I opened the front door, stood a moment and listened. Silence. I looked behind me, in case he was hiding nearby ready to rush in. Then I stepped inside, slamming the door shut, sliding the two shiny new bolts home and fixing the brass chain in place. There were new bolts on the kitchen door, too, and another on my bedroom door. Though I knew that if he was in the house, he was strong enough to kick that door off its hinges.
If he was coming, today would be the day. It was our anniversary. Five years of loveless marriage, as it had turned out. Four years of it just misery. I was merely his token of respectability, under his control, doing what he wished. And severely punished if I disobeyed. He had opened a door into my mind that accepted it, that rationalised it, that told me everything would change. But it never did. Then one day I woke up and shut that door, saw him for what he really was and ran. Literally ran. Out the house, to the police and showed them the bruises, the cigarette burns, the scars. They arrested him. Then let him out on bail.
He went to stay with a friend. The first time he came back, he was all meekness and apologies. Let me have his keys. Just took a few of his belongings. He would leave me alone. But his eyes gave a different message.
Once I’d searched the house, room by room, and found no sign he was there, or had been, I settled down in the kitchen to a snack and a coffee, breathing deeply to calm myself. That’s when I saw him. Marching down the path towards the shed. His shed. His private space, with his dirty magazines, his dirty secrets, his sick trophies. And his axe. If the police looked in there, now, they would find more than a wife beater.
I could run. I could dial three nines. Instead, I just froze. Mesmerized. Waiting the inevitable. And watched him walk back, axe in hand. The door in my mind flipped back open. I can reason with him. Calm him down. Even as the axe spit the door in two, I stood calmly facing it. He stepped through, axe held high and my reasoning became the cook's knife in my hand, as I slashed it across his throat.
And the door in my mind shut tight. No man shall ever open it again.