“Amelia, get the fuck outta my way!” William slurred with a half-empty bottle of rum in his hand.
He pushed Amelia against the wall of their tiny kitchen and stared at her; his alcohol drenched breath making the tendrils of hair that escaped her ponytail move around her face as if they too, were bracing themselves for what was coming next.
The sound of his hand connecting with her left cheek seemed to echo through the apartment. Amelia’s head jerked sideways, her ponytail masking the damage that had been done. Although she had anticipated the slap, her hand moved towards her burning cheek in shock. She willed herself not to let tears run down her face. It would only make matters worse.
“Ah great, now I am the bad one! And if I hear you cry, you will have another beating coming your way!” William spat and waddled over to the lounge to continue watching the football game.
Amelia knew not to say another word. She knew that she had to wipe the tears from her face before he came back into the kitchen or she would suffer his wrath once more. She knew all this, but couldn’t regain control over the tumbling emotions splitting her heart into millions of pieces.
William always had a drinking problem. It was the kind where he was unable to keep a job as he couldn’t function without having alcohol in his system. But Amelia loved him and in the beginning, she was sure he loved her too. Hell, he had proposed to her and they got married a few years ago. He had promised her that he would do anything he could to get better. He even went to AA meetings. Or so Amelia thought.
“Love is blind…” Amelia whispered to herself as she started running hot water to finish the dishes.
She had overlooked all of William’s mistakes as she loved him. She loved the man who was funny, outgoing and loved to be the life of any party. Whenever William went off onto one of his rages and abused Amelia, he would sleep it off and apologize the next day.
“Baby, I love you, you know that. I am so sorry about all this. I am working on becoming a better person for you. You are the most important person in my life…” William would sweet-talk Amelia into forgiving him every time.
“You crying?” William entered the kitchen again and stood directly behind Amelia.
She quickly wiped a stray tear from her burning cheek and forced a smile, “No.”
“Good, I don’t like it when my girl cries,” William took another long swig from the bottle of rum.
“Please, William, I can’t do this anymore…” Amelia tried to sound rational.
“Don’t you start with that shit again!” William’s anger flared up once more.
Amelia instantly wished she hadn’t opened her mouth, but it was too late.
“I am so sick of hearing this! You always make out as if it’s my fault. You always find a way to get me angry. Then you play the victim! Do you ever think about anyone other than yourself? It’s always about how you feel, what you need and what you want. If you don’t complain about my drinking then you complain about me not working. Do you not see me try?” William shouted.
“I do… You do try…” Amelia tried sounding calm.
“No, you think that getting married would fix everything! Well, guess what, if you’d just look at reality and get it through your dumb head that you are the problem, then we’d be able to move on! But no, you… you always blame me!” William lifted his now-empty bottle and smashed it to pieces on the wall right next to Amelia.
She cried out as the shards of glass grazed her leg and arm. As she looked down, she could already see blood trickling down her calf.
“Clean this up, bitch; this is on you!” William slurred again and stumbled towards the bedroom.
As Amelia watched him take off his shirt and throw it to the floor before he entered the bedroom, something inside her snapped. Usually, she would wait until she heard him snoring before she would let go of her emotions. But at this particular moment, instead of tears, she felt anger. And it was not the type of anger one would be able to get over by counting from one to ten. It was the kind of anger that took control of one’s entire body, muscles and thoughts.
“Yes, I’ll clean this up…” Amelia whispered.
As if possessed by an invisible force, she moved over to the sink for a wet cloth. She wrapped it around her calf to stop the bleeding, wiped the blood from her arm and fixed her ponytail. She also swept the pieces of glass into a neat pile near the trash can.
In the bathroom, she looked at herself in the mirror. It was as if someone else was staring back at her. It was not the usual emotional woman who tired covering up the bruises on her face before her almost-sober husband woke up. Instead, she saw a blank face looking back at her. She saw a woman who had reached the end of all sanity. She saw a woman who was determined to get a way out; no matter what she had to do.
Driven by an emotion so dark even Amelia didn’t quite comprehend, she peered into the bedroom where her husband lay sprawled over the bed half-naked. In his drunken state, he wouldn’t stir until the next morning. Confident that he wouldn’t move, Amelia headed over to her dresser and pulled out a box filled with needles and threads.
“There is nothing in the world you cannot fix with a needle and some thread…” Amelia thought back to her days as a toddler while living with her grandmother.
Amelia had loved to watch her grandmother at work; the perfect seamstress. With a slight frown on her face, she always took great care to ensure every stitch was made with precision. Then, when the garment was complete, her grandmother echoed the same words and smiled at Amelia.
“Everything that is broken can be fixed with needle and thread…” Amelia whispered the words as she looked over to William.
With the box still in her hands, she sunk to the bed and sat cross-legged across her husband. She started to hum the same tune her grandmother used to sing while working with her masterpieces.
Slowly, Amelia took a needle from the box and inspected it. Then, she meticulously chose some black thread and started threading the needle. With immense precision, she watched as the thread made its way through the eye of the needle. For a few seconds, Amelia just stared at the needle and thread in her hand with an eerily blank look on her face.
She placed the needle on the bedside table and started rearranging the bedsheets around William. For an outsider, it might have seemed like she was tucking him in for the night. But for Amelia, the ritual had a different purpose. As soon as the baby-blue bedsheets were wrapped around William’s body snugly, Amelia picked up the needle and thread once more.
Meticulously, Amelia started threading the needle through the bedsheet near William’s feet. And then, she pricked his toe to thread the needle through his skin. A single drop of blood escaped and fell onto the sheets while Amelia pulled on the thread. When William didn’t move, Amelia knew that she could continue.
She moved along his feet, first threading the black thread through the bedsheet and then through William’s skin. It took a great deal of concentration as Amelia did not want her drunken husband to wake up in pain and find out what his wife was doing.
With each stitch, she waited for a minute or two to ensure William was still sleeping. As she started stitching his legs to the sheets, she placed a towel beneath the stitches to catch the excess blood coming from his fresh wounds.
Soon, her hands were drenched in his blood. But she continued her seamstress techniques. Each stitch carefully had its very own knot, ensuring no matter how hard one tries, it won’t loosen up.
Once William’s arms and legs were stitched up, she decided that his sides also needed some work. This would need to be done with careful planning as the skin around his sides was sensitive and might jolt him from his sleep. After a few stitches, Amelia noticed that he must be passed out pretty good as not even the needle sticking through his side woke him up.
For two grueling hours, Amelia continued to work, happily humming songs she used to listen to while watching her grandmother as a child.
“Shit!” Amelia whispered as she stuck the needle in William’s side once more. He stirred on the bed, making more blood seep from his wounds.
Amelia realized that she must have threaded through a nerve painful enough to make her husband feel it through his drunken state.
“No, no…” Amelia let go of the blood-drenched needle as William moved once more.
A stifling moan escaped his lips as he opened his slightly, “Amelia… what…”
He tried moving but had no way of escaping the thread pulling at his skin and muscles.
Amelia stood still; wishing the walls around her would swallow her or make her disappear. She stared at the scene in front of her and for the first time, realization dawned on her. What had she just done?
William tried moving from his position on the bed again but found it impossible. Then he noticed the blood. And the needle. And the thread.
“What the fu… Amelia, what have you…” William tried saying as he felt a numb pain around his sides. With the amount of blood he had already lost, his body was becoming weak.
Half-drunk and in shock, William tried yelling,” He.. he.. help!”
Not wanting anyone to hear his pleas for help, Amelia started panicking. She ran from the room and into the kitchen. In horror and utter shock, she grabbed the very first thing she found on the kitchen counter. A cast-iron pan she had washed right before William his empty bottle against the wall.
The stifling sound of William struggling against the thread in his body was the confirmation Amelia needed that she had to shut him up.
As she entered the bedroom again, she uttered the words once more, “Everything can be fixed with a needle and thread…”
“You crazy bitch! Help me!” William shouted.
Moving like a robotic being, Amelia slowly lifted the cast-iron pan in her hands until it hovered over her head. Then, in one swift blow, she brought it down onto William’s head. A sickening wet sound escaped from behind the pan. The room fell silent. William didn’t move.
“See? Everything is fixed,” Amelia said with a smile.
She placed the pan on the nightstand and got into bed next to her husband. For the first time in what felt like forever, Amelia slept without having to worry about covering up new bruises once she woke up the next morning…