Fiction

Like a Degenerate

By Harrison Abbott

He didn’t seem like a degenerate when I married him. He used to be sweet and funny. We tried to have a baby; I couldn’t conceive, and I think he was silently angry about that. In our dating years we drank a lot – it was just what we did, with the other college-gang members. Then I outgrew it, but he didn’t, he only kept going. And I got a decent job, but he stayed in his atrocious office job and continued drinking. And he hung out a lot on the weekend nights down at the lousy bar and watched the football games, often on his own or with the old men: i.e. he preferred spending time with them over me. I got ratty with him. I realise some people have addictions and my personal fault was that I ate too much bad food, and I’d been putting on weight for quite some time. But that smell of booze. I began to loathe it. And I asked him to try and ease it down a bit. It got so bad that I looked out some meetings that he could go to, with other people, psychological help. I spoke to him about it one Sunday afternoon, when he was sleepy and in a surprisingly good mood in the kitchen, and he agreed to go to an AA thing. And he actually stopped for about ten days. Then he went on a blitzkrieg binge. And got all snappy and moody and he pulled a sickie on work, making up a story about how he had food poisoning: for two days he just drank and drank and there was nothing physically wrong with him apart from that. … This (the binge) lasted for a fortnight and then it turned into five weeks and I was honestly worried that he might kill himself with beer and vodka. So he came home one Saturday morning (aka at two a.m.) and I confronted him about it. In the kitchen. He was standing next to the fridge, the white light in his face. Admittedly I got too angry too quickly and my confrontation came out diva-like. And he struck me. My husband punched me. In the jaw. And I fell back and landed on the linoleum with a bang on my elbow. The elbow was mighty painful whereas his fist on my face felt like nothing, but it sure dazed me. The next thing he did was to start crying. As if it were me that had just whacked him, and he came over to me on the floor and bent and he kissed my cheek and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, sorry my dear!” and he helped me up and sat me in the nearest chair and he held my face in his palms and told me he loved me and asked for forgiveness. I washed him away with forgiving words, because I was afraid he might do something violent again if not. I said I would just like to go to bed. So he took me upstairs. And then he actually tried to have sex with me – the maniac – as in, he began with foreplay and so on. So I calmly declined, and said I was too tired. But I lip-kissed him to make it seem like I still loved him. I didn’t. He had never ever smacked me before. He was a degenerate and I didn’t wish to see him keep falling, but I no longer saw why I had to help him either. I woke up very early a few hours later. He was still sleeping and he didn’t hear me leave the bed and get dressed. I got a bag of things together and I left to stay at my sister’s flat, and later in the afternoon, that same day, I severed the bond with my husband. Broke up with him. Dumped him, whatever. (I hadn’t ‘dumped’ anybody before in my life. I’d had a few clumsy escapades with boys when I was a teenager and it was always me who got the sack.) And eleven months later we were divorced. … As far as I know he still tanks the booze and works in the office and shows no signs of changing and does not even want to. It’s pretty bleak, and I do not revel in this knowledge.

Categories: Fiction

3 replies »

  1. The words are effortless and the reader just runs along with them. The punch was the last blow, after years of putting up with lazy, wayward behavior. Sometimes, expectations never amount to anything. And tolerance can’t accommodate the missteps. It’s better to just give up and walk away. Wonderful story! 🙂

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