I am haunted.
I see her everywhere, with every breath, with every acknowledgement of my sanity. I see her shadow on the window blinds, in the kitchen, beside my bed in the dead of night. I hear the sickening sound that reminds me of the one moment in time I wish I could forget and never remember; a cracking sound, hollow and malevolent, a harbinger of death. The sound when her skull connected with the floor at that awkward angle, the sound that filled the room when her body trembled slightly and then stilled with an inhuman abruptness.
I see her. I hear her. She is my nightmare.
I deserve this reality. I was given to the spirits of this world, the ones that turn your eyes red, give you visions, and break down your inhibitions; clear spirits in their crystal vials of death. I immersed myself, bottle after bottle, day after day, until I was an abusive mess of the deplorable kind, barely held together by morality and rationality. Still she remained with me, blow after blow, slap after slap, her battered face a gruesome reminder of the spirits that turned me into a monster. She remained with me through the broken bones, attempting to rebuild what I destroyed, night after night, and the mornings too when I left for my workplace, hung over and nagging. I realize now that she must have had enough that day when she clawed at my face in violent protest of my abuse. She fought back like a mad person, desperate to end the violence of the mad person in our home. I overpowered her, easily. I think back at my triggers ruefully nowadays; peeves that ignited my volatile soul into a blaze of aggression. Ridiculous things I cannot speak of without bursting into tears. She packed her bags and stormed past me as I reached out to grab her, the one action that could have saved her life, but it was only fitting that I would miss her arm, and she would continue forward, right into the spirits on the floor let loose from their vials in our skirmish.
I see it to this day, every time I close my eyes. It dominates my dreams; that moment, suspended in time like a preserved organ in a science laboratory. Both feet off the ground, body falling backwards, then the crack; a malicious sound that summons demons my spirits cannot suppress.
Everyone was convinced I killed her, and it was hard to argue otherwise. How could I explain the bruises and the swellings? How could I deny the testimony of the neighbours who heard her cry every night? My lawyer, a double chinned man with a bulbous belly that pushed against his dark robes argued convincingly. We threw my money at a foreign autopsy and the results were consistent with the truth I testified in tears, and it granted me freedom.
The freedom to wander in terror.
My house is a mess, strewn with the vials of spirits that fail to suppress the demons that haunt me; the ones that point me to the shadow in the corners, and echo that malevolent sound my way. I have been freed by the law, but sentenced by life to wander through this haunting as penance for my sins.
I am a man of many regrets, shards of which stick into my conscience like shrapnel flung from an explosion. I am a man, haunted by shadows and an eerie sound, a shell of what I once was. I am a man, ostracized by society, called a devil by those who would grant me some respite. I am a man, drowning in the consequences of my depravity, a dense sadness from which there will be no recovery.
I am a man, haunted by the memory of my wife, now a memory to be feared.
I am haunted.