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My alarm was set for 6 a.m.; however, I awoke at 5:20 with dreaded anticipation that the alarm would go off soon. I laid there in the dark listening to the heavy breaths and sighs of my sleeping children and watched the light of the waning full moon dance through the trees and past my curtains.  When the bewitching hour struck and the annoying pop music squealed into my ear I immediately begged the snooze button for nine more minutes.  I didn’t sleep though.  Again, I just laid there  knowing that the alarm would go off all too soon, and I’d be forced to arise. 

I rarely sleep until the alarm goes off, no matter what time I set it for.  It seems that I have an internal notifier that signals my body to alertness to lie there in apprehension of that awful noise.

All of life is now lived entirely under a foreboding cloud.  What will the next day bring?  What will he do next to torment me?  What will his next scheme be in his efforts to rob me of my children, my money, my hope, and my future? I have to stay one step ahead at all times.  I have to think like my enemy.  It’s a game to him, and I need to anticipate his next move.  I have to remain alert.

Alertness is a skill I honed while living under the same roof with him.  Any moment could bring a change in attitude, a change in behavior, and usher in punishment.  A shovel thrown at my head during a pleasant conversation.  A special coffee mug thrown past me to shatter against the wall.  A newspaper harshly gathered and thrown down in order to free his hands for my throat.

Anticipation and dread have become habit now, and I’m not all too certain the foreboding cloud is still really there.  I wonder if I got so used to seeing it that now I merely imagine it where it used to be.

I obey the clock and go to work and pretend all is well.  But then…….glub.  I jump!  Slap and crinkle.  I jump again! I am filled with anticipation and dread.  There is no one in sight, but the sounds are familiar.  They are familiar sounds that indicate danger is near, imminent.

I gingerly put down the vacuum wand and tip toe around the houses, peaking around the corners.  I’m alone, cleaning, but someone has certainly broken in because I hear the sounds.  I heard the sound of the paper being gathered together to be thrown down before I’m attacked and the corridor of my breaths is cut off.  I heard it!  I heard the sound of my mug with my babies’ picture on it breaking against the concrete wall.  There’s another mug to follow.  The first was a warning; I’m the target for the second.  I heard it!

As I sneak about the houses looking for my attacker I am filled with anticipation and dread.  I anticipate his attack, and I dread the pain.

He isn’t here though.  He’s 250 miles away right now.  I’m alone in these houses, my vacuum and me.   The glub that shocked me and filled me with terror is nothing more than a sauerkraut crock bubbling and gurgling, it’s lid heaving and burping.  The slap and crinkle were the mail being thrown through the slot and slapping against a printer before sliding off and smashing into a pile of papers on the desk.

The foreboding cloud and my attacker have drifted north 250 miles, but anticipation and dread still linger in the aftermath.