Soup bubbled on the stove, a hot and vibrant red left a trail of oats, a wave that scooped in and then surfaced again.  Low fat crackers, licorice and chocolate were stacked on the tiny table, making a cheery welcome basket of sorts.  An array of drinks stood neatly in the apartment refrigerator marking the emptiness of it all. Who would have thought this move to a tiny, run- down apartment would represent asylum and security, a safe and secret place. It was only 10 miles down the road, but in a different town and state, away from degredation and fear. Somehow this place remained untouched by his far- reaching foresight and what at times appeared to be clairvoyance.

Saleeha had prepared meals that provided comfort as well as sustenance in an attempt to stop our transient lifestyle. Her guilt at being free and able to avoid his wrath percolated beneath the surface as she contemplated coming home. Wrappers piled each day, coffees and sandwiches, depression set in as I scanned the remnants of our newly acquired routine.  A lifestyle of fruit, vegetables and low fat meals had forced my lab tests down to a reasonable level. Now I shuddered to think of what the consequences would be, but in truthfulness I did not care.  I woke each morning reevaluating the life that had been abandoned several years before, not knowing that it had just been put on hold.

The phone continued to ring throughout the day, a reminder that we were expected home to keep up the façade that had been so easily returned to. Our roles were scripted and ingrained, not easily forsaken after years of disciplined rehearsal.