Hope Justice


Everyone has heard the cliché “enough is enough.” Well, when do you decide that you’ve reached that point—the point where you just can’t take it? It’s the so-called “point of no return”—that crucial moment when the metaphorical shit hits the fan—the realization that you can’t keep feeling sorry for yourself and that you have to get up and do something about the all the shit people put you through. I reached that pivotal point in my life with Adam, in my summer season of suffering—when all my pain was in full bloom and its growth was unstoppable. It was like a wildfire in my chest. Every hurt Adam had ever inflicted on me burst into flames all at once, igniting instantly this horrible burning hatred inside me that was inextinguishable. It charred every good memory we ever had together and tainted what little love I had left for him.

I remember that night I stopped loving him through a fog. Some things I’m glad I can’t really see clearly. I was at Shoreway Bowling Alley with a small group of friends. Adam had been ignoring my phone calls all night and finally when I did get an answer he sounded angry. We got into an argument and I started to cry in front of my friends. I was too embarrassed to be there, and Adam lived only minutes away, so I went to his house against my better judgment (and against his protests). I walked into the basement and he was there, waiting for me, lips pursed ready for a fight. I lost my temper that night and I regret it now more than ever.

I started to scream at him. I pushed him. What happened next is shrouded. I remember him screaming in my face, his nose touching mine. I wasn’t scared then. Instead I smiled at him, I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I knew then that I had made a mistake. He grabbed me roughly around my upper arm and twisted me towards the staircase. He shouted, “get out get out get out,” over and over until it made my ears sick. I remember sobbing and saying, “Please Adam, please don’t.” I knew he couldn’t hear me. Then he pushed me. Hard. I fell backward down the steps and landed on my back. He threw himself on me. It was like some horrible late night movie that you watch with no-name actors, except I was the star.

I didn’t know him then. I realized that all the things we had done together had been a lie. The love I had felt for him was false, he didn’t love me enough to stop hurting me. I didn’t recognize his face because it was contorted from anger. I don’t know if I made sense in what I was saying. I just heard my voice choked from some strange fear begging for something I didn’t know.

He started to shake me. My back bounced off the stair repeatedly, making a sick thud every time. Then he just stopped, almost as if he had realized what he was doing, but he didn’t seem sorry. He just looked as if he was done.

I looked up as he passed me and I grabbed his heel. I begged him not to leave me there like that, but he just threw my things out the basement door and said, “Get the fuck out.” I screamed his name until my voice was raw and my throat ached. It seemed long but I knew it couldn’t have been because then the pain hit me. I tried to stand but I was too weak, so I crawled up to the top three steps. The pain searing across my ribcage was so intense I couldn’t breath. I began to gasp desperately for air, and when I could I called out for Adam. He never came. I lay there like that for as long as I could, barely breathing, and I began to vomit. My stomach wrenched and my lungs burnt from the effort of breathing. I threw up until the liquid was clear and frothy and burnt coming up. I managed to gasp enough air to yell, “Call 911.” At first there was no response, only the sound of my vile hitting the steps. Then I heard an angry voice say, “What the hell Hope?” He saw me there, sprawled out like road kill, vomit down my shirt and face, and he loved me again. In between the worried creases in his brow, I seen the first night we made love and he wept in my arms because he wanted me forever; I saw Christmas Eve night and our loving in the snow mounds we had built to play; I saw the night of our anniversary at that out-of-the-way hotel with the small hot tub; I saw the night he proposed to me and promised me a life time of unmade memories.

When the ambulance came he had to carry me out. My legs refused to work. Is it possible to love somebody and hate them at the same time? Because, when the EMS team put me on the stretcher, I looked at Adam and his tears of regret and I hated him. I hated him with every bruised rib in my body; I hated him with every fiery gasp of air I took; but mostly I hated him because I still loved him.

As the months passed I just stopped loving him, and when that happened something inside me broke. I felt like a seashell lying on the shore, once beautiful and full of life, now washed up upon the beach—discarded and used—no longer wanted or admired. If you listen closely to a sea shell, you can hear the soft moaning singing through its own inanimate pain, that when whispered to echoes back with an eerie, faint hollowness; and if you run your lips over its smooth surface, worn from the weary journey from the sea floor to the shore, you can kiss its lovely façade, beaten and grooved by vicious waves.