November 9, 2011
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Maybe it was something I did. Or something I said. Or maybe its just my presence in the world that makes him want to do such things to me.

But yet I still carry on.

The make up hides the bruising. The arm warmers hide the scars. The hat hides the missing portions of my hair that was once beautiful. And the scarf covers my broken and barely beating heart. I might look at bit thinner, but everyone will ask about my new diet.
One hour of preparation and I look like myself. One hour of preparation and no one will know. One hour out of 24. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it – wasting a twenty-fourth of my day on a fib, keeping something that could hurt me more in the long run.
I touch up my make up one last time, pushing my sleeves up but not past the seam of my arm warmers. I slip on a pair of flat-bottom boots, heels are unsafe with wobbly legs. I grab my book bag and silently proceed down the stairs, inhaling the scent of french toast and powdered sugar.
"Morning Mary." I call.
"Morning sis," She chimes. "Did you sleep good?"
"Yeah, fine I guess."
She sighs, and her eyes look a thousand years old for a second. "That's nice." She smiles half-heartily.
I sit down at the table and she sits across from me. "Are you hungry? I made your favorite, french toast." She looks at me like I'm some sort of charity case, her eyes boring into mine with unanswered pity.
"I guess, I'm not that hungry." I say quietly.
She stands, walking over to the cabinet to grab a plate. Even though she knows I wont eat it, she sets the plate down with a half a piece of toast on it in front of me. I smile and she walks to the sink, busying herself and filling the otherwise silent room with clatter.
“You’ll need your strength for this afternoon.” She bites her lip. She doesn't like to bring it up over breakfast. I eat another bite. “I packed your lunch.”

“I’m 17, Mary. I can make my own lunch. You have your own kids to take care of.”

She reaches for the paper sack. “But now I know you’ll have something to eat. And you need to eat, okay? You have to keep your strength up for court.”

Sighing, I take the bag. I know this ham and cheese sandwich won’t be eaten, not any more than the one yesterday or the day before. And even if I do eat it, I’ll just throw it up later. Anything consumed after 12 ends up in a plastic bin after 3:30. It’s just the way it works. Fear is the one thing my stomach cannot tolerate.

“Sweetie, have you thought about what I said the other day?” she asks.

I shrug noncommittally.

“Sweetheart, you can’t hide this forever. Eventually people will hear about this.”

"Mar, people will hear about it when I want them to. There's only a few months left in the school year, when its over I can vanish. But for right now, I'm suppose to be perfect. I’m the girl who’s got it all together. People don’t want to know that the girl who’s got it all together, doesn't have it all together. People don’t want to know that girl is dying!”

“Sis, don’t say that. You’re not dying.”

“Yes, I am. Or I might as well be. You have seen what he does to me. If it wasn't for you, Id be in a body bag or really close to that. He kill me next chance he gets and I don't even know why. I never did anything wrong.”

“But …,” she tries to interrupt.

“Mary, listen to me. I don’t want to be the girl everyone looks at and whispers, ‘Look at her. Poor thing, she was almost beaten to death by her psychopathic father.’or the girl that's followed by undercover cops or bodyguards. I can’t handle that. I want to be normal. Just for these last few months.”

“Okay,” she whispers. “Okay. Just remember, it’s okay if you don’t have it all together. Sometimes things just fall apart and there’s nothing we can do.”

“Thanks, Mar.” I grab my bag and lunch and kiss her on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” my sister replies. This exchange, once taken for granted, is now a vital part of every morning, every afternoon, every night. I never know how many I have left. At least I can do is make sure she knows. Because three words and the four that follow can savage any argument. It can be added to list of the many or the last of them all.

But I still carry on. Flawless.

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