You are crazy. He said it so many times I believed him. I had to. It was the only explanation that made sense. The alternative – that he was a charismatic psychopath hell-bent on destroying me – was too terrifying to be considered. And so I believed him when he told me that I was “making a big deal out of nothing” when I freaked out after finding him throwing mice at the side of a dumpster and then lighting them on fire. I believed him when he told me that he was only choking me to “help me” overcome my fears. But the worst one was when he showed up at my roommate’s wedding the day after he sexually assaulted me, acting as if nothing had happened. I finally approached him as he sat, nonchalantly eating cake, and choked out, “What happened last night… it can’t happen again.” And then he looked up at me and said, “Nothing happened last night. You’re worried about nothing.” When I contradicted him pointing out my torn clothing (holding the physical evidence in my hand had made me strangely brave), he shrugged and said he’d give me a few bucks to replace them, no big deal, and went back to eating cake.
Being too cheap to pay bus fare for four kiddos, every day I have to camp out at the bottom of the grand staircase of their school and try to collect them as they scamper down in the crush of students. It’s like playing Plinko crossed with Whack-a-Mole. But this particular day it was all that plus Operation, complete with weird buzzing alarms because apparently a student had gotten a case of the vapors and swooned at the top of the staircase. Elementary school kids are hyper anyhow at the end of the day so this only ignited the powder keg as I tried to make sense of all the kids yelling.
“He can’t breathe!”
“He’s having an asthma attack!
“He’s having a heart attack!”
I knew it was legit when the sweet 3rd grade teacher snowplowed up the stairs literally chucking kids out of her way. Soon there was a crowd and once I was reassured that the school nurse was there and an ambulance had been called – the general consensus was the poor kid was having a really bad asthma attack – I decided the best way I could help would just be to herd kids out the doors and give the boy some room. (Seriously I swear the universe is telling me I need to become an EMT.) As I pushed kids towards their buses one little boy ran up to his mom and, caught up in the zeitgeist of emergency, yelled “MOM! A BOY JUST DIED!!!”