Although Adam and I were married in late December, we couldn’t get a place until mid-February, as we had to wait for the Basic Allowance for Housing to kick in. Once it did, we chose a nice, overly-priced apartment complex in Puyallup, where we lived upstairs from a nasty old lady who would bang on the ceiling with a broom and call complex security if we watched tv after 9 PM.
A week after we moved in, Adam went on a month long field training exercise in eastern Washington. The night before he left, I had a miscarriage. I hadn’t even known I was pregnant.
I still didn’t know if I wanted kids (those pregnancy photos were always absolutely disgusting), but now that a chance had been taken from me, I felt robbed. Like my body had failed me without my knowing.
I sat on the toilet in the bathroom, sobbing as I looked at the tiny gray lump in my underwear and ignored the cat lacing his way between my feet.
“Sweetie? Can I come in?” I hiccuped an indistinct yes.
He came in, and immediately panicked at the sight of the blood.
“Sweetie, are you dying?! Do we need to take you to the hospital?!” In my moment of need, I was supposed to calm him down.
“No…it’s a miscarriage, Adam…I didn’t know…”
“Oh.” Adam leaned against the bathroom counter, staring at the bathroom linoleum for answers.
“It might not even be a baby, sweetie!” He smiled hopefully. “Besides, it’s a good thing we wouldn’t have a baby right now—what would happen when i got deployed and you were left here alone? Here, give it to me, let’s throw this in the trash. We’ll get you some new underwear this weekend.”
In shock, I handed over the balled up, bloodied panties, and Adam gingerly stuffed them in the trash, underneath piles of toilet paper and dental floss.
After his return a month later, I swayed into the room wearing nothing but one of Adam’s button-up dress shirts. He was playing video games on the couch, and did not glance in my direction. Stan was nestled in the corner next to him, peeking out at me from his hind legs, which were pointed straight at the ceiling on either side of his head. It gave the strong impression that he had been folded in half like a collapsible table and stuffed into a corner.
“Hey babe,” I cooed, leaning up against the side of the tv. “Whatcha doin’?”
Adam flashed the television a quick, mischievous smile—he looked like he was flirting with the game. “Hey sweetie…you look sexy as fuck…but could you move? I’m trying to finish this mission online with Meadows.”
“Oh…” I looked down at my outfit, embarrassed by my candor. I buttoned it the rest of the way up, scooped Stan in my arms, and went into the bedroom to change.
Adam revealed his deployment orders one evening while we were laying in bed in a quiet pool of sticky marital bliss. I had secretly taken to calling him “The Jackrabbit” after sex, for several rather unflattering reasons.
“It’s only for a year…although most of the guys have been getting extended to 15 months.”
“Where will you be? What will you be doing? I can’t stay here in Washington by myself—I don’t even have my driver’s license!” I’d been expecting the orders, but not so soon, and the news still left me upset.
Adam petted my hair. “It’ll be okay, sweetie. You can move in with my mom down in Hillsboro until we can get a place of our own.”
“I’ll…live with your mom…”
“She loves you, it’ll be great! Now, let’s try and enjoy the time we have left together…” He trailed his hand down my back, along my hips, and leaned in for a kiss.
By the time Adam deployed, we had been married for six months, and had lived together for three. Doubts had begun to creep into my mind about our marriage, especially after he tried to bathe Stan.
Adam would hit Stan like you would hit a dog. If Stan peed on the floor, or got into the trash, or scratched the couch, Adam would scold him and slap him—hard. It got so bad that Stan started peeing every time Adam came into the room.
“I don’t want you touching my cat anymore,” I told him one night, after Stan had urinated on the linoleum entryway. “He’s afraid of you, and he hasn’t even done anything wrong.”
“No, he needs to learn not to do that shit!” Adam grabbed a pair of snowboarding gloves for protection and hauled Stan to the bathroom. “I’m gonna give that cat a bath, and he’s gonna stop pissing on the carpet!” He slammed the door shut behind them, locking them in.
“Adam…Adam! Open the door!” Water started running in the tub. Stan started howling. “Jesus Christ, Adam, just wipe him down with a paper towel, I’ll take care of—”Adam screamed. It was a lovely, high-pitched scream, the kind most men spend their lives trying to prove they don’t have. Immediately after came frantic scrabbling sounds, and the crash of a bathroom-sized trash can being knocked over.
“That fucking cat bit me!” Adam unlocked the door and brushed past me, closing the door behind him. The area between Adam’s index and pointer finger knuckles was bleeding freely—Stan had bit down to the bone.
“Well I told you not to do that! Where is Stan now?” Adam jerked his head towards the bathroom as he nursed his hand over the kitchen sink, muttering in disbelief of losing a fight to an 8-month-old kitten.
Stan was wrapped tightly in a bathroom towel on the floor. He blinked at me from his swaddling, and I kneeled down to gently unwrap him, kissing him on the head and whispering “Good kitty” loud enough only that we could hear.
The next day, Adam couldn’t bend his arm. He went to the Army hospital emergency room, where Stan’s bite was registered as an “animal attack.”
“Check his teeth, sweetie! I’m serious—they said if a piece of his tooth broke off in my hand it could get really infected!” I sat on the couch and smiled down at Stan in my lap. “He looks fine to me, sweetheart. All teeth in tact.”
“Alright…well…they’re giving me some antibiotics and pain killers…they said it’s lucky we don’t live on base, because otherwise they might have had to put Stan to sleep.”
“Well then I guess we’re just lucky.” I scratched Stan under his massively-underbitten jaw and relaxed as his throat started to thrum.
Adam claimed he taught Stan a lesson, but he never raised a hand to him again. Interestingly enough, he never had much to do with Stan at all after that.
But I was worried about Adam now. Would I want to have kids with someone that elicited that response from animals? Stan’s personality consisted largely of being a shithead, but he was a sweet cat, and I’d never known anyone who scared an animal that badly simply by walking into the room.
There were anger issues there, to be sure. Something to keep an eye on—a possible red flag, even. But I couldn’t just leave my husband because he freaked my cat out. I made a big commitment with this marriage, a declaration to friends and family that I was an adult, now. That I was responsible and most definitely not a fuck-up. But, still…he was just a cat…to get so upset over something as small as a little urine…
I moved from Stan’s chin to the underside of his collar. His purring grew louder in approval as he pushed his whiskers forward as far as they would go. We’ll see…