I awaken with a throbbing feeling in my jaw. He’s hit me once more. And as I move, I feel an ache in my thigh that means he must have kicked me while I was sleeping again. I don’t mind when he does it, not really. Whatever his reasons for abuse, it’s my fault. Sometimes, I simply can’t control my behavior. Simply can’t refrain from doing that which he’s specifically told me not to. It’s almost as though, the more I’m forbidden–the more I’m discouraged through his sharp physical and verbal scolding–the more I want to do it–whatever “it” might be in the moment. Even if it means doing something foul, like digging a food or material item out of the trash that he’s wasted by throwing out prematurely and indulging in secret, all the while rather hoping to get caught. Hoping he’ll see that even though I’m loyal, I’m defiant. That he can never contain or tame me–not fully. Because even though he might have managed to lure me into his life with the promise of love and companionship–the cornerstones of devotion–I am, at my core, wild. Ready to flee at a moment’s notice if the flight of fancy should strike me.
We walk down the street together in the rain. It is coming down sideways in sheets that envelop me and Loïc in a wetness that makes us reek of that distinct odor that can only come from damp attire. I gallop happily next to him, for I’m elated just to be near him, and he hasn’t backhanded me in all of ten minutes, so I’m starting to feel sentimental and amorous again. And as I nudge him playfully with my head, he becomes irritated that I’ve distracted him from making the crosswalk light in time. Smack! I’m on the ground on my side from the ferocity of the blow. I try to bounce back quickly, hopping to my feet in a pinch thanks to my still viable youth and according agility, but he doesn’t want me to be so spry, to indicate that I’m this jaunty in the face of his blatant contempt. So he knees me in the rib and pins me to the asphalt as I squirm and shriek uncontrollably. Why does he have to do this to me? Why can’t he just return my affections without all these expressions of vitriol? Haven’t I been good to him, licked his wounds both real and metaphorical in every time of need? Where is his appreciation for all that I have done, as opposed to that which I haven’t complied to? As I continue to writhe on the ground, he swiftly grabs me by the back of my neck and raises me up, all the while ignoring my cries of torment. Onlookers and passersby watch the exchange with general detachment–this is Arles, it’s not a crime for a man to batter his bitch. He slams my body against the decaying, overgrown with vines wall, all as the rain persists in coating us both. He was always too cheap and too masculine to bother with an umbrella.
Prostrate once again on the sidewalk, I feel a sense of semi-unconsciousness wash over me, and I think back to the first time we found one another. For it was a mutual and timely finding–equitable as opposed to him pursuing me or me pursuing him. He was there by the Rhône, wandering about with an aura of loneliness I couldn’t help but identify with. I, too, had found myself meandering over in the area, inexplicably drawn out from my wooded fortress by a force I couldn’t place. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was destiny. Sometimes the two concepts are interchangeable, and you can never differentiate between them until it’s too late, and you’ve probably wasted too much time adhering to the often false notion of fate. For as I lay vaguely dying, I knew that this couldn’t possibly be my fate. That I had–have–so much more to see, to smell, to taste. And I’ll be damned if I meet my end just because Loïc can’t stand it when I enjoy myself in any way–he himself so irrevocably miserable. I’m good-natured, even-keeled–but that can only stretch so far when you’re with someone as unpleasant as Loïc, who I retrospectively believe was jealous of my happiness. My carefree contentedness. He had wanted to be something more in life. Instead of a lowly carpenter who had been handed a business by the benefits of familial work that had been done before he ever came along, giving him the effortless takeover of a modest empire that ran itself. But Loïc could never just be grateful, appreciate the simplicity and beauty of life as it stood. He was racked with feelings of inadequacy that no amount of my assurance could seem to assuage. Well, he’s not going to keep me down any longer. I refuse, jumping once again to my feet to show him he can never–will never–break my spirit.
Obviously, he doesn’t like this act of blatant insurgency. And we’re at it again, him twisting and pinching at my skin. I yelp and bark in a combination that creates a sound I’ve never heard before. A sound so pathetic and abject, I wonder how he can possibly keep smacking me this way–how he can endure this sound, laden with undiluted agony as it is. Chienne stupide! he screams, striking and striking my mouth in a continuous motion that never gives me a chance to catch my breath. Finally, I’m pushed to my brink, unconsciously growling and baring my teeth as I at last succumb to my now provoked violent inner essence, biting a huge chunk of flesh out of his hand. I taste his blood and something dormant within me turns on. In a flash, I’m attacking, latching onto any part of him I can with my fangs. Before I knew it, I had killed my master, my best friend. Love can be so crazy that way, always perilously teetering on the verge of a blood-lusting hatred. Especially when you’ve been pushed too far, abused and emotionally neglected for too long. But, feeling a sense of residual loyalty, I drag one of his arms with me back into the recesses of the Maussane-les-Alpilles. Back to nature, the only thing I can remain allegiant to now.