Darcy squeezed through the hallway door and adjusted the paper bags full of groceries as they threatened to slip from her forearms. “I wish the market would invest in bags with handles,” she murmured to herself.
She hurried down the hall and stopped in front of her apartment door, struggling to find the right key on her chain. As she leaned against the door to open it, she nearly lost her footing.
The door was already open.
Blood pounded in her ears and her hands began to shake as the all-too-familiar fear rose from the pit of her stomach. “No, no, no, no, no...” she whispered, reaching for the wall.
The groceries crashed onto the floor. Blackness crowded her vision. “Breathe, Darcy, breathe!” she said aloud, willing her chest to rise and fall.
God, no. Please, God, save me!
The apartment appeared untouched. But he had found her. She knew it.
Now the defining moment had come. Could this Jesus she now knew – could He really save her?
A moment later, the tremors in her hands nearly controllable, she leaned her back against the wall and reached for her cell phone. As she swiped the screen, it lit up with a call. Blocked, the caller ID read.
She debated answering. It could only be him, and she could not let him sense her fear.
Steadying her voice, she pressed Accept. “Yes?”
“Game over.” Even years later, the sound of his voice still caused chills to run through her spine.
It's always been a game to him. No matter what hell he's dragged me through, no matter how many times he's ruined my life, he just laughs and pretends it's nothing. She swallowed. No. Not this time.
“No, it's not.” The words rang out clearly in the silent apartment.
He laughed. “I found you, dear. You thought you could hide, but you can't. You'll never be able to hide from me.”
She closed her eyes and slowly sank to the floor. “You still won't win, not in the end.”
“ 'In the end'? What do you mean by that?”
“Just what I said, James.” She took a deep breath as confidence began to replace the fear. “You think you have beaten me, and it may look like it on the outside, but I'm not going to let you win this time. Or even if there is a next time. I'm beyond you now.”
“Beyond me?” he spit out the words. “BEYOND ME?” The line went dead, but she had heard the distant shout, not only through the phone.
Darcy rubbed her arms and hugged herself. A prayer rose from her heart, silently, then out loud as she spoke to her new friend. “Oh, Jesus, keep me as the apple of Your eye. Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”
Grateful for the words of the psalm* she had listened to only that morning, she repeated the prayer, over and over.
As the door to her bedroom opened.
As the screaming and swearing started.
As the blows fell.
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.
This time, she felt no terror, only peace.
And before losing consciousness, she whispered the knowledge she knew to be true. “He wins.”
*Psalm 17:8 NKJV
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