Tamsyn

Orange-colored lights from the street lamps poured in through the bedroom windows, illuminating the small alarm clock on the dresser. Tamsyn rolled her head over to one side to catch a glimpse of the digital clock as it clicked to 3:02 am.

The smell of sweat and stale alcohol permeated her immediate surroundings and she wrinkled her nose to try and rid herself of the assaulting odor. But no relief came to her.

When Tamsyn was 14 years old, her mother shared with her the secret to a “happy relationship.”

“Roll over and take it quietly with no fuss, my girl,” she advised. “You don’t have to kiss him and you don’t have to speak to him. Believe me, time will pass much more quickly.”

These last 10 minutes seemed like an hour.

The man writhing on top of her didn’t seem interested in Tamsyn’s sensory distress, nor in her pleasure, for that matter. Onions from that night’s steak dinner still clung to every breath he expelled towards her face. Droplets of sweat rolled off the tip of his nose and onto her forehead. His grunts and groans filled the room, making time with the creaking of the bed. With every movement, his enormous body slammed against Tamsyn’s, resulting in the bed frame crashing against the wall and she wondered whether the bed would buckle under the pressure.

The medley of groans, creaks, and crashes together created one unearthly cacophony. Now, as the din cascaded and accelerated, Tamsyn did her best to breathe her way through gritted teeth, until at last, in one great expulsion of “Oh God!” from her partner, the unholy racket ceased.

A few seconds later, Tamsyn wearily pushed his limp, clammy body off hers and lay still on her back in the darkness inhaling deeply. At least she could no longer smell his breath, she thought.

Ten years. A life sentence, for some.

This hadn’t been what she had envisioned married life would be like.

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