Fingers trembling, I listen as the slow dial tone murmurs.

Pick up, pick up. Before I change my mind.

“Lou? Hello sweetheart, you know, I was just thinking of you!”

Who the fuck dials the emergency services and sub-consciously types the number of her mother instead?

“Now, darling, we must organise when you’re next coming to see us, with the lovely Matthew of course!”

She doesn’t know. She doesn’t fucking know.

She has no idea what he has done.

“Darling? Are you there?”

Hearing her voice plunges raw emotion deep into my broken heart, and I search anywhere in my frail body for the right words to explain what has happened to me without breaking hers even harder.

I can’t.

She warned me he wasn’t right. She said she could see the deep-rooted torment on his face the first time she laid eyes on him. But I begged her to trust me, that he was different, that he loved me, that he wouldn’t ever hurt me.

I was wrong.

My lips open in an attempt to speak, but words have escaped me. Short, bursts of breath exit instead, and my weak heart begins to hammer in my chest. Feeling my fingers beginning to go numb; my breathing quickens as I forget how to control it.

“Sweetheart, you’re worrying me.”

There’s an army in my chest. I can’t breathe. The room begins to spin. I hiccup and choke on my own oxygen, hot tears flowing from my darting eyes. I need to escape. But it’s not my surroundings I’m terrified of. It’s me. It’s that sinking feeling. I can’t ever risk feeling it, or my body shuts down like this.

Why is this happening to me?

Dropping the phone to the ground, I use my hands and knees to get myself out to the fresh air. Quivering, I reach for a cigarette and slowly drag on it to steady my breathing.

“I haven’t done anything wrong, Lou. This is your anxiety talking.” He used to say, as I swallowed his every lie.

He made me like this. This trembling mess slouched on a front door step. Afraid to talk to her own mother.

Not this feeling, please, please. Not this feeling again.

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