The quiet of the moment was almost too eerie to enjoy. She looked back at the clock and sighed.
“Still two more hours of this.” She leaned her head on the couch and closed her eyes, breathing deeply. She missed her old wall mounted clock, the one with the second hand that made a noise as it moved. It gave her something to focus on. Now, the silence felt thick and draining.
She counted in her mind. A monotonous “one, two, three, four” beat score that let her focus on anything but the empty, motionless room. She released herself into the rhythm, “five, six, seven, eight.” Praying she could calm the anxiety without trouble, “nine, ten, eleven, twelve,” she sank into the movement of time.
Memories of her childhood started closing in on her, “thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen,” threatening to steel what calm she was able to create.
“Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.”
A child hid beneath a bed, keeping the family dog between her and the family members who wanted something she didn’t know how to give. They’d think she ran away. At 9 years old, this seemed like the best thing. She’d teach them not to hurt her.
“Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four.”
The train rattled as she left them behind. No tears fell from her cheeks, and California seemed like the best place for her now. She rubbed her neck, where the bruises had somehow gotten worse. “I could kill you.”
“Twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.”
He was everything they had said he would be, and then some. Not a rapist so much as an asshole. At 15, she didn’t have many more options. He could have her, so long as she could forget about him later.
“Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two”
The test was positive, and he was leaving for Mexico in a month. 17 years old and she was alone. Well, not really. Not anymore. Possibly not ever again, actually
“Thirty-three… Awe, fuck it.” She stood up and shook her head, clearing away the few straggling thoughts from her failed attempt at relaxing. She looked at the clock again, and was surprised to see an hour had passed. Her pulse quickened slightly, as the excitement built just enough to provide some motivation.
She cleared the dining-room table and began preparing dinner. A child slammed the backdoor and hurried her way into the kitchen. The five year old panted, grabbing her mother’s leg.
“Is David going to be home soon?”
“He’ll be home in about an hour.” She looked up at the clock, eager for the loneliness to end.