The girl looked with anguish upon the ruined face of her mother. Burned, the three slash marks running across her face, put there by the belt. Lashed on by her father. Gently she stroked the cuts, smoothing on soothing oil on her mother. Her mother, deep in unconsciousness. While on one hand grateful at having not been cursed today to be the victim of her fathers rage, she couldn't help but shudder at how violent he could be.

It had just been a simple question, a "How are you today?" question. Apparently it hadn't been very good. Ben had been vexed-having gotten fired, for the millionth time, got his accounts 'settled', and coming home, had let loose.

She sighed, in submission. Living like this for the past fifteen years can do that to someone. It was no use trying anymore. There was nothing to do. Planning was getting her nowhere.

She remembered in sixth grade, the escape plan she had hatched, going over it from beginning to end, memorizing Ben's work schedule(hoping he wouldn't get fired again), his habits, after work bar joints, and exact time when no one would be around. She wasn't even planning on telling Sarah. But then she had to.

Sarah had cried and screeched for sympathy, not even knowing exactly what was going to take place, just knowing it would take her away from the only one who showed her any love. Sarah told, and well…that was the end of it. She tried to deny it all, but even if it hadn't been true-all he needed was an excuse to use the new bat he had gotten. And she still had the scars to remember the last time, to warn her that this time she would have to be a lot more careful.

Craning her head anxiously, listening to the old house make its noises, she slowly drew open the folded paper crammed down the neck of her dress, stuffed there in a time of hurry after hearing to her mothers drunken scream. That was the only salvation. Her retarded mother had been in an even worse state then usual, and had not been in full touch with all her senses and wits. Maybe it hurt less?

The folded piece of paper held a map of the public school she attended. Hidden nooks and crannies, known only by the creators, builders, and now, her. According to this map, which she had nicked out of a hidden cabinet concealed behind all of the principal's junk in the fourth room floor, there was a secret basement that they used in time of the Civil War. This could help her some how. This knowledge had to be useful. It was too out of the ordinary to stumble across a map like this while running to make second period. She bent her head for a second loosing herself in all the bends, and turns of the hallways.

A slight movement startled her. Her mothers head was moving around as if in pain. And then a creak on the banister.

Should she run, should stay? Should she abandon the person who gave birth to her, and climb out the window, making off with a painless night? The guilt surged through her, but she abandoned her mothers side, and pushed herself through the small bars of the window, cutting herself on the jagged screen, used for escape many times before. She barely fit through, but the starvation her father had decreed upon her for three nights was still in process, and she hadn't eaten anything at school, so she just managed to slither through, and landing lightly on her feet, like a cat that steals silently through the night, she saw from far across the street her fathers huge shadow, looming over her mothers small frail one.

Alone after a beat, Ben had the most sympathy, and that was the time that the girl kept from him, choosing instead to leave her mother in his care. She watched over Sarah all the time. It didn't seem real anymore, all the late nights cooing at her to fall asleep, and always watching over her shoulder for the 'beast' to spring. She was supposed to be living the life now, partying, calling, fighting with her mom. She was deprived of all that, it was stolen away by a man with a cruel love of violence. And with that, she decided to do her escape for tomorrow, leaving behind this life: her mother, her home-if the slums they lived in could be called that, and starting over someplace far away, only gotten to by hopping on a train, and riding to the end, catching a bus, and getting off at the last stop, and then just running, changing her name, future….

The girl almost wished that she would be tortured tonight. That it would leave permanent marks, and she would be able to remember, compare, that no matter how bad her new life would be, make it cruel bosses, or even starvation!, nothing could get worse than this….