His odor was unbearable. His wretched bird-breath was just another indication of how rotten to the core he was. As they neared the hole, she felt her grip loosening, on purpose…
Ginger let go. She gave a small twirl of celebration as she did a free fall into the hole. She descended into darkness. Her constant fear of him was replaced with a fear of what might await her at the bottom.
Her thoughts were moving slowly, struggling for clarity in a surreal fog. The air was damp, kissing her cheeks with salty lips.
He’d come into her life so quickly, he seemed to eclipse her very existence. He took charge, and he made assumptions that were not accurate. Had she been more secure, she bravely would have disagreed. But he was an overwhelming and powerful presence, so sure of himself, as if he were a gift. Ginger blamed herself for being too cautious—there was no stopping him—still something made her feel uneasy. He seemed so interested in her. She was swept away, literally felt like she was floating. They were “dizzy in love,” he’d said.
He quickly professed his love for her and gave her a nickname, Toad. He told her Ginger was just too long to say all the time, so he would be calling her Toad. She thought the name was degrading but was sure he didn’t mean anything by it. Perhaps it was just as he had said, and she should look at it as a term of endearment. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings or spoil the mood.
He called to her constantly—wherever she was, he seemed to be hovering nearby. She was flattered but had an underlying feeling of being prey to his predator. Never had anyone cared so much where she was and what she did. She lost count of how many times a day he told her he loved her. “I love you, Toad. Do you love me?”
“Yes, I love you too,” she always responded, as if under a spell.
It was not long before they were nesting together. Soon he told her she was his perfect soul mate. She thought he really didn’t know much about her—he never asked or seemed to care. She decided it didn’t matter—he could make her laugh with his quick wit, usually at another’s expense. He seemed to be more important than her, to have everything she thought she lacked. Assertive, brutally honest about what mattered to him, intolerant of other beliefs, bold—even brazen and insulting in his speech—somewhat intimidating. He constantly bragged about his accomplishments. She had to admit, the list was impressive. How lucky she was he loved her. He was actually impossibly accomplished. Although…she saw no evidence of his past accomplishments anywhere. At times she felt more like an assistant to his life and his grandiose plans for them. She learned all she could about things he cared about, even if it didn’t interest her much. He didn’t know her interests—she was just Toad.
It was all moving so quickly. Soon they had their first fight. She was tidying up the nest, as she often did. He demanded it be neat for someone of his stature. That day, he escalated a benign conversation into a needless battle, accusing her of horrible thoughts and intentions. She was shocked at the shear velocity of anger being leveled at her! The accusations and insults came at her, rapidly firing with what seemed to be a studied precision. Each one a direct hit on her heart. She watched him rant, deciding there would be no defense. To engage him would just enrage him more. She didn’t have to win every battle. She had only known him a short time. She never could have imagined he was capable of so much anger at her. She thought she had only tried to please him.
Then she smelled it. It permeated her nostrils as she witnessed him vent. She could still hear him, but the smell was overpowering. His voice became chatter in the background of his horrible stench. She silently fielded accusations as they sailed at her. They didn’t even sound like anything she’d done, all twisted as they were with his malice. She had abandoned him when she was talking to the neighbor; she should never leave him alone. She was selfish, uncaring, ungrateful, and didn’t really love him. His face was filled with contempt as he went on to tell her she was just like all the rest. He told her she was lucky he loved her because she had all kinds of things wrong with her. Her face was not quite pretty. He’d had much prettier share a nest with him. She never said the right things. She didn’t do a good job on the nest—as a matter of fact, she was a pig! Her clothes were wrong, and she was fat. Until, finally, he explained he was only trying to help her because he was so much smarter.
He stopped as abruptly as he’d begun. A look of smug satisfaction broke out as he saw her fear, the tears rolling down her cheeks. She was crying because along with being awful, he smelled so freaking awful. Skunk, onions and old tobacco. He acted sweet again, as if nothing had happened. But her emotions—and his smell—remained raw, keeping her steadfastly in the fear zone. Why had she never smelled him before? Perhaps she didn’t want to. She wanted to believe the illusion he’d created for her, a brainwashing of sorts. All she saw now was a very bad situation.
He interrupted her thoughts calmly now, but with a threatening undertone: “Toad, I want to go out, and I want you to come with me.”
She was afraid not to agree, so they took off.
He always had her hang on to his talons. He told her she needed to “hang on,” while he reserved his strength to concentrate on navigating and flying. Also, that she should not bother him during flight. She was not sure what she was supposed to do if she ever got tired. He had become so cold, so fast. It seemed more natural for him, being mean.
She welcomed the wind rushing her face. She had noticed the hole on previous trips, but this time it really got her attention. She didn’t know where it went, but it didn’t matter as long as it went away from him. She no longer felt she lacked what he had—she didn’t want it. She just wanted to be Ginger again.
As she fell, suspended in darkness, emotions arose and dissipated like waves. She felt strong by choosing to save herself. Her fear quieted down. She decided calling fear love, as he did, didn’t make it love. A different kind of love filled her as his spell was broken. She felt connected again to who she was—not Toad. She was overwhelmed by her feeling of wholeness. She had learned her lesson. The feeling of love swept through her in a safe, warm vibration. She would be fine. She loved herself enough at that moment to know that she only needed to stand up for herself. That she lacked nothing. She felt perfectly unique—exactly as planned.
The entire experience seemed part of a larger picture of her life, somehow intentional. She was good enough to do and be whatever she decided. Nobody could take this feeling away from her without her giving it away. It felt like such an indestructible strength, a super power! She didn’t need approval or anyone to tell her how to live.
She was almost blinded by the bright light as she was gently deposited on a shoreline. Colorful shells glistened in the sunlight. The smell was gone. Ginger was Ginger again, only better.
Jens has perfect music to go with this story, lots of wisdom on her blog if you have not visited yet!https://3wwwblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/for-christina/