I hear the frantic yelling and I look up to see her attempting to usher kids out the front door, with tears running down her cheeks, and shame and fear written on her face.
An icy hand grips my intestines and squeezes because the scene is all too familiar. I have lived this life.
I ask if she wants me to call anyone for her. Does she have a place to go and take the children.
She tells me she can go to her mom’s as she tries to get a pair of socks on the bare feet of her young daughter.
I stand and I wait while she gets her purse from the house; the children’s father throws it out the door at her.
I’m ready to call the cops if I see him make any gesture towards her. He slams the door.
She leads the children down the steps to the car. Two are without coats, all are without shoes, and one is without socks.
I tell her it’s okay, I have been there. She doesn’t respond and I understand the embarrassment.
The little boy looks at me and I tell him it’s going to be okay, and he smiles.
I smile back.
* This took place last night as I left my mother’s house. It brought back too many memories. It left me with a huge rush of adrenaline–fight or flight terror. It left me grateful I am no longer living that life, and even more grateful my son never saw the really bad stuff. It also left me knowing she would go back to him, and I was right, her car was there this morning.