20:33, 27 Jul 2020
Tabitha stared sadly into the small, bathroom mirror, shocked at what she had become. There was nothing left of her at all, just an empty shell of what she used to be. She had altered herself for a man, once again. Before she had dressed differently, abandoned her own opinions to fit theirs and given up jobs and friends. This time was different. This time was worse.
Her hair was dyed black as opposed to the sunny blonde she used to be; her eyes were baby blue instead of the beautiful bottle green they used to be; she'd had to get new clothes because she had lost so much weight; her makeup was dark and heavy in contrast to the nude shades she used to wear.
This time, the man was Cole Duncan. He was tall, handsome and a bit of a bad boy. Well, he thought so, anyway. In reality, he was tall, muscular and a loud mouth. He was great at picking his battles, the problem was, he picked them all.
He lived in a small flat in England. The living room was cluttered and the red carpeted floor was barely visible under the empty beer cans and old takeaway wrappers and boxes. There was a stereo in the corner of the room which was always blasting hip-hop music and a fish tank under the window. All the fish were dead and the water was murky and green with cigarette ends floating on the top. The kitchen floor had a slightly sticky residue and the counters were covered in filthy dishes and general grime. The Bathroom was, surprisingly, the cleanest room in the flat. It had a small round mirror which was grimy but only around the edges; a white ceramic sink with rust around the plughole and limescale on the taps; a chipped white ceramic bathtub that was only ever used when they showered. The shower head was rusted with a hint of silver. Tabitha had tried cleaning the flat, but realised pretty soon that she was fighting a losing battle, so she gave up and lied to herself that she liked living in clutter.
"Tabby!" She heard him shout from the living room of his flat.
She sighed and walked out of the bathroom and across the narrow hallway to the living room, shaking her head quickly to dismiss her mother's words ringing in her ears:
"Maybe you'd be better off on your own."
She had a fake smile plastered across her painted red lips.
"There she is! My beautiful girl!" He grinned, giving her a sloppy, drunken kiss on the cheek before quickly whispering, "smile for the boys!" in her ear.
She looked at his friends and smiled a false smile at them. They all grinned and cheered, clearly intoxicated. Cole wrapped his arm around her shoulders and smiled at his friends as they guffawed and gaped at her. She pretended with all she had that she was fine with him showing her off like a prize. The men all took seats wherever they could find space. Some sat on the damp, squashy sofa, other's on the damp, sticky carpet. Cole took pride of place in the armchair by the kitchen door.
"Tabby, beautiful girl, get us some drinks please?" Cole asked loudly, although, it wasn't really a request and Tabitha knew that.
She smiled and sauntered into the kitchen to grab some cans of knockoff coke out of the fridge, placing the cans on a tray, she painted her smile back on and wandered back into the living room.
"What is that? I said drinks, Tabby! Come on!" Cole responded loudly, throwing his hands up.
"Of course, sweetheart! Sorry!" Tabitha replied, taking the tray back into the kitchen.
As she was putting the cans back into the fridge and replacing them with cheap beers, she heard Cole say to his friends:
"Women! Sometimes, some of the training just does not stick!"
As they all laughed, Tabitha put her smile back on and handed out beers to the men. They all looked the same, white T-Shirts patterned with beer and food stains, worn out light blue jeans and dirty trainers. All of them had buzz cuts and they were all tall. Some had beer bellies and others were lean and muscular.
They all drank, laughed, and made Tabitha uncomfortable for several hours until they finally all left at around midnight. By that time, Cole was swaying and slurring his words. Suddenly, he turned to Tabitha and towered over her.
"You got a problem with me drinking?" He asked, slurring swaying in front of her.
"No, sweetheart! Of course not!" Tabitha replied, trying to usher him back into his armchair.
"Then what was with that little stunt you pulled? Trying to make me drink cheap coke instead of beer?!" He demanded, only moving to sway from side to side.
"You didn't specify what you wanted, honey, I didn't know-"
"BOLLOCKS!" He shouted, making her visibly jump.
Her right hand began to shake at her side and she did everything she could to steady it. He slowly walked towards her, forcing her to back slowly away until she was up against a table, leaning backwards over it while he continued to intimidate her.
"You were rude to my friends." He stated, coolly.
Her stomach lurched. She knew what was coming. The way he said it was the worst way he ever spoke to her. Not angry, or loud, or intimidating. Normal. Perfectly calm. Which was scarier than shouting, swearing or intimidating combined.
"I wasn't." She whispered, knowing it wouldn't help at all.
"LIAR!" He yelled, his face just inches from hers.
He grabbed her right arm and pulled her away from the table, throwing her against the wall. Hard. Her head bounced off the door frame and she had just enough time to make sure her tongue wasn't between her teeth.
"Cole, please." She begged, again, knowing it wouldn't help.
He laughed, a horrible, humourless laugh. Just before his fist connected with her face, she ducked. A big mistake.
"Shit!" He muttered, rubbing his knuckles after they collided with the door frame.
Tabitha ran into the bathroom and locked the door, knowing she had nowhere to go. She couldn't think through the throbbing in the back of her head. She touched the spot that had bounced off the wall and felt a wet, sticky layer of blood cover her palm. She washed her hand and pressed a towel to the back of her head.
"Maybe you'd be better off on your own." Her mother's voice came like a piercing shriek in her brain.
"Lot of good that does me now." She muttered, looking around the bathroom for some way to help herself.
She found nothing, but it was too late anyway, Cole had busted the lock on the door and was towering over her once again. He punched her in the face and her head smashed the mirror behind her, causing glass shards to get stuck in her head. He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him, punching her repeatedly in the face before dropping her into the pile of glass on the floor.
"Maybe you'd be better off on your own." Her mother's voice flooded back into her mind as she glanced into a shard of mirror on the floor.
She nodded slightly to herself and picked up the biggest shard, not caring that it was cutting her palm. She pulled herself up using the sink and stood shaking for a moment, then, before she lost the nerve, she strode into the living room where Cole was flopped in his armchair, holding his head in his hands and crying.
"Tabby, my beautiful girl! I'm so sorry! I love you, Tabby, my beautiful girl." He told her, sniffling and crying freely.
She held the mirror shard behind her back and sat down on his lap, straddling him.
"You're sorry, sweetheart?" She purred, resting her forehead against his.
He leaned forward and kissed her forcefully with his hand on the back of her neck. His other hand was resting in his lap. She pulled the mirror shard forward and it plunged deep into flesh. Blood poured down Cole's chin and neck on to his white shirt, soaking into the fabric.
"Shit!" Tabitha whispered, blood pouring from her mouth and out of the wound in her stomach.
She fell off of his lap, landing on her back on the floor with blood pooling around her, soaking into the sticky red carpet.
"Tabby, my beautiful girl. I'm faster than you." Cole spat at her, standing over her.
The last thought Tabitha Rose Cooper ever had was her mother's voice, flowing through her brain as it began to shut down.
"Maybe you'd be better off ... on your own."