How Can I Challenge Him Now That I Know the Truth?

Come home.

That’s his entire reply. Nothing else. No clue to indicate if he’s angry, no hint that reveals if he knows where I am.

I had hoped for more…or less. I had wished for an angry tirade that somehow showed his hand, or proclamations of love and forgiveness; or maybe no response at all. Instead I get a simple command. Two words are not enough, but also far too much. My mind is stuck between these extremes, trying to read between the lines, words that don’t exist, unable to move beyond this, to parse out what I should do next.

Silently using his hand to lift my chin so that I’m looking up at him instead of down at my phone, Caleb says resolutely, “Don’t deviate from the plan. You can do this.”

More than anything I want to hand him the phone and tell him to do it, beg him to do it if I have to. He had been right though, the words have to be mine. Clay can’t know I have help. Our greatest advantage will be surprise.

I don’t know Caleb’s plan. He has only told me I need to get Clay to come to the cabin. He told me he would take care of the rest, that it was better if I didn’t know the details. In truth I don’t want to know. I want this over, however it happens. I tried to go to the police, tried to do the right thing, but they wouldn’t help. They treated me as if I were simply overreacting, or worse a scorned woman seeking revenge on her ex, but never did they entertain the idea that Clay was anything but the upstanding citizen he appears to be.

So I’m on my own, except not entirely alone. I do have help. I have someone who claims he can end this. I have just one thing I need to do. It’s my responsibility to bring him here.

I should have known he would expect me to go to him. Everything from the very beginning had been on his terms. I went along with it, only rarely challenging him, and those limited times he managed to turn circumstances to align with his wishes anyway. Some would call it compromise, but it feels different than that.

What would have happened if I’d stayed true to myself, stuck with my convictions instead of following his every wish? Would we have parted sooner had I not conformed as much? If I had insisted on living my own life from the beginning would he still have chosen me as his prey? All along I had complied with his wishes, without ever realizing that to do otherwise, to challenge his authority could be dangerous. Now that I’ve learned the truth, how can I possibly stand up to him?

Caleb, his arms still around me, gives me a squeeze, an unspoken question or perhaps encouragement. I need to do something, I just have no idea what.

What would prevent me from going to him? How can I convince him I need him to come here?

All at once it hits me. I know how to persuade him, so I begin to write:

I wish I could but I’m staying in a cabin and my car won’t start. I thought if I could get away I could think for a little while. Now I’m out here in the woods and honestly scared. I can’t even go home.

I hit send and hold my breath. Then one more thought begs to be added:

Please help me.

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

This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Why Do I Tremble with Both Fear and Regret?.

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