Hell And Back(5)

By: Natasha Madison

Just knowing I don’t have to go out and work is a relief. I can heal. We can heal.

“But what if Daddy binds us?” She looks up at me with fear in her eyes. In seven days, she’s smiled twice.

“How about we get dressed up and put hats on like we’re wearing costumes?” I look over and smile, trying to make her see I’m not scared. All the while my heart is beating so loud I’m sure one can see it through my chest.

“I don’t want to go back hobe. I don’t like Daddy or his friends, Momma.”

I run my hand over her blonde hair that finally looks clean. No matter how much I tried to make sure she was clean, there was only so much I could do. With a bar of soap, sometimes I would use dish soap if I had to.

Every single penny we had went either up Adam’s nose or in his veins. He would go out once a week and buy us the bare minimum of food. Butter, milk, bread, cheese, what he said was essential. Sometimes he’d spring for chicken and it would be like I won the lottery.

Since I’ve made that phone call, it’s been a roller coaster. After I hung up, I was picked up by a car in a matter of twenty minutes.

We were then hustled to someone’s house, where a wonderful older woman looked after us. She reminded me so much of Nan. Her white hair curly, her soft eyes, and her beautiful smile lit up the room.

She had a doctor come in to check me over. He told me what I already knew; one rib was broken, so he bandaged my side up. My eye would be fine. Nothing ruptured in it, so it would get better with time. He looked over the welts and bruises but nothing could be done with those. Those would heal, was all he said.

The next day, the lawyer whom I spoke with on the phone finally showed up. He had all the papers ready. I signed one dotted line after another before we got in his car, and he finally brought us to Nan’s house.

We arrived at night, so no one saw us walking in. He unlocked the front door for us. I walked in carrying Lilah, holding her to my chest. He didn’t need to show me around, but he did tell me the fridge was fully stocked and there were clothes in the bags by the door.

There was also a brand new phone with his number in the contacts. Actually, it was the only number there. There was also a new MacBook, which I had no idea how to use.

It was just enough to let us get our bearings without having to leave, but eventually we have to go out there. I have to take my life back. If for no other reason but to show Lilah how to move on. To show her how to live life without fear.

“I say we get up, get dressed, and go buy us some food, maybe even a couple of toys, some coloring books. Oh, you know what else, sweetheart? Maybe we’ll get some Play-Doh?” I smile at her, watching her eyes light up at the thought of coloring books and Play-Doh.

“Okay, Momma,” she says, nodding her head.

I pick up our plates, placing them in the sink and washing them right away. This is my house, these are my rules.

I look over at Lilah sitting on the couch holding the only doll she has ever had. Saddened, I stare out the window into the vast, weed infested backyard. The shed door is open, showing me we indeed don’t have a lawnmower.

I make a note it’s the first thing we are going to buy today. There is no way I will allow that man, or any man, to come and save me or help me.

I trusted a man once and look where it got me. Broken, bruised, and scared. Not anymore.

Wiping my hands with the tea cloth, I make my way over to Lilah and pick her up, ready to start our day.

“Let’s go buy some toys, yeah?”

She looks up at me with a smile and nods her head.

“It’s time.”

We get dressed in clothes that are too big for us, but I’m hoping to start filling them up. The next step will be to get a doctor for Lilah. She hasn’t been to one since she was born.

I start to panic a little, knowing I’m leaving the safety of the house that has kept us safe for the last two weeks, but I know I have to do it.

Putting our shoes on, I think about how I’m going to get to the store and back. I know there was a grocery store within walking distance. I just hope they have a taxi stand so I don’t have to lug everything back.

I think I need to buy Lilah a stroller. It might be too late since she’s almost four and walks, but I want her to have it.

We turn to walk out of the house. The sun is blasting down on us. The heat is bearable for now, but I know it’s going to get worse as the day goes on.

Locking the door behind me, I grab Lilah’s hand and walk toward the street. The neighbor next door that I never met is outside watering her plants.

I try not to make eye contact with her, but I can’t ignore her when she shouts at us.

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