The fading spots of blood and the piss stains mock me like they are saying, “We told you so, told you, you’d be back.” They are right. Once more, I find myself lying at the bottom of the basement stairs—my husband’s favorite punishment. This is old business. I can’t even cry. These stains were left by me, the last time I occupied this space, reminding me this is probably not the last. If something happens to me, at least the blood and the piss have marked my passage, marked my existence that, once upon a time, I was here. I try to sit up, and my body screams in protest. I almost collapse again when I hear my babies screaming, “Want mommy! Want mommy!” Then the tears come. In the light under the door, my only view in this endless darkness, I watch their little feet frantically going back and forth searching for me, unaware that I’m right behind this door.
When you begin to lose yourself and you don’t know which way is out, that’s the time when the shadows come, carrying suitcases and trunks filled with the latest styles in fear, uncertainty, and despair; they are more than happy to throw them open all at once and settle into your life. The trick is to get to that place where you can finally tell them to pack up and get the hell out.