“Once the ground thaws, that’s when I’ll kill you. Can’t bury you now. The ground is frozen. As soon as I can get you in the ground, you will die.” I believed him. But spring, really? My favorite season? I can’t even have that anymore. Now instead of looking forward to the renewal of life and all its possibilities, mine would be ending. So dramatic, right? Why don’t I leave? How can I stay? Never, why does he do what he does? I’m still to blame. For staying. For putting up with his abuse. For allowing it to continue. For listening to him tell me I’m worthless, stupid, ugly, that nobody will ever want me. I should be grateful for him and his passionate love for me. He loves me so much. That’s why he does and says those horrible things to me. My fault. All of it. Once again. It would be my fault when he kills me. Not if, but when. Leave him, stay with him. Either way, I was dying. This time, he was telling me when. And I knew he meant it. Spring was coming. It always does. Eventually, it always comes.
The cycle of abuse had come back around to reconciliation. Quickly working its way back to the “honeymoon” phase. I would relish those times but I knew it wouldn’t last for long. I played along. It helped. I had left so many times, I lost count. He would always find me. It was all about controlling me. If I let him think he had control, it was smooth sailing. He had isolated me from my family, friends, even co-workers. I had lost my job, my license, my car, my dignity, my hope. He had woven a tapestry of dependency on him that I could not break free from. It was frightening how strong those dependent fibers had become. Years of it. Slowly, breaking me down to the shell of a woman I was once. I steered clear of mirrors because I did not recognize the person staring back at me. You can only hear how stupid, ugly, etc., you are for so long until you start to believe it. All part of the cycle. Kind of like the seasons. It’s a pattern but not always to the letter. You knew it could change at anytime. You just didn’t know when.
Luckily for me, winter was in full bloom. The snow covered ground that I once hated, now seemed so comforting. Should I go to the police? He had threatened to kill me before. This was nothing new. Never was there a timeline. He bought a gun. And a new shovel. Some tarps. He was actually planning ahead. The strange part, yes the strange part, was that he still was so sorry. Apologizing for beating me, for yelling at me. Even for telling me he was going to bury me. He didn’t mean it. He said the gun was for protection. Our neighbors house had been broken into. Who goes away for over a month without anyone to take care of their house? He thinks they deserved it. But, now the scums had been in our neighborhood. Let them try and break into our house, he said. They would be in for a surprise. He would protect me. Ha! I fought back the chuckle in my throat. I’m not about to fall for his grand gesture of protection. That was the gun he would use to kill me. I knew it, he knew it. The snow covered ground knew it. And it snowed more. Winter was holding steady. He was waiting for spring. I was praying for a long, long winter. The opposite of how we both usually felt. The balance was changing. Spring was coming. But not without a fight from winter. There was a lot of fight left in both of us. We just didn’t know it at the time.
It was shaping up to be one of the snowiest, coldest winters I had ever known. I took long walks in the woods. The same woods he would bury me in come spring. It would come. It always does. He used my words against me. The same words that had gotten me through the ugliest of winters. My only saving grace, was that spring would come. Now, it was a death sentence. Hanging over me like a rain cloud. Or a snow cloud? I’m going to die. We’re all going to die, eventually. Now, I knew when it would happen. He circled a date on the calendar. May 15th. He said it was the start of his vacation but it wasn’t. Or was it his vacation from me? The cause of all his troubles. Once again, my fault. I was counting down the days until my demise. I used to count down the days until spring, my favorite season. The death countdown had begun. Winter couldn’t last that long. He was waiting for the ground to thaw. I was praying for a miracle. Hoping for a winter that would surpass May 15th. No matter what the date was, spring was coming. Winter would end. And so would I.
December turned into January. January into February. The cycle of abuse continued. The tension would build, the abuse would happen, then reconciliation, and then the calm would come. It reminded me of the change of seasons. The season of winter would be the abuse, spring would be the reconciliation, summer the calm, and autumn the tension. Probably doesn’t make sense to you but it does to me. I was happily living in the season of winter. The cycle of abuse had slowed, for now, at the calm. My summer, as I knew it. But strangely, winter had become my friend. My sole confidant. We conspired and dreamed by the fire. Something that had once made me so unhappy, now made me appreciate the beauty of this unforgiving season. It droned on much like my life had been doing for a long time. This winter would someday fade into spring, like it always does. And I would fade away with it.
For the shortest month of the year, February lingered for the longest time. I swear, it seemed to stand still. I embraced the bone chilling cold. Loving each layer of clothing I put on to keep me warm. I found a spot deep in the woods behind our house under a tree where he would bury me. It was a beautiful place. Even cloaked in snow, I knew it was the one. Probably seems morbid to you that I’m picking out my burial place when he murders me. It’s not. It’s time. I’m done. The only way out of this unrelenting winter is death. The best thing for him is to think he has control. I will mention the spot under the tree to him. Tell him how much I love it. How much it means to me. And then he will think that burying me there was his idea. There would be no more springs for me. Not in this lifetime. I was okay with that. Now, I counted down the days until my endless spring. He and I both knew it was coming. He thought it was his plan. His idea. His spring. When will this winter end? Ah, but spring was coming. It always does.
March turned into April. April showers bring May flowers. What do May flowers bring? Death. See what I did there? Clever. I still got it. Sometimes there is a glimmer of the sarcastic, funny woman I used to be. He tends to quickly smack, punch or kick her out of me, but she’s there even if it’s only for a minute or two. It was a fickle month. Cold, warm, almost schizophrenic. I simply adore April. So, unpredictable. Just like life. Well, not my life anymore. I knew what would happen in my life. How mine would end. I had come to welcome my death. The means to an end. No more bruises. No more words weighing me down like a ton of concrete. No more crying after I said no only to lie there until it was over. No more winters. No more springs. No more summers. No more autumns. Only peace and quiet in my little spot under the big tree in the woods. The spring thaw was coming. No more countdowns. No more me.
May was here. Spring had come. The world was bathed in green and flowers and colors. My dear sweet friend winter had left me all alone. It was time. My time. My last glimpse of the season that had brought me so much joy. Finally, would see me at peace. He would kill me. With the gun he bought that I convinced him we needed. After I broke into our neighbors house. I didn’t steal anything. I just needed him to get a gun. He would use the new tarps to wrap me in. The same tarps I asked him to buy for me so I could cover my plants in the spring. He would dig the hole with the new shovel. The same shovel I asked him to buy for me so I could plant in the spring. He would bury me under the tree. The same tree I told him about knowing he would bury me there. He did it all, just like I had planned.
It would be another year before the police found me. Another spring, summer, winter, and autumn I got to spend under my tree. Finally enjoying the seasons, my way. He would confess to my murder. With all the clues I had left behind, it was a slam freaking dunk to convict him. My diary, the receipts for the gun, tarps, and shovel. I had drawn a map to my favorite tree. Shoot if I had handwritten his confession, he would have signed it. Maybe what I did was wrong. It was always my fault any way. I took my death in my own hands but he killed me with his. Now, I will be at peace. My spring, my way. Yes, spring came. It always does.