How Could I Fail To See Who He Truly Was?

****Warning – this post reveals why the main character is running from her ex. Some may find what is revealed to be disturbing.****

All at once I knew. I could see past his charm to something far more sinister than I could have imagined. The epiphany hit me so hard it was almost a physical blow. How could I have missed the signs?

I stood frozen, unable to move from where I’d entered the room. My hand rested on the doorknob, the stolen key dangling from the lock. No wonder this room was always secured. I never would have stayed had I seen this earlier.

Realizing I could be discovered at any moment I knew I should run. I’d already seen enough to end any doubt about leaving, yet I had a perverse desire to investigate. Escape should be my primary concern. There was nothing here I needed to see.

But I couldn’t turn away.

Instead I shuffled forward, removed the key from the lock, and shut the door behind me. My movements were slow, as if I were immersed in Jello.

My eyes were drawn to the objects hanging on the blood-red wall to the left of the entrance, so I went there first. My foot caught on the edge of the large area rug, in the same shade as the walls, almost tripping me. I regained my balance and continued my advance toward the well-organized instruments dangling from hooks before me.

There were a multitude of whips, chains, and handcuffs, in varying materials. There were leather straps, bars with hoops on each end, and several items I couldn’t identify. Running my fingertips across the whips I watched them sway back and forth, transfixed. Repeating this action with the chains created an almost musical sound.

Finally turning my back on these pieces, I considered the rest of the room. At the far end was a large four-poster bed. While the frame in the master bedroom was elegant and gave a feeling of grandeur, the posts here had a more utilitarian feel. Metal rings were affixed to each one in various positions and heights. They could also be seen running along the headboard and footboard. Clearly these were intended to be used with what was hanging on the wall, but I wasn’t ready to think about that.

Between the bed and my current position was a long wooden table. This too had rings screwed along the edges. A pillow in red leather rested on the surface, along with what appeared to be a blindfold and black rubber ball with strings hanging from two sides. A large peacock feather seemed out of place next to these items.

Barely able to breathe I forced myself to look away, but what I saw next truly made my blood run cold.

Stepping around the table I hesitantly moved toward the wall to the right of the bed. A mahogany chest of drawers held numerous framed photos, all of me. More pictures hung above the chest. In some I had posed, aware I was being photographed, but others went far beyond candid. Several showed me nude in positions that I would never have allowed. Examining one closely it appeared that I was unconscious or sleeping, but surely I wouldn’t have been able to sleep in these positions, would I?

Could he have put my face on someone else’s body? Studying another closely, I could just make out the birthmark on my right hip.

What the hell?

I put the photo down as my stomach churned. I knew I should leave, but there was one final place I hadn’t looked. Opening the top drawer of the chest a round white bottle first rolled to the back, then came to rest at the front. Picking it up and giving it a shake I discovered it was a bottle of pills. There were no markings on the bottle, which I found to be odd, but not as strange as everything else in this room.

Also in the drawer was a leather-bound journal. I lifted it and began to leaf through the thick pages. The writing was neat, but there was something unusual about it. The letters were all very close together and it looked as if the person who was writing had pressed down very hard.

At the top of each entry was a date. I flipped to the day we met and scanned the writing. It was a detailed account of the evening at the party as well as our time on the beach afterward. At the end of the narrative was one addition:

Rohypnol 2 mg

The book clattered to the floor as I covered my mouth and struggled not to vomit. Realization swept over me, encroaching like a fog coming in from the sea.

I needed to run. Now. But my feet wouldn’t move.

Scenes from the previous months flipped through my mind, slowly at first then gaining speed. The warnings were there. Moments of carefree abandon, feelings of euphoria…waking up in bed, unaware of how I got there. Flashes of confusion, periods of time that slipped away without recollection. Unexplained nausea, weakness and fatigue. Symptoms he’d attributed to illness.

I’d let him take care of me.

Dizziness swept over me. Shaking my head, trying to clear the haze that threatened to overwhelm me, I bent down to grab the book. Standing quickly I smacked the side of my head on the chest. Crying out, tears streaming down my face, I pressed a hand to the ache that was forming.

The physical pain helped focus my attention on the present. The urgency of the situation pressed down on me, but I saw with complete clarity my next steps as I swung the door open to flee.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Epiphany and is part of something longer I am working on.

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