he never cared to ask. Think about that for a moment. He never asked me if this was ok. Am I really the villain in this story? Am I really the one to blame?
Author's Note: I tried to keep to the main story and not dive too deep into the past. Let me know if that worked. Thank you for reading.
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