*the following short fiction excerpt is a combination response to Rarasaur’s Prompt for the Promptless and answer to the interest shown by some readers on my short story The Cycle. Enjoy, and feel free to comment.
The Cycle- Schadenfruede
She could remember when she had loved him, been enamored with him. She remembered it in the way one sometimes remembers a dream, like a detached observer.
…Their first meeting, on the back patio of the bar where she and her friends from work had gone after the dull and seemingly interminable company party… The tentative anticipation and exhilaration of finally meeting someone who could potentially hold her interest for more than a few weeks. She remembered his dark good looks and his easy charm. The electricity of their first kiss.
Even now, she could remember his effect on her. How she had lusted for him and had to force herself to wait even the short week before they fell into bed together in a furious tangle of limbs. Now, the thought of her lust for him sickened her. She felt nauseous and ashamed, disgusted by the memory of his face, still handsome and seemingly unaffected by his time in prison. Disgusted that she had fallen for him, even though, objectively, she could still remember why she had loved him.
But mostly she was disgusted that she had been so completely and utterly fooled by him. She felt used and stupid. She felt responsible, as if, in her stupidity, she had somehow been an accomplice to his crimes.
Because now, casting a harsh eye back over the past ten years of her life, she could clearly see– she should have seen– that something was wrong.
He had handled her too easily on too many occasions. They had fought little throughout their courtship and marriage. He always seemed so considerate of her feelings, even when her fears or feelings may have been irrational. He always knew the right things to say, or when to say nothing. She could see now that what she had taken to be easy-going, what she had thought was just his generous nature, insouciance, had really been an expertly veiled sort of scorn. The smug bastard had let her have her way simply because he could. And he enjoyed being able to manipulate her so easily.
Once they had been together for a while, once her trust in him was complete and unwavering, he had enjoyed free rein to pursue his other...hobbies. He had complete control over her, and she hadn’t even known it, because he had never harmed her, never threatened her, or even said so much as an unkind word to her.
Now she found herself on some level wishing, perversely, that he had hit her, insulted her or belittled her…given some sign of his true nature. His abuse had been so much more insidious. It was in his contentment and pleasure in the role he was playing– the doting husband– and in his wife’s utter ignorance.