Gloria waited on the edge of the tub for the knock on the door she knew would come exactly 1 minute and 23 seconds after she'd locked the door behind her.
It was the amount of time he'd calculated she needed to "do her business" and get back to being a good girl.
She didn't have business to do right then, except the usual of trying to figure how to kill him so that nobody would suspect she'd done it. Not that they would anyway. She was nondescript, the beauty she possessed just few years ago had been blunted and dunned to plainness by his obsession over her.
She had been beautiful, a star, smooth and moist, and he'd taken her by storm, telling her of unbelievable love in an instant. She'd been enthralled, captivated by his attentions, pleased at the spot she had taken at the center of his world.
Over a short time they'd moved in together, betrothed, and her promise to him sunk like a cement block into her heart every time she refused him the sex he wanted on a seemingly endless basis or when she didn't cook his dinner the way he wanted, or when she committed a thousand other slights that caused his eyes to narrow and his demands for her affirmations of love for him to increase in occasion and volume.
The constant strain of proving her love for him took their toll, and soon her bright eyes hollowed while her gentle curves took on larger dimensions from the strain of holding up his happiness and her guilt. There was no pleasing him, as long as she looked the way she did and as long as she couldn't understand how to make him happy.
She disappeared into the nothing of the center of her mind, maneuvering against him in malicious heat as he berated her for not making the eggs moist enough or not loving him the way he needed or not taking care of him the way a wife should if she loved her husband and truly wanted him to be happy. In her brain the first small tendrils of hate grew, sending dark hairy roots into the place that used to be filled with sunny optimism and a dangerous smile.
She started seeking the bathroom, first for the pills and later for the peace it afforded. In the beginning he allowed her 5 minutes of her time, then 4, then less and less and her visits grew closer and closer together through the long nights of oppression and obligation. She would run the sink and say she was peeing. She would wad up a bunch of toilet paper, wet it, and throw it in the toilet, saying she had to poop.
He started asking to see the paper she wiped herself with.
At that point she invented a female complaint.
Then she started cutting herself to soak the tampons with blood, so that her new disease would fill the wastebasket with her sickness.
Now, perched on the edge of the tub, she was making herself prepare to vomit, the next step in her plan of illness that just might make him leave her alone long enough so she could finally decide how she should kill him. Tonight she planned to tell him she had cancer; that should stop him from sticking his filthy hands in places that they never belonged. She had cancer, right, and needed to throw up to have cancer.
One finger down, then two. No food in there to puke. She hadn't eaten in days. No cancer tonight.
She'd have to use the knife then, which was under the mattress already. It was there in case he didn't believe she was sick, in case he made her strip for him like he'd done last night, in case he rammed his way into her, tearing at her skin while grunting like a pig the way he did every night and most mornings since she made the stupid mistake of saying she loved him too.
There was no other way.
1 minute and 8 seconds later, there was a rapping at the bathroom door. Time shortened again, 15 seconds lost to him.
The last straw gone, she opened the door and said "let's go to bed."