There was no blood in the barn where the girl said Tyler raped her. There was nothing. I checked several times. The hay smelled fresh and sweet and I rubbed my face in it to assure myself this barn couldn’t have contained such a soiled one. She had been there with someone else when he found her, said Tyler, leaving his mark on me to remind me not to talk about it, saying people wouldn’t understand. I was comforted that he was a husband in our bed that night although he made noises I had never heard him make before, like that of an animal.
The next day, the mark was a thumbprint size of a bruise on my arm and blood caked on my buttocks and thighs. Was it the other woman’s blood? No, it must have been my own, for the thing Tyler did to me he hadn’t done before, making it ache there. Had she caused it, caused him to act in this way? I asked this of the pieces of straw on the barn floor. I ran my fingers through the stalks as if shuffling through tarrot cards. He had called her a cunt. Was she? She had looked so small and worn and thin. I had seen her lying on the barn floor even as he was pushing me out, squeezing the bone of my arm. The next day, the sheriff questioned us. She had been found on the side of the road, in a ditch, barely conscious. I said nothing and by the time she had accused Tyler, there was no evidence. Hay doesn’t lie, a barn floor would have revealed something, surely.
He never makes love to me anymore. He doesn’t seem satisfied until he has made some kind of mark. He is coming up with contraptions patched up from farm equipment. He tells me I am to blame for the stream of girls filing in, each of their shadows the same, long and thin, the shoulders sloped, unsuspecting. I watch from our bedroom, the closing of the barn door. There is nothing, no sound. How could anything bad happen in silence, among gentle, dumb beasts and how could it be that he is guilty when he is still acts as husband every night, without fail, with a rigor some would call grossly violent, perhaps, but which he tells me demonstrates his absolute passion and dedication to beautifying me? My silence has been a key he says. He has never been so consumed with a desire that I should be whole, that we should be together, as one, that there should be no division as there has been previously in my days of doubt, of questioning.
Nightly I am chained to the radiator. He feeds me meals on the floor. He tells me how dear I am to him now and how it had never occured to him that he should be more my master, that this would have made it the very thing between the two of us and I the more lovely. He kisses my bones more visible beneath the flesh. He carries me to the bed when he is ready for what he must do for what he must unleash. When it is accomplished, he speaks as he is securing me. My silence had enabled his vision, that vision of who he is to me, my own dear husband. He cries when he talks about it. He strokes my hair. He forces me between his legs, forces himself into my mouth. My arms strain against the chains. The purification is in the sickness he says. It was ok to take him in so far that I gag, he says, to choke over and over and over. It is the love in him that makes it possible. He says I am more radiant than a flower.