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Whispering fingers brush corn-silk hair from innocent eyes with gentle care. “G’night, Sissy.” Her eyes fill with tears. She whispers her heart into his ears. A lifetime of kisses press his smooth brow. Last time? . . . Last time. A flimsy door muffles Mother’s crying. Nothing muzzles Dad’s cursing and lying. The screaming, beating, bruises and fears have left their mark across the years. A lifetime of anger and broken vows. Last time? . . . Last time. Escape is threatened by creaking floors. Dad's ranting continues; Mom's whimpers implore. Daughter can't help; Mom's hopelessly bound, and won’t find peace ‘til safe in the ground. A lifetime of prayers and helplessness. Last time? . . . Last time. Her trembling hands grasp meager treasure: best dress, toothbrush, hope without measure. She creeps down the hall without a sound to the squeaky back door where freedom is found. A lifetime of fear and second guesses. Last time? . . . Last time. He was strong and handsome from the city with pleasant laugh and words so witty. Sweet midnight tryst beneath the stars; vows made midst kisses parked in his car: A lifetime of loving, sights and travel. Last time? . . . Mmmm . . . Last time . . . Life and lust found in words with power! Burning lips crush to melt and devour! With a promise of freedom to travel far a firefly is finally let out of her jar! A lifetime of fearing men unravels. Last time? . . . Last time. Crouched again in bushes by the darkened road, with one hand holding her paltry load, the other pressed with hope to love’s new life mother waits again to become a wife. A lifetime spent waiting in the dark. Last time? . . . Last time! Sneaking back alone to her parents' prison, her world dark, though the sun has risen. Naivete cut out by cruelty’s knife, she crawls back to her family, to fear and strife. A lifetime changed by a salesman’s lark. Last time?
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