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Family Life

Never Look Back

Footsteps falling on the icy ground. Shallow breaths echo round the air. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She had to run, had to hide, had to get away. He was still too close. Her head was thumping; the blood rushing through her veins. She couldn’t look back; she didn’t want to see his face; didn’t want to hear that voice.

He’d ruined everything, they could have been so happy. She’d waited years for her mum and dad to split up. She’d waited for that time with her mum and brother; time for them to become a proper family again. Or so she thought. Her mum had met him the week that she decided to divorce her dad. There wasn’t any spare time for the kids. She left one relationship and walked straight into another one.

Like most new relationships, the start was all roses and chocolate. It blossomed like a perfect rose. The kids were happy, was this finally the father figure they had been waiting for? Everything was steady, it had all seemed to have settled down. Had it been a boat it would have been gently riding on the calm sea. Then he moved in, the sea suddenly got really rough, the boat was going everywhere. He’d got the power he craved. Like a boat bobbing along on the calm sea, not expecting a thing. Suddenly the winds changed and within moments the boat capsized.

The footsteps were dying away he was stopping, he couldn’t catch her. "You can’t run forever." The words echoed round the air. "You’ll have to come back one day and when you do. I’ll be waiting."
He was right, she couldn’t keep running; she would have to stop. But where would she go? Then she knew, he turned towards the setting sun.

That first Christmas, was one that she would never forget. It was meant to be such a happy time, a time for family. That was what she’d wished for, hoped for. The Christmas that she got was very different. He didn’t like their family, so the big, happy, warm, family Christmas went out the window. She’d wanted everyone their, her grandparents and even his parents. No, it was just them. She’d never felt that lonely. The house felt so lonely, like she didn’t belong. She’d so wanted that first Christmas to be the three of them together without her dad. He’d gone at Easter, she didn’t think that by Christmas there would be another man. But it took two weeks for her mum and this new man to get together after her dad went. So by Christmas it felt like they’d been together for years. Not only that, she felt so torn. It was her first ever Christmas without her dad around as well. She knew now that she would probably never spend another Christmas with her dad, not that she wanted to; any Christmas they spent together he had ruined. His idea of Christmas was to see how quickly he could get really drunk. It was his own personal challenge to beat the time he’d set the year before.

Christmas was going to change again. He’d only been living with them for six months but she’d already been able to see past his guise. She’d seen his true colours. The smart and well presented man was all an act. When he was annoyed, the true man came out; his temper biding its time fighting to get out. Like dynamite everyone wondered when it would be lit. Everyone worried when it would explode. Even the most simple things would set off a reaction. He was just so jealous. The last tantrum that he had was when he found some of her Dad’s clothes in the wardrobe. He was like a toddler balling when someone else is playing with their favourite toy. He wanted her Mum all to himself. He didn’t want to share. Such a simple thing, yet it caused so much pain, everyone in tears, everyone hurting. So what did this man, so big and strong do when things got tough, simple. He walked away.

She’d stopped running now, there wasn’t any point, he’d stopped, she was safe. Not that she felt it. He simply expected her back again. But she kept asking, what was there to go back for? More shouting, more anger, more threats, more pain? No. She stopped by the river and took in a deep breath. She’d loved the river, for as long as she could remember. It was her peace and her haven. The swirling water. Twisting below her. The gentle splashes against the side. Gentle ripples, heavy pounding. She became so lost in it. She stared out into the blue.

She knew from the moment she met his parents. She knew she wasn’t what they’d expect. The way she talked, acted. Not what they were used to. They were all jolly hockey sticks and country manors. She could’ve fitted her house into theirs three times over. His Mum looked down her nose at her. She’d been expecting a well bought up middle class girl, who had her own pony, she’d got a shock when she met her. She couldn’t have been any more different, but she was proud of who she was and wouldn’t change for anyone. But she’d survived. Got through it. They were only there for a weekend and then they went home. Little did she know, there was much worse to come.

She couldn’t stay by the river all night. No matter how much she wanted to. She felt like something was calling her. Her name was being carried on the wind. But where? Where would she go? Then she knew. She carried on towards the beach.

Everyone had always told her; things would get better. They were wrong. It didn’t get better. It got worse. She wanted to believe them, she did, but everyone time she ended up proving herself wrong. He got angrier quicker. His temper got more violent. His outbursts became more and more frequent. Though there was one time she couldn’t forget, one time that would remain forever. She’d been on the computer, playing games, chatting to her friends. Doing the same as any other normal teenager. She hadn’t even realised that he was in a bad mood. How was she meant to tell? Suddenly his feet were on the stairs. Stomping. His voice, barking sharp and nasty. Before she realised what was happening, he was at the top of the stairs. Though he didn’t tell her to get off the computer, he slammed the bathroom door behind him. She stopped, she thought. She decided that it would be a good idea to turn off the computer. Out the bathroom he came, his face like thunder. What? He was screaming at her, telling her to turn off the computer. She couldn’t hear anything but his screaming, ringing in her ears. Couldn’t he see she was turning it off? She couldn’t concentrate. He was getting more and more violent. He was scaring her. Suddenly her Mum came up the stairs. He’d advanced towards her. He raised his hand. What was happening? He couldn’t, he wouldn’t.

Suddenly her mum had come between them. There was the sharp sound of skin hitting skin, her mum had crumpled. Suddenly time stopped. Her world collapsed. He’d hit her, he’d hit her mum. Tears streaming down her face. She looked up. Her ears didn’t seem to work any more. He was screaming. So was her Mum. He didn’t like being screamed at. The sound of another slap rang round her head. She had to escape, had to get away. She ran up the stairs into the roof. She covered her ears. It wouldn’t go away. The slaps rang round her ears. The tears wouldn’t stop, they flowed and flowed, rivers of guilt, running down her cheeks, how could she ever forgive him now?

Stood at the end of the pier, she thought of all those times, the times he’d upset them. He’d broken what was left of their family. He’d shattered any relationship her and her Mum may have had. All those times he’d broken her. So why had she taken him back? She didn’t understand her Mum was stronger than that. What hurt more though was him telling her that it was her fault. He stood in front of her screaming at her Mum, yet still told her it was her fault. How could he? Maybe they were right, maybe it was her fault she could change all of that though, she knew what she had to do. She slowly climbed up onto the railings.

He’d caused more pain than she’d ever imagined. He was like a steam roller. He didn’t just break the relationships, he crushed them. He’d crushed her. Sometimes he hurt her so much, that she wished, she lived with her Dad. The Dad who’d hurt her so much. She longed more than anything for a way out. Though one never came. There was one though, lying deep in the back of her mind. It scared her to think of it. She’d never thought that she was strong enough. It was the final act, was she strong enough? Could she do it?

Ever since she was little, her Mum had warned her. She’d always told her how strong the river was. That no one could ever get back out again. That the river was so strong, that you’d be lost out to sea in minutes. She climbed on top of the railings.

It was ok, they’d understand. Wouldn’t they? She always knew, that they would be better off without her. She knew that she didn’t fit. She’d left them notes. She’d explained. She’d made sure that’s she’d told the people she cared about. Told them how much she loved them. Finally she’d made sure that she’d told her Mum it wasn’t her fault.

The sea was so beautiful in the night. Swirling below her, like a dream. The night above so clear. It was a perfect evening. Everything seemed so right. Stood on top of those railing. Breathing in lungfuls of the sea air she so loved. So long she’d longed to be free. This was it. With one final smile she stepped off the railings.

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