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Dave: Pride has nothing to do with inner strength…two different notions.

Me: Proud people seem so strong…at least they’re perceived as being strong.

Dave: So tell me…staying in an abusive relationship just to keep your “public image” is it a sign of inner strength?

Me: Not at all…

Dave: I’m glad you agree on that…

“The drops of rain were cold and she hurried into the church. Months without seeing Daniele and the unsettling feeling that something is wrong…She knew she’s taking a risk and she knew she can’t handle another insult from him, but she was hoping…maybe here, in the church where he served as a ministrant, maybe here he will be her friend one more time. For the last time.

-Dani…Hello…

He seemed absorbed in his prayers. The long white outfit made him look like an angel but the look in his eyes when he faced her had nothing to do with divine love.

-I am praying, Carissa. Remember? Praying? So, I would ask you politely to come back another time.

Another time…she looked down, knowing it wont be another time. She swallowed her pride, her fear, her sadness of being rejected again, knowing it may be her last chance.

-The wedding will be a week from now…Dani, I need you there with me. For me…

-No thanks. Wish you a nice life. And congratulations for making all the right choices. Padre Antonio can rest in peace now! You sold yourself at a higher price than any of us would ever imagined…

Another insult. A part of her wanted to leave right then, another part imagined slapping him hard over his face, making him regret…But she knew that any of these is pointless. He wont change. “You cannot beat anger with more anger. Only with calm and gentleness. You cannot beat hate with more hate. Only with love and tenderness.” Padre Antonio’s voice was still very alive and clear in her mind.

She got closer to him and gently touched his shoulder. So close…he could feel her warmth and the smell of perfume combined with the freshness of the rain. He turned to her and she touched his face. His pale, tormented face.

-So many precious moments, Dani…you gave me so many precious moments…You used to say that I saved you, but the truth is that I would have been lost without you. From my first scratched knee that you took care of with so much gentleness…till the moment when I cried in your arms for losing my first love…From my plans to escape…you knew I have no chance but you couldn’t discourage me, knowing that I need to cling to something…Till the day when we ran away together to save the sick babies from the gypsies camp…From the most humiliating day in school, when my father slapped me in public…till our failed attempt to learn self defense…

His eyes seemed lost somewhere in outer space, avoiding her gaze. The sparkling light of tears and he seemed human…once again.

-What’s the point, Cari? Why are you bringing up all these memories?

-You used to call me Sunshine…is hard now when no one does it anymore. You’re right, there’s no point…but I wanted this for myself. I wont see you again, maybe never. But I wanna remember you like that…my best friend, the one who’s always by my side, in all my craziness, in all my foolish mistakes. Not because he’s crazy or fool…no way…he’s wise and strong and smart and good…but because he cares too much to leave me alone. So, thank you, Dani…

-You have nothing to thank me for.

-I do…Thank you for letting me say these words. I’ll leave now…Bye.

She turned around with tears in her eyes, wanting to run away from her own life, from her own reality. He grabbed her by her shoulders and she screamed from the shock. She stopped her scream, holding her so tight, so close. Kissing her…but in his kiss was something so powerful, so forceful, so desperate, like a fight for survival. She tried to push him away, to stop him but he held her arms so brutally, till the point when she cried of pain. When he finally stopped, she couldn’t stand on her own feet. She leaned to one of the benches in the church and looked up to him like a hurt lost child. The statues of saints, the paintings with angels, Jesus on the cross…they all looked at her, pointing, judging, while he covered his face and kneeled down in front of her, holding her body like a drowned man searching for an escape…

-Don’t marry him, Sunshine, I’m begging you…You and me…I would sell my soul to make you happy, I would give my life, my everything to offer you the life you deserve. I don’t have his money, but I’ll work day and night…I know you always saw in me a big brother…I know that, but I can change it…I can make you love me…Yes, that’s the answer, the only thing to do, my Sunshine! To take you away from him and make you love me…

She listened to him terrified. Words without meaning, senseless talk. He stood up and pulled her hair exposing her neck. Then started to kiss her like a possessed man, her hands going down her shoulders, trying to undress her. She started to cry desperate.

-Don’t do that to me, Dani, please, not you…It’s a church…God is watching us, you can’t…is hurting me…don’t hurt me, Dani…not you…

He suddenly stopped, realizing what he was about to do. She arranged her dress and her hair, running out scared and frightened like never before. The last image she saw was him, looking decomposed, on the church’s floor, crying and repeatedly saying I’m sorry.”

Dave: You asked yourself why…You’re still crying yourself to sleep asking yourself why. But the truth was that friendship or love, regardless how precious they are, can’t heal psychosis. Neither prayers. You’re trembling…please take my jacket…

Me: I’m not cold, I’m…

Dave: You’re afraid…Years away, miles away and you’re still afraid. 

Me: Is it my fault? I do that to people? Turn them into something bad, evil?

Dave: Now that’s the scared little girl talking again…She was deeply hurt, so she thinks that, somehow, she caused that…You know we can make her feel safe again. 

Me: How?

Dave: We’ll start by wiping away these tears…And then, we’ll stop the trembling. You’ll learn to open your heart and I’ll be here. With opened arms.

 

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