THE GARAGE – A LOVE STORY.
The garage door slams open and beside me Cory groans.
“Kill me now.”
I gulp and look over the piles and piles of junk in the garage. For seven years it’s been our garbage tip for things that we didn’t want in the house, but that were just too good to keep.
“Come on, babe. You know it’s time.”
With another groan, Cory stomps into the garage, every dragging step showing that he would prefer to be doing anything else except cleaning out the garage.
Truth be told, so would I. But my shiny new Lexus has been sitting out in the cold for weeks, and it’s started to turn to rain. Corey promised me that we would clean out a space for her when I bought her. And so, I’m holding him to his promise.
Cory holds a photo in his hand, dusty from its years in a cardboard box. But even through the dust, I can see what it is, and my stomach descends.
“Why do you still have this?”
Cory turns on me, hurt and anger in his eyes.
It’s a picture of me and my former partner, Brian. We are happy and laughing together in the photo, which is a far cry from what things were really like. Brian was a bully, an abuser. The bad times totally outweighed the good.
It took me years to break free from his hold over me, and years after that to break free from the mental anguish he had put me through. Cory was there for the back end of those years. He had cradled me through more than one episode where I thought death would be better than life. He had sat by my side when I lay in the fetal position in bed, saying and doing nothing for days. And he had helped me back from the brink, helped me see that I wasn’t the worthless nothing that Brian had asserted I was.
It was Cory who insisted that I throw the photo away. I told him I had done so.
“It’s no big deal, Cory,” I wheedled. “It’s just an old photo.”
“It’s a photo you told me you had thrown away. I thought you were done with this crap.”
“I am,” I say. “It’s just that… Brian was such a huge part of my life. I don’t like to have no memories of him at all.”
“Memories?” Cory spits the word at me. “You mean like when he split your lip when he threw his plate at you? Or when he broke your arm because you were trying to go out with your friends?”
“Or when he almost beat you to death? Jesus, Katie, do you really want to keep things that remind you of him?”
I am silent.
“And what about me? Do you think I want to see photos of this dickhead? Every time I see his face I want to kill him.”
He throws the photo back into the cardboard box. “Call me when that thing is gone. I need a few minutes.” He stalks out of the garage, and I stand silently, watching him go.
Then, making sure he doesn’t see, I pick up the photo and tiptoeing to the back of the garage, I hide it behind a cupboard.
Cory doesn’t understand. He doesn’t make me feel the way Brian does. That’s why I’m still seeing Brian, once a week, at our secret place.
Brian warns me Cory would go mental if he knew anything about it. Even while we make love, he’s strangling me until I nod, purple in the face, that I’ll never tell Cory about us, about our secret meetings. I wear scarves until the bruises fade.
Brian loves me. Of that, I am absolutely sure.