Grace and Tim made a plan. Grace would break up with Wade via letter or email. She would word it as carefully as she could, but the main thing was to avoid being around him when he read it. The hope they had was that by the time they happened to see each other again, he would have the time to have calmed down first. Tim wasn’t entirely convinced that this was a flaw-free plan.
“Wade’s been my buddy for a few years now, Grace… I just don’t think he’s going to let it go easily. I’ve seen him hold grudges. I’ve seen him pick fights months after a conflict with guys at the bar – always saying he’s just going to finish it once and for all.”
“Well, what else can I do, Tim? If I say anything to his face, he may just explode on me then and there. Once he starts screaming at me it will be harder to keep the truth from him. He’ll get it out of me and then he’ll come start something with you too.”
Tim snorted, “I can handle Wade. He’s a douche. Just… We just need to have a contingency plan is all I’m saying. We need to be prepared for the fall out.”
It took a few days to construct her letter. She burned each screwed up draft just in case he came over before she was finally ready to break up with him. Nothing sounded right. Nothing sounded truthful. Nothing made her feel safe to reveal. Finally, she had the best version she could muster, drew up her courage, and left it in his mail box one evening when she left his house. She called Tim to let him know she had done it.
The next afternoon, she heard the roar of an engine and the screech of brakes out front. She peeked through the window and saw Wade getting out of his truck and slamming his door. He looked angry.
Grace grabbed her phone and texted Tim. “He’s Here.”
She hit send just as the pounding started on her door.
She froze in fear. She promised Tim she would keep her doors locked and avoid Wade as much as possible.
“Grace! Open the fucking door! I know you’re in there!”
She knew Tim wouldn’t be happy with her, but the irrational thought crossed her mind that if she’s just let him in she could get it over with. She thought maybe if she just let him rage at her he’d be able to get it out of his system and be able to move on. As it stood, she knew it would end up just being an extended game of trying to stay out of his way. That wouldn’t be easy in this small town, with their interconnected group of friends.
“GOD DAMMIT GRACE! OPEN THIS DOOR BEFORE I BREAK IT DOWN!”
Shaking, she slowly unlocked the deadbolt then slowly opened the door.
Wade stood before her with his teeth clenched, one hand on his hip, the other holding her crumpled letter in the air. “What the fuck is this, Grace?” He said as he waved the mangled piece of paper in her face.
“I, uh, I can explain, Wade… Please, just calm down…”
He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no neighbors were around, then told her – in a slightly calmer voice – that they should talk inside. He stepped through the door way, pushing past her and throwing the letter at her feet as he did so.
By the time she picked up the trash, shut the door and turned around, he was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. “Why are you doing this to me, Grace.” He sounded almost tearful and Grace’s resolve started to soften.
“I’m sorry Wade… I just…” She dropped her hands to her side. She wasn’t sure how to word it so it didn’t come off as trite. “I don’t want to hurt you; I just feel like we’re just not working… We, um, fight all of the time…”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “Is there someone else?”
“What? Uh… No. No, of course not, Wade.”
He looked up at her and said “I wish I could believe you.”
She took a couple steps back as he stood up. “Who is it?” At first the question was calm. A menacing false calm that Grace knew all to well.
“Who. The. Fuck. IS IT?!”
It only took him two swift strides to reach her. She didn’t have time to run before he had his hands grasping her arms and pushing her towards the wall. She cried out as her spine it the wall. That’ll bruise for sure, she thought.
She decided she had to fight back this time. She knew it likely wouldn’t help much, but it was her only chance to avoid the beating of her life.She struggled, trying to release herself from his grip. Wade let one arm go as he moved his hand up around her throat and slammed her head back against the wall.
He loosened his grip slightly enough on her neck so that she could breathe. He rested his other arm on the wall above her – closing her in and likely trying to intimidate her with his size. Her hands were trying to pull on the hand that was around her throat.
Wade came in close from the side of her face and said menacingly “Who are you fucking, Slut?”
She knew begging didn’t work, but she tried again anyway. “Wade… Please… I’m not… Please… There’s no one else…”
Just then a pounding came from the door.
“Grace! Grace! Are you okay?!”
Wade let go of her throat as he turned towards the door. “Tim!?” He paused and looked back at her through side eyes. “I knew it.”