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The door thumped closed and I glanced out the window. The sun was just starting to set. He was late. That was never a good sign.

I moved from my spot at the table to the corner and flattened myself against the wall, hoping to blend in with the wallpaper. My heart felt like it would leap right out of my chest when his heavy footsteps approached the kitchen. Fear balled up like lead weights in my stomach.  It really was too late to run. He’d catch me and that would be worse. It was better to stay where I was and hope he didn’t notice me.

Mama was at the sink washing dishes and her hands began to shake. She was humming “Amazing Grace”, while running a washcloth over each piece of cutlery. She wouldn’t run. She would stay to protect me.

Dad stumbled into the kitchen and leaned…

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