He started to send me hundreds of messages by text at all hours of the night day. Mostly asking me where I was, who I was with, why wouldn’t I take his calls, why didn’t I text back. After the fiftieth question, like clock work, he’d start to call me names and cuss at me. I’d stopped answering days ago when I told him it was over. I finally blocked him because my phone couldn’t handle the constant pinging from his messages.
My favorite journal went missing from my nightstand. It was there just last week when I spilled my heart out about finally telling him to leave and not return to the house. I felt a little crazy when I searched the living room, bookcase, and even under my bed. Maybe I just misplaced it. But then the watch he gave me for my birthday wasn’t on my dresser…
I felt a little ridiculous as I paid the locksmith too much money to changed all the locks to the house. Most of all I felt relieved, and promised to no longer hide a spear key under the flower pot by the door.
I started getting weird spam emails from dating websites I’ve never visited. Maybe it was the algorithm. Sometimes, I’d notice emails were marked as read that I didn’t remember clicking on and checking. Maybe it was a glitch. But it kept happening, eventually I changed my passwords.
Then I started getting friend requests from dozens of faceless avatars on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Sometimes they’d send short “hi” messages to get my attention. I’d block them. It was weird.
He showed up at my house late one night, coincidently after I change all my account passwords – from the utilities account to Netflix. He yelled and banged on the door for what felt like an hour. I didn’t open the curtains or the front door. But he was gone by the time the police arrived. They asked me how I knew it was him. They asked if the broken flower pot next to the door was new.
As I was picking out the best apples in the produce section of the store, casually he walked in, headed in my direction. We made eye contact. I dropped my basket and went down the aisle checking the rounded mirrors and glass case reflections for him to appear behind me. I felt silly once I finally made it back to my car, like I was overreacting. But I didn’t linger long; I drove home then dead-bolted the door behind me.
The following morning I had two nails in my tires. One in the front tire the other in the back. They stuck out the side. Intentionally placed. I had to call a tow because I only had one spare. The police took a report but asked me how I could prove it was him. I couldn’t.
And then, my cat went missing. I checked in all the best hiding spots: under beds, in closets, in boxes. I rattled treats and toys, made stupid clicking and kissy noises calling for him to come. At first resigning myself he was a stubborn cat and would appear when he pleased. Then after two days, I convinced myself he’d slipped out the door someday. So, I posted on a local missing pets Facebook group hoping someone would find him.
Instead, I found him, placed lifeless on my front doorstep.
I cried. I called the police. I called a lawyer. This was the last straw. This couldn’t be coincidence any longer. I couldn’t try to explain it away and sooth myself into thinking there was something I could do.
I wasn’t crazy or over thinking things. I wasn’t being dramatic. I wasn’t acting paranoid or ridiculous. I wasn’t fearful for no reason.
He was a monster.
Facing him across the courtroom as he testified and justified his every answer to every question my lawyer asked set my nerves on fire. I was on edge and scared all of this would make things worse. But then, the Judge spoke, making her ruling. She gave me a piece of paper that gave me the security and peace of mind I needed. If he showed up, if he called, if he acted in anyway to contact me, any way at all, he’d be arrested for violating the protective order.
I’d never felt safer knowing there were consequences and I wasn’t crazy.