His hands wrapped around my throat.
I never could look him in the eye, so I stared past him to the bumpy, drab ceiling. My cheeks swelled as though my face were going to explode.
He released me. The spring bed beneath me squeaked. My face pulsated. I slowly rose from the bed. Lucy scurried into the closet. She curled her tiny brown body into a ball and buried herself amongst the dozens of shoes. He pushed me against the wall.
“You don’t fuckin’ care about me!” he yelled.
Our foreheads touched. He pressed his head to mine. The pain felt like a headache; then he backed away. Pacing the room like some animal, he stopped to glare at me. I raised my hands to defend my body.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he laughed.
After he smacked my hands away, I ducked past him, but he pinned me against a dresser. The handle dug into my back. Then, a familiar noise caught my attention, claws scraping a hard surface. Lucy’s whole body shivered as she scratched the closet wall trying to escape.
With my frightened dog in mind, I cried. In seconds, my cheeks were soaked. He slapped me once, then twice.
It should have hurt, but I had fallen into a trance. All I could do was cry. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards him.
“Stop crying! You want me to break your fingers, don’t you?”
And with that, reality returned to me.
His eyes held my future. Dark, bleak, and dead. He whispered loudly into my ear, “Shut the fuck up!”
Get out, I thought.
There was a loud bang. I had forgotten we were at his father’s house.
“You see what you did!” he whispered.
While he argued with his father through the door, I scooped Lucy into my arms.
“Please help me! I promise never to come back!” I yelled at his father.
“Babe, no” his tone softened, “please don’t say that.”
His father broke open the door. They yelled, maybe wrestled, I ran too quickly to know what happened.
The day seemed bright, almost nauseating. With my car in sight, I paid attention to nothing else. I wasn’t free yet. He could catch me, take my keys like he had done countless times before.
As Lucy scooted onto the passenger seat, I started the car. But there he was, outside my window. With no car in front of me, I sped off.
“I’m sorry,” I said to her with a throat filled with tears, but Lucy had moved on.
With her tail wagging and her head out the window, she pointed her tiny brown nose to the air and sniffed.
Hours later, while he rang my bell and banged his fist against the door, I cradled Lucy in my arms and waited. A stillness came, almost like silence, but more deafening. I had awakened from a long nightmare, but freedom wasn’t refreshing or exhilarating. Freedom was nausea. I was frightened, ashamed, and sick. But, I was free.
I’ve written stories about Lucy, If you want to read them: