mentally black and blue she looks up to me from the other side of the table. arms hugging her
frame, shifty eyes glancing back and forth from the doorway behind my back, to the customers
coming and going.
gingerly i coach her back to the subject at hand, the reason she called me, distress signals
ringing in her frail, failing voice. caged she talks in hesitant tones, defending, explaining,
on the verge of tears and with trembling lips whenever she utters his name.
rage circles through my body as i listen and listen and listen. that one simple question haunts
my mind i've asked her three, no four, no five times already. my hands so willing to reach out to
grasp her tightly and pull her safely to shore.
"why don't you just leave him, love?" i say again, softly, so not to startle her.
eyes wide, she shakes her head and defeat washes over me as she answers like she always does.
"no, i can't. you know i just can't."
"why not?", i ask, even though i know better.
avoiding my eyes, she stares at a point behind my shoulder and whispers, "it's... complicated."