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I Don't Say Anything
I stare into her eyes and in that instant, I know. There’s nothing that she can keep secret or hide from me with eyes like that.
Subconsciously, my hands tighten around the lead rope dangling in my grip. It’s worn, pink, and smells like horse. Like everything here.
She looks away and again, it flashes in my mind. Images concocted out of reality.
I don’t have to ask her and I definitely don’t have to know her to see the truth behind her guarded expression. It’s haunted and fragile. A desperate plea written into her tired frown and sad eyes that she tries to cover with make up.
I just want to reach out a hand and tell her, “It’s okay. I know.”
But I don’t say anything.
A growl arises in my stomach when he touches her arm, not gently, and I try to open my now clenched fists. They won’t obey.
I don’t care if he sees my anger or realizes that I hate his guts, he should know those things.
My eyebrows drop low over my brow and I slit my eyes and openly glare at him.
Stammering out some excuse to leave, he heads towards the house, expecting her to follow.
I watch her and wait.
“Did he call me?” She suddenly speaks into the open, breaking the silence that seemed to have been controlling us. I don’t speak, but one of her “friends” says that he didn’t know.
A nervous look flashes across her face, but she turns back to her phone and purses her lips.
I lean back against the wall and drone out the chatter now flowing from that same dumb friend of hers. God, he’s annoying.
Closing my eyes, I try to picture golden fields and ice cold rivers in my mind, anything to get her face out of it, but it won’t leave. It stays, pressing against me on all sides. Nudging me in a thousand different directions all at once and yet, not showing me any clear path through the wreckage.
I hear a buzz from her phone and crack open an eye.
All color has drained from her face and she’s standing slowly, staring at the phone screen. Her hand is barely perceptibly shaking.
“David,” She snaps at that friend of hers. “He did call me, and now I’m in trouble.”
Warning bells go off in my head and I fight the urge to say something I’d regret.
“Oh, God.” The fear is audible in her voice and again I want to reach out and tell her to not follow him to the house. To not put up with him anymore. To stay with me, a complete stranger in her eyes.
But I don’t say anything.
She disappears down the hill, hiding from view as it dips below the barn. The bright, hot sun beats down on everything and everyone, yet it doesn’t feel that sunny to me.
I slowly sit down on the same bench she had sat on and shake my head, sighing.
My heart is aching and the guilt rushing into me is enough to trigger a tsunami of tears.
I hate myself for not speaking.
David is babbling to me but I’m not listening, I’m thinking about her haunted face. Again.
“He hits her, doesn’t he?”
I finally get out what I wanted to say the whole time and it feels good, a sure step in the right direction.
David gives me a blank, guarded stare and says nonchalantly, “I don’t know.”
Anger boils inside me and a protective instinct takes over. I glare at him and snap back, “Don’t know? Or don’t care?”
Then I stand up and walk away, leaving him in the dust and horse s*** he’s too closely related too.
I’ve seen her many times since, around town, always with him still. I was sure she wouldn’t remember my name or my face, since we only met that one time, but I was wrong.
She’ll smile weakly and wave. Every single time. A small acknowledgment that means more to me every time. It’s like a sign, like proof that people can understand one another without needing words. That we can look into each other’s souls and see the thing they need the most and be that very thing. It reminds me of our first responsibility to each other and the one we should always remember.
I saw her a couple months ago, at a McDonalds in my neighborhood, accompanied by him. The boy who dares call himself a man. Dares call himself anything other than what he really is: Slime.
I remember, distinctly, her smile and wave that time, it looked more pitiful and weak than ever before, as if she was finally wearing down. Finally giving up.
I wanted to reach out to her and tell her not to give up. To dump her abusive boyfriend and forget her dumb parents that didn’t notice the obvious signs. To ditch every friend that never stood up for her and never protected her like they should’ve, because it was their responsibility.
I wanted to tell her that somebody cared, that I was sorry, and that I wouldn’t be the helpless young girl I’d been last time.
But I didn’t say anything.