April 2013

“Misfortune is never invited. And it comes and sits at the table without permission and it eats, leaving nothing but bones.” -Jacques Roumain

In exactly 500 words, what is happening here?

Michael Lejeune says:

I always imagined it would be different. Chains… shackles. Rope. No, rope is too old-fashioned. Cable ties. Those plastic strips where one end feeds into the other. That’s what villains use in movies these days instead of handcuffs. Handcuffs….now those are old-fashioned.

None of that here. No need. It was genius, really. She knew I wouldn’t run. There’s nowhere to go. She only had to take my clothes and the keys to the Suburban. Looking out the livingroom window, I can see as far as I’d be able to get if I run. No shoes, no shirt, not even a pair of briefs…I’d be lucky to make it past the flagpole before I collapse into freezing agony.

It’s always winter here.

She knew that when she drugged me and locked me into the livingroom. She knew it when she decided to imprison me. Her own husband.

She’d been planning it, there was no doubt. The heavy door she’d had installed at the foot of the hall. The video surveillance system. The coded security alarms on the driveway and grounds. I was so stupid! I thought she was just scared of psychos; I really did. Out this way, it’s a real concern, you know. People leave the cities and head north to get away from the law sometimes.

She feeds me well. Home-cooked meals, just like before. She was always good in the kitchen. I can hear her in there, moving pots, chopping vegetables. Listening to music. The very first day, when I was still pounding on the doors and screaming, she listened to Cyndi Lauper in the kitchen while she made pot roast, baked potatoes and carrots for the both of us. I thought she was being spiteful then.

But it’s been seven months, and she still listens to music while she cooks. It gets a bit louder when the metal slot in the door opens so I can trade my empty plate for one with fresh, hot food. Then we eat. Her on her side, me on mine. Sometimes we talk. Then she does the dishes, and she hums along with the songs.

At first I hated everything about the ritual. And the nakedness. I hated her. But after the first few weeks, I was too grateful for the meals to throw them back at her. I became too certain of her confidence and resolve to try to tempt or threaten her. She held all the cards. There was no point in trying to fool or coerce her. I simply had no leverage.

And now, it’s actually not so bad. I cooled off a long time ago. Somehow, her tenacity won me over. Her intelligence, her skill for deception. Her power. It’s sexy, and I’m learning to appreciate that. She notices, too, and it makes me happy when she does. She told me yesterday that if I continue to behave well, she’ll let me wear my wedding ring again.

I can think of nothing that would please me more.

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