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Peace Comes In The Night by Dawn Levitt

Crisp white sheets contrasted against the dark bruises on her knuckles as she made the bed. Threadbare and slicked with blood, the old sheets were gone now, a burial shroud. A bouquet of bruises sprouted violet blossoms on her throat, his gift to her.

He told her he would find her; she could never run far enough to escape him. His words portended their reunion. She would not be able to run again if he carried out his intentions.

Seven years she spent as a prisoner of a vow she uttered with her lips but never with her heart. Three years since she ran, running ever since, toward peace and away from pain, but pain had always found her.

“Til death do we part,” she mouthed the words, a dark incantation sealing the deal. A bride bound to misery for the remainder of her days. She broke the pact, and he came to collect the debt, an intruder in the night.

The snow piled up outside, but her eyes did not see the weather as she stared out the drafty window. The country roads would not be passable for days, and the wind blew too frigid to dig a grave. The well-worn floorboards of the old farmhouse yielded to the crowbar more easily than the frozen ground to the shovel.

He insisted she would sleep with him every night when he caught up to her, his prisoner always. Under the bed, hermetically sealed in sheets and shower curtain, his final wish came true.

Pulling her sweater tight, she lit the fireplace before settling into the chair with a cup of hot tea. Only the crackles of the fire punctuated the silence of early evening, muffled under the veil of falling snow.

When the roads cleared, she would move on from this temporary place just as she had moved on from every other place to elude his grasp. But now the shadow of his menace no longer hung over her. No longer did she need to be a squatter in empty houses.

Curling into the chair, she let her shoulders relax for the first time. A sensation of relief spread through her body like softly falling flakes of snow cooling the fire in her veins. Raising the cup to her lips, she wondered if this new feeling could be peace.

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