The carpet was ruined before she moved in.
It was pocked by burns from cigarette butts and browned by coffee stains. It reeked of urine from an old cat that died in the closet, leaving its stench behind as a ghost. The dull blue fabric was bright once, but whatever vibrancy it’d had was long gone.
She parted the curtains to sunshine and dust motes.
“It’s shit,” she told the window.
She burned the bottom of the pan making a packet of 25 cent ramen. She ate it that way, tasting it all acrid against her tongue. Her boxes were half opened and half closed, spread around her in a near perfect circle like the makings of some second-rate wizard trying to summon demons.
“Here I am from the depths of hell,” she murmured.
If she said it too loud he’d hear her. It was silly, nonsensical, and she laughed at it even as she took it in.
She threw out the pan. Too used and abused to be worth much anymore.
Unpacking was gruesome. Her fingers convulsed around things. Gripped them tight enough that she hoped, just maybe, they’d disappear. A sleight of hand to wash away the clothes he’d picked out for her, the jewelry he’d bought for her, the things he’d shower down in a sacrifice against the bruises. Blood washed over her altar to account for his sins.
Most of it she’d sell. The rest she needed just to get by for a while. Just to get by.
Night came creeping through the window. Winter brought it fast on the heels of five o’clock, bleak and vindictive. She closed the curtains again. She shuttered the blinds and locked the door. Turned the deadbolt. Pressed her forehead against the wood and breathed.
There was a red streak between her feet. It grinned up at her with bloody ferocity, and she found herself grinning back.
“You’re free,” she whispered.
And suddenly she didn’t want her blouse on. She didn’t want the Victoria’s Secret bra holding up her breasts. The skinny jeans he’d brought her because they made her ass look so good. They were his hands all over her and she didn’t want them anymore. She could say no. She had.
The buttons flew across the room. Her shoes cracked against the wall. She was laughing, loud and hysterical and manic, and she didn’t care. She was pale and naked in the darkness. It washed over the marks he’d left on her, concealing them.
The burns that pocked her skin.
The yellow of her stains.
The dullness of her skin.
The carpet was ruined before she got there, but she’d call in the morning to have it replaced.