She was seventeen and heartbroken when you met her. Eyes red and swollen from crying over him. Could you see it? The weakness radiating out of her? Years later she would tell you that Danny had dumped her for no apparent reason. When she was seventeen she thought the pain would kill her. She hadn’t met you then.
She’d seen you wandering about her office building. On the stairs. You were always alone. You only spoke to her when she was alone. You would smile at her and say hello. How much had you planned then? Had you decided at that moment that you owned her or did that come later?
She left. On her last day she bumped into you. A coincidence. Or was it? She told you that you weren’t going to see her again. You asked her out. You made the effort. She said yes. She was happy. Were you?
You took her to the filthy local. Cheap and cheerful you told her. Cheap; from day one.
You were in a relationship immediately. There was no seeing each other or discussion. You were just together. She was seventeen; you were twenty-one. She was stupid and you knew it.
You took her to visit your cousin. Rough as old boots with a cackle like a drowning witch. It was there you told her about the drugs; or you told her about the weed at least. You wouldn’t tell her about the rest ‘til later. Easy does it so as not to scare her away. Your cousin had a little boy, three or four years old. You both smoked weed in front of him and your seventeen year old stupid girlfriend kept her mouth tightly shut.
Valentine’s Day was within weeks of your getting together. You took her to the filthy local again. Her Mum rang her while you were there to tell her about the flowers. You’d had a dozen red roses delivered to her house. Beautiful. Expensive. She went with you to your office and had sex with you the same night on a scratchy carpet. You hurt her. You knew you hurt her but you carried on anyway.
The relationship became a blur of drugs, alcohol and clumsy sex on your single bed in your parents’ house. The smell of spliff became as familiar to her as her perfume. You always had chapped lips from the chewing. You were always sniffing. Always had a cold.
The sex was always uncomfortable. Always painful. Did you feel good when you were on top of her, speaking to her like shit? You called her a bitch, a whore. You told her you weren’t wearing a condom because it didn’t feel right. She was on the pill. It would be her fault if she got pregnant. It was her responsibility. You hurt her again and again. It got worse and worse. You got off on the power. The first time you held her face down in the pillow you both screamed. You never noticed the tears that soaked it afterwards. Or did you just ignore them?
The night of your engagement was another blur. There was no ring, no big moment, just drugs and alcohol. People were congratulating you from all angles. The DJ announced it. She was outside. She was on the phone to someone she’d gone to school with. She never told you that. Did you know? He told her she was being ridiculous. He told her to sober up. She didn’t speak to him again after that night.
You did tell her about your debts. You were honest about that. Thousands of pounds owed in loans and credit cards. You told her you’d spent it on education, driving lessons. A part of her always knew you’d smoked it or put it up your nose but she was in denial.
Shortly after she turned eighteen you asked her to live with you. You told her you wanted to be with her all the time. You told her you loved her. You told her nobody else ever had and nobody else ever could. Nobody could ever put up with her and her ridiculous habits and paranoia you said.
You told her the only problem was money. Between your debt and her wage getting a mortgage would be impossible so you would have to rent. You didn’t have money for a bond either so you told her to get a loan. She’d never had any debt so it would be easy. You took her to the bank. The Loan Adviser kept telling you to leave but you said she needed the help. She couldn’t think for herself. The Loan Adviser asked her if she wanted you to stay. She said she did. She’d be lost without you. When you left the bank she had a £5k loan and a credit card with a £3k limit. You told her you’d help to pay it. Of course you never gave her a penny.
You tried to get her to move far away from her family. The area you chose wasn’t good. Her Mum told her. You were so angry when she said she didn’t want to go. You told her she was a snob, that she thought she was something good. You told her what she really was. Then you showed her. But still she cried that she couldn’t live there. She begged and begged to go somewhere else. So you found another house quite close to her parents. Living close to them didn’t mean she had to see them anyway.
Her new credit card and loan furnished the house. The debts racked up and you told her again and again that you would pay it. You held her face down on every piece of furniture she’d bought. Anything to keep her quiet.
At your housewarming party you managed to rid her of the last of her friends. You and your mates smoked loads of weed. Her mate was there and kept trying to take her into another room but you put your arm around her and told her last friend to fuck off.
Then you got the coke and mirror out. She was upset this time. She yelled. She cried. You sent her upstairs to bed like a naughty child.
A few weeks later you said she could go out for a drink with her friend as long as she didn’t come back too late or speak to any men. She was really upset when she came back. She told you how her mate had called you a drug addict and that she didn’t want to be associated with those kind of people. She’d defended you. You had her. Neither of you would ever see her only remaining friend again. She was all yours.
She never really liked one of your friends did she? She used to moan when he came round that he took too many drugs and he was really immature.
He didn’t love his girlfriend any more than you loved yours but she couldn’t have kids so he stayed with her so that the NHS would fund the IVF.
When he cheated on his girlfriend she threw him out and you told him he could come and live with you. Yours was so cross because she didn’t like him. She didn’t want him in her house. You told her how selfish she was being. You told her how much your mates meant to you. You told her in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t her house anyway. You showed her her place.
How mad you must have been when they started getting on. He was just someone to talk to she said. He understood her she said. He was nice to her she said.
You knew the truth. That bitch had seduced him under your own roof. She’d stolen your friend from you under your nose. Opened her legs for him in your house. She’d turned him against you with her lies. You told her what she was. Cheap. Evil. It was all her fault. Obviously you didn’t say a word to him. He’d been in prison. You were scared of him. He could hurt you and you wouldn’t fight back. Not a man.
You would show her. He was out and you dragged her upstairs like you always did. You threw her onto the bed like you always did. She looked away from you in that annoying way she always did. It was all the same as always but it wasn’t. Something had changed. Something was wrong. You got off her. You started yelling how she didn’t love you, how she didn’t even want to have sex with you, how she was fat and repulsive and she could fuck off to hell.
She was gone within an hour.
Every now and then you see her about. The last time you asked for her number. You were so shocked when she said no. She’d never said no to you.
Do you ever look back at the photographs of when you were a couple? The pale thin girl with sad black eyes who you owned for four years looks dead.
The girl you saw, the girl who said no, is someone else. She’s happier now. She doesn’t belong to you anymore. The pale thin girl with sad black eyes is dead.