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   Chapter 16 Disappointment

Broken Past By Arathi Characters: 10122

Updated: 2018-09-02 07:43

"Aunt Jasmines? You've brought me to Aunt Jasmines?" Gwen said trying really hard to sound surprised but in a good way. Instead, she felt quite the opposite. Perhaps she did. After all, when JT suggested taking off for a few days, she pictured the two of them alone. Why? She did not know. But she could hope, right? It had been a while since she had hit it off well with somebody, even with the awkward moments. Was it so awful for her to want for it not to end?

So instead of a quiet retreat that was more suited to her personality, he brought her to a restaurant. A place that was always teeming with people where someone like her would stand out like a sore thumb. Where a shy person, regardless of nationality, would feel overwhelmed and on edge. Men were extremely helpful, not.

JT got off the bike and locked it. He sensed her irritation. He was convinced beyond reasoning that he'd done the right thing. How would he convey the same to her though? JT stepped up to Gwen and brushed his fingers lightly over her bruised cheek and lips. Concern reflected in his eyes and voice as he spoke. "Aunt Jasmine runs a house for battered women. It's the only safe place I know."

"Battered women's shelter? I belong here?" Gwen asked incredulously. Okay, so she was damaged goods. She had to admit to that. However, she hadn't, not once, ever thought that she was that far gone. Everyone faced challenges, right? However, not everyone needed a glorified hideout. Why did he think that of her?

"You've been in an abusive relationship, and although you ran, you haven't escaped yet. Your past has followed you here. I'm only trying to help."

"But I don't want to be here. I don't need help. My head is screwed on just fine". Gwen huffed like a petulant child.

"I'm not asking that you seek help, or implying that you need it. I only brought you to a place where people will understand and not ask questions. Would you want to answer questions about these?" By then JT's fingers had brushed over every bruise Tom had given her, from her cheek to her lip, the faint handprint on her neck, the glaring colors on her arms and finally the scratches on her wrists. She brushed his hand away. "Those I got when I fell." This wasn't usual behavior for her. Gwen didn't understand why she was acting out so much. Regardless, the disappointment kept gnawing at her. And her foolishness wouldn't let her find a graceful exit. Must have been the combination of sun, beer, and Tom, she figured.

Make up your mind, Gwen yelled at JT inside her head. He was confusing her. You don't go around touching people you aren't attracted to. And you certainly don't dump people and make them someone else's responsibility when you are attracted to them. Did he want her? Did he not want her? She couldn't tell anymore! She was on the verge of feeling abandoned again.

Yeah right, dream on girl, she scoffed at herself. He's being nice, and you're reading too much into it. That's all there is to this. You set yourself up for disappointment.

Some were quiet and some outright loud. Some dispirited and some very optimistic. Their abusers were equally diverse, as Gwen understood from their stories. Some were beaten by husbands, others by fathers and even brothers, sons and uncles. It was shocking to hear that some abusers were women whether it was a mother in law or even a daughter! Some of these women had been ostracized by their entire village for not conforming! A whole community ganging up against one woman. Gwen couldn't even begin to imagine what that felt like. The perception she grew up with was that the weak, helpless and easily preyed upon segments of society were supported by their communities. Here, it seemed to not be the case.

As the day came to a close, Gwen was no longer wallowing in self-pity. If she thought her life was terrible, she was wrong. So very wrong. Gwen now felt as though she had sailed through life with relative ease when compared to some of the experiences these women shared with her. Some spoke very little English, and others didn't at all. Aunt Jasmine tried her level best to interpret. Despite the language barrier, Gwen's heart melted for these women. What she couldn't understand, she could pretty much imagine.

For a moment there, Gwen found herself thanking JT for bringing her here. For the first time in a long time, Gwen was looking beyond herself. And she was ashamed for her selfishness all this while. And she would have thanked JT for it, had she not been mad at him. Yes, she was still sore about her ridiculous fantasy and with JT for leaving her here by herself.

As she struggled to get comfortable in her bed at night, Gwen thought over her situation. She thought about the women. Gwen said a silent thank you to Aunt Jasmine for affording her a private room while as many as six to eight women shared a single room across from hers. At least she had an escape when she needed it. And right now Gwen needed peace to mull over her day and all that she had heard, learned and experienced.

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