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LAce Posted Monday, August 16th, 2004
Fifteen Minutes
Lisa McMann

One moment he is horrid; the next, apologetic. His sharp words are replaced by demands, and his laughs about his behavior are laced with panic. He admits his own insanity, then denies it. From one e-mail to the next, I don’t know if he will call me a fucking cunt or write me a poem.

He blames others for taking me away from him, but I was never his. He doesn’t see himself driving people away; there are always more people for him. He breaks the law, breaks into my life and steals my identification; doesn’t think I will notice. Too late I realize my mistakes…logging in on his computer, running errands while he’s working on my laptop. He reads my private things, then tells me I should be careful what I say.

My mailboxes are full. Well, I’m not sure about one…I couldn’t get into it today. The error message says that account is no longer owned by me. When my friend thanks me for the e-mail, I nod. My stomach churns; I taste metal. I did not send it.

I write to him. “Do not contact me again.”

Like a cat at a glass door, he watches for me. His eyes are everywhere. I am learning to be good at hiding. When he tires, he naps curled up, one eye open, ears twitching, tail swishing angrily. He praises me in public, and makes up stories about why I don’t respond. He points at a newbie—that person’s stalking you, he says, see how he responds to your every post? I will alert my friend the webmaster and protect you.

There is a woman who looks and acts like me in his angry stories, and in his twisted porn stories – his version of love. He gives the women names that are not quite mine. I cannot stop his fantasies; I can only stop reading them. But I don’t. His stories are a gauge, telling me where he is, mentally and physically. If he misses a day, I lock my doors and look over my shoulder. I keep the kids inside.

I’ve heard that he’s forgiven me. He generously tells everyone, all over the place, so that I’ll surely notice his goodness. But, unlike him, my public appearance comes second to appropriate behavior, and I have spent this time in silence, absorbing jabs and blows. I am angry at myself for how I protected this man who scares me, then forgives me. What was it I did? I don’t ask, and I don’t cry, and I don’t respond. I hope this time he will stop all contact like I asked him to. I give him another chance. Five more times.

“Call the police,” say my friends.

“I should…I will,” I say, but I doubt myself. Maybe it’s me. I want to close my eyes and make it go away. He will be angry if I call the police, and I don’t want it to be worse before it gets better. I think that I am just a weak, pathetic woman who can’t handle things. Surely if I hide long enough, he will go away. But he knows where I live. And I know I must call.

I am afraid. I imagine that the police will sneer if I call them. I’ll waste their time. They’ll say it’s my fault. They will sit me down at my kitchen table and tower over me. They will lean in my space and spit when they talk. They will pound the table, making daisy petals fall. “Show me where he threatened you!” they will threaten. “911 is for emergencies! Shame! Shame!” They’ll leave my house and make fun of me over donuts, and the town will overhear. “Shame, shame, she made Internet friends,” they’ll whisper, and they’ll pity my fine, upstanding husband.

When I awake every morning, I look to see what he has done, and like almost every day, my hands shake when I see it. The voices are hollow in my ears. “Call the police.”

I stare at the phone. Fifteen minutes before sobs ring out.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by debbie ice on Sunday, August 22nd, 2004 at 6:03 PM
Hey Lisa, this is great and very scary. Love the tension. Just terrific

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