“You fell asleep on their couch? Do you know how foolish that made me look?” Allen’s jaw was clamped tight, his mouth a hard line as he asked the question.
“I’m sorry, I tried hard to stay awake, I was so tired!” Tracy pleaded.
“You tried - you tried nothing!” Allen yelled
He had pulled the car to the side of the road and now he raised his hand. Tracy raised hers, too, to fend off the blow that was coming.
“Get your hands away!” he snarled. “How many times do you have to be told?”
With one hand, he grabbed both of hers and tossed them aside. His other hand came down fast and hard across her face.
Tracy stifled a cry of pain and gulped, looking at him in terror.
“Yeah, you should be scared,” he mocked. “Now, open that car door.”
Careful not to show even the slightest relief, Tracy did as she was told.
“Now get out!” He pushed her out before the door was fully open.
Tracy got herself off the ground and waited patiently to see what Allen would want next. He pulled away, and she sighed inwardly with relief. Not until he was out of sight did she dare make a move. But then she was running, fast.
She knew she didn’t have much time, she needed a place to hide. Allen would be back. She was his possession and his rage wasn’t spent.
She ran past the first house, on to the next one. There - there was a detached garage. She ran to the back of it. Dogs barked.
Tracy found a doorway not visible from the road. She knelt to find a dry concrete door step. That was all she needed. As she lay down, the dogs stopped barking. She bent one arm under her head and the other she placed over her round belly protecting the new life growing inside of her.
It took a little while, long enough that she was aware of beams of light coming from the street, but somehow she drifted off to sleep. When her eyes opened again the new day was dawning. She knew what she had to do. She had to get Nicky. Much as she feared taking a step back into that house, she would never be able to live with herself if she didn’t get her puppy away from Allen’s cruelty.
She saw his car the second she turned on to their road. There was no way that he didn’t see her. In a second he was skidding to a stop next to her.
His voice seethed with anger. “Where have you been, you selfish, useless woman? Do you even care that you have half this town searching for you?” He was out of the car and had her arm bent behind her.
That’s when the patrol car pulled up. “Mrs Morby, you ok?” the officer asked.
With her mouth she forced a strong, “yes”, though she knew her body spoke an equally strong, “no”.
“Ok then.” and the patrol car pulled away.
So quick to help Allen, she thought, but what about me?
After the beating, he made her sleep with him. She waited, knowing the pattern. He’d sleep and when he woke up he’d be nicer to her, tending her wounds and maybe making something for her to eat.
She got carefully out of bed, intentionally ignoring any pain. When she found Nicky, she gathered him in her arms and he licked her face as she silently moved to the door.
She had never attempted to leave before. She had feared to tread outside their house. Allen had taunted her. “Where would you go? Nobody’s gonna take you in. You have no way to support yourself, you can’t do anything,” And more recently he’d warned, “If you ever try to leave I’ll come after you and I’ll kill you and nobody will ever even miss you.”
Now she left because she feared Allen more than she feared anything else. And though she believed it was a sin to divorce, she remembered a story about Jesus forgiving another woman. There was a place she could go - to Jesus. She didn’t know how she’d gotten in such a mess, but she clung to the hope that Jesus had a love big enough for her, too.
Tracy walked bravely on to the humble little building whose sign said, “Come in, all are welcome.”
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