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     After dinner last night, the taste of Patrick—the taste of the wine on his lips—had intoxicated Dara, and she wanted him again and again.  He kissed her lips and hid his face in her just-washed hair.  She became aroused at his touch and prepared for the moment she would be violated yet again that evening.
    When he entered her, it felt as if she were being sliced open by a knife and she said, “I love you,” just as she was expected to.  And she did love him, in a hateful kind of way.

     But today was Monday, another day, and today Patrick had a hangover.  Maybe that was why he had punished her so horribly this morning, to pay for his suffering.  Or maybe he hit her because someone had given him a hard time at work on Friday, or because the dog had fleas, or because he thought she wanted to be hit.
    She lay in bed, whimpering in pain, hoping that her husband would come in to make it better but fearing if he heard her it would only make things worse.  She was afraid he would leave her and afraid that he would never leave her alone.  She had to find a way to make him leave her alone.  She loved him desperately, though.  Or could it be that she was lying to herself, for she also wanted him dead.
    The crying had to stop.  Crying always enraged him and it only made the pain in her face unbearable.  Besides, an endless river wouldn’t be enough to wash away her grief.  She’d have to turn aside from her tears.  Her refuge and latest obsession was hidden under her bed.  She reached for the large coffee table book and intently began studying each of the fabulous color illustrations.
    It was solely for the purpose of capturing the color combinations that she had purchased the volume, but then the topic had begun to intrigue her.  The author of the volume actually expected the reader to believe that there were genetically altered creations of human-animal life forms living all around us, possibly even in the house right next door.
    The cover picture was, of course, that of the most well known fire-breathing monster of Greek Mythology, the Chimera, the creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a snake’s tail.  Dara flipped through the pictures, a rogue gallery of half-humans with sinister powers, kind of like the powers that her husband held over her.  Sphinxes, centaurs, minotaurs, human men who could change into werewolves at will...pretty much like her husband.  Her chimera wasn’t living next door.  He was living right in her own house.
    This self-admission sickened her and she felt a rush of bile rising in her throat.  Quickly, she got up and made a dash for the bathroom.  Her swollen, bloody face filled the mirror over the sink and she threw up at the sight of it.  It would be a while before she’d be able to show her face in public again. She would have to call Sage and make up some excuse as to why she couldn’t come in.


     Sage went to Dara’s bedside.  Dara took Sage’s hand in her own and gave her a look so penetrating, Sage could feel Dara’s wordless story permeating her brain.  Still Dara said strangely, after Sage had said good-bye, “Take care of him for me, Sage.”
    “Take care of him?” Sage echoed.    
    “Yes.  Someone needs to take care of Patrick,” Dara said, meeting Sage’s questioning gaze with her own.


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