If you’re just tuning in now, here are the previous excerpts from Beyond the Cover, for your enjoyment:
I thought my parents understood that I wasn’t ready.
I was about to be wed with a complete stranger. It was not until yesterday that I met him. He goes by the name of Weiyan. Although, he seemed a bit stiff and closed off, I’m sure he’s nice and friendly. He wasn’t bad looking either. My parents love him because his family is wealthy. I didn’t have a choice. In order to please my parents, I had to be married . . . today.
On our wedding night, we barely said a word to each other. He sat on a chair and gestured me over to rub his feet. Automatically, I did so. The last time I saw Mama, she said, “Xiaolin, you are a wife now. You have responsibilities to obey and please your husband.” Those words echoed through my head.
As I was rubbing his feet, he touched my hand, gently moved his hand to the bottom of my chin, and moved my head upward until we were looking into each other’s eyes. He stroked my arm with the back of his hand and moved toward me slowly. Both hands were on my waist pulling me closer to him. I could feel his strong body holding me tight, stroking, touching every part of me. Suddenly, he shoved me on the bed. He held me down, unable to move. He forced his kisses on me. I laid there motionless, not wanting to do what he was expecting. He paused and looked at me. His eyes hardened. I turned my head away from him, I didn’t want to watch the fire in his eyes with each thrust.
A year went by the same. Every day I would wake up, make breakfast for Weiyan, he would leave for work, I would clean, shop, cook dinner, Weiyan would arrive home, eat dinner, and we’d make love. Although, the burning in his eyes said otherwise as he played with me like a toy. I lost track of the bruises he gave me in numerous areas of my body. There was no love in the way he touched me . . . in the way he kissed me . . . in the way he looked at me. I’m already numb to the pain.
Weiyan arrived late one day. Something was clearly odd about him. He seemed angrier. When I tried to comfort him, he slapped me across the face. He was drunk. The next morning, he didn’t leave for work like he normally would. I received a call. He lost his job. I didn’t think he was capable of committing a crime. He was drunk every night. He struck me with such force that he once broke my arm and gave me a black eye. Then, he would come to the realization of what he had just done and apologize by forcing me to make love to him.
It took a month for Weiyan to find another job, but he never changed. He still came home drunk every night, beat me, and raped me. I don’t think he even realized what he was doing.
My life changed the day I met Xinyi. We shared the same interests and had good conversations. She genuinely cared for my feelings. Xinyi understood me. Every time I met her, she cared for my fresh wounds that Weiyan gave me.
“Last night was the worst condition I’ve seen him,” I told Xinyi one morning.
Xinyi’s face expression dropped, “What happened this time?”
“We got into another argument about his job. He got fired, again. I told him he needs to get his act together. Then he threw a vase at me. It missed and shattered against the wall. When it was bedtime and he forced me to have sex, I slapped him and pushed him away, but he held me down.”
“My god, Xiaolin! Leave him! Look at you, you have cuts and bruises all over your body.”
“Leave him? But he is my husband. What will I do? Where will I go?”
“Don’t go back tonight. Stay here with me. I can protect you.”
I stayed with her, treating it like a slumber party I never had, growing up watching Western movies of young girls having pillow fights.
“Are you hungry? Let’s make Coca Cola chicken for dinner tonight!” Xinyi said with a smile showing her white melon seeded teeth. I nodded back smiling slightly, trying to hold back my excitement because Coca Cola chicken is one of my favorites, but Weiyan never allows me to make it because he doesn’t believe in Coca Cola in food.
Being with Xinyi made my worries disappear. I almost forgot about the bruises of his hands on my wrists and pink crescent moon shaped markings where his fingernails dug into. I didn’t care that I was married to a monster. My dearest friend, Xinyi, was by my side, healing my wounds and mending my heart.
We ended up talking way past dinner. Telling stories of our past lovers, laughing at our parent’s mistakes and imperfections, and talking about our childhood. I didn’t even realize it was past two o’clock in the morning.
As we were lying in bed, she hugged my back and whispered, “Divorce him. I like you. Be with me. We can leave this place and start anew.”
I laid there, eyes open, unable to fall asleep, the words I like you. We can leave this place and start anew rang in my ears . . . I like you.
We awoke suddenly to a banging on the door and to a drunken voice, it was Weiyan. “Xiaolin! Are you in there? Where are you? Why aren’t you in my bed?”
I was scared. Xinyi and I were sitting up and holding each other in bed. I didn’t think that Weiyan was strong enough to break down the door to Xinyi’s studio apartment. He saw us in our underwear hugging each other.
Weiyan’s face turned bright red. I felt his rage and I didn’t know what he was going to do next. He pulled the sheets off of us and got hold of my long black hair and dragged me away from Xinyi. I screamed. I kicked. I cried.
Everything happened so fast. Xinyi reached for the butcher knife, but Weiyan was faster. He spun around, knife in hand, a malicious fire in his eyes, and stabbed her in the gut. I grabbed a lamp and hit Weiyan over the head with a force I didn’t know I had. He fell to the ground. I ran over to Xinyi as she collapsed to her knees. I wrapped her in my arms, putting pressure on her open wound, but the blood was seeping through my fingers. She turned to look at me, her face softer than her usual strong self. She tried to speak, but her eyes were loud and clear. She feared for me. She loved me. She yearned for my freedom. I saw the life escape her eyes as she drew her last breath.
I could feel Weiyan on his feet, towering over me. I sat there, so still, with all my weight on the floor. I heard his voice call my name several times, but it sounded as if the voice was in the distance. I felt a tight grip around my wrist and my body jolted as he pulled me upward. He dragged me to the door, blood dripping from the right side of his head, and Xinyi’s blood all over his hands. He shook me, “You didn’t see anything that happened here!”
I nearly fell stumbling down the steps. I was in shock. We were heading home. It was dark. Not a soul was lingering the streets. The cement was cold and dewy. The lamp post was flickering above me and I shook into realization of everything that had just happened. He murdered my friend. He murdered the one person who loved and cared for me. A surge of energy went through me. I bit his hand that was grasping me tight. I heard a scream. I was free and I ran. Surprisingly, I ran faster than him. I was still in my under garments and I was covered in Xinyi’s sticky blood. I collapsed on the cold police station floor. I don’t remember much after that, but Weiyan was put in prison for what he had done to Xinyi and I was finally free. But it wasn’t freedom without her.
I want to become a butterfly in my next life, so I can fly free with Xinyi.