She stood on the porch, looking out and weighing her options, when a large, strong hand clasped her shoulder.
"Brave words," a deep voice growled, sharpened fingernails digging into her flesh. "I can always stop you." She gasped and spun around, seeing her step-father standing in the doorframe with a malicious grin on his face. His eyes shone with hatred, burning daggers into hers. She winced under his firm grasp, feeling his sharpened nails puncture her skin and a stream of blood flowing dow
Cars came and went along the Anderson family’s street, sending out rings of screeching tires and loud, honking horns. As the time drew nearer to 8:00 p.m., 14-year-old Michaela felt herself preparing mentally for what was to happen. A familiar knot tied tight in her stomach again, one she recognized as utter-most terror. She was used to having this feeling; she experienced it often enough. She smiled, welcoming it into her system like an old friend, letting it resonate through her body. Her toes curled in her socks, wondering what sort of suffering she was in for today. She almost hoped it to be physical; it hurt the least and went away the quickest. Oh, a broken arm here or there meant nothing to her anymore. Well, not nothing, per say. It hurt, sure, but it was a calming sort of pain. It took her mind off of the other things in life, as she put it. She closed her eyes and tried to picture a better time, a happy moment, a blue sky, a green field, but everything she thought about became increasingly worse than the one precedent. Mixed sounds from downstairs let her know that her step-father was home, and she cringed as she recognized her mother’s screams. Her fingers curled into fists, wishing that there was something that she could do about their routine, but she was only a little girl, and nothing she said or did mattered. And he supported them, too, with his wealth and power. Donovan Anderson, Big Shot Entrepreneur, married for the second time. Michaela’s mother, Stephanie, threatened to leave him many times, but his threats always over powered hers, and they lingered like the marks he left on their bodies and minds. Michaela heard glass break downstairs, and another pained yelp. No one should live in these conditions, and to most, it seems like just a nightmare. But, you can wake up from nightmares. What happened in the Anderson household every Friday was a cruel reality which the female inhabitants would gladly have had nightmares in their sleeps to avoid the truth that occurred in their wake.
“I mean it this time,” Michaela heard her mother’s voice cry, as it had so many times in the past. A loud thump and squeak let her know that they would never escape this reign of terror.
“Stay down,” she heard him growl, his words slurring in his drunken state.
“Yes, dear,” her mother whimpered as he stumbled away. The knot in Michaela’s stomach grew as his feet pounded into the staircase, the wooden steps complaining all the way up, creaking with his weight against them, until he reached her door. She took a deep breath as his hand closed around the handle, then throwing it open.
“I’m home,” he slurred, his bloodshot eyes staring right through her.
“Hello, father,” she greeted him, struggling to keep the shake out of her voice. “Welcome home.”
He grinned coldly, the frozen stare shooting waves of terror through her system. She was very good at hiding it; she had to be, or else. But, as it curled in her stomach, something else was brewing inside of her. Something she didn’t recognize at first. It was rebellion.
“Fight back!” her heart crowed, beating madly as he cracked his knuckles, weighing his options. “Say no! You can stop this!”
She took a step back and averted his swing. He looked at her, stunned, as she crossed her arms over her chest. “No,” she uttered, not a quiver in her stance.“No?” he growled, stalking a step towards her. “No?” he repeated in a roar. “You cannot say no to me, young lady!”
“Watch me,” she whispered, turning her back on him. “No,” she said again, taking shaky steps to the door. “No,” she said one more time, and then went out. His drunken state passed him out in her room, but she didn’t notice. She didn’t stick around. Instead, she bolted down the stairs and hollering to her mom that they were leaving. “Mom?” she called when a response didn’t come. As she rounded the doorframe of the kitchen, she saw her mother still lying immobile on the floor. She rushed to her mother’s side, tears streaking down her cheeks as her mother’s blood continued to pour, like a halo around her mom’s head. “Mom,” she whispered, checking for pulse and breathing, but finding neither. She sniffled, stood up, and gazed down in a trance. “We’re free now,” she said, marching to the freezer in a daze and pulling out their emergency cash. She jammed it all into her pockets, no word of a plan forming in her head, as she went to the front door. “I’m leaving, and you can’t stop me.”