Several years ago, as part of an assignment for Linda Spear’s writers’ workshop, I began developing a short story. With a dear friend’s permission, I wrote of her long-ago troubling encounter; again, with her permission, I am sharing it with you. I wrote it in the first person, and all names, some facts and locations were changed to protect her privacy.
“I’m living in a nightmare: My insides are churning, my head aches and I’m emotionally spent. I’ve spent three hours at the police station speaking to detectives about Thomas. Thomas, who has brought me happiness and laughter a year after my husband passed away, hit me hard across the face two days ago. He has threatened to blow up my workplace. I have an order of protection, and if Thomas makes any contact with me whatsoever at home or work, I am to call the police immediately.
Security is working closely with the detectives and will be escorting me in and out of the building until the authorities feel there is no longer a threat to me.
“When Thomas and I were introduced several months ago, I thought he was charming in a quirky way. He was an artist and musician; he loved showing me his paintings and playing the trumpet. I remember so well when he promised to bring back my smile and show me how to have fun again. I loved the flowers and beautiful cards he sent and the fabulous museums, concerts and restaurants we went to in Manhattan. He told me I was an elegant, classy woman. He was bringing me back to life and I was smiling again. Sometimes, however, my life felt over-the-top, too good to be true. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was ignoring something dark and dangerous because of my vulnerability.
“Last weekend, he seemed out of sorts, on edge. Earlier, when I hung his coat, the pocket felt very heavy. I reached in and felt a gun. Oh, God! He started yelling, making no sense at all. He said that I should grow up, face the world, that I was spoiled and clueless. I didn’t know where he was going with this and I was so terrified, I had to leave. As I put on my coat, he came up to me and slapped my face hard, back and forth. I ran out the door crying, fearing a bullet in the back; I quickly got in my car and sped away. I can still feel the pain and shock. No one has ever hit me; no one has ever looked at me with such hatred!
“The detective told me that Thomas is manic depressive (now referred to as bipolar) and has a long rap sheet with arrests for violence. I told him that I’m usually a good judge of character but I sure missed this one. He assured me that none of this was my fault. He went on to say that when a manic depressive is on a high, they can be the most charming, attentive and happy individual. However, if they go off medication and add alcohol, they come down hard, just like Thomas, and with disastrous results.
“These last few days have been surreal–I’m so afraid. This is not supposed to happen to people like me, but it does and can happen to anyone. Tomorrow is another day; I’ve done all I can to protect me, my family and friends. God, help me.”
I never completed the story. Suffice it to say that my friend trusting me to share her story is both humbling and poignant. Fortunately and thankfully, there was indeed a happy ending and all is well in her world.