We look incredible in that photograph. Young and in love and full of life.
He had always hated getting his picture taken but he was a good sport that time. It had been a beautiful day on the beach. We’d dug our toes in the sand and chased each other through the waves as they rolled onto the shore. It’s one of my favorite memories.
I wish I had known. I’m sure there were signs, but I was blind to them. And then it was too late. It was only two weeks after that picture was taken that he hit me for the first time. I can’t even remember why now. I just know that afterwards, the pain in my heart hurt far more than the pain of my cheek, where his blow had landed.
He’s apologized, of course. He’d gone out to cool off and after he came home, he was so sorry. He cried and he held me. He kissed my bruise and told me it would never happen again. It hadn’t taken me long to forgive him. I’d have done anything to erase the fear and sadness in those beautiful brown eyes.
I wish I had a time machine. If I did, I’d go back to that day on the beach and scream at that woman there, smiling in that picture. I’d tell her to run. To get away. But that woman is me and I know that back then, I was too in love to listen to reason.
That first time wasn’t the last time. It never is, is it? That time was just the beginning. The hits only got harder, the anger more frequent. Before I knew it, I stopped leaving the house because I couldn’t find a way to hide the bruises his once loving hands had left on my body. I stopped talking to my friends and my family. All I had after that was him.
I should have known. Unable to feel the breeze on my face any more, I watch as he tosses my favorite picture of us into the hole. I can’t look away as the only man I’ve ever loved shovels dirt onto it, covering that memory. Covering our love. Covering my broken, lifeless body.
I wish he had known how much I’d loved him. I wish he’d loved me that much too.