I am a woman frightened… but growing less frightened and more irritated… and angry.
I am Woman Angry. Anger forces words from me; they ride on a current of geyser steam as they spout upward from deep within my belly.
My beloved Nicholas asked me to write this tale a year ago. I started to. Then I started quivering, trembling, vomiting, and I stopped.
I'm not quivering anymore. I'm speaking.
This is Woman Speak. It boils out of me and I translate it to words on paper. The words that follow are truth, all I have left to give. I offer truth as I remember it, as seen through the prism of my memory. Having lived with so many untruths, this is priceless to me now.
Watch the eyes. If you take no more from this book, go away with that understanding, to watch others’ eyes. If somehow I disappear after belching these words out, if my Nicholas dwells alone through the remainder of his lifetime, if even one person will watch the eyes, it will make this worth it.
I am hunted. I am haunted. Haunted by memories of things I don't totally understand. Hunted by a man I shall never understand.
I, too, can hunt. I, too, can haunt. Haunt I shall; I guarantee. This is the tale of a woman stalked.
I spent almost eight years with Stan. He changed my life in many ways. For some of those changes I remain eternally grateful. We traveled together through thirty-eight states, spent five years living deep in the serenity of the National Forests. I wintered on an island with him, stayed in a remote cabin in the mountains, lived a while at a yoga ashram. Stan discovered my dreams and made them come true. I changed; became forever altered both by these experiences and by the realization that dreams can come true.
I married him. Well… actually, I don't know who I married. No lawyer has been able to figure that one out. Things turned bad, then confusing, then spooky, then I left. After the leaving, I discovered more about who Stan truly is, although I still don't have the whole picture. I hold fragments and questions and wonderings... wonderings too about myself. Why did I stay for as long as I did? Who was I? Why did I stay after the suspicions started?
I write as a way of trying to get the picture clear in my mind. Who is Stan, really? Who is Leahsandra, really? I want to expose the demon in him and drag a few of my own out into the clean fresh air.
Now… about those eyes. Watch the eyes. If there were one thing I might impart to the world or even just the next woman who wanders innocently into Stan's web, it would be to watch his eyes. How I'd love to write those words in huge letters across the morning mountain sky, over the ancient farmhouse I brought back to life and Stan still squats in, reweaving his tattered web. I wish I possessed the nerve to appear on Oprah and sit calmly, hands folded demurely in my lap, repeating over and over, "I did not know. I swear I did not know. But if I had learned to watch his eyes..."
I've learned many things through living with Stan and many more through leaving him. The one thing I will never forget, the one thing burned into my memory, my brain, and my heart, is to be ever vigilant in watching the eyes.
When I'm with someone these days, male or female, young or old, my eyes lock onto theirs. I notice the pupils, how open, how dilated. I fix on the eye color, and a portion of my brain stays in perpetual preparation for flight. If those eyes start to change color, or turn muddy? Flee. Run like hell and never look back.
Who can truly tell how much damage a man can do to a woman in eight years time... or a woman to a man?
Are there words invented yet, to describe the terror in my heart when I awaken with a jolt, seeing those muddy eyes staring down at me from a darkened corner of my mind?
I sit out on the porch in the deepest part of night, gazing up at the stars, and I'll catch a glimpse of those muddy eyes—right there, above the tree line—glaring down at me.
Every night noise takes on new meaning. Each car cruising down our street in the dead of night is his or sent by him. A cat yowls four houses away and I know that it's his fury screeching at me. So far, I have escaped, but I understand— this is not done yet. This story is not over. I'm not destroyed yet. Until I am or he is, he isn't finished. I know in my heart that he'll come here, know in my bones that I'll look into those muddy eyes one more time. The way Stan's first wife and second wife maybe did, before their own eyes closed forever.
I write this book for wife number four. Watch the eyes.