He was hitting her again. A slap on the arm, a punch to the stomach. A scratch on her leg. More bruises and cuts that would be hidden by long pants and sleeves. And then once that pain was over, the leering eyes and mocking smiles would come out, and she would be forced to commit unspeakable actions, until she drifted away, out of her own body and tried to escape. When he finally left, her quiet crying would not be heard under the blanket, and bandages would be wrapped around her wounds. There was no one to stop it, no one to comfort her, there was no one to look out for her. She was alone, and she was scared.
And then came the night where it went too far, where the bed shook and blood flowed and she couldn’t take it anymore. She ran, down the streets, racing towards the one place she knew would save her. The abandoned warehouse, so close, and yet so far. Her legs grew tired and her breaths came in short bursts, but she could only think one thought. Run, they’ll keep you safe. You will be okay. You will be okay.
At last, she reached the heavy oak door, engraved with the words Lopez. As a woman opened the door, she could take in no longer, and her misery came pouring out.
“Please,” the girl begged, rain-sodden, and tears streaming down her face. “I have nowhere else to go, I don’t know what else he’s going to do, he’s hurting me, please!” The girl was on her knees how, her long brown hair framing her face in drenched waves. “I need help,” she whispered.
Never once, thought Mrs. Lopez, had she turned away a scared girl, and she would not start now. Gently, she picked up the sobbing girl, and carried her inside, laying her on a couch by the heater. “Shh,” she comforted. “You are safe here.” Eventually the girls’ tears subsided, and she drifted off to sleep. Broken, this one looked. Probably fourteen and just now seeking help. But who knew – broken objects could always be fixed.
Dimming the lights, Mrs. Lopez walked out of the room, and went to prepare a bedroom for the girl. This was her home now, and she would always be safe here.