Chapter Twenty-One: Bittersweet Freedom

So that’s it. I was free. But I still felt trapped. I made it to the shelter, and stayed there for two weeks. I’d gotten a job at McDonald’s, and was trying to figure out my next step. I tried to get the police to get the children for me and bring them to the shelter, but Gypsy was friends with most of the police department and Sheriff’s office because he worked at hotel security, where police are wont to frequent. The officer who responded, rather than obtain my children for me, instead gave Gypsy a report stating that he could keep them, and that they were perfectly safe there. I was crushed.

I’d never been weak before. I was strong because I had to be, because it’s all I was used to. But here? Now? I felt completely powerless. Everywhere I went I watched over my shoulders. I was terrified that someone was watching me for Gypsy – he did still have people reporting on me to him, after all, and I’d find out through an angry e-mail from him. We still argued when we talked, and he refused to let me see the children. I couldn’t let him know I was afraid, so I responded in calculated anger.

I had nightmares every night of him killing the children in a fit of rage. I woke up crying because the children were not next to me. I stopped eating, started walking and listening to music as a form of self-therapy, and eventually dropped from 165lbs to 140lbs. From a size 14-16 waist to an 8-10. I was back to my Army/High school height/weight. I had to get new clothes.

Two weeks later, I found myself at the college library – as libraries had been a place of comfort for me since  I was very little (ask my mom how many Saturdays I ruined going to the Pell City Library in Alabama, the book I stole from them when we moved to Florida, and the many weekends following where I stranded myself at the Panama City Beach Library – or the library fines from my school. Do NOT ask her about the books I got removed/banned from the Pell City School System. Trust me, not a story you want to hear) I ended up missing the final bus to the shelter, and I knew that by missing their curfew, I would be removed from the program. I decided to walk and listen to music again so I could think more clearly about what to do.

And I ran into an old friend of mine from my days at Winn-Dixie, who I’ll call Curt.

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