If he had hit me, it would have been easier. That, instead of the dead quiet. I could have taken anything but the quiet - bruising could have been explained away so easily, broken bones would mend. This was the silence; bitter and empty and so very there in its absence - writhing with all the unspoken possibilities that should never have been and never would be spoken. This was the accusation that lay between us, frozen in his silence with all the unrevealed impact of a slowly spiralling fall. If he had hit me, it would have been over, done with: transgression and penance, stimulus and response; the one-two sequence of confession and punishment that leads to repentance and forgiveness, to continuing on. Anything but his silence, frozen in a bitter stasis that writhed and roiled around his unspoken accusation; anything else would have given me the impetus to continue.
If he had hit me, it would have been easier. I would have been able to tear myself away then; turn my attention to tending wounds and covering bruises. I would have been able to twist my mind to excuses and explanations instead of letting it linger on that silence, on the words unspoken and bitter cold. If he had hit me, it would have been a flash - not the slow planting of shame and guilt, nurtured by his silence, growing roots in my soul and holding me there.
If he had left, it would have been easier. If he had left, it would have broken the spell, let me abandon my life with him and go on to other things, other dreams. That, rather than the slow lingering silence of his presence, the continued daily milieu. He would wake, and eat, and work, and sleep, revolving around me with all the emotion of a clockwork doll - mechanical and silent and so constantly, undeniably present. I had rarely been alone before; by my desire, it had been that way. Now that presence, his heavy, accusing silence, seemed to weigh on me - sinister, anticipatory. If he had left, it would have been better.
I filled the silence with the best of my ability - at first with songs and idle chatter, a what-do-you-want-for-dinner that received nothing in response but silence, the bitterness of it curdling whatever I tried to tempt him with - an exotic spice that burned into every dish and rendered it tasteless and dry. At first, I tried to pretend that his silence was merely a passing thing, an involuntary paroxysm of voval cords that would fade with time. At first - but that fabrication was rent asunder by his voice when he scolded a stray dog that had come too close to the house. Somehow, those moments when I heard him speak made his silence regarding me all the more sinister; the writ of my guilt plain in his bitter wordlessness, the mounting pressure of his unspoken accusation.
I tried, time and again, to fill the silence, build a barricade of sound, but my idle chatter - the inanities that sprang to my lips in my desperation - always seemed to falter and fail, breaking into bitter sobs, pleas that shattered unacknowledged on the implacable silence around him. I must have apologised a thousand times, begged him to hit me, abuse me, to punish me and cease the drawn-out trial of my unworthiness. It had no effect, that bitter silence serving as an unyielding barrier between us, almost bearing a life of its own. Its hideous, unspoken head kept eyes of accusation on me, weighing and measuring, nurturing the seeds of shame that sent their slow runners into my mind.
There is only so much a woman can take. Surely you see that; that each and every one of us has a breaking point, and his silence found mine. I cannot deny what happened, what you say happened. It must have taken place, because I know that my guilt and shame metamorphosed under the heavy, cold weight of his silence into anger and rage, even; a trapped-animal fury that began to stalk the corridors of my mind. If he had hit me, the anger would have faded, healed with my bruises and my bones. If he had left, I could have been reborn in his absence. But his silence fed my fury with my shame, and I learned to hate him as I hated the bitter silence, pain and anger alike. It must have happened as you say. There is only so much a woman can bear.
I can neither affirm nor deny these accusations, spoken as his were not; I do not remember - do not know what happened, in truth. I can only say that it must have happened as you say. For my part, I do not know. I can present you only that I saw the blood on my hands, the mutilated shell of what he had been beside me, and I did not feel any grief at the sight. What does that make me? I cannot tell.
And now off to peds.