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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Emotional · #1492883
If you can't be content with what you've received, be thankful for what you've escaped.
Selina sat in the counsellor's office fiddling with her skirt.  It was not her idea to be here; she was made to come by a friend.  Selina had never thought that her feelings had mattered to anyone.  All that was important to Selina was her eighteen month old son, Alexander.  The memory of what they had escaped was still fresh in her mind.  She was thankful that Alexander was safe; he would not have to fear his father's wrath any more.  Selina's feelings did not matter, as long as her beautiful son was safe. 

Selina still couldn't understand how she had ended up in such a predicament.  What on earth had let things get so out of control?  It had not always been like this, so turbulent and violent.  Although she did not want to talk about it, Selina had been persuaded to do so by a very persistent friend.  At the time of her first visit to counselling, Selina's main concern was her son, not herself.  She saw herself as less important than her brown eyed little boy. That night all of its horror resurfaced.  Selina worked hard on July 4th, it was just another day to her.  Selina took all the work she could to try and save up money so they could move.  But today was July 4th and he loved to cook out on holidays.  She had learned to hate holidays, not to mention her birthday as well.  Like so many other holidays over the last seven years he was drunk and cooking out on the barbecue.  He always made the poor excuse that he couldn't cook out if he didn't have a beer or twelve. 

Her lip curled in disgust.  Although she had liked the idea of having a glass of wine a decade ago, her husband's behaviour soon changed her mind about drinking.  The man had no idea what the word moderation meant.  He drank himself into oblivion, leaving her to rescue the dinner because he had passed out on the sofa.  If she was lucky that was the extent of it.  Most of the time she was not that lucky.  Something would trigger him to violence; it could be the way her hair was done, to a headache.  It did not matter to him what was wrong, but if something was wrong he would unleash his fury on her. 

Once again she tried not to think of the time she had a headache.  Her husband became so enraged he cornered her and threw her to the bed and began to strangle her.  Just when she thought her breath was almost gone he began to beat her head.  Eventually his rage subsided and Selina blacked out.  Pain and agony slid her into a deep sleep.  The bruises lasted three weeks and the headache that he inflicted with his fists lasted four days.  The beating may have been the first but it was nowhere near the last.  Now that she was no longer in danger she wondered why on earth she didn't go to the hospital or call the police.  The same answer always came back to her.  Fear.

Her husband kept her afraid, always finding some way to keep her under control.  When her son was born there was another string he had tied to her to make sure she didn't run away.  During the day he took care of Alexander and if Selina called the police who knew what he might do to him in a drunken rage?  July 4th was different; he was drunker than normal, he could barely stand.  Selina ignored her husband as much as possible.  Alexander sat on her lap burbling and laughing, like every other night she read to her son.  Selina knew there was something wrong with her son but the answer evaded her.  Alexander was one and a half and he only learned a new word once a month.  Dark circles under her son's eyes portrayed the lack of sleep.  Most nights Alexander cried himself to sleep after half an hour to two hours.  No matter what she did Alexander refused to go to sleep, he wanted out of his crib and into his mother's arms.

It was time to bathe Alexander and while they played and sang in the water Selina checked her son for the bruises she knew she wouldn't find.  Something was different though, a screeching noise came from the lounge room.  When she asked what it was he said nothing was wrong.  Taking her wet and vocal child from the bath Selina retreated to her son's room and prepared him for bed.  Selina's knowledge of ancient songs was short.  Her great grandmother sang to her when she was little and she still remembered the words.  Dressing Alexander she hummed 'Siúil a Rún' to her son and sighed.  It was a song that her great grandmother had hummed to soothe her when she was little.  Selina wished things were better. Her husband drank most of their money away which made it impossible to move out of the apartment they rented in a very bad neighbourhood.  She still found herself surprised to see how none of the stray bullets regularly spraying around the courtyard had not penetrated the thin walls of their apartment.

Stroking her tired son's head she whispered goodnight to him and kissed his forehead.  Selina knew it would not be long before Alexander would be on his feet crying.  But she still tried to leave and hoped that her son would stay sleeping.  Shutting the door to her son's bedroom she entered a war zone. 

Her husband was dragging the family dog into the bedroom by the collar; she followed asking what was wrong.  "The damn mutt ate food from the floor!"  Her husband replied.  Selina's eyes widened and she watched in horror as her husband put the dog in a choke hold and began to kick the boxer in the head.  To this day Selina still heard the screams of the dog.  "Leave the dog alone!  Just tie him up and ignore him!"  Selina had begged for her husband to leave the dog alone, but still he refused.  She was crying, the dog's screams pierced her heart.  Her husband was in a drunken frenzy of anger, death filled his eyes and for the moment those eyes were turned on the poor dog. 

Selina had no clue what to do; her husband's kicks were now landing on the dog's head and ribs.  The dog had collapsed to the floor.  Panic filled her when she realised what her husband was doing.  He had a katana in his hand; he knelt next to the dog.  Realisation struck home.  He was going to kill the dog!  "Stop please, don't do it!  He doesn't understand, leave the dog alone!  Please leave him alone!"  Rivers of tears ran down Selina's face, she pleaded and somewhere in the background she heard Alexander cry.  A voice inside of her spoke, it was a voice of reason.  'If he would put a dangerous and very sharp sword to the dog, what would he do to Alexander?'  Selina knew it was time to escape with her son.  It was a choice and she didn't want to make it.  The dog would have to be left to his fate, there was no way she could rescue both.  Her heart ached but she knew it for the truth, either the dog would suffer his fate or Alexander would.  Somehow she convinced her husband to put down the sword.  In disgust he left the room, Selina checked the dog, he was under stress but he would live.  He had a small cut above his shoulder but it would heal unless it became deeper.  "I am sorry." Selina whispered in a tear filled voice to the distressed dog. 

On silent feet she grabbed her belongings from her wardrobe; she moved into the living room and started looking for her cell phone.  "You stuck up for the dog.  You betrayed me Selina.  You and Alexander will be next!  Don’t bother to call the police unless you want me to kill them, too!"  Her husband stood in the doorway to the kitchen.  When he turned for the bedroom she grabbed her cell phone and ran for Alexander's room.  A diaper bag sat nearby, she picked it up along with a blanket and Alexander.  The moment her son was in her arms he stopped crying, giving him a little kiss Selina made a silent prayer that Alexander would remain quiet.  Her heart thundered.  Moments had passed since she had run into the room to rescue her little boy.  Selina's hand was on the door and freedom was seconds away.  Behind her, the noise of her husband came closer, she heard his staggered footsteps.  Giving the door a hard pull she opened the door and raced into the night. 

A hand on her shoulder pulled her to the present.  "Selina?  The counsellor will see you now."  Standing up Selina sighed, Alexander was her world and she would give her life to keep him safe.  But her life had to remain whole and healthy for her little boy.  Alexander was all that mattered.
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