I just want to be happy, she thought as she felt his hands on her throat. This could be it, the end. And it would be. Not the end that he wanted. But her end, her way. Fighting back was useless. It only gave him more power. Wait it out. Hopefully he won’t kill me. This might sound like giving up but it wasn’t. It was what her life had become. One word, one look, one wrong breath could set him off. Who knew what it would be at any given moment. This time it had something to do with a bath towel. Or was that yesterday? She couldn’t remember. But it was always her fault. Always. Well, in his eyes anyway. Regardless of the truth. In her mind, she went to her happy place. It was magnificent. Filled with love and hope. Suddenly, he let her go. She didn’t dare gasp for air, that would only make him smile. He would leave and she would wait. Walking to the door, he looked back, said something like, “I have to clear my head.” And he was gone.
Jumping up, no time to catch her breath. Move, she coaxed her body and mind. Move! She raced to the bathroom. The bath water was still running. Their 5 year old was sitting on the floor, doubled over and crying. She shut the water off. Crouching down beside him, she stroked his hair and said, “You don’t have to take a bath tonight.” She stood to pick him up but he stopped her. Looking up at her, his eyes filled with tears, “Mommy, I’m afraid someday Daddy will really hurt you.” Hearing this made her ears hurt. What am I doing? How could I be here? And for so long. It’s not just me anymore. This is affecting him now. I can’t keep it from him. This wonderful little person was seeing and hearing this. All of it. He’s not a baby. He understands what is happening. He knows it’s wrong.
She picked him up. What could she possibly say to make it better? There wasn’t anything she could say. Actions, that’s what will work. “We’ll go for a sleepover at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s tonight. That will be fun, right?” He shook his head yes. She knew it wouldn’t be for one night. It was time. So they packed up some clothes, personal items and left. Never looking back.
They were quiet for most of the ride. She felt good. Positive. Yes, she had left many times before. This time was different. She wasn’t just doing it for herself. She was doing it for her little man. The accusations would be that there was another man and that’s why she left. And there was, the man that she wanted her 5 year old to become. Looking in her rear view mirror into the backseat, she asked him what makes him happy. He thought and said, “Nothing, you just are.” And she was.