I was standing there in the coat closet, like an idiot. It was dark, cramped and my breath was making it humid. Anxiety vibrated throughout my body. The walls seemed to cave in, smothering me in winter coats. The only light I could see came through the slight crack of the closet’s door, where I could see a man standing outside.
My heart was pounding inside my ears. My breath shallow, afraid to make a sound. I forced myself to breathe in, slowly, quietly, but deeply. Then exhaled, leaking air slowly through my lips. My eye pressed to the crack, I could see his figure, slowly opening the sliding glass door.
I had prepared for this moment and already had the lights off, the apartment lit by only moonlight and a streetlight outside our window.
This was a long time coming. Rob and I were freshly married and throughout most of our marriage, he would entertain himself by sneaking into the house while I was unaware, then jump out behind doors, shower curtains, beds, etc. in order to scare me to an inch of my short, miserable life.
And it didn’t matter how mad it made me, how seriously I threatened him, or the one time I shuffled through kitchen drawers for a carving knife, he would laugh and laugh and laugh and never stop because my “hilarious” scream and apparent terror made it worth the risk.
To make it worse, he would often scare me while I was in the middle of something private—things you do when you think you’re alone, like the one time I was multi-tasking by going to the bathroom and trimming my toe nails at the same time.
With my foot hoisted up on my knee like some kind of barbarian, Rob gingerly opened the door to our home, crept in like a criminal, tip toed in the house, then burst into the bathroom so that for a brief moment I’d fear my life ending, but hahahahaha just kidding!
I screamed my terror scream, which sounds far less like a typical high pitched scary movie scream and more like Joan Rivers and James Earl Jones shouting down a thief who just stole an old lady’s purse. He scared me so deep, I got up to run, but tripped because my pants were around my ankles. I crashed headfirst into the wall and then slowly slid down, losing my integrity at every slithery inch.
To say he almost died that day at the bare hands of his wife, is an understatement.
I was thirsty for revenge.
Rob’s predictable schedule played to my advantage. His shift ended at 8 PM and he always walked through the door at 8:11 PM, right to the second. At 7:45, I waited on the couch alone, quietly preparing myself for what I had to do. At 8, I got up and set the stage for my attack. I turned off the lights and made my way into the closet. Although I was nervous, I moved methodically like a woman who had made up her mind and there was no turning back. I propped the closet door open just enough that I got a view of our sliding glass door – the door off our patio that he always used to get into our apartment. He’d texted earlier and I knew he had a difficult day. I assumed he’d be exhausted, vulnerable and ill-equipped to handle his wife jumping out of a closet to terrify him. As I stood alone in a cramped coat closet like a moron, I felt a deep sense of vindication and satisfaction by the mere thought of my sweet revenge.
In retrospect, I probably didn’t need ten minutes of “prep” time to flip a light switch off and slip into a closet. That’s a long time to be flooded with strange zingy feelings of terror and anticipation, as if I was on a roller coaster about to head over the cliff. A few times, I lost my nerve and almost got out to relax and watch Food Network. But I knew that if I didn’t give Rob what he deserved, which was cold-blooded-jump-out-of-the-closet-revenge, he’d never stop scaring me.
It was time.
When I heard the gate close, I snapped to attention. My heart flew right off the road, like a tire falling off a truck going 100 miles per hour. If he detected me, in any way, it was over. My hands shook as I tried to control my breaths. I watched his body approach the sliding glass door. But then something unexpected happened – he stopped.
What is he doing? I wondered. He was looking through the window, up and down, looking for something, but what could it be?
Then, ever so delicately, he grabbed the door handle and slowly began to pull.
Instantly, I knew. That dum dum was trying to scare me again!
The deliciousness of the moment made me flush and nearly faint. Scaring him while he’s trying to scare me would be the ultimate revenge. Failure was not an option, but I really had to get it together. I grew lightheaded from the smothering closet and my rapidly rising anxiety. I kept my eye to the crack and watched him slowly open the door, step delicately inside, then slowly close it, being ever so precious as he let it click.
He dropped his backpack softly, then crept slowly towards me. My guess was he was going to head down the hall, assuming I was in our bedroom. I had to time my scare just right. Open the door too soon before he gets to me and I’ll startle him, but not terrorize him, which was my ultimate goal. Wait too long, and he’ll be past me, causing the same effect. I needed to burst out at him at just the right moment so there is a flash of him thinking his life was over.
As he stepped in just the right place, I closed my eyes tightly and flung into action.
“BOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed, guttural and primal, kicking the closet door wide open. The door missed him by centimeters, my body flung at him with boo scare hands. He screamed, and good grief, was it glorious! It was girly and blood curdling and deeply, DEEPLY, satisfying. His eyes grew wide and I saw pure fear twinkling, bouncing around inside. It was just a millisecond, but my body flooded with satisfaction by the sounds and sights of his fear. I quickly snapped out of it when his arm cocked back and he punched at my face. It happened so quickly, there was no time to mentally ingest what was happening. From pure biological, survival instinct, I moved my head out of the way of his fist, very ala The Matrix, slow motion and real bad-ass, while his fist whooshed past my face and punched the door. I swung around just in time to see his hand punch halfway through it.
“My hand!” he screamed, clutching it with this left hand.
“Hahahahahahaha! Sucka!” I wailed in laughter. With my finger pointing at him, I shouted, “I got you bad! And you scream like a girl!”
“Why would you do that?” he cried. He removed his hand to reveal blood and yelled, “My god, I’m bleeding!”
“Hahahahahaha!” I laughed in pure delight. “Wait, what? Like bad, are you bleeding bad?”
This was a real buzzkill. He cut his hand on the door and was bleeding at a pretty good clip.
“Oh geez. You should get a Band-Aid on that,” I said. “But did you see how I scared you? And like, you screamed all high pitched and hilarious? And you almost punched me square in the face, but I side stepped it like a ninja?” He moved past me briskly to wash his wound under the sink. I started to feel like his cut was stealing my thunder and grew annoyed. “I mean, I got ya real good didn’t I? And the best part? You were trying to scare me! Oh, it feels so good!” The moment was far too delicious, I simply could not let his injury rain on my parade.
“Yep. You got me,” he said back, wincing as the water flushed through this wound. My rush of good feelings was turning into a dribble. Eventually all I could do was stand there with my hands on my hips, utterly dejected. I had finally landed my first epic revenge scare and now I have to feel bad about a wound?
Nope, not today! I stayed strong. He made his bed, now lie in it!
I continued to brag, poke and prod, but I could tell it hurt and he was upset so after awhile the air just seeped right out of the balloon. What else could I do, but postpone my gloating and give him a little space?
Slowly, he managed to clean his wound (I’ve cut myself worse shaving my legs, can we move on?), bandaged it, got out of his scrubs and made his way to the coach to watch a little TV. I sat next to him and cozied up.
“Babe?” I asked him.
“Yes?” he replied.
“What do you think hurts worse right now? Your hand or your pride?”
“My pride,” he said, changing the channel. “Definitely my pride.”
“I got you good didn’t I?”
He smirked and nodded. Just a little. But it was enough.
I laid my head on his chest as a smile coiled around my cheeks.
I did it.
And he never scared me, again.