My time is ending. No, I'm not sick, I don't have cancer, I'm not suicidal, but I know it all the same. It's more of a gut feeling than any factual information I've been given, but in my heart I know it's true. I'm not afraid to die, but I am afraid to be forgotten. So I'm hoping this little tale, this little part of me will live on. I don't expect many to know or read this, but if you do please, please remember me. I want someone to know I was alive and what my life was like before I make the last journey.

I don't know exactly where to start. My name is Kallista Evans and I was born in Saskatchewan, in a small town called Meadow Lake. I lived with my father, mother and two older brothers on a small acreage outside of town. I remember the first ten years of my life being the best. I was happy, I had good grades, good friends, and my family had been happy too. By my tenth birthday however, my brothers had moved out, and it just my parents and I.

For a while I was still happy, even more so in some ways. I had my parents all to myself, and they liked to treat me to ice cream so I wouldn't miss my brothers too much. Then one night in December my mother never came home from a business trip. I never was exactly sure what had happened to her. All I know was that my father was so sad that he cried for days. I tried to comfort him however I could, but I was too young to know how. I gave him hugs, told him I loved him, and said everything was going to be all right. But it didn't work.

My father wouldn't leave the house, wouldn't eat, and wouldn't do anything so I had to fend for myself. One day I was trying to teach myself how to make macaroni and cheese and I burnt my arm on the stove. I screamed so loudly that I broke my dad out of his trance and he brought me to the hospital. I thought that was going to be the turning point for us. My dad went back to work, took care of me, and things seemed to be ok. Then one night he brought home some drinks. I didn't know what they were, but it made him…not himself.

That night was the first night he beat me. I was so shocked and confused and hurt I didn't know what to do. My father had never hit me before, it wasn't right. In the morning my father was repentant, said he wouldn't do it again. But the same thing happened that weekend and the next.

We fell into a dark pattern. Weekends my dad got drunk and beat me, weekdays he was a loving father who did everything possible to keep me happy. After a while I got used to the beatings, they weren't too bad. It was just his broken promises to stop that broke my heart.

This went on for years, happening more and more frequently as I grew older. People commented on my bruises and I made up stories to keep them from finding out the truth. I was too ashamed to let anyone know what was happening, and I didn't want my father to get in trouble. I still loved him, and I thought he loved me too.

When I was 16 things got worse. He broke my arm. For the first time since he started beating me, I actually got hurt so badly that I had to go to the hospital, and he wouldn't take me. He said I was complaining too much, that it was only bruised. For some reason he couldn't see the awkward angle of my arm. I had to wait for eight hours before he passed out and I could drive myself to the hospital. Eight hours in excruciating pain, putting up with my father's insults. I told the hospital I slept walked and fell down the stairs. I don't think they believed me. I wouldn't have, considering the fact we didn't have any stairs.

After a few months of this treatment my dad got fired for being drunk on the job. We had no other source of income so I did the only thing I could do. I dropped out of school and got a job at the grocery store. I earned enough to get groceries and pay the bills, barely. I lived in constant fear that my father would find the money and use it to buy some booze, so I hid the credit cards and bankcards. I was extremely careful about it though. I never hid more than one card in one place. I knew what I was doing drove my father insane, but I wouldn't give in to him. I was stubborn that way.

I was 17 when I first met James. I was at work at one of the tills, when all of a sudden he was there. His hair was dark and messy, falling in front of his dark eyes. He was carrying a sack of flour on one shoulder and a hand basket in his other hand. He set them easily on the conveyer belt and flashed a dazzling white smile at me. He was an absolutely spitting image of my father in his younger days. I was terrified.

It took all of my will power not to run away screaming, and looking back I laugh at myself for feeling that way. I was absolutely terrified that this young man in front of me would find some way to hurt me just like my father had. I checked out his items as fast as I could, trying to keep myself from panicking. I wilted with relief when he left the store. I was certain that I had seen the last of him, but fate worked against me.

I ran into him so many times that week that I thought he was following me. In the store, the parking lot, the mall, the ice cream shop, everywhere. He talked to me sometimes, and each time he did he wiped away a little bit of my fear. He never mentioned my bruises, though I was certain that he could see them. And he never pried into my life, never asked any questions. Though that didn't stop me from blurting out every detail of my life.

Within a couple of short months James knew everything about me. My pet peeves, my favorite things, my father, my brothers, my mother, my feelings, everything. James was a good listener, he never complained about my monopolizing conversations, and never interrupted me. He always seemed to know what to say to get me to spill my darkest secrets and I loved him for it. He was my salvation.

The night when James met my father was not as good as you might think. I was just finishing up at work and was walking out to my truck when I felt someone shove me into it. I whirled around to see my father towering above me, dark, drunk, and angry. He hit me and accused me of ratting him out, of forsaking him, not appreciating him. I had never seen him so…out of control. I think he might have killed me except James stopped him. James had been coming to meet me after work when he saw what was happening. He pushed my father away from me and threatened to call the police if he didn't scram. Thankfully my father ran away without any more trouble.

James was absolutely furious. He didn't say anything, but I could see it in the way his jaw was clenched, and his eyes burned with an anger so deep, so intense it frightened me. But even angry James wasn't stupid. He let my father run and helped me off the ground. I knew he wanted me to report my father, knew that he wanted to do it himself. But I also knew that he wouldn't without my consent.

He wouldn't let me go home that night. He didn't want me to meet up with my father again or leave me alone. He drove me back to his place and made me a bed on his couch. He stayed by my side all night, unwilling to leave me alone with my nightmares. I told him he should get some sleep and he ignored me completely. I imagine he didn't think it was worth paying attention to. Still I was extremely grateful that he did stay with me. I woke up screaming three times, finding comfort in James' strong embrace. It was that night that I made my decision.

Together James and I walked to the police department and I told them everything. I showed them my bruises, and James acted as a witness to the other night. Throughout it all I was trembling and crying, but I also felt relieved that I didn't have to deal with it any more. I was free.

I didn't go home that night either. I called in sick at work and stayed with James for the entire day. We talked about what I would do once my father was in jail and I decided I would move in with him and go back to school. I would sell the house, the land, and a lot of the furniture and stuff. I would use that money for school registration, and keep my job at the grocery store to help pay the rent.

I think I laughed more that day then the rest of my life combined. Life was looking up and I was feeling strangely optimistic. I didn't think anything could go wrong just then. Little did I know.

I spent the night at James' and in the middle of the night I was woken by a strange sound. The sound of shattering glass. I sat up in bed and stared around in shock. There was a tall dark form climbing in through a window, walking menacingly towards me.

It was my father. He screamed at me for telling the police, beat me, and shook me. I tried to defend myself, but my brain had trouble connecting what was happening with my limbs. I only managed to hold my arms up in front of my face defensively. My father would have killed me then and there, but again James interfered. One moment father was hitting me, the next he was across the room, driven back by a single blow from James.

My father bellowed like an enraged bull and charged at James, but James simply stepped slightly to the side, tripping my father as he ran past. My father fell flat on his face then staggered to his feet, face dark with rage. I thought he was going to charge James again, but he did something far worse. He pulled out a gun.

I didn't even have time to scream. My father shot at James. There was sound like thunder cracking, almost simultaneously James jerked and stared down at his torso. I expected him to fall, but instead he just looked angry. James threw himself at my father, knocking the gun out of his hand, making it fly towards me. They grappled together for a moment and I picked up the gun. When they pulled apart I did the only thing I thought I could. I aimed the gun at my father and pulled the trigger.

After another peal of thunder I looked to see what damaged I had inflicted. My father was staring at his arm I shock. I had only grazed him. When he looked up, his face puce coloured, he stalked towards me. I crawled away from him with jerky movements, terror making my throat freeze. Then instead of my father smashing my face to bits, there was a loud crack and my father collapsed to the ground.

I looked up to James in shock. He held a lamp in one hand, he had used it to whack my father over the head. James gave me a small smile then collapsed to the ground. I screamed his name and scrambled to his side in an instant. I was incoherent with panic; only James calmly giving me instructions made me any use at all. I called 911, demanding an ambulance and police. I then turned my concentration to keeping James alive.

I put pressure on the wound, made him talk to me. I had trouble seeing through my tears and my entire body was wracking with sobs. When the ambulance arrived they did what they could for him, but they could do little but ease his passing, and give him a little more time. Despite all the pain James must have been going through, he was completely rational and thinking only of me. With the ambulance workers acting as witnesses he willed everything of his to me. The apartment, his money, his things, absolutely everything went to me.

Those were the toughest moments of my entire life, watching him die. I held his hand, stroked his face, whispering nonsense and apologies while the tears coursed down my face. It took a painful half an hour before he left me, but I will never forget his last moments.

He had lifted his hand and cupped my cheek, gently wiping away the tears. He flashed me my favorite brilliant white, crooked smile and kissed me gently.

"I want you to promise me something, love. Can you do that for me?"

"Y-y-yes," I sobbed.

"I want you to promise me that you will do your best to make yourself a better life. Go back to school like you planned, get a good job."

I started to shake my head but with an amazing amount of strength considering his condition, he griped my head until I stopped and looked at him.

"Kallista, listen to me. I love you, and if you purposely shorten you life for me I will never forgive you. I want you to take care of yourself, you hear me? Grow old, have kids, visit your brothers, find out what happened to your mother, whatever you want to do. Live life to its fullest. Promise me Kallista, promise." He glared at me so fiercely that I thought for a brief moment that he might pull through.

More tears streamed down my face, I wanted to refuse but I found myself nodding reluctantly. "I promise," I whispered in a broken voice.

James relaxed and his eyes fluttered and his grip on my hand loosened. I could feel him slipping away I griped his hand tighter.

"Don't go," I had whispered. "Don't leave me."

He looked up at me for the last time and smiled. "I will always be with you, Kallista. I love you." His eyes closed and a look of peace overcame his features. His body relaxed entirely and the last breath whooshed out of his body.

I don't know how long I sat there beside his body, sobbing uncontrollably, heart broken. The police came, took my statement and took my father away. The EMTs packed up James and took him away. James' funeral was held a week later. A few other people were there, but they left before too long. I stood there for hours before I too left.

It's been several years since that day, but I still feel his loss as if it were yesterday. I sold my house and lived in James' apartment and went back to school like I planned. I got a good job as an educator about abuse and I visited my brothers. But I never found anything about my mother, or had any children. I just couldn't imagine loving anyone like I had James. It was a physical impossibility. I'm proud to say I have made myself a better life than I had, but it's going to end soon.

My father is going to be released from jail today, and I know exactly what he is going to do when he's free. He will find a gun, find me, and kill me. Most of women who leave an abusive relationship are killed after they leave. I know I'm going to become one of them.

I don't blame my father though. In his position I probably would have done the same thing. I don't blame him. I love him. It seems strange to say that after all I've experienced, but it's true.

My time is ending. No, I'm not sick, I don't have cancer, I'm not suicidal, but I know it all the same. It's more of a gut feeling than any factual information I've been given, but in my heart I know it's true. I'm not afraid to die. I have accepted this fact long ago.

Even now I can hear the crunch of tires on gravel, hear a door slam closed. I'm not afraid. Everything will be all right. I hear my father's voice outside. He's almost here.

I'm coming James. I love you.

Kallista Evens