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By the time he left, the courthouse was closed. Just as well. He slowly made his way home. Though he had supressed it then, now his sorrow for Lanie came crashing around him. Why hadn’t he realized what she had been trying to tell him? She had all but spelled it out for him, but he hadn’t been able to listen. He had been so determined to make her pay for the soul-wrenching pain she had put him through, that he hadn’t even stopped to consider what it might have cost her to come back here. Pastor Bob was right. He had been nothing but hostile and mean to her ever since.
He really didn’t want to admit that what had happened in the garage had been abuse. He wasn’t an abuser. That just wasn’t who he was. He was caring, and nurturing. He was creative and patient, and liked to serve. He wasn’t the type who would intimidate anyone, much less be abusive. Much less hurt a woman. A child.
Yet he had grabbed her, screamed at her, shaken her, and pushed her to the ground.
He had known the hose was there.
He had been satisfied, seeing her cowering on the ground. He had wanted her to feel everything that he felt. He wanted her scared, and desperate, and to know that he was an immoveable rock, and that no amount of pleading on her part could reach him. He had constructed a tower for himself just so he could shoot arrows at hers. He had felt untouchable, finally strong and in control. And that feeling had come back when she had been at his feet begging for his forgiveness.
It had been euphoric.
But they had come full circle, and it had been so satisfying to reject her the way she had rejected him.
He had been a bully.
A pre-abuser, apparently. He felt sick and disgusted when she had tried to compare him to Sean. But were she and Pastor Bob right? Even if he didn’t put her in the hospital like Sean had, was he thinking the same way, rationalizing the same way?
He wanted to disappear more than ever. If that was really who he was, then they all really would be better off without him. He couldn’t face himself if that was who he truly was. He simply couldn’t. Wouldn’t.
But…Pastor Bob had mentioned something about the other men who he would supposedly meet next week. Men who had crossed far over that line between “getting her attention” and criminal assault. Men who could talk about it now, admit it, look other men in the eye and tell their story. Was it possible that he could change the direction of his life? If they could do it, could he? Was it possible that –
Ben froze in horror as he reached his house, his deep thoughts scattering like scraps of papers on a gust of wind.
The car was gone.
It couldn’t be.
All at once, he was running.
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~ Romans 15:13