The living room is bare but for her secondhand couch, a lone end table, and the anxiety she just can’t shake.
He isn’t supposed to visit where she lives now, but that doesn’t still the race in her heart. Will he show up at her door anyway, and threaten to ram himself through it?
Will he text again today, explosion after explosion?
She knows she should do some more unpacking, get the bookshelf placed, haul the TV in from the single-stall garage. A movie might be okay. But she doesn’t have the energy. How is she supposed to settle in and start over when she can’t outpace his hold on her? Or the painful, humiliating memories? Or the weight of wondering whether it’s all her fault, like he always said?
A sudden rustle outside nearly lays her flat. He’s here. She knows it.
Moments stretch as she watches the door, flinching at the expectation of his too-big presence on the other side.
More moments stretch into a silence so loud her ears ring.
She tiptoes over, dares to peep through the hole. No movement. She waits one breath, then another. She carefully unlatches the deadbolt and, as far as the secure chain allows, opens the door. Still nothing.
Wait, what’s that? A mailer? Right there on the stoop. Her own name is written on the small package in a handwriting she doesn’t recognize. It takes no breath at all—because she holds every bit of it in tight—to undo the chain, swoop out to grab the item, and swoop back inside.
The return address isn’t an address at all. “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER,” the handwriting declares. She rips open the package. Inside is a nonfiction book about the kinds of men who abuse others and what propels their behavior.*
“Knowledge is power,” she says. Then, adding some heft to her voice, like she means it, she says it again.
Book in hand, she sinks into the middle cushion of her secondhand couch, her hungry eyes already flying across the text.
Flash Fiction | © 2021, Janna Leadbetter. All rights reserved.
Would you help me send more books to domestic abuse survivors? The last one went to Texas, and I want to send the next one to Virginia. Beyond that, there are countless survivors, local and afar, who are desperate for the power (and healing) that comes from knowledge. (There are many titles I choose from, to get the right fit for each survivor and her story.)
*Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft
Image Credit to Rahul Shah from Pexels.