I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment my heart broke. There has to be a moment when it’s whole and well and in the next it’s shattered beyond recognition, beyond hope of ever being whole again. In my mind’s eye, I picture a high-speed camera recording it happening, and then when I replay it time and again, I can see the seismic event as my heart flutters and contorts violently, before the trauma rips through the organ, shredding it into uncountable pieces.
I replay the event constantly as I try to sleep. I try to divine meaning or purpose from it. I wonder if I had missed any warning signs. I pray for healing, but I’m left barren, an unbeliever in a miserable dark night of the soul. I’ve been hurt before, but never like this. Never have I been left questioning even my own identity. Maybe I should tell you what I’m talking about.
I met her a few years ago at a 5K event, a fundraiser with proceeds going towards cancer research. I lost my mother to breast cancer the previous year, and I wanted to do something to honor her memory. I took up running, hoping to help the cause. Sandra had also lost a loved one, in her case her favorite aunt. We met at the sign in table, and we started to talk. She was actually one of the first women I initiated a conversation with. I felt a pull from her, a well of gravity that captured me and placed me in her orbit, though I hadn’t recognized it at the time.
We exchanged phone numbers, and within a few days I called her, wanting to hear her again, needing to see her. The sensation was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was utterly intoxicating. We went out for dinner, and then the next week to a movie. Soon we were dating fairly regularly. I’m not even certain when we became a couple.
All too soon, we ended up moving in together. I, who had spent a lifetime taking things slow, never wanting to rush into anything, fell headlong into a relationship. I realized quickly that I was attracted to her, that I felt a rush of emotions when I was with her. The heady feeling of euphoria clouded my judgement, but I didn’t care. I was in love with her, and she told me constantly that she was in love with me. It was bliss, or so I thought.
There were signs the entire time, of course, but I ignored them. I was too in love to see clearly. I cast my doubt away and allowed my heart to blind me. She, I believed, could do no wrong. She would never betray me, yet there was a nagging suspicion in the back of my head. I shouted it down, but the voice became louder. Still, I ignored it. I was, after all, in love.
As time wore on, however, the little signs became clearer. Maybe it’s because she became emboldened by my refusal to see what was in front of me that she no longer felt the need to hide it from me. I accepted her fidelity as a given, but her actions clearly betrayed her. Even my friends could see what was going on, and though they tried to warn me, I ignored them as well.
We were together for a year before the truth became brutally clear. Sandra, in her arrogance, started being careless. I would read texts between her and her friends. They were clearly romantic in nature. I’m not sure romantic is really the word I’m looking for. There were explicit, but I tried to rationalize it. I wasn’t giving her my full attention. I was clearly working too hard and not being available to her.
So I left work early ond day, wanting to surprise my lovely girlfriend. I got home, noticed several cars in the driveway, cars that I didn’t recognize. Curious, I crept quietly into the house. That’s when I heard her. From the doorway of the house, I heard her moaning, moans that I had never heard escape her lips. It sounded ravenous, guttural, with a kind of savage ferocity that I had never thought possible to issue from a woman’s mouth.
My heart seized in my chest, but I was still in denial. I had to be imagining it. I hung my jacket in the closet before sneaking up the stairs. The moans became louder and clearer as I crept up. I heard the voices of several men, in addition to hers. I heard her utter words I didn’t even know she knew, profanities and invocations to a deity I was beginning to lose faith in.
I opened the door, hoping not to see what I knew very well was happening within. On the threshold into the bedroom, I felt my very soul torn asunder. Something in my mind broke the moment my heart was shattered. When I came to myself, I was surprised at what I saw. I was covered in blood, the bodies of two men strewn along the floor, their bodies broken by my hand, and the wooden bat I must have picked up from the coat closet by the front door.
Sandra cowered in the bathroom, having witnessed my break from sanity as I swung against her lovers with an anger I had never displayed in my life. The aggression that had built up during a lifetime of submission washed over me, like a dam spilling over after a flood. Nothing could hold back my anger, and in those moments she came to discover that even the meek can only by strung along for so long.
I felt the power pulsing in my veins as I drank in the fear from her eyes. I must have looked mad, drenched in the crimson life force of the lovers with whom she had mocked my own manhood. At that moment, my tenuous grasp at sanity was fleeting and I felt a surge of hatred overpower my control. This time, however, I was fully aware of what I was doing. I knew what I had to do to regain my battered manhood. I would have to kill her.
I lifted my bat above my head, relishing the terror etched onto her face. I thought my love for her was intoxicating, but having control of her life, and now her death, was empowering. I laughed a mad laugh as I walked towards her, watching her shrink back against the vanity, having nowhere to flee. Her life had been forfeited for having been a treacherous bitch.
In my righteous anger I hadn’t heard the muffled, pained breathing of one of her lovers. I was deaf to everything but Sandra’s pleading for mercy. I didn’t hear anything until the loud pop from behind me, then the eerie warm sensation of something viscous pouring from my side. Then the searing pain as another bullet ripped through my body and I fell onto the floor, my consciousness floating away.
I’ve been told that I failed to kill those two bastards, but that the one who shot me lost the vision in one eye, and the other may never walk again. No one will tell me what happened to that bitch of a girlfriend of mine. I hear precious little in here, and the nursing staff will not talk to me. My therapist is trying to put my psyche back together, but I don’t think there’s much left of me to fix. The man I was is dead. The woman I loved killed him with her betrayal. I wish I didn’t miss her. I don’t understand how I can still love her with my shattered heart.