Please be aware that this poem contains descriptions of domestic violence. The fourth poem chosen by guest editor Jessie Joe Jacobs is a response to her callout for stories relating to violence against women and the #metoo and #timesup campaigns. If you’d like to know more about how to work for positive change on this issue, try the End Violence Against Women organisation, and support your local domestic violence and rape crisis centres, which are having their funding catastrophically slashed by the government. In Teesside, this might be Harbour or My Sister’s Place.
FRIDAY NIGHT IS FUN NIGHT
Friday night is fun night, I am told.
His face beams as he reminds me.
The children are at their grandparents,
The dog is on the sofa,
The beer is chilling in the fridge,
The merlot is at room temperature,
We can order take away later
If we like, he says.
Everything is in place
For a night of fun.
He locks the doors,
Opens a can of beer
And pours it into a glass.
He only does this on Fridays.
Saturday through Thursday
He takes his beer directly from the can.
Then, he sits.
The TV is off.
The stereo is silent.
He stares at the carpet,
Building himself up
The beer is thrown into my face with such force
That it splashes against the wall and up to the ceiling
The empty glass is thrown onto the carpet
It does not shatter – he is disappointed
And it is my fault. I have wasted his beer
The beer that I paid for
With the money I had earned
And my choice of floorcovering
Has ruined his desired dramatic effect
We should have wooden floors
He told me we should have wooden floors
I never listen, do I!
Why don’t I ever listen?
I’m stupid! So fucking stupid!
How I got a degree, he’ll never know!
They must give them to anybody
He slaps me hard across my left cheek
It dares to redden. This angers him.
He slaps it again and then my right
In quick succession, shouting
Like he is Jean Claude Van Damme
On repeat, in slow motion.
‘This is great!’ he yells.
The dog stoops low and tries to escape
But he is grabbed by the psychopath
And thrown hard on to me on the sofa
I comfort my little dog
He is shivering and cowering
I rub his soft, velvet ears
He starts to settle.
But this is wrong.
What have I done?
The dog urinates on my jeans and the sofa
As the psychopath approaches
My hair is pulled and I am dragged from my seat
My head is slammed into the artexed wall
I am thrown to the ground
My arms are pinned to the floor with his knees
As he sits over me slapping each side of my face in turn
Tears and snot and blood and beer fly from my face
Ah he is shouting, ‘FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT!’
Over and over and over.
He puts his hands over my mouth and nose,
I cannot breathe,
I cannot move,
I kick my legs up
But they don’t reach him.
I think I will die
I am starting to panic
I have scratched him before
Drew blood from his neck
And was told I was the ‘psycho’
For daring to defend myself.
‘Don’t fight back’
I was told. By a woman.
‘You will only get the blame
And you will be both
As bad as each other’.
He gets tired. He stands up.
Goes to the fridge for more beer.
The dog tries to comfort me when he leaves the room
Licking the tears and snot and blood and beer from my face
I can hear the sea roaring
As the psychopath struts back into the room
It is deafening, and when he talks
I can’t hear what he is saying
I can barely see him
My vision is blurred from the blows to my head
I realise the sound of the sea
Is blood rushing through my body
My heart pumping violently
My adrenaline surging.
I get up to get a damp cloth and dish soap
I clean the sofa – I do it wrong
I do everything wrong
So his criticism means nothing now.
He leaves the house
Locks the doors and windows
Disconnects the phone
Takes the handset and all the keys with him
And fun night is over
For this week.
I sit, numb.
Stare at the wall
Because I don’t know what to do.