ESCAPE FROM WILLIAM
It didn’t take long for things to get really weird. I began to read between every line, too many lines. The only thing I could rely on was what I wanted to believe. William was my enemy and the only way Shyguy31 and I genuinely communicated was "esoterically." He responded to my letter by sending an email saying that he loved me only as a friend, and that he loved William as much as he loved me. He said that I had been going through so many changes so it was natural for me to believe I loved him as I did.
I believed that he was covering up his real feelings for me in order to protect me from William. I began to believe he knew my thoughts. I saw him in every dream I had. Soon that wasn’t enough, I began believing that he was following me in my waking life, watching and protecting me. I was losing it. I came to the conclusion that part of the plan was for me to take over “the plan,” and that as much as I had to leave William I had to let go of Shyguy31. I wrote cryptic messages to him and posted them as prose on my website and boards online, believing somehow he’d find them and understand.
The night he left the front door of the house open when our bird was outside of her cage.
“Did you let Maude escape on purpose?” I asked him in the morning, as we showered together. “You never do that, leave it open like that.”
I was only able to feel partly sad for the bird even though I was like an exposed nerve, on the verge of tears and rage without understanding why and I was constantly battling to keep myself from expressing one or the other. I had to keep it together so he wouldn’t suspect anything. I was almost set off by this though, momentarily jittered by something I quickly reasoned would not affect my new future because I was leaving that morning, after the shower. I was planning on leaving our pets with him anyway. At least she was free.
“No, it was an accident, said.”
He used one hand to balance against the glass of the shower door as he said this and simultaneously scrubbed the foot he had lifted behind him with the other. He never could stand balanced on his own. I could, and did so every time we showered together just so he’d notice that I could.
“But maybe she’s better being free rather than in a cage,” he said and he looked at me and he looked sad. At that moment I believed he knew I was leaving, as though he were an actor who had already memorized the script, and I was there to figure it out as I went along. I knew I had to play along.
“I have plans to meet with the lady at that new gallery downtown,” I told William as I shut off my spigot and left the shower to dry off.
“Good, so you called and made an appointment?"
He spoke loudly through the glass and running water.
“Yes, the lady said she would meet me there at eleven so I have to leave soon.”
“Don’t forget your portfolio,” he said as he got out.
“Grab me my towel, would you?”
I didn’t have an appointment. I had gathered the few things I thought were most important. My birth certificate, the last tax returns, the business license; they were in my handbag, and I was scared he would somehow notice. The lie was my chance to escape before things got worse, and they were getting worse fast.
I drove away and stopped at a pay phone. I didn’t trust using my cell. I called my parents. My mother answered.
I was trembling. My mother hadn’t seen or heard me cry since I was a child, and even then not very often.
“Olive what’s wrong?”
“I just left William. I’m leaving William. Things got bad. It’s all been real bad for a real long time.”
“Olive you come here now. Just come here. Where are you?”
“I’m outside a market.”
“Just come here, we’ll figure out everything.”
When I arrived I was a mess. I sat on the sofa and they let me sob and say things that probably made no sense. I didn’t tell them much about what happened though. I could tell they didn’t want to know. My mother said she could see in my face that I had been through something very bad. Both she and my father treated me as though I were a fragile object. I didn’t like seeing them see me that way. I knew I scared them.
That afternoon they came with me, and a police escort to gather my things from my house. William cried and acted surprised and hurt that I had left and felt the need to show up with a police officer. I didn’t say anything. William asked my parents to explain to him why I had left. My father told him they weren’t interested in talking to him, that it was my choice to leave and they supported any choice I made, one hundred percent. The policeman took me aside and said he really didn’t need to be there, that I had nothing to fear because he could tell William was just a guy who was really hurt.
I took my computer and at thirty-one years old, moved back in with my mother and father. I wasn’t going to stay there, but I needed to remove myself from William and Shyguy31 in order to clear my head and form a plan. I needed some time.