‹ Prequel: Coffee Shop Soundtrack

Running From Lions


“Does anybody know you’re here?” I asked, taking a seat next to Makenna on the couch.

She shook her head and spoke softly. “Nobody can know.”

Since this morning Makenna was starting to seem a little bit better. She was talking more, she held eye contact more often. I had to figure out what would be the next step for us to take.

“Ken, lets just call the police,” I said, “Press charges, get a restraining order.”

She shook her head.

I sighed and leaned back. “We need to do something."

“I know you think I’m being ridiculous, but I’m not,” she said. “If we go to the police, he’ll know where I am. And a restraining order takes time, even if he’s served the papers it won’t matter. He’ll show up anyways. He won’t care if a piece of paper tells him to stay away from me.”

I didn’t know if she was right or not, but I had to respect what she wanted. If she didn’t want to go to the police, then we wouldn’t.

Makenna sat with her legs criss crossed on the couch cushion. She was still wearing the oversized shorts I gave her. Her eye didn’t look much better than it did last night, but it was slightly more open now.

I reached up to the left side of her face. She winced as I gently pressed my fingers onto her skin, even though I was nowhere near the bruising. I pulled my hand back quickly, I didn’t want to put her in more pain.

“We should at least go get this checked out, Ken,” I said, examining her eye closer now. “You could have nerve damage or something.”

She shook her head again. “It looks worse than it is.” She pressed the tip of her thumb to her lips and nervously chewed on her nail.

I looked at the bruise on her arm I saw last night. It was already yellowing, it was older than the bruise forming around her eye. This definitely happened more than once.

I reached out and gently grabbed her arm. She dropped her nail from her mouth and let me hold her arm out to look at the bruise closer. She didn’t hide it this time.

“Show me the rest,” I said, assuming there were more.

She paused for a minute, contemplating on whether or not she should before reaching up towards the left sleeve on the T-shirt. She pushed it up revealing two bright purple bruises alongside one another. She let the sleeve fall back down before pushing one of the legs up on the shorts, revealing a few scattered, smaller bruises on her thigh and a large one on her knee.

She sniffled and stood up, once again fighting back tears. I don’t know why she felt like she had to be strong in front of me right now. If she needed to cry, she should let it out.

She lifted up the black Nirvana T-shirt to display her stomach and more specifically a large purple, blue, and yellow mark that spanned from one of her hip bones to the edge of her back.

I could feel myself getting angry again as she showcased each bruise he had left on her body. “Is that all of them?”

She shook her head and sat back down, but this time she faced away from me. She reached her hand over her head and pulled her wavy brown hair over her shoulder. The back of her neck harbored a large bruise that seemed to be in the shape of a hand, fingers and everything.

How could anybody do this to Makenna? How could her own husband do this? Somebody that was supposed to love her. She was this perfect human being, and for someone to hurt her like this was inconceivable.

“How did this happen?” I asked. “How many times did this happen and why didn’t you leave sooner, Ken? Why didn’t you tell someone?” the questions were pouring out of me, mostly because of the built up anger I had towards Derek right now.

Makenna shrugged and turned back around. “I don’t know.”

“Ken, I need you to tell me everything.”

Makenna looked into her lap and took a minute to gather her thoughts. "It happened a few times, I guess. At first it wasn’t like this. He was just angry all the time, he’d throw things. But he didn’t touch me.” She sniffled again and picked at a thread hanging off of the couch. “Until a few months ago. He just snapped at me when I came home. I was working late and didn’t call to tell him what time I would be home. He freaked out. He, uh, grabbed my arms and starting shaking me. That was the first time he got physical. About a week after that the same thing happened. Worked late and came home to him angry.” She paused and took a deep breath and I watched as she wiped her face clear of any tears that had fallen. “He pushed me up against the wall and slapped me."

Makenna pulled her legs into her chest. She was nervous telling me this and I felt bad for asking. But I had to know, so I didn’t stop her.

Her voice shook. “After that he apologized like crazy, said he didn’t know what came over him, it would never happen again. Textbook abusive husband stuff, you know? And I wanted to leave, but he told me if I did he would kill me. He said he would find me and kill me. So I stayed. Until this time.” She motioned towards her black eye. “I overcooked the food,” she let out a small laugh, even though it wasn’t funny. “Crazy, huh? That someone could do this to you just because you forgot dinner was in the oven.”

I watched her face closely as she quietly spoke. I felt awful that she was repeating all of this for me, having to relive this.

“That’s when it clicked,” she said, “that this wasn’t right. That it was only going to get worse. If I left he was going to kill me, but if I stayed he would kill me too.”

I could tell that she was crying a little harder now. She wiped her nose with the collar of the T-shirt.

"So that night he apologized for hitting me again.” Makenna dropped her knees back into a pretzel style position. “He ran to the store to get eye drops, pain reliever, a few other things. As soon as he left I stuffed a backpack with clothes, grabbed some cash, and took off. I got lucky and caught a greyhound bus home right before it was leaving.” She looked up at me, "And now I’m here.”

“I can’t believe you went through this Ken,” I said softly.

A few more tears fell down her face but she wiped them away and I waited until the crying came to a stop before asking my next question.

“Makenna, why are you here?” I asked, “Why’d you come to me?"

She shrugged, “I didn’t know where else to go.”

“What about your mom, or Pat?”

She shook her head. “My mom won’t get it, she has this perfect image of marriage in her head. I love her but if I go to her right now she’ll just tell me to go back. She loves him, she’ll never believe that he’s capable of this.” She sighed, “And Pats is the first place Derek will go looking, plus he’s a terrible liar. Pat would never be able to keep this a secret.”

“And you think I can keep a secret?” I asked.

“You kept us a secret for almost four years,” She said, referring back to our on and off high school relationship that nobody knew about.

This is a secret I didn’t want to keep though. This was more serious than any teenage love affair. Makenna thought that her life was at risk living with Derek, how do I just sit here and do nothing? She literally thinks he could be coming to kill her and I’m supposed to just keep my mouth shut?

“I’m really worried about you, Ken,” I said, looking away from her.

“John,” she grabbed my hand and inched closer to me to be at a more comfortable length away.

I looked back up at her.

“I’m okay now,” she said. “As long as I’m away from him I’m okay.”

I shook my head and grabbed the right side of her face, lower this time so it wouldn’t hurt her. “You’re not okay, Kenna. As long as he is out there, waiting for you, looking for you. You’re not okay.”

She pulled her hand away from mine and rested it on top of the other on her cheek. “I’m with you, I’m safe now. I just need you to promise me you’re not going to tell anybody."