Also Linked up with Romantic Friday Writers for the May 2013 challenge of "Letters".
I put pencil to paper, as I have not done for years, because we are not permitted access to the Internet. I presume that you have heard the story in bits and pieces, but I will set it forth for you in its entirety and truth. Perhaps, as my oldest friend, you will understand what others will not.
You know that Angela and I met and fell in love very quickly; at least, I did. I suppose I cannot speak for her, although I hope devoutly that she felt at least something for me in the beginning. I know that you, as well as the others in our circle, were captivated by the qualities which ensnared me as well; her rapt attention to a speaker, the delicate slope of her shoulders, the lyrical rhythm of her speech. I don't know why she seemed drawn to me, unless the dullness and steadiness of my nature, which she often decried, gave her some feeling of security. She described our mutual friend Eric as “a searchlight”, intense, focused, and illuminating, whereas I was a mass of photons, oscillating pinpoints of light swallowed by the gloom of life's daily drudgery. (As an English professor, I give her marks for ingenuity if nothing else!)
Admittedly, I was very protective of her; I wished to know where she was going if she went out, and was always awake, eagerly expectant, when she came home. After a time, it became very trying; she often went out with friends until the wee hours, although she also accompanied to many a social event, some of which she no doubt found very boring. She got on well with our crowd, as you know, and my chest swelled with pride as she swept about a room in silken dresses and dainty shoes, her laugh like the ringing of crystal.
I noticed, after a time, a distinct chill in the air when I joined in a conversation. I convinced myself that it was my imagination, (even though we all know that subtle feeling of something being askew) and put forth an even greater effort at being charming.
One fateful evening, she returned home with a livid bruise on her neck. I was horrified; she told me, shuddering prettily against me, that she had been accosted while walking home from a friend's apartment down the street. I begged, I pleaded, I raged that we must call the police and report it; she refused, saying that she hadn't got a good look, that no real harm had been done, and that, if they caught the perpetrator, what then? She would have to testify, he might get off, and then we would have to live in fear that he would track us down and do us further harm. I agreed, reluctantly, to let it pass, cautioning her that she mustn't ever walk home alone again.
One domino falls.
We argued about money one night; not exactly an uncommon thing among couples. I had given her access to my accounts, and forgiven her many times for her errors and forgetfulness in retaining receipts. Then, to my great shock, the account was overdrawn. We quarreled; exchanged heated words;and out it came, that she had been shacking up with a fellow on the other side of town. (It sounds like a tune from that country western radio station, doesn't it?) I regret to say that I lost my head, grabbed her by the shoulders, and swore at her.
She wrenched herself from my grasp and stormed out the door; before it slammed shut, I glimpsed our neighbor, Mrs. Hathaway, outside the door.
And so, here I am, incarcerated on certain domestic charges. Not that I actually committed a crime, per se; at least, not the one they accuse me of. I find it incredible that people who have known me for years believed her over me; but then, she had covered her tracks carefully, telling her tale and showing her bruises and scratches, swearing others to secrecy and bearing it all with a brave yet woeful demeanor. No wonder I was being treated as a pariah!
Since then, I understand that her father hanged himself over some sort of murmurings about her childhood, that she took up with Eric, and that he in turn took up with drink. And still she casts a spell over everyone.
You will laugh (albeit wryly, I imagine) when I tell you this: my sentence has been extended for a number of years, as they found a weapon of sorts hidden in my cell. Would you ever have believed it of me? The mild-mannered professor, now a felon! It will only serve to reinforce the conviction outside of these walls that I am, indeed, a villain.
It is true, and yet it is not true, at least not at this point in time. The shank, as they call it (see, I am studying the evolution of language even behind bars) was procured, and placed, deliberately by me so that they would easily find it. Before my five years are up, I will find yet another means (non-violent, of course) of extending my stay. I have played judge, jury, and perhaps God, and sentenced myself to life in prison.
Because, were I to leave this place, and meet Angela face to face, I am not entirely convinced that I would not throttle her with my bare hands. And that would truly be the end of us both, for like the rest of our circle, a part of me still loves her. Perhaps you would tell her that, Victor, when you see her again.
From what I hear, that will probably be tonight.