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Why? - Part 2

How easily she made it right.

"Sweetheart."

It was different this time, this was new. These were promises to be kept.

He got into bed beside her, smelling of sweat and alcohol and the perfumes of other women. He stroked away her bruises and tears, and Grace felt flames erupt over her skin as he touched her exactly the way she liked it.

She knew this time it was real.

Grace woke with a start, and, though she was quite alone, felt her face grow warm. The cold of the sheets seemed sharper in contrast to her beautiful dream. Tears pricked the back of her eyes as she knew that what she yearned for would never happen. He would never come back to her; if he loved her, he would never respect her, more a mistress cast aside than a wife.

Grace got out of bed and stood, naked, by the window. The moon had risen high and full above the town, lonely yet free.

In that moment, she knew what had to be done.

Fear crippled her at the thought of leaving him. In her mind she had done so many times before; once she had even packed her bags, but had chickened when he had found out.

"Bitch," he had spat at her, twisting her lips together so that she could not even reply to him. He had taken his knife and torn at the suitcase and spilling the contents over the floor. "Don't you go getting any fancy ideas, you slut. You're not going anywhere. For god's sake, where would you go? Who would take a runaway single mother? Don't you fucking dare leave me, Gracie. Don't you fucking dare."

And Grace had stared at the floor and bit her lip and said nothing as he slapped her, tearing her precious clothes to shreds.

But it was different this time, this was new. The moon would help her. "Go," it urged. "Leave, now. He will never know."

And so she did.

Her meagre possessions in one bag, Tessa's in another. On with her clothes, as many as she could, and now her coat. She glanced back at the empty room, the duvet folded neatly at the foot of the bed. One final touch, she decided.

She took her diary from under the pillow and tore out the page for today. Scoring a line through the meaningless string of words she had written earlier that evening, she began a new note.

Dear Pete,

She paused. Now what? I'm leaving you? As if it wasn't already obvious. Goodbye? But there was nothing good about it.

Frustrated, she tossed the page away.

Slowly, she twisted the gold ring off her finger and placed it in the centre of the duvet. The cut he had given her only that evening had reopened, and a tiny drop of blood fell from her face into the very centre of the disk.

A heart-wrenching pang tore her soul.

She was never happier to think that she would never see him again, and yet... She remembered the wonderful first days, when she would fall asleep in his warm embrace, exhausted from love making, when he would kiss her awake in the morning and give her that cute smile she adored so much.

Her cheeks were hot and wet. She touched them, and recognised tears. Her fingers brushed the wedding ring, longing to put it back on.

"Flee," whispered the moon. "Run, Grace, run."

And Grace ran.

Scooping up Tessa from a dream-filled sleep - "Where are we going, Mummy? Where?" - she slammed the door behind them and locked it.

But what should she do with the keys? The flat was in his name, but she silently vowed never to see him again, and she certainly didn't want to keep them.

The moon sparkled in a puddle pooled around a drain.

Grace gave them to the moon.

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