Monday, April 15, 2013
The Red Robe
I actually wrote this a long time ago, but couldn't decide if I wanted to post it or now.
Allison slipped the red robe off of her shoulders. It seemed prophetic somehow, against the white tiles of her bathroom. She turned the water in the shower as hot as it would go, slowly taking an inventory of the damage. Her shoulder was slightly sore, but the inside of her thigh was black from the kicks she’d taken.
She wiped the steam from the mirror, cringing as the muscles tightened. A gash over one eye and a split lip.
It could’ve been worse.
She slipped the band from her braided hair and shook it out. She’d been so exhausted that she hadn’t bothered to take it down last night, and now the normally soft and flowing locks looked like a rats nest. She pulled a brush through it, making sure to remove the tangles and stepped into the shower. She couldn’t do anything but stand there, letting the water wash over her, remembering the fight she’d had with Owen last night. She didn’t know what had hurt her more, the bruises or the words he’d said. Still, she couldn’t imagine life without him. It had been so good in the beginning.
Maybe he was right. Maybe she wasn’t good enough.
Maybe she was crazy for thinking she could do something more with her life, for thinking that she could be something more…something better.
When she finished, she slipped the robe back on and shuffled to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.
For a long moment, she focused on the steam rising up from her cup of coffee, until the doorbell rang.
She knew it would be him and wasn’t sure she should open the door.
But of course she did.
As he stood there, she tried to decide how she should defend herself. Would she finally give him an ultimatum, or would she still be too afraid to lose him?
He pushed his way through the door, grabbing her by the shoulders. His face contorted in pain as he took in the gash over her eye. “I’m so sorry,” he said.
“Hey,” he said, gently taking her chin and turning it for inspection. “It’s over. You don’t have to pretend to be strong anymore. I’m still here.”
She desperately wanted not to cry. But she felt the pressure in her chest building, and when she felt the first tear sliding down her cheek, she leaned into him and let him comfort her.
He whispered things in her ear, things that were easy to believe, only because he was the one saying them.
He walked her to the couch, slipping off his shoes and allowing her to sit with her head on his shoulder. His arm was heavy across her sore shoulders but she didn’t mind. For a long time, they just sat together.
Finally, she said. “Owen, I’m not pretending. I am strong.”
He tugged her a little closer, a supportive squeeze on her arm, but he didn’t say anything.
“I want to do this, Owen. It makes me feel alive. I’ve never felt so alive as when I’m fighting. I’m going to do this, with or without you. I need your support, and if I can’t have that, I can’t be with you anymore.”
“Last year, you would never have said that to me.”
He looked down at her, his fingers skimming along the gash over her eye. “I didn’t understand why in the hell you’d want to take a chance on ruining that beautiful face of yours.”
He kissed her temple, his thumb brushing tentatively over her split lip. “But I’m starting to get it. I couldn’t stand not being there last night, so I went. I watched, and you’re right. I’ve never seen you so alive. Plus, you looked incredibly hot in those little shorts.”
She punched him playfully in the ribs.
“Allison, I love you. And I’ll always be in your corner.”
“Really,” He said with a smile.
“Good. Because I have to be at the gym in an hour, and I need a sparring partner.”
“That’s not funny.”
Allison laughed, taking his hand, thankful they had an hour before practice.