I met David in the Cloverleaf Diner, across from the bus station. I was getting ready to catch a bus to a job interview, and bought a cup of tea to get out of the cold. He said he was a business owner and knew some people who might be hiring. He was very tall and classically handsome; not my type. I gave him my resume and we chatted, so pleasant. A day or two later he called the number on the resume and said I was the first girl who had submitted a resume for a date. I was starving and homeless, sleeping on a friend’s couch, and accepted the free meal date.
On our second date, he asked me to marry him. I said no. He wore me down, but it took a year and a half. He took me to Toronto, Chicago, bought me fancy clothes and food. He showed me off to his clients. I was pretty, then.
Strange things. A couple months after we met he tried to sell me into prostitution; he had friends in it and it wasn’t a bad life. He took me to where I would be working, He got drunk every night, I mean really drunk. On nights he ran out of his favorite drinks he hit the liqueurs and got violent. The violence wasn’t as baffling as the happy brunches the next morning as if nothing had happened. He said he loved me. He said he was going to kill me. He said he needed me. He said we were the only people who could understand each other. What was OK one day infuriated him the next. I moved in and out, and back in, and back out.
More strange things: Once we drove four hours south for a vacation when he decided that my visor had been down the whole time, and it had infuriated him. So we drove four hours back home. Sometimes he made me engage in sordid sexual things, horrible things. I had to give up all my possessions and my cat. He wanted me to have an affair – begged for it. One night I had to get between him and his father in a drunken brawl. I was sure David would have killed his father that night.
The fear was not the anxiety that I have now. Not that one is better or worse than the other. In some ways, the fear of David was a warm-up for later anxieties: the same symptoms of physical illness, shaking, hyperventilating, seeing stars, hypervigilance, all that. The awfulizing then wasn’t just in my mind. The truly awful might just happen. I planned an escape to a little apartment a half-hour away, and executed it so that one day he came home and I was just gone.
It had been a little wedding and then a little divorce six months later. He stalked me for a few years, leaving something to let me know he’d been in every new apartment I got. I wonder if he knows where I am right now.