He made her feel small, because this was the only way that he could feel tall.
He told her she was nothing, because he knew she was everything.
Nothing terrified him more than the notion that one day she would realize this,
leaving him behind to the dust and flies.
So, he used every ounce of power he had to make sure she had none.
He put down every dream she ever had, every achievement, every thought.
He slowly stripped away her laughter, her sensuality, her light, until she was grey.
On occasion, it even hurt him to see her this way. A dull shadow of her former self.
But at least this way, he could still see her. A shadow was better than nothing.
She, however, could no longer look at him. Not like before. Not like this.
Now, all she had left to offer him, was fear.
Again, to him, this was better than nothing.
She sometimes wondered what she had done to deserve such a life.
Every now and then, she entertained the notion, that surely, even she deserved better.
But no sooner than the thought would enter her head, he would be there.
Ready like a hawk, to snatch it from her hopeful eyes with a heavy fist.
The only affection she received, were the brief moments he would hold her.
After she had hit the floor.
She wasn't sure what she despised more...
The blinding pain as his fist met her face,
or laying there in silence as this sniveling mess covered her wounds in tears and snot.
He told her he did it out of love, proving love was a concept beyond this little man.
But, she knew he meant it, i his own twisted, fucked up way,
he meant it.
She also came to realize that he could not love,
not her, not anyone, not anything, because he could never love himself.
And she knew that she could't either. Not now, after everything.
He could only make her feel weak, pathetic and hopeless,
because this was how he saw himself.
She felt this way for a long time...much too long.
Until one morning, her eyes opened before his,
staring across her pillow, she had an epiphany.
Looking at this misshapen, angry, bitter, little man, it dawned on her...
She may not think much of herself. She may not like herself. She may even truly feel like nothing.
But even nothing is better than the beast that lays before her.
She made him breakfast that morning as usual, before he left for work.
Work was something he made sure she no longer had the confidence for.
This morning was different though. She felt it.
So, she smiled as she cooked his meal and plated it in front of him.
He was quick to inform her how stupid this made her look.
But, his words didn't sting as they normally did.
Her stomach didn't sink and her head did not fall.
She sat and watched him eat, something she normally tried to avoid.
However, this morning she enjoyed watching him slobber and drool.
Because she knew that this was the last meal he would ever feast upon at her hands.
He told her it was overcooked and left without thanks as she washed his dishes.
When the house was empty, she whistled a little tune interrupting the usual deafening silence.
The whistling gradually became humming, then singing,
something she hadn't done in years,
not since before him.
When the dishes were done, she marched up the stairs.
She started grabbing her humble belongings and tossing them onto the bed.
When she finished packing she took one last look at the prison he had built for her.
As she walked through the doorway, she was not angry.
Because, although he had built this prison, she knew it was her that had locked the door and lost the key.
As the sun kissed her skin, she felt its warmth on her cheeks. She afforded herself a smile.
She was free.
Free and petrified simultaneously. But nothing scared her more than the thought of going back.
Bravely, with nothing but one small bag, and what little of herself she had left,
she marched on.
It would be a long time before she could look in a mirror and like what she saw,
longer still before she could look at a man with anything other than suspicion and fear.
But she would get there,
thanks to the greatest medicine this world has to offer...