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Devil You Know

By:Max Henry

Devil You Know - Max Henry

BEING ALONE, while not alone, is such a curious thing. How can one who is surrounded by many, still feel the hollow ache of a person who has nobody to confide in, nobody to trust?

Nobody to love.

Human beings in general are companion-based animals. We long, and yearn for that soul mate since the day we are born—it’s only that we don’t fully understand the emotion until puberty has taken hold, and love is no longer what we feel for a cherished toy, but rather a self-inflicted torture we endure in the name of connecting with somebody who makes us feel magical. A week of madness, an hour of pain, all for a few simple minutes of ecstasy.

So many of us would give that—sell our soul to the devil—and never look back. The euphoria we get from a simple touch, a look, a whispered word can undo the greatest of heartache. Usually heartache we endure in the pursuit of such a fabled moment.

It’s only when the heartache follows the treasured moment that we begin to question this whole ‘love’ thing. Only then will endless hours be lost standing in the shower, questioning everything we thought we knew. The devil on our shoulder starts the guessing game, and we delve too far into every decision we make. Should I? Would I? Could I?

A form of insanity takes hold, and we lose ourselves to the madness before we recognize the signs. By the time we realize what a muddled mess our head is in, it’s too late; we’ve crossed the road, and taken a wrong turn long ago.

The cycle begins.

A whispered word, a gentle touch, a stolen glance, and we’re brought from the brink of self-destruction, back to that cloudless sky with nothing but sunshine on the horizon. We live in that euphoric state, gladly burying the pain of not so long ago, to bask in the warmth of love once again.

All until that trust is shaken.

Until the feeling is no longer reciprocated.

Until all we see in that once faithful companion, is a stranger.

Or in my case . . . the enemy.

BEING A woman can be such a contradiction. We’re told to be independent, yet we’re shepherded toward a preconceived ideal of happiness. We’re encouraged to ‘find the one’, ‘settle down’ and ‘raise a family.’ Women who break that norm are spoken about in hushed whispers behind soft, manicured hands of ladies at the school gates.

Society portrays a ‘woman’ as a loving, nurturing soul. Yet the harsh reality is they can often be more vindictive, more manipulating, and more conniving than men.

And men know this.

That is why some of them choose to place their ‘woman’ in the box she belongs in from day one.

See, I don’t think my husband was raised to be an arrogant, chauvinistic animal. I don’t think his parents neglected him, or that other kids bullied him until he became what he is out of self-preservation.


I know for a fact he was born this way.

Picture a scene from a horror movie; the doctor wipes a shaky hand across his brow, and pulls a screaming, red-faced baby from between the legs of a woman who is staring at the white light above.

Yeah, that was the day my husband was born.

I’m sure Satan smoked a cigar to celebrate.

So why did I marry him, you say? Fucked if I know. Once upon a time I was naive, stupid, young, the list goes on . . . Once upon a time he was charming, thoughtful, and blow me down—he actually laughed.

We were young then.

Now? We’re . . . married.

He’s what he thinks every man should be: controlling, demanding, and always right.

I’m what keeps me alive: quiet, dutiful, and non-objectionable.

He asks—I do.

It’s a simple arrangement. And one that works for us.

I could dream of another life; one where I’m happily watering the roses while my children play. My darling husband pulls our family sedan into the driveway, and produces a random gift for ‘his lovely wife’. I smile, he laughs, we hold each other, and life is perfect.

But what good would that do?

Remind me of what a shit-hole I’m stuck in, and make my already tedious days more miserable? It’s easier to compartmentalize and forget. It’s better not to cry.

To cry is to show weakness, and this liar gets off on my weakness.

Everyone I’ve met, who could brandish a few respectable letters after their name, have said ‘speak up’, or ‘search for help’. It sounds so damn easy in theory, but the thing I can’t fathom is, how the hell do I do that when nobody cares to listen? My so-called colleagues at work pass me by on a daily basis like I’m no more than an annoying health and safety poster; everyone knows it’s there, but they gave up paying attention long ago.

Neighbors? Hell, if cars didn’t move from their driveway, I’d honestly believe we had none. I don’t see them, I don’t hear them, and I sure as shit don’t know their names.