Back in February I had a typical late morning before class. I ran to the shower, turned it on to let the water heat up, and leapt in. I also promptly lost my balance. Falling in slow motion, I started to grab the shower head to keep myself upright before thinking "That's a bad idea!" and instead let myself hit the tub.
I managed to nail my right shoulder and upper arm on the lip of the tub. The pain was enough to cause little birds to cheerily tweet-tweet and fly around my head. I laid in the tub, curled in the fetal position and unable to stand for a good five minutes. I managed to get up and took a cold shower (at that point my roomie had started her shower and stolen the hot water away). Despite the throbbing pain and inability to lift my right arm very easily, I struggled to straighten my hair and went to class.
Over the course of the following days, the pain subsided but a very stubborn and deep bruise was firmly in place. On Saturday, I headed into work wearing my usual museum attire: cap sleeve shirt, trouser jeans, Sperry's.
My day was pretty typical, but around 4:30 I had a lingerer. A lingerer is a retail shop worker's least favorite person. Typically a lingerer comes in around 20 or 15 minutes before it's time to close for the day. They handle everything. They buy nothing. If they do buy something, it's a candy bar or a bottle of water.
This particular lingerer came in with a larger group. The group bought their candy bars and waters and headed back out. The lingerer remained. After sighing loudly, starting to turn off lights, and turning off the muzak, she got the hint. She approached the cash register, bottle of water in hand. As I rang her up she leaned in closely. I thought she was trying to see the computer screen.
"That's one dollar."
"OK." She leaned in closely as she handed me the bill. "You know, there's places you can go." Her stage whisper was atrocious.
"To get away..."
"Oh, I know, right! I'd totally love a vacation everything's been so busy lately," I reply innocently.
"No, to get away from him," she whispered.
I looked around, completely puzzled. "Who?"
She looked at me with a face that said "Oh, she's one of those" before calmly and clearly stating: "The man who bruised you."
At this point, I finally catch on to what she's saying. I glance down at my bruised and battered upper arm. Trying hard not to smile, I addressed the lingerer. "Oh, it's no biggie. In order to be in an abusive relationship, ya gotta be in a relationship first."
She left. No doubt to alert the authorities.