April 4, 2011
I sighed. I felt my mind unwind as everything had finally fallen into place. It was perfect. After weeks of preparation, the time had come. The feeling of invincibility was overwhelming, and I welcomed the courage it brought, irrational though it was.
The plan? Escape. The destination? Anywhere but here. The past few weeks I had consumed myself with it, racing to the computer to research until he got home, deleting the history so that no one would know-especially him. Because if he found out…I would not even let my mind consider the possibility or it would stop me straight in my tracks and everything I had worked for would slip through my fingers. I would not allow my only last chance at hope to be destroyed like the rest of my life had been.
It was simple. I would move to an apartment about a half hour away for a couple of weeks. It had the lowest move in rate, so it was a good choice, but it was not in an ideal location. It was too close for comfort. After that, I would move every few weeks to a different apartment until I was far enough North to start a new and safe life. To my eleven-year-old mind, it was foolproof.
There was only one thing that I would miss: school. The seven hours that most kids my age viewed as, at best, painful, were peaceful bliss to me. My mind could be set free, free to explore and learn and live without fear. I reminded myself that once I left, everyday would be like that. I would no longer need to look forward to school because I could live every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of my life in liberty, no longer needing to hide.
I pulled my mind out of its vision of paradise and back into reality. I should check the list one more time. I looked around my room for my carefully planned checklist, but it was nowhere to be found. I tried not to let myself get disturbed. It was okay, I knew the list by heart anyway. I went through the list mentally. Journal. Check. Money. Check. Bible. Check. Lucky guitar pick—my mental checklist was briefly interrupted by a slammed door. He was home. I resumed, reminding myself that this was the last time I would ever feel the fear pulsing through my body.
I heard a yell. It was his, I knew, but I convinced myself that the outburst of fury was not directed at me. Don’t be paranoid I told myself. I would not let anything pull me out of my dream world that I had so painstakingly created. A world without fear, a world without anger, a world without him.
I heard another yell, but this time I could make it out.
“What is this?” he screamed.
My heart stopped. No he didn’t find my list. It’s just hidden in my room somewhere. But my attempts to calm myself were no use, and the fuming shouts and angry footsteps stomping up the stairs were not at all helpful.
Just the sound of my name coming from his mouth always increased my heart rate to what seemed like dangerous levels. By the time he reached the door I could no longer fool myself. His face appeared, so contorted with rage that too most it would be almost unrecognizable. But not me; it was a face I was all too familiar with. It was over and I knew it.
“WHAT IS THIS?” he yelled again, thrusting my carefully planned list out before him. He then tore it to shreds. There was a time when I would have cried as I watched him rip apart my ticket to freedom as carelessly as one would rip apart bad check. But I was much too numb for that now.
When he burst in the room, my excitement about my plan evaporated and was replaced by a strange sense of fear and familiarity. I knew what he would do. So I took a breath, closed my eyes, and braced myself. And what happened next-well, some words are better left unspoken.

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