With my eyes still on the empty street I felt the moment she saw my face, what he’d done to it, to me. It was like the air went out, all of it shuddering past me in one cold exhale.
“What happened?” she asked.
He was sleeping and I woke him up. He beat the shit out of me again. He beat the shit out of me while my mother just stood there and watched. But again I didn’t know what to say. She hooked me by the wrist and something warm slipped down my spine.
“You can stay here,” she said. “If you want.”
And in that moment I realized that was why I’d run to her, for her to ask me that question. For her to give me a place to hide, to belong. I just wanted to know there was somewhere else for me, someone else. I wanted her to realize without me saying a word that I needed her, to accept that responsibility and not give me shit about it.
Her hand, so soft as it led me to her bed, pulling me to her, I needed that too. And as she wrapped her arms around my waist and pulled me into her chest, the soft rise and fall lulling me to sleep, I needed that most of all.