© August 2020 Folakemi Emem-Akpan
This time, you could not save him from himself.
You couldn’t save him from the law, like you had done a thousand times in the past.
The first time you rescued him, you hadn’t known that he needed rescuing, that he was anything like your father had been.
They looked so different – Dipo and your father. Fair skinned vs. dark skinned. Classically handsome vs. your average looking guy. He was as tall as the sun; your father couldn’t boast of 5’3 even in his tallest shoes.
It took the first blow to your face, less than two months into your relationship, over something as silly as you not picking his calls quickly enough, for you to know that he was exactly like your father. When he fell to his knees afterward and groveled at your feet, when he wept his soul out and confessed his demons to you, when he begged for your mercy, that he hadn’t meant to hit you, you knew he needed saving from himself.
And so you saved him.
You didn’t walk out as you had promised yourself that you would if a man raised his fists to you the way your father did to your mother. You flinched as he tenderly wiped your bruised cheek, and you trembled in his arms as he made love to you. What you didn’t do was leave.
He didn’t hit you for a long time. Then he lost his job, drank more, slept less, ranted at the boss who had it in for him.
He hit you again, four months after the first time. And he fell to his knees again, blamed it on the booze and his paranoia. And you saved him again. You did not call the police, and you did not leave.
It’s been three years now and you have lost count of how many times you guys have repeated the cycle of hit, grovel, forgive, hit again. When he is happy and feels on top of the world, light suffuses your whole being. And when he is morose and is antagonizing the world, the darkness takes you.
The thing is, you now have more darkness in your life more than you have light.
As he throws the broken shards of the whiskey bottle at you this dark, dark night, as he pummels you with bare knuckles later on, your spirit is overwhelmed and you weep desolately because you know that you can no longer save him. You cannot keep on saving him because someone else needs your salvation.
Once Dipo falls asleep, you tiptoe around the apartment, throwing the absolute necessities into a duffel bag.
Finally, in the living room, you lay on the floor for the longest time, your flat bare belly against the cool linoleum floor, your heart breaking inside of you. When you finally curl yourself into a ball and reach for the phone to call the police, your tears almost blind you.
You love Dipo so much, but you love this new life growing inside of your womb even more.
You dial the police.