Silent All These Years
By Maureen


Tyler sat at the bus stop and pulled his hat farther down his face, trying to hide in the shadow of the brim. His shaggy blonde hair, desperate to be washed, tickled the back of his neck under the t-shirt he wore. He hunched down farther in his old jacket and hoped nobody sat next to him. That would be too much to bear.

He fingered the cross in his pocket, a gift from Val the last time they had seen each other. He tried to think about that day, it was nearly six years ago now to the day. His wedding day actually, to Heather no less.

Excuse me but can I be you for a while
My dog won't bite if you sit real still
I got the Anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin' at me again
Yeah I can hear that

Val was a doctor, a pediatrician, and was married to her work and they had grown apart in college although they used to keep in touch. Now all Tyler had was an address from six years ago and no idea if it was current or not. For all he knew he'd show up at the apartment and someone would be there who'd never heard of Dr. Valerie Linear.

It had been a perfect wedding. Clear, blue skis on a warm spring day, Heather radiant in her white strapless gown, the bridesmaids in pastel pink. Picture perfect, but no more than that.
Soon after the honeymoon she became violent, expecting him to stay at home and take care of their small house instead of work. She made enough money as a fashion designer to support them and she made it clear she would support them with no help from him. All that was required he do was cook, clean and cater to her every need.

Been saved again by the garbage truck
I got something to say you know but nothing comes
Yes I know what you think of me you never shut up
Yeah I can hear that

He left to take out the garbage this morning and for some reason, kept on walking. No, he knew why, but he didn't want to say it. The A-word. Almost as terrifying as the C-word. He was Tyler Connell, not some redneck know-nothing hick from Alabama. He did not live the life of a Sally Jesse Raphael guest! Yet here he was at a gray hound bus terminal at 8am.

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his with her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes I said sometimes I hear my voice and it's been here
silent all these years

His life had fallen into a predicable pattern. Wake at 5:30 and hope he didn't wake Heather up at the same time. Tidy up around the house and begin breakfast, have it waiting, hot, on the table for 6:00 when Heather woke up. Clean up her breakfast and get dressed while she is in the bathroom. Once she leaves begin the household chores. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping and errands, but heaven forbid it if he forgot to call her to get permission to go out! She always was paranoid.

So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts
What's so amazing about really deep thoughts
Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon
How's that thought for you

It was a couple months after their honeymoon when she became physical. He wanted to have sex; it was a normal request of any recently married man completely in love with his wife. She didn't even respond to his polite ear nibbling with a simple 'no', she simply reached around and hit him with her fist. Her wedding ring caused tiny trickles of blood to run down the side of his neck.

From then on she hit him whenever she felt like it. Some voice in the back of his mind said this was wrong, that she had no right to do this, but another voice said that he loved her and he agreed that 'until death do we part'.

My scream got lost in a paper cup
You think there's a heaven where some screams have gone
I got 25 bucks and a cracker do you think it's enough
To get us there

"Hello, sonny," an old woman said, sitting next to Tyler. He hoped she didn't notice the holes in his threadbare t-shirt. The holes in his jeans he couldn't hide.

"Hello, ma'am," he replied, forcing his voice to be cordial. It was rare she allowed him out to see anyone and had recently stopped letting him go to the grocery store, opting to do it herself.

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his with her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice and it's been here
silent all these...

Now it had been six long years, prime years of his life that he will never be able to look back upon and say 'look what I did'. Six years of silent torture in the name of love, delusions and false promises. Tyler fingered his bus ticket in his pocket. There was still time to return it and hopefully return home without her realizing he'd left. Maybe.

No, Tyler shook himself mentally, I don't need her. But he wanted her. Her silky blonde hair, shockingly blue eyes, the sex, well, when she let him.

Years go by will I still be waiting
For somebody else to understand
Years go by if I'm stripped of my beauty
And the orange clouds raining in my head
Years go by will I choke on my tears
Till finally there is nothing left
One more casualty
You know we're too

"I'm going to visit my grandkids," the old woman next to him cackled merrily. "What about you, sonny?"

"I'm going home," Tyler responded cautiously. He thought about that statement for a minute and began to laugh, the bruise on his ribs hurting. "Going to see my family."

"My daughter and her husband, I can't stand them but I love my grandkids, so I'm going to spend the weekend with them. They're only 8 and 10, such good kids."

"Family is who you choose, not who you're related too." Tyler replied, feeling foolish that he hadn't figured this out before. Jamie had a long time ago and he hadn't listened when Jamie had tried to tell him.

Well I love the way we communicate
Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape
Let's hear what you think of me now
but baby don't look up
The sky is falling

"Last call, all passengers heading to Kingsport, bus number 2!" the man called over the loudspeaker. Tyler got up slowly, his bones creaking. He couldn't go back to her.

As he boarded the bus he scratched the stubble on his chin absently, this was it. No more dreaming or waiting, this was his chance at freedom. He took a seat somewhere in the middle, one of the few still open. He closed his eyes, the tension draining out of his body, his dreams fulfilled, in five hours he would be home.

Your mother shows up in a nasty dress
It's your turn now to stand where I stand
Everybody lookin' at you
here take hold of my hand
Yeah I can hear them

Tyler stood in front of the apartment door, almost afraid of knock. Afraid of what she'd think of him, bruised and battered. With trepidation, he knocked, once, twice, thrice. Inside he heard a man grumbling about who would be disturbing him at 2pm on a Monday.

The door swung open, and Jamie stood there in his boxers squinting at Tyler. "What?" he asked not completely registering whom it was.

"Jamie?" Tyler asked stupidly.

"Yeah? Oh! Tyler! Hey!" Jamie replied, finally recognizing his old friend. "What're you doing here?"

"Where's Val?"

"She was transferred to Pittsburgh last month, I'm living here until her lease runs out. What can I help you with?" Jamie opened the door wider, allowing Tyler to enter.

The voice in Tyler's mind spoke up, remembering that Jamie was abused by his father, he'll understand. "Well, it's about Heather," Tyler began, sitting on the couch.

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his with her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes I hear my voice
I hear my voice
I hear my voice
And it's been
silent all these years
I've been here
silent all these years
Silent all these
Silent all these

A/n: while it is MUCH less common, their wives can abuse men just like their husbands can abuse women. Women employ more psychological abuse as opposed to the physical abuse that men use but it hurts the same. Psychological scars take longer to heal. If you think someone you know is being abused, male or female, get involved, get help. Chances are, they can't get it themselves. FYI: the A-word is 'abuse' and the C-word is 'cancer'.