Status: Complete.

I Will Tremble, but Never be Toppled

The Victim

The city streets are dark, nearly abandoned at this time of night. I shudder at every alleyway I pass, terrified he'll appear. It's a pointless fear. He's still at home, sleeping peacefully.

My hands continue trembling, tears threatening to consume my cheeks. It's only four more blocks, but a part of me wishes it was longer. This isn't my first option. This wasn't part of the plan. When did my life fall so short of where it was supposed to be?

I was once a person so full of life, so sure of myself. Everything was going according to my plan. Graduate college. Check. Land my dream job. Check. Find Prince Charming. Check. Have a baby. Wrong.

That's when everything started unravelling. He had been enough for me. I could've happily lived the rest of my life with only him to share it with. It didn't take long to figure out that he felt differently.

It also didn't take me long to figure out that people didn't believe me. Turns out, if your skin isn't cast in shades of purple and your bones are not snapped in two, then it isn't actually abuse.

After all, words will never hurt me, right?

A rough hand has never touched my body. This is true. The effects are still the same. I'm terrified, ashamed, and have no confidence in myself. I'm living in my own personal hell. My brain repeats the terrible things he has said to me. His voice is the only one that lives inside my mind now.

My friends and family turn a blind eye, because without physical proof, it's not happening. I suppose my dull eyes and lackluster hair isn't truth enough. My skin is the palest shade it has ever been and I could probably attend a Halloween party as a raccoon. I look in the mirror and have no clue who is looking back at me.

My feet slow as the building comes into view. It's a plain building, almost shoddy looking. Nothing about it screams home. There is no one standing outside with a warm smile, inviting me shelter and protection.

I stop across the street, anxiety clawing my chest. The longer I stand on the cold sidewalk, the more I want to go back. It's the closest thing to home I have. Even the booming voice sounds more appealing than a decrepit place that will suck even more life out of me.

I swirl, ready to scurry right back to my tormentor. At least it's familiar and holds a warm bed.

"I was hoping to see you here," a voice calls.

My body stiffens and I slowly turn back. Bit by bit, my body relaxes as I realize it isn't him. All male voices seem to blend together these days.

"I uh, yea," I stammer, not knowing what the appropriate response is.

He crosses the street, not bothering to look for traffic. It's late and too far out of the heart of the city for most to bother coming.

"It's a nice night, isn't it?"

His casual small talk catches me off guard. He's staring up at the sky. On instinct, I do the same. I start to question his sanity, because even here, where the hustle and bustle and bright lights barely reach, the stars are still hidden.

"I'm originally from Texas. Way out in the middle of nowhere," he says, smiling. "You can see every star in the sky down there. You know the skies are bigger there, right? Everything is."

I find myself smiling at the corny joke. It's obvious he's trying to put me at ease, and I'm only a little surprised to find it working.

"You ready to come inside? It's not nearly as warm here as back home."

I nod and snuggle further into my peacoat. My hands are shoved as deeply into it as I can manage.

"Why'd you leave such a wonderful place?" The question is out there before I can stop it.

"You been there before?"

"My best friend is from Texas. I love it there."

He nods, covering his shock well. "I do, too." We reach the door. "I left, because more people here need me than back there."

"He doesn't beat me," I blurt out.

His hand freezes on the door. His bright eyes turn towards me. He tilts his head. "It hurts the same though, doesn't it?"

A flood of emotions run through me. For the first time, I realize that someone does believe me. A tear leaks from my eye.

"Yes, it does," I whisper.

"Then welcome home."