He had a hold of her wrists as he screamed in her face, his features twisted in rage. His brother ran down the stairs, skipping steps by the inconsistent sound of the pounding of his footsteps. Without a word he ran into the room, scooped up the crying toddler that was standing in the middle of the floor sobbing in fear and confusion. He scooped her up and ran back up the stairs in one fell swoop.

The screaming and struggling stopped for half a second while his brother was there, but resumed with force as the footsteps pounded back up the stairs.

Fists still clasped around her wrists, he pushed her backwards until she hit a set of drawers. The top edge hitting her lower back. He kept pushing so that her back arched further back.

No, no, no. Not again. She thought. I am not allowing this to happen to me again.

She answered his rage with rage of her own, “Get… Your… FUCKING HANDS OFF OF ME!”

Struggling didn’t get her very far, but she persisted anyway. Suddenly, a look of horror crossed his face as he let go of her wrists and backed away just enough to allow her an escape.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I don’t know what came over me…”

“Save it,” she said as she put her hand up to indicate he should stop talking.

She turned so he wouldn’t see the tears welling up in her eyes and asked him to leave her alone. He came up behind her and put his hands gently on her shoulders and attempted to apologize again. She shrugged his hands off.

“Go away,” she instructed him again as she climbed into the bed in front of her, still being careful not to face him with her wet eyes. She scooted to the edge of the bed so that she was up against and facing the wall. She crossed her arms over her chest so that she was hugging herself.

He didn’t know about her past at this point. He didn’t know she had an abusive relationship years before he met her. How could he know… no one else did either, because she never talked about it. He didn’t know she had a flashback to the past as the events unfolded a few minutes earlier.

He knelt down beside the bed and reached across to try to touch her again. He sounded tearful as he apologized again. They’d been together for several years at this point and had never laid his hands on her this way before. Sure, there had been out of control fighting before. Nasty names snarled, broken glasses and holes in walls, but he had never laid hands on her before this.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry. Tell me what to do to make this right.”

“Leave me alone.”

He started to get frustrated that she wasn’t immediately accepting his apology. Exasperated, he said, “I’m sorry if I scared you… but I didn’t hurt you.”

She snorted in response. Then, trying to control the sound of the tears in her voice yet being sure she was failing, she told him “I don’t want to talk about this right now. Please. Please just leave me alone.”

He sighed and then she heard the sound of him getting up and walking slowly up the stairs to rejoin his family.

She laid there trying to process her thoughts for several minutes, almost an hour really. She thought about whether she should tell him about her past, but she had never felt entirely comfortable admitting it to herself – let alone saying it out loud to other people.

She had a hard time opening up her emotions to males anyway… and now… now she was shutting down again. She wasn’t so sure she felt safe enough to try to keep what little door she had open to him remaining open anymore.

For Chrissakes, she thought. I have a kid with him now…

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