We’d been dating for only a month, Gregory and I, but It seemed as if we’d known one another for years. I was addicted to him, addicted to us. Addicted to his touch on my waist, the way he softly stroked my hair, the smell he left on the pillowcase, and the way he kissed me. I knew he was my soulmate, I thought I knew everything about him. Sadly, I soon found out that I didn’t know him at all.
My family disliked him from the very beginning. They told me he was awkward, weird, off-
putting, that they had a “bad feeling” about him, and a number of other hurtful things. My dad told me that a 32-year-old uneducated man working an entry-level job as a scrub had no business dating his daughter, and that if he was really going to med school he would have done that already.
I told him that a Surgical Technologist was a more honorable job than his career as an
accountant for a law firm, and that he’d feel real stupid when Gregory became a doctor,
A fight started that day, worsening my already rocky relationship with my parents. My parents both agreed that, although they could not tell me what to do with my love life, they disapproved of our relationship and he was not welcome in their home.
Gregory wasn’t mad though, considering the awful way they were treating him. Instead, he held me in a warm embrace and offered a simple solution.
“Why don’t you just move in with me?”
I was nervous, but couldn’t ignore the twinge of excitement in my gut. Gregory had a small
basement mother-in-law apartment, but it was comfy and big enough for the two of us. It was where we spent most of our time anyway, I left every night with just enough time to make my midnight curfew.
We moved my belongings while my parents were gone, as Gregory suggested, and left them a note explaining that I was moving. Their reaction was, as expected, a huge overreaction of
voicemails and texts.
“You’re making a huge mistake”
“You’ve only known this guy a couple of weeks, it’s way too soon to move in together.”
“You don’t understand what true love is.”
“We raised you better.”
But they didn’t understand, they didn’t understand that Gregory and I were in love, true love!
We were soulmates. I felt lucky to have met my soulmate so early in life.
Gregory held me tight as we cuddled on his futon. He stroked my hair gently as he told me how I needed to cut the bad fruit off the tree. He explained that my family didn’t want me to be happy, but he did. He told me that my family was only going to get in the way of us, and that I had to cut ties with my family so we could be free.
I was hesitant, I loved my family and knew they wanted what was best, they just didn’t
understand. Only Gregory understood. He insisted it was for the best. He even wrote the text message stating that I would not be speaking to them anymore and blocked their numbers for me.
“Why don’t I hold on to this for a while,” he said, tucking my phone in his pocket. “It will only bring you negativity. I want you to be happy, I want us to be happy. I missed him every time he went to work and felt so lonely sitting in the basement apartment by myself. I suggested that maybe I should get a job too, but he told me no. He’d take care of me
and our bills. As long as I was waiting for him when he got home we would be happy. At least he let me have my phone while he was gone, so we could text throughout the day. He deleted my social media accounts first, explaining that my family might try to sabotage our love. I didn’t want that.
Friday night he came home wearing a suit and holding a pretty white dress. It was nothing
fancy, but it was smooth and elegant.”
“Get dressed,” he said with a smile on his face, “We’re going out!”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s a surprise.”
I put on my dress, which fit shockingly well. Gregory had gone through all of my clothes,
keeping the ones he liked and discarding those he didn’t, so he knew what size would fit well for me.
We spent a couple of hours driving before pulling up to a small white chapel with pink and blue neon lights.
“We’re getting married!” He told me after he parked the car. “We’ll be happy together for the
rest of our lives.” I was hesitant at this unexpected event. Although we had talked about
marriage as a future endeavor, I didn’t expect to be confronted with marriage quite so soon.
But, as Gregory said, we were soul mates. Delaying the inevitable would be a disrespect to our love.
At the command of the officiant, he slid the sterling silver wedding band over my finger. It
wasn’t a fancy ring, but he promised that when he became a doctor he’d get me a fabulous one.
It didn’t matter to me, I was happy with the one I had. What a ring symbolizes is more important than the ring itself.
It was one week later that my parents found out. While Gregory was at work, I received several text messages from my parents who had found a way to message me from an alternate phone number. I don’t know how they found out, but they did.
“It’s way too soon for marriage, you’ve only known him for only a month! What are you doing?”
“What about college? Don’t throw your future away for that lowlife.”
“How could you do this to us?”
“Come home before you do anything stupid and we make the situation worse. We have a
Lawyer who can make this like it never happened.”
“He’s manipulating you.”
By the time Gregory returned home my eyes were stained pink, the skin around them raw and puffy. I cried again as I showed him the egregious things my parents had said.
Gregory was so upset that he took my phone, reading the messages again with an indignant
expression. The phone clattered to the floor and the moment it found a resting position, he
stomped hard with his heel repeatedly until the phone was in pieces. I cried harder at this
violent outburst, but Gregory’s expression settled to a soft yet passionate stare.
“Our love, our marriage, is like a tree,” He explained, “And we have to cut the bad fruit off the tree, my Angel.”
I buried my face into his neck, overcome with sadness at watching my phone be obliterated. It was symbolic, in a way, symbolic of cutting my old life away so I could focus on my new life.
Still, although I knew it was for the best, I felt grief in a sort of way as if my parents had just died.
He held me for what could have been hours. My mind had been in an almost dreamlike state, trying to grasp that my family would no longer be a part of my new life.
“I wish I had wings,” I finally mustered after my eyes had run out of tears to shed, “I wish I had wings so I could just fly for a while.”
“Would that make you happy?” Gregory asked, with an indiscernible but thoughtful expression on his face.
“Yeah, wings would be nice.” I finally said, with a strange bit of an uninvited smile.
“I can do that,” Gregory said, “That would be sexy.”
I wasn’t sure when I fell asleep, but Gregory had stayed in the same place all night, allowing me to sleep peacefully using his shoulder as a pillow. I woke up to his soft whisper that he had to go to work, and that he’d be back as soon as he could.
Gregory returned late that afternoon with an excited smile on his face, similar to the one he had worn when he had come home with my wedding dress. He held a few bags in his hand and a blindfold that he insisted I wear while he prepared my big surprise that would make everything better.
He sat me down on the futon, telling me to take a deep breath. I did what I was told and
breathed deeply, but then felt a sharp pain on the inside portion of my elbow. I tried to pull away from the pain, but Gregory held my arm tight as he pushed the sharp object further into my arm.
Although I initially struggled, I quickly found myself too tired to continue the fight.
I woke up with my head buzzing. My mind struggled to find consciousness, but a fog kept
pushing my mind back down into a nauseous place somewhere between dreams and clarity.
Slowly but surely I was winning the struggle. Awareness and sensation eased into me, and I
realized that I was face down on the futon completely nude. Although a blanket covered my
lower body, my torso from the lower back up was exposed to the cold air blowing on me from the air conditioning vent above.
I tried to move, to pick up my head and wake myself up, but a series of sharp intrusive pains forced me to freeze, wishing for a return to the dull but painless sensations from moments before, but It was too late. All I could feel was pain, a sharp but lingering pain up both sides of my spine to the base of my neck, and down the back of each arm to my elbows. It was a threatening pain that promised retribution for any movement I dare make.
My senses came back to me with vengeance. My heart felt as though it were trying to break my sternum while my chest refused to expand to let in enough air. Panic set in as I tried to breathe and move, but for every breath and movement I attempted, I was punished by a sensation of ripping across my back and shoulders as if my skin wanted to detach itself.
“Hey, heyy, settle down.” Gregory’s voice came from behind me, gentle and reassuring. His
hand touched the back of my head, stroking my hair allowing me a small parcel of relaxation. I still believed Gregory to be my safe space, until what he said next.
“You’ll rip out the stitches, my Angel.”
“St-stitches?” I asked with a shaky voice, grimacing at the revelation. “W- w- why do I have
Gregory kneeled beside me and placed an icy hand on the side of my face. His eyes were wide and excited, an expression that I once believed to be passionate love but could finally see was one of madness and insanity.
“Your wings, Angel, I gave you your wings!” He said, with the excitedness of a child on
I attempted to speak but had not yet grasped what he meant. My mind kept shifting from
possibilities of what he had done, to doubt that he could have done that to me. The result was an indecipherable mess of stuttering.
“Shhhhh,” Gregory said, putting his finger to my lips, barely able to contain his pride. “I’ll show you.”
He showed me a picture on his smartphone. In the picture I was unconscious, lying face-down on the futon. On my back were, just as Gregory had said, wings. The shape and size of the wings matched the pain I could feel, stretching up both sides of my spine and across to my elbows. Imperfect overlapping rows of medium-sized white feathers covered the “wings” from top to bottom.
“Isn’t it perfect?” Gregory asked.
A shaky tear-ridden, “What did you do to me?” Is all I could muster.
“This is what you asked for, Angel. You could be a little grateful, you know.” Gregory scolded
me as if I were a toddler refusing to eat dinner.
He explained what troubles he went through to make this happen, troubles that he thought I
should be more appreciative about. He stole anesthesia, a stitch kit, and actual human skin
grafts from the hospital he works at. He cut them into the shapes of wings, stitched them onto my skin, and glued feathers he purchased from the craft store.
I was crying again, which caused Gregory to become more agitated. The angrier he became,
the more I cried which in turn, made Gregory dangerously angry. I pleaded through my tears for him to just take them out and let me go home, my real home to my parents.
Before I knew what he was doing, Gregory’s hand had struck my face with a hard slap. His
palm connected with my jaw causing my vision to flash, albeit momentarily.
“We are married now, Angel, this is your home,” he yelled, his brow creased with fury and angry finger pointed at my face.
I tried to get up, fighting through the pain of the stitches pulling and ripping through my skin, but Gregory grabbed me by the hair and slammed me back down onto my face. Before I could try again, I felt another needle pierce my arm.
I don’t know how long I was out for, but after struggling for consciousness a second time the
early morning light was filtering through the drapes. The sharp pains had intensified and were coupled with an incessant soreness across my entire back. I tried again to move but found that I was restricted not just from the pain, but from the tight restraints that squeezed my wrists.
Thin rope, the type a hiker uses on those woven bracelets, was tied so tightly around my wrists that my fingers had pins and needles. The other ends were tied to the frame of the futon, with no slack.
Gregory sat in a chair beside me, his expression softened but still maniacal.
I flinched when he reached out and touched my face, but instead of hitting me, he softly
caressed my cheeks.
“Now now, it’s okay. I’m sorry I got angry earlier, I’m sure you were shocked and that’s okay.
But look, you’re my angel now, I gave you angel wings and it’s SEXY!”
I asked him to untie me, telling him that it hurt but was careful not to anger him again. Gregory refused, saying that I needed to stay still to allow my sutures to heal.
“You need to get healthy, my angel, so you can focus on being healthy for the baby.”
“The baby?” I asked, terrified of where this was going but scared to make him angry again.
“We’re going to have a baby.” He announced with a big smile while undoing his pants, “I know that will make us happy.”
“No, no please not right now. I’m not ready, I don’t want to be pregnant and I’m not ready to be a mom.” I cried
“You are ready to be a mom.” He told me confidently. I objected again, but he pulled the sheet off of me and did it anyway.
After he was done, and was ready to leave for work. He pulled a syringe from his bag, but I told him I felt fine and asked him if he could just leave the TV on for me. For good measure, I told him I loved him and puckered my lips for a kiss. It disgusted me to kiss him, a sensation I previously loved, but I knew that If I had any chance at escaping I would need him to trust me.
Thankfully, he put the syringe down before leaving, but not before putting duct tape across my mouth.
I waited for at least 30 minutes after he left before I dared to move, but after I was sure he was at work I started my escape attempt. I pulled at the ropes, gritting my teeth through pain, wriggling my hands as much as possible trying to get the knots to loosen. With each pull, the rope strangled my hand more until pale fingers throbbed and the blood from my wrists soaked the futon.
I realized that my attempts were not only futile but counterproductive. What I needed was
something sharp, but I had no way to get to move and get anything sharp. The only cutting tool I had available to me was my teeth.
I pulled from my already aching wrists, crying out as the cord cut further into the flesh. My skin tightened across my back bringing searing pain through the sutures. The stitches pulled with a twinge, threatening to burst through. I felt some of the sutures rip through my skin, but I grunted through one final painstaking effort and my mouth was finally close enough to my hands.
I rubbed the edge of the duct tape against my hands smearing blood across my face, but a
corner of the tape came free. I rubbed again and again until my mouth was free and bit into the rope.
Instead of the rope, my tooth sank into the cut that already plagued my wrist. I cried out in pain but bit at it again, sinking my canine tooth into the cord and ripping away. It didn’t do much, but it was enough to give me hope. I bit again, and again, and again.
Finally, I managed to free my right wrist. Although I could barely move it, blood painfully surged back into my hand and fingers. It took a few minutes until my hand was functional enough to start working on the restraints on my left hand, but between my hand and my teeth the rope soon released and I was free.
It was already well into the afternoon. I was terrified that soon Gregory might be home, so I
allowed myself only enough time to put on sweatpants before running from the house. I was
unable to put on a shirt, due to the abomination on my back.
The pain in my back was excruciating, and I could feel a steady stream of blood running down my back from torn stitches. I was nauseous and weak from the anesthesia and lack of food, but I managed to stumble out of the door, my wing catching on the door frame and tearing a fresh wound in my back. I barely made it up the concrete stairs, heavily leaning on the railing.
I scrambled around the house to the door of the main level, ringing the doorbell and banging on the door, but nobody was home. Our upstairs neighbors were rarely home during the day, after all.
I turned to leave, but my toe caught on the doormat and I fell down the steps, my face slamming into the cement below drawing more blood from my brow. I lay there for several minutes, feeling defeated and without enough energy to fight the pain anymore. I thought that maybe I could just lay there until I die.
The squeal of brakes snapped energy back into me, realizing a car was pulling into the
driveway. I crawled behind the nearby shrubs in an effort to conceal myself. Through the holes in the plants, I could see Gregory’s green car rolling past, then parking in the carport with the driver’s seat just out of sight from the corner of the house. With dread deep in my chest, I realized that within a minute he would find that I had escaped, and he would come from me. It was now or never. I would escape, or be a slave tied up in his basement for him to impregnate.
I chose now.
My fear overpowered the pain and exhaustion, and before I knew it I was running to the
neighbor’s house. I banged on the door with one hand, ringing the doorbell with the other. A
scrubby elderly man opened the door with irritation forming hard creases along his brow, but upon seeing my bloody half-naked body his eyes became shocked and wide. Without either of us saying a word, he gently grabbed my arm and guided me into his house, locking the door behind us and closing the drapes.
The old man didn’t bother asking if I was okay, it was obvious that I was not, he only asked me what happened. All I could manage to tell him was, “He’s coming, please help. He’s coming for me.”
Without a word, he called 911, while giving me a blanket to cover myself with. I sat down on a chair, leaning forward slightly so as to not cause myself further pain from the hundreds of
Just as the old man assured me that police and an ambulance were on their way, I saw him.
I saw Gregory, looking through the sliding glass back door.
The glass shattered sending fragments everywhere, a rock thudding against the hardwood floor as Gregory reached through the hole, unlocking the door and sliding it open. His face was etched with not just anger, but pure hatred. His wide eyes glared threateningly into mine, with a promise of punishment and vengeance.
The old man told me to run and boldly stood between Gregory and myself. I ran to the front
door, scrabbled with the lock, and threw the door open just as I heard the elderly man cry out, followed by the thud of him hitting the floor.
I ran out across the front lawn and into the road, my bare feet screaming as my heels slammed down onto loose pebbles. I screamed for help so loudly my dry throat felt as if it were being cut open from the inside, hoping somebody, anybody, would hear.
I hadn’t heard him coming until Gregory grabbed onto the wing he had crudely sewn to my
body. I could hear and feel my skin ripping from my back as the wing detached completely
before my head was ripped back from Gregory’s grasp on my hair. A hard hit to my head
caused a flash in my vision, and when I could see again the hot asphalt was burning into the
fresh open wounds of my back.
Gregory stood over me, my throat already closed from his crushing weight.
“Till death do we part, Angel, and that WILL be the only way we part,” Gregory grunted, using all his strength to make sure I would never breathe again. I clawed at his hands, desperate for air, desperate to live long enough to see my family one more time.
With a sudden and thunderous boom, Gregory’s head disintegrated into unrecognizable and
misshapen mush. Air painfully rushed back through my throat while thick hot blood covered my face and torso.
The old man softly grasped my hand, putting his shotgun aside. I tried to speak, but he gently shushed me. I could hear the sirens nearby, so I surrendered the pain and exhaustion knowing that my nightmare was over.
I woke up in the hospital, thankfully wingless, with my parents at my side. With their help, I’ve been healing, physically and emotionally. The elderly man that saved me was also hospitalized for a minor brain hemorrhage, but he too will be okay.
My family wasted no time forgiving and helping me heal. The scars on my back though, the
ones in the shape of the wings I had wished for, remind me every day to trust nobody, nobody but myself and my family.
Credit: R. M. Staniforth
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