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“Hit me. I f***ing dare you.” I snapped.
His hand was raised beside my face. He intended pain and I expected to receive it. Whether he meant it or not didn't matter because his hand went up. He meant it. It was the matter of whether he regretted it or not. His hardened expression softened.
We were fighting. Yelling, screaming, cursing at one another. We did it a lot these days, with one of us walking out. But not once did he raise a finger against me. Not once. Not until now. I expected it for so long. So here we were. Standing face to face. My hands down- not even blocking him. His hands over me. One on my arm, the other held up over my face.
I stared at him- not glaring. “Go ahead, Derick. Hit me.” I whispered.
His hand moved closer. Gently, softly almost. Then he rested it against my cheek and his thumb wiped away tears that I didn't realize had fallen. I turned away at his touch. It wasn't fair. He was mad. Me crying didn't change anything. I grasped his wrist and raised it back up to where it was before.
“Hit me, Derick. It's what you meant to do. So do it.”
He didn't move. I didn't either. We stood like that for a long moment. Then he took his wrist out of my hand and let go of my arm. He faced me for a second. For once he stood there, so close to me, just not touching me. Then he turned around and walked out the door. I didn't move.
Derick and I loved each other since high school. We both went to Polytechnic High and graduated there. Then we both went off to college at UCLA. Here we are. We share an apartment together. We have so much in common, but were such different people. We loved each other. I still loved him. We're still here together and so close, but were slowly tearing apart.
My boyfriend almost hit me today.
It ran through my head repeatedly. The thought, the feeling. Then I collapsed onto the ground. The tears were falling, but I made no sound. I missed who we used to be. I missed how we used to be. I missed being carefree and in love. I missed him. I missed Derick Pierson. The guy I fell in love with.
I sat on the ground in the middle of the living room, curled up with my knees to my chin. Soon enough, I had my forehead to my knees, my eyes closed, holding myself together tightly. The couch was to my left, but I did not want to get up. The kitchen was to my right, but I was not hungry. The door was in front of me, but I did not want to leave. I didn't want to leave like he did.
Suddenly, the front door opened. I looked up to see Derick walk in. Without taking his eyes off of me, he closed the door. He looked down at me sadly. He didn't come closer though. He just stood there, watching me.
“Thought you left already.” I whispered.
“Never did,” he replied.
Slowly, I got up and went to the kitchen. Derick followed me in and sat on a stool in the middle of the room beside the island counter. I took out a bottle of red wine and placed it on the counter in front of him. Then I turned back and grabbed two wine glasses from the cupboards. I put one in front of him and one in front of me.
“We shouldn't drink. It doesn't change anything.”
I shook my head.
Quickly understanding, Derick took the wine bottle and opened it. He filled my glass first then his. We toasted to nothing and we drank. He sat there and watched me gulp the whole thing down. When I put my glass down I stood still for a minute.
I didn't feel any better. I stared at Derick waiting for a refill.
“No.” I reached for the bottle myself, but he pulled it away. “I said no.”
“Why not?” I complained.
“You won't feel any better tomorrow.”
“Oh, now you care?” I shot back. He glared at me and kept his silence. I reached for the bottle, but he held it away again. Out of nowhere, he dropped it on the tiled floor.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I yelled, “Do you even know how much wine costs these days?”
He didn't say anything and watched me retrieve the shattered glass on the floor.
“Ouch! S***.” I yelped when I cut my thumb with a piece of glass. I got up and headed for the paper towels beside the sink. Before I could grab one, Derick was behind me. He took my hand and turned on the sink. He held my thumb under the cold water and I winced.
“If you use those the tissue will get into the cut,” he explained. Then, he took a paper towel and carefully dabbed the water from around the cut. Derick was holding me real close. His arms were around me. His hands, tending to my cut. His face, right beside mine. I could feel his lips at my ear. I peeked at his face and he noticed because he froze and looked back at me. In the next second, he had taken a step back and allowed me the space I didn't want. I wanted to be near him. I wanted to be in his arms. I looked at him because I wanted to let him know that I was okay with this. That I was okay with him having me again. But instead, he let me go.
I turned away from him. It felt like I had pushed him away again. I never wanted that. I glanced at him again and then headed to my room.
We had separate rooms, but we rarely slept separately. We usually slept together in his room. But on days like today -when we were either mad at each other or needed some space- we slept in our own rooms. I laid down on my bed without a blanket and buried my face in the pillows. I hated sleeping alone. It made me feel lonely.
There was a knock at my door.
“What?” I called, my voice muffled in the pillows.
“Can I come in?”
“Go ahead.” I said, sitting up.
He came in. “I'm sorry.” I didn't say anything, “I'm sorry about earlier. I just wished we could stop fighting.”
“You wished to stop fighting by hitting me?” I asked.
“No,” he replied reluctantly.”I was mad. I didn't want you hurt. I didn't want you angry with me. So, I almost hit you. But then you wanted me to do it. How could you want me to hit you?” Derick asked, but then he went on without an answer. ?hen you started crying. I couldn't bear to look at you anymore.”
“So you left.” I concluded.
He shook his head. “No; I stood outside and thought about you.” Derick took my hands in his and bowed his head and stared at our intertwined hands.“I thought about leaving,” then he stopped talking. Slowly, he raised his head to look at me. “I don't want to do that. I can't leave you.”
The tears brimmed over again and Derick took me into his arms.
“Don't cry, Eva. I can't bear to see you cry again.”
“I need you here, Derick. Don't leave me.”
“I won't,” he assured me. “I can't. I love you.”
The sobs grew louder. I could scarcely hear myself speak. “I'm sorry I yelled at you. I'm so sorry.”
“It's okay,” he chanted over and over as I apologized.
Derick laid me down on the bed and came down beside me. One of his hands was holding mine and the other was wiping the tears from my face. I couldn't stop crying. I felt bad for every cruel word. Because until the moment when he lifted up his hand I never doubted his love for me. But now, I knew there was never reason to doubt.
I helped wipe my tears away then raised myself to kiss him.
“I love you so much.” I whispered.
He smiled and said, “I know.”
His lips met mine again and he held my face close. I pulled my hands into his hair and held him tightly. I never wanted to let him go. I never wanted to leave his side. I never wanted either of us to go away.
Suddenly he pulled away, but he didn't let go. Derick looked me in the eyes and whispered, “Don't you ever ask me to hurt you, okay?”
I smiled and nodded.