Zee began her regular jog to the park. She watched the familiar objects pass her up as she continued along the road. She had been through this route time and time again, and now it was branded into her memory.
Well-worn road with broken and rough gravel passed under her feet, the chipped pebbles cracking under her favorite Adidas sneakers. The trees were filled with dying leaves, displaying how parched they were with their faded hues of brown, red, and yellow.
After a while, the sight of a figure on a bench greeted her. Their gaze was focused on a small group of pigeons in front of them. She ran up to them and sat on the bench.
"What was it today?"
Zee frowned as she took in his appearance. Four angry crimson scratches streaked down his left cheek, and faded bruises scattered across his arms in a hue of greens, deep yellows, and purples. He shook his head, his honey-brown hair falling in front of his swollen eye.
"It was my fault." His voice shook, and he gave a small sob. Zee's heart broke and she wrapped her arms around him. He tensed before breaking into tears in her arms. She tenderly stroked his back, whispered "Shhh"'s filling the air.
"No, It's not your fault. Thomas, Catherine treats you horribly. Nothing you could have done would make you deserve the things she does to you."
Thomas choked on a sob in her arms when her hand rested on the small of his back. She pulled her hand away from the area she knew was flooded with bruises and scratches.
"Did you bring the first-aid kit?"
Thomas nodded and handed her a small white box, so cracked that it was being held together by Duct Tape. A worn and torn label marked it with a faded red cross. Zee motioned for him to follow her to the family restroom.
It was covered in dust, and small cobwebs laced the corners of the room, but Zee could hardly care. She motioned for Thomas to pull his shirt off, and stared with disgust when the soft cloth was put to the side. Thin red scars streaked and criss-crossed over his back, and small irritated burn marks – some wax still sticking to his skin – flared an angry pink.
"Thomas. I thought you told her that you don't like the masochism shit!"
He lowered his head.
"I didn't want to make her angry..."
"Who GIVES a shit if she gets mad!?" Zee slammed her hands on the marble sink counter.
"LOOK WHAT SHE DOES TO YOU! LOOK HOW SHE TREATS YOU! YOU'RE COVERED IN CUTS AND BRUISES! EVERY. FUCKING. DAY!"
His shoulders were shaking again. 'Damnit.'
Zee sighed deeply and picked up the box, opening it with a loud click. She pulled out a jar of ointment and scooped a glob of the substance in her hand. Rubbing it over his back, she frowned.
"Thomas, you need to get away from her. What the hell did she even beat your for this time?"
He made no response, so Zee added a second scoop of ointment to his back, feeling the small – barely there – muscles beneath his wounded skin. Zee picked up a roll of gauze and started wrapping it around his torso, focusing on making sure that the layers weren't too tight or too loose.
"I told her that I want to leave."
The words that oozed into the empty air were raspy and dry but glistening with the promise of tears. Zee could see Thomas' face in the mirror, worn out and exhausted.
Zee was almost afraid to hear the answer. She didn't want to hear that he has backed down, afraid. He'd always been the type to back down, ever since they were kids. She'd been the one to protect him from all the bullies, and it hurt that when he really needed the help, that there was nothing she could do.
"And... I've had enough. I've finally had enough."
Thomas turned to gaze up at Zee, his gentle eyes warm.
"Zephyra? Can you help me find a place to stay?"
Zee grinned and pulled him into a hug.
"Better than that, Thomas. You can stay with me."
Zee pretended not to notice the tears on her shoulders, because her own eyes were wet as well. And yet, they laughed. They laughed with joy and happiness He was free. He'd finally stopped giving into her.
He'd finally had enough.