Dwayne Braugh hadn’t meant to hit her. Not the first time, anyway. It just happened, and it grew easier after each time. He didn’t like doing it, but he did it anyway. He tried blaming it on the alcohol, but they both knew that was a lie. He usually didn’t start drinking until after he was finished with her. Then he tried to blame it on work, a bad day on the streets, an angry boss, something. All more lies. In truth, he couldn’t really express why he started hitting her.
One night Ellen just wouldn’t shut up. His head was pounding and the next thing he knew he had slapped her across the face and busted her lip. He did it again and bloodied her nose. Then the darkness that tainted his vision disappeared and he regained control of himself.
He tried explaining it. Shadows! she sobbed, blood pouring into her mouth. You possessed? That stopped him cold. No, no he didn’t think so. There were shadows scratching at his mind. They stole his self-awareness, his faculties, his free will. They scratched still, but he shrugged them away. They made me do it. I’m sorry, he told her. I can’t help it. But sorry meant about as much as a belated birthday card.