“Don’t cross your tops!!”
What the FUCK are you doing!?”
“DANGLES! STOP!!”, I scream.
I wake up and I’ve got Slave by the shoulders and throat, the look on his face is a holding a healthy amount of terror. I’m sweating and exhausted. When I sleep I dream about logging, and it seems like I can’t catch up on it, either logging or sleep. Slave looks down on me for my exhaustion. “If I woke up at one or two in the morning, I would still be fine.” He would explain. He was upset with me when I came home because all I wanted to do was go straight to bed. He wanted me to spend time with him and I didn’t have anything left to give. He says I talk and scream in my sleep every night and asks me who so and so I’ve mentioned is. He names people I haven’t had anything to do with in years.
He saves ideas on his phone of Christmas decorations made of driftwood, smoke houses using birch, and articles on propane stoves. He wants me to buy new tools that I can’t quite afford, more lumber, more food. I struggle to make it work but do “This is for the cabin” I remind myself. Many days I come home and nothing has changed. I ask him to do some staining or painting tomorrow if he has time, ” That’s women’s work.” he retorted, as I’ve spent 16+ hours away from home everyday in the name of logging. My clothes are really getting to him too, “I would never wear this,” he points at my sweater, a $2 thrift store special. He won’t sit next to me after I get home as I smell like hydraulic oil and diesel. “What does the dentist say about your teeth?” he asks. I’m not sure how to react well to his narcissistic picking. I stand outside on the deck and throw his nicely stacked wood off and across the top of the hill. He picks at that, too.
He assures me that my hair makes up for it, but that it is getting too crazy, but to keep it long. He comes with me to the hairdresser and sits and watches as I ask her, not for a trim, but to cut it all off. I love it, he hates it. I start to feel the walls closing in. I can’t go anywhere without him having to be there or watching me – excluding work of course. He exclaims while my hair is being cut that he is taking my truck for ” a little drive.” The hairdresser – a friend I’ve grown up with and gone to school with wants to know what the fuck is going on. “Who is this guy?! Why does he have to be here?! Why is he just watching you? You need to get the fuck away from him.” She points out what I should have seen but I feel trapped and can agree but feel sick about the trap I’m in. If he leaves I won’t have anyone taking care of things at home, keeping the wood stove burning anymore and I’ll be in to bear another winter alone.
Shortly after this he explains to me that he doesn’t have feelings for me anymore. “I wish I had,” he matter of fact states as he sits at the table darkly rolling cigarettes in lamplight. After being picked at and picked at, about my appearance, my life, my choices, my work.. it was too much. I crumbled. I didn’t want him around me anymore and I also didn’t want to be alone anymore. I told him that he should leave if he feels this way. ” There are two options for us, I can leave, or I can stay and continue my work here and we can just be friends.” I think on this for a few days and decide it would be best if he stayed, so I could come home to a warm cabin, dogs taken care of, projects moving forward and firewood split.
At work I work with a new guy more and more and I see Dangles less and less. I feel desperate to have him somehow around me but I can’t change the circumstances. One day when we do work together I tell him that I’m 99.9% sure that Yus is going to have puppies. I don’t feel like I can handle it and he tells me that not only will he take one but he’ll help me find homes for them. Sure enough Yus’s belly begins to swell bigger and bigger, daily it seems. She looks sickly and her hip bones stick out. She can’t hold her bladder or bowels anymore and is often puking, peeing and shitting in the cabin without warning. German Slave scolds her harshly no matter how much I say that something is wrong, that this is out of character for her. “My dog at home would never be doing this,” he seethes. He refuses to clean up after her and blames me, “I don’t know how you can do this.”
When I am picked up for work from the cabin, I am so happy to be getting away from it. The new guy would bring me hot cups of coffee from town and would assure me that that’s how all men are and not to worry about Slave so much. The days when Dangles picked me up from the cabin I fell into a fast hard sleep as soon as we were on our way out into the bush. He told me he was going to kick his Dad out of the house, poking fun when I said that I don’t think I could have slave at the cabin anymore.
Slave refuses to sleep anywhere other then my bed. I ask him to sleep on the couch and that I need space from him, he shuts me down, “I’m not sleeping with the dogs.” When I come home and go up to bed he glares at me as I lumber up the steps of the ladder, looking up from his most recent book, in german. I ask a couple of times, “I think you should start looking for a new workaway host, this isn’t working out anymore.” He moves in that slow, painful way about it. He looks but claims he can’t find a host he likes. That won’t work for him. He says he needs to look for a car before he leaves, and needs to have a job and save money before he leaves. At night when I fall into a hard, fast 3-4 hour sleep he wakes me up through the night, angerly telling me that I’m either yelling or snoring.
The walls close in tighter around me.
On November 18th I wake up on a day off at three in the morning to desperate crying coming from downstairs. I groggily climb down the ladder and find that Yus is having her puppies. She looks at me in a complete panic and proceeds to act as if she’s burying something in her blanket. I lift the blanket to find a black, wet puppy. She was trying to kill it. I calm her down and once shes calm I bring her pup back to her and it nurses. Yus starts to relax. I go back up to sleep and Slave comes down to watch. He has never seen anything like this in his life – he has never seen anything be born.
He wakes me up every half hour or so, “She has another one! It’s brown!” Later on in the morning when I can’t be bothered with trying to sleep anymore he hands me a cup of burnt coffee of in which I suspiciously take and tells me she’s had nine puppies and that he thinks no more are coming. Yus looks very, very ill. Something is wrong. Her blankets are soaked in blood and after birth and she is extremely aggressive to Finley and the cat. I have to get her to a vet – I make a mental note to try and get her in on a weekend when I can afford to go (the closest vet is an hour and half from the cabin). She keeps having accidents without warning inside the cabin and each time Slave resents her more and more. He chooses one puppy that for some reason he likes and favors it above all the others, including Finley.
I tell Dangles that the puppies are born and the next day after work I head to town to shower, get fuel, groceries, etc. He texts me that he’s at the cabin with the puppies and he’s picked the one he wants, a brown one, larger then the others. Luckily it’s not the one German Slave had chosen. Dangles is there with the new guy I’m working with and he too, picks out a puppy. About a week later Dangles comes to see the puppies again while Slave and I are home. The next day he says that he sees it. The whole time Dangles was there Slave chain-smoked on the couch glaring at us both. A few days after that the new guy comes over to see the puppies again and Slave doesn’t say a word to either of us, but glares and seethes from the couch. I can’t handle it anymore. I feel so trapped with him constantly judging, watching, staring and glaring. Always with a comment, “I would never be doing this, this is shit.” or, complete silence, refusing to respond to anything I ask or say, but continuing to glare.
The Christmas Party, hold on for the Christmas Party, I tell myself.
The weekend of the Christmas party my boss calls and asks me if I’d be interested in a side job, running a packer and helping build a new loading yard at the sawmill. When he says jump, I say how high. This is how I found myself for two days freezing to death in a cab-less packer at -10. On the second day I was the only one to show up. I worked by myself and once I had everything to where I felt was good, smooth and well packed, I jumped in my truck and ran to shower and borrow an evening dress from Layla. I showered and did my makeup, hopped in the truck and drove home to get my date, Slave. I brought him back to where I usually shower (The day I get water sorted out at home will be the day, let me tell you) and while he showered and dressed I did my hair. He watched as I did my hair and asked, “Have the guys at work seen this?” “No”. I reply, tired. He smells overpoweringly of cologne.
We walk into the pub where the party was held and were welcomed to probably close to a hundred people, candlelit tables with evergreen & floral Christmas centerpieces. The same ones I used to make for this exact party when I was a florist. They were stunning, and the one across from where we were seated had my name on it. I was so excited to see the guys I worked with in a setting that wasn’t work. A nice evening. I tried to make eye contact with some of them to wave but I felt like my eye contact was avoided. A few people at our table chatted with us a bit but for the most part I felt like I was invisible.
It wasn’t until months after the party that one of my co-workers admitted that every time they had tried to make eye contact, looked over at the table or even started towards it, that Slave would glare them down in such a way that everyone steered clear.
I gathered up the centerpiece with my name on it and German Slave and I went home.
I felt as if I was becoming his slave.