Whatever it Takes - Whatever It Takes

Whatever it Takes
Jim Carnicelli
7/16/2021   |   8/2/2021   |   7/12/2024   |   1,136

1,136 words
FNASR offered
Kira Carnicelli

Whatever it Takes

by Kira Carnicelli

7/16/2021    8/2/21    1,136    5:02
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I will not break.

I will not break.

I won’t get caught.

I duck behind the small brick apartment complex, away from the driveway, where I can no longer see the headlights of my boyfriend’s truck. I hear it hum into silence as he kills the engine. Hear him slam the door shut. Hear his boots on the gravel as he makes his way to the entrance. I’m surprised I can hear it, but maybe I’ve trained myself. I don’t know if you can make your hearing stronger, but with all the time I’ve spent straining in the silence, listening for the slightest sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if my hearing is better than it was five years ago.

I wait for him to go inside before I start running. I’ve brought nothing with me yet. The first step is to get to safety. That will take a while. I never should have immersed myself in his community so deeply. Even my best friends would doubt me if I went to them. I know it. When I asked one of them three years ago, she laughed, assured me he was pure as could be. A perfect gentleman. She assumed my past trauma was catching up with me and making me doubt the ideal man in my life.

I didn’t explain or try to convince her. She would never go against him. None of them would. They love their Leader. Love him too deeply to question him.

It’s past ten at night, too late to catch a bus. The nearest stop is a mile away. I have to run a mile anyway, down these broken roads until I reach the nearest store. And even then, I can’t stop. I know the guy who’s working tonight. He just came from a meeting.

I wish there were street lights out here, but this is poor man’s land. No one cares about us here. That’s why we care for each other, he says. But it isn’t real care. I think I’m the only one who sees it because I’m the only one who lives with him. But I’ll probably never find out. I kind of hope I don’t, because that probably means I’ve gotten out.

He said last time he found me that if I did this again, he’d tell everyone. Including anything that isn’t true. Like that I denounced him. Because I don’t want to help. I want to shut them out. Because I want him to myself. That I will lie about him to get what I want.

I know he’ll follow through because he always does. I have plenty of proof to know he doesn’t bluff.

I have to keep my phone turned off because he tracks it. But if I can make it to the 24/7 Superstore in town, I can use the phone there to call my uncle. He’ll come get me if he knows I’m in trouble. He won’t like it, but that’s all I need is to get away. I’ll worry about the rest in the morning. If I failed the last two times, there’s no guarantee I’ll succeed now.

I’m dressed in all dark with a hoodie covering my face. I ran until I escaped the neighborhood and hit this stretch of road. Now I walk off-road, several yards deep in the fields and empty lots. I need to watch my step. Don’t want to trip. The first time, I thought if I left early and just ran, I’d make it. But a “friend” saw me and, when they reached my voicemail, called him. He had the friend pick me up. There wasn’t much I could do to resist without causing a scene. And that would have made it much worse later, when he got home.

The second time, he drove around himself, searching. Until he found me, I’d have bet he couldn’t physically force me, but I learned just how wrong I was. So my only option now is to not get caught. I probably should have ditched my phone, but I couldn’t bear it. Surely I can deactivate the tracker and block him without bringing him to me. But if not, I’ll do whatever I have to to stay safe. I’ll throw it in a river. I’ll stomp on it. In a way, it’s the least I could do because I’ll never stomp on him.

So far, I’ve seen no vehicles tonight. Every moment that’s true is a relief, but also torture.

And then the moment comes. The headlights behind me, to the right. I’ve chosen to walk on the wrong side of the road, hoping that will throw him off if he passes. I hear the truck’s engine. I feel it crawling at a snail’s pace so the driver can take his time in his surveillance. I wander deeper into the field. That’s all I need to do now, is go deeper, keep my head down, and make sure he doesn’t see me.

But the engine revs and I hear it roar as it grows close. It’s almost instantaneous. I turn to see it speeding off-road, straight at me. I run. Running from him is futile, but I don’t want to be crushed.

He doesn’t crush me. He stops when he’s nearly on top of me and exits the truck in one frighteningly swift movement.

I paused when he braked. I should have kept going, but I wanted to see, as if that would protect me more. That was silly. I should know by now that nothing will protect me from him.

I stand frozen, watching as he strides towards me.

I will not break, I will not break.

I don’t so much think the thoughts as remember them. It’s the least I can do. If not, my words just add insult to injury. I can’t tell him off. I can’t insist he let me leave and never trouble me again. I carry enough physical scars. I don’t need more.

For as terrible as they are, my tears, supplications, and empty promises are the only things that make these failures less dangerous. If we aren’t already bent to our Leader, he’ll break us until we are. It kills my dignity, but it saves my sanity – or part of it, at least – and possibly my life.

I don’t want to break, and I swear to myself each time that I won’t. But in the heat of the moment, when I can see his angry eyes, feel his brutal strength as he drags me to the truck, and contemplate what’s to come, I know I will. I will say and do whatever it takes to lessen the torture. To save what I can of my body and mind.

I will break to survive.