The girl next door

I heard her howling and screaming again from my bedroom. The walls were pretty thin in this apartment and even headphones won’t shut out the noise of her pain as she cried out. The thrashing was a semi-regular event. Her husband doesn’t live with her, his job keeps him at a five hour distance from her. Thank God! He visits every other weekend and towards the end they have this violent session and the next morning, I get to hear how she accidentally ran into walls and bath tubs throughout the weekend as an explanation to her bruises.

“Why can’t you just leave him? Why do you have to be so submissive?” I ask, “Easier said than done” she replies. And we have a peaceful couple of days until he comes back. I rang the doorbell to her house after I heard him leave. I couldn’t help but let out a gasp when I saw her. He never left her to look this bad. She limped back inside and I hurried to her bedroom to find her first-aid kit and some Rum. I handed her the drink and began addressing her bruises. “I told him I wanted to leave him”, she said in a soft voice and added, “I guess he was trying to show me how much he loved me”. I stared at her, shocked and speechless. She looked away from me and announced, “I am still leaving him”.

I remember during my first few weeks in the building, I had called the police at least twice when I heard her screaming in pain. Both times, the police lectured me about staying away from other people’s personal business after they heard from her husband about how they were just ‘having a disagreement’. But I found that I couldn’t stay away, and so the next time he had beaten her up and left, I went to her apartment with a bottle of rum. We became close, and the rum drinking after abuse became another ritual. She was quiet and soft spoken, but I found her to be a freakishly strong woman. Not so much physically, but emotionally. I don’t think I would have managed to stay myself if I were in an abusive relationship like hers. But she never let that get to her. It was like she kept herself so strictly guarded that nothing could break her, not even her husband.

But this time she was different. She was quieter than usual and seemed distracted whenever we spent time together. “He is coming back in two days” she said towards the end of that week, “he says he feels badly about how he left things last time and wants to talk about ‘us’”. “What are you going to do?” I asked. “I am leaving him”, she said sternly and her voice was so sharp that I apologised hastily. I heard her husband walk in and waited for the bashing up to begin, but things were quiet this time. The quiet felt weird to me and I knew that something had happened. I was about to give up on waiting and go to bed when the door bell rang. I ran to open it and found her standing outside. “Can you go with me to the police station?” she asked, “What?! What happened? Are you ok?” I asked. “Oh! Don’t worry. I am alright. I just want to report that my husband has gone a bit crazy and that I want him away from me”, I looked at her face confused and asked, hesitantly, “Er… is he alright?” and she shrugged and said, “Ya. He cut himself a little. His friend took him to the hospital”, “I didn’t hear anything”, I informed her. I don’t know if I meant I didn’t hear him cut himself or that I didn’t hear anyone ring her doorbell. “Oh. It was just a small cut. Let’s go?” she asked. I grabbed my coat and drove her to the station.

“Why do you say he has gone crazy?” asked the inspector at the station. “He threatened to stab me with a knife when I said I wanted to leave him, and then decided to cut himself instead” she replied in a calm voice. I was as puzzled as the inspector as we both stared into her face for a little more detail. “You said he has been taken to the hospital. How bad was this cut?” asked the inspector and she searched inside her bag and produced a plastic bag and said, “Pretty bad I think. He chopped this right off and gave it to me”. The inspector took the bag from her and opened it to take a look inside. Eyes wide with shock he let out a scream and asked, “Is that his… his…?” “Penis?” she completed his sentence and answered, “Yes”. I had lost my voice by then and couldn’t look away from her. Who the hell was this person? This is like Pet Sematary, except she wasn’t even buried! “You expect me to believe that your husband cut it off himself?” “I told you, he has gone mad! I am not going back until I know that he is kept away from me” she declared and eased back into the chair. “And you didn’t hear a thing?” the inspector asked me and I just shook my head, still too baffled to speak.

We were driving to the hospital with the officers to confirm that the husband was there and that he was missing his penis and that he had cut it off himself. We found his doctor who informed that it will take a couple of hours for him to gain consciousness.

“Are you feeling well enough to answer few questions?” asked the inspector to the husband who had woken up with IV fluids and other wires running around him. He looked around the room at all of us; his eyes stopped on his wife and refused to move from there. “Take them out”, ordered the inspector and we were escorted out. After about half an hour, the inspector came out, looking as confused as he had been when he first heard the story and said, “I was 100% sure that you were lying to us. I was so confident that I would get your husband to confirm that you were the one who cut off his penis, but I guess you are right. The man is crazy! Says he didn’t want it anymore. But why are you so calm? I wouldn’t be able to stomach it if I had to watch someone cut off their anything!” she shrugged in reply and asked, “So you will keep him away from me then?” The inspector registered her complaint and ensured that he will be kept away after few legal formalities were complete.

On our drive back home I asked, “How can you be so unaffected? The man cut off his dick in front of you!” “He wasn’t exactly my favourite person in the world. I quite relished knowing that he was causing himself pain” she answered. I wasn’t satisfied with her answer and asked her, “Hey! I won’t tell anyone, but did he really cut off his own dick?”Her eyes widened in surprise and she chuckled and replied, “Are you suggesting that I held him down and cut off his dick? Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds?” After a pause she added, “I may have talked him into it”.

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