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I knew the talk about a baby was another red flag, but the more uncontrollable Amelie became, the deeper I got hooked. I couldn’t go back to what my life was before. I think it had been drowned the moment I saw her; space for nothing else.

Once, half way through a third bottle of wine Amelie told me she thought real love was like running a razor-blade across your arm in front of the bathroom mirror. Watching the blood rush like rivers pouring over the white porcelain. Dripping raindrops the colour of life. The pain pulsing like an orgasm. She said love washed us clean. Made us pure again. I never knew what she meant then, I put it down to the drink. But I came to understand. I really did.

Amelie disappeared for days after the last fight in the park.

Her phone switched off. I never found out where she went or who she was with. She showed up again one night at my apartment sullen, apologetic and clingy. Bruises on her thighs and upper arms. Dripping out information in a maddening trickle. She’d been with friends. Then the story changed. She’d gone to visit an uncle who lived in Oxford. Then it wasn’t an uncle, it was a co-worker. Becoming hysterical anytime I asked where she’d really been. Questioned who she’d really been with. She screamed at me until the neighbors started banging on the walls. Said I was a horrible person for trying to get her to admit to something she hadn’t done. I was told to stop fucking interrogating her like a cop. I was being delusional. Paranoid. The questions were making her crazy. Told to just fucking drop it. It was all none of my business, because we were on a break. It was a break I’d known nothing about. She hid her mobile phone from me or turned it screen facedown. Never answering it when I was with her. She’d let it ring itself out. She started self-harming every time the subject of what happened in those few days was brought up. Carving long gashes on her wrists with whatever pointed object were closest to hand. I stopped asking questions. I shut up. I heard the threat of suicide so many times it almost became a part of our relationship. Another lover sleeping between us in the night. Its vacuous eyes staring blankly at me as I lay unseeing in the dark.

Now stop.

Skip forward to her birthday two months later.

Amelie and I had fixed things. Had been getting along better than ever. I thought. I bought her a diamond necklace she mentioned she wanted. Surprising her at home with it. She was reluctant to let me into her bedroom. Said she’d been sleeping.  It felt weird. I glimpsed subtle attempts to push her mobile phone under a pillow on the couch. The atmosphere in the room was funeral home frigid. Something like a block of ice in my guts, I snatched the phone away from her. She screamed and shrieked and clawed at me. Messages from some other guy on the cracked screen. Saying she was a lot of fun. Saying he couldn’t wait to meet her again. I asked her if she’d fucked him. Waving the phone in front of her face. She yelled at me to calm the fuck down. He was just a friend. She stuttered. He lived in another country. She avoided eye contact. It was nothing. Just text messages. I was being paranoid again. Completely overreacting. I needed help. I had trust issues. Was I drinking too much again? She said there was only me. I was all she needed.

Days passed. I refused to let it go. Truth was trickled out. They’d been sending sexual messages to each other. But that was all. Nothing else. My guts felt cancerous with a constant boiling suspicion. I told her we were over. Fucking finished. Called her a selfish bitch. She said I was throwing her away. I was a monster. I was a psychopath. She smashed the living room windows in my apartment with the stilettos of her high heels. Scratched her initials into my front door with the spare key and then posted it through the letterbox.

Days passed. Hundreds of missed calls on my phone. When I finally gave in and answered she told she’d been diagnosed with cervical cancer. I ran to her place, pulled her into my arms. Bloody tissues littered her room. Jagged incisions tattooed her forearms. Later, she said it was a mistake, a misdiagnosis. There was no cancer. I was relieved. Later still, she admitted she’d lied, but only because she couldn’t live without me. She begged. Threatened suicide again. She needed me. I stayed. I forgave her. My guts continued to scream. I dreamt of crocodiles every single time I drifted off to sleep. I questioned my sanity. Walked on eggshells. Broken glass. I didn’t know what was truth and what was fabrication. I loved her.

I love her still.

I can’t explain what our relationship was. It was symbiotic. It was a death dance. Nothing is sweeter than the pleasurable pain inflicted from a beautiful woman who licks the blood away from your flesh after she’s wounded you.