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Kitty, don’t step in the glass, be careful. Don’t cut your paws. I’m so sorry for all the loud noises. You must be scared.
Oh fuck, its freezing. I have to fix the door, its letting all the cold air in.
Oh god, my face is BURNING…

He was gone by then, I think. But I’m not 100% sure because my hearing was off. Between the shuddering and shaking of my body, the flood of tears streaming down my face, the deathly silence in my flat, my haggard breathing and the pain in my body – I wasn’t really hearing properly any more.

There were only two things I could be sure of right then. I needed to board up the broken glass in my front door to stop the cold getting in and vacuum up the shards of glass in the hall.

Every inch of my body was shaking violently. My face was a mess of fiery swelling that seemed to scream at me, creating a buzzing in my ears. I was alone with a cat who was very worried about me. I was terrified.

First, I grabbed the dustpan and swept up the big shards of glass. Then I think I grabbed the vacuum. All the while, an icy blast was pouring through the jagged gash in the door. How was I going to fix that?? My brain had trouble coming up with anything… and then I remembered some thick artist’s cardboard I had. Got the scissors and packing tape and the chill winds were stopped.

I can ring the police! I rang the police. Something I didn’t think to do until after he’d gone. I don’t know why that is?!

Hi [sob, sob], I need to report [shake, shake, sob] an assault [shake, heave]

Okay can you tell me what happened?

Yes, [sob, sob] my friend was over for dinner [sob, sob] and he went crazy and he hit me [sob, sob] and threatened me [sob, sob]. Can you please come? [sob, shake, shake, shake]

Is he still there ma’am?

I’m not sure, [sob, sob] I think he’s outside [hyperventilate]. He was still there just before yelling and making threats. He broke the glass in my front door. I’m really scared. Can you come over?

Have you got the door locked?

Yyess… yes I have.

Do you have a security door?

Yes…

Okay, lock that too

O-o-okay [sob, shake, shiver]

Right, did anyone else see what happened?

No… it was just the two of us here [sob, sob]

If he’s gone there’s probably not that much we can do for you tonight. We can’t really arrest him for assault because it’s his word against yours.

Are you serious? You should see my face! And my door! [shaking]

I’m really sorry. You should go to the magistrate’s court tomorrow and take out an AVO. Do you know what that is ma’am?

Yes…

Good. And can you call a friend to come over tonight?

I… I guess so…

That’s good. If he comes back, call us again and we’ll come straight over.

Oh, okay. Bye…

I found my house keys and listened at the door for a while. Was he still lurking around? It was silent outside but that could mean anything. I took a deep breath and opened the door so I could lock the security door. Okay, good. My heart beat a little faster, but it didn’t compare to the ruckus going on in my face.

He’d only hit me on the left side of my face, and thrown me against the wall. My cheekbone throbbed and vibrated. The back of my head ached where it smacked into the wall. I couldn’t feel the rest of my body – just my face. The heat, the pain, was spreading up to my hairline, into my scalp and down my neck. And I couldn’t stop shaking or crying. I could barely catch my breath as the shock set in.

I don’t really recall the moments in between. Only fragments of that time, when I was trying to figure out what to do.

The policeman had said to call someone. I didn’t think to call my sister – she lived a very long way away. There was no question of calling my parents. I knew from experience they aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with a crisis.

But I’d only recently moved back to Melbourne and I didn’t have a lot of friends here yet. But I started calling anyway. Who was in my phone? Who did I know here? Did I know any men I could call? I desperately wanted to feel safe, to be around a male who wasn’t going to attack me. Who else?

I called M, an ex lover who is a very sweet person. I got voicemail – Help me, can you please call? I really need to talk to you. I called K – we’d met through a mutual friend in Sydney. Voicemail again. Please call me back if you get this message. I really need to talk to someone.

I can’t remember who else I called. There were a couple of people I think. But not many, because by that time already, Embarrassment and Shame were starting to rear their ugly heads.

Suddenly K rings me back.

What happened? What’s going on?

Through the unrest of my trembling and teary voice, I try to explain…

You remember Andre? That guy we met? He was over here tonight and he went nuts. It was like he was suddenly a different person. He made all these threats and then he hit me. I’m so freaked out, I’m so scared.

I’m coming over. I’ll be there as soon as I can.

Thank god.

K comes over, prepared to stay for the night. She’s tiny in stature compared to me, but her hug was the most comforting experience I could have asked for. She takes charge, making endless cups of hot sugary tea.

M rings back too. He and his girlfriend are nearby, just on their way home from something or other. Although he offers to come over, the fact that his girlfriend is with him makes me say no. I can’t have a complete stranger come to my place and see me in this state. I’m already so ashamed that this thing has happened to me. M thinks I should leave, go and stay at K’s place for the night.

He and K talk whilst I sit and shake. M thinks it would be good to get out of the place where it all happened. K is just worried. M hangs up and I talk to K about it. But I don’t want to go anywhere. I just want the world to open up and swallow me. So K says no, let’s stay. Let’s not flee the scene.

We talk for hours I think, until K needs to sleep. By this time she announces that I’ve warmed up a shade or two, and don’t look so pale and grey any more. I guess that’s a good thing? So we both get in my bed – so reassuring – and turn off the lights. But as soon as I shut my eyes, all I can see are his.

Not so much the colour or the shape. But the look in his eyes, right there at the back. It’s like he was saying, What are you going to do now? I’m the one with the power here. Don’t defy me, girl. Don’t even try.

His eyes didn’t look like my friend’s eyes. Gone was the gentle musician with the heart of a poet. Gone was the warmth and caring. It was a cold, soulless look. It was alien and deadly.

And now those eyes haunted me and stole any notion of sleep or tiredness. I got up, letting K sleep.

I sent my sister a text – Call me in the morning as soon as you get this. I need you to come over.

I sent Andre’s ex-girlfriend a text – Please call me when you get this message. You need to know what Andre has done tonight.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was numb throughout my body, except for the constant reminder of my face. Throbbing, aching, keening. I had no idea of how to spend the time until morning. Closing my eyes was not an option, although I tried – but every time, his eyes were there, waiting for me. Scaring me silly.

Every now and then, waves of tears would erupt, and each time I would shake non-stop. The sort of shaking you have when you’re really cold, chilled to the bone. Only, I was warm. The heater was working hard and I was wearing many layers of clothing.

Eventually I found some solace watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (of all things!). It carried me through the night in a state that felt oddly dissociative. Heck, who cares – Buffy and her friends kept me from losing the plot too badly.

(To be continued…)

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