Clutching the bench like it’s a lifeline and not seeing the sources of the voices overwhelming his ears, he tries not to scream. Everything is too much and his chest hurts from how hard he has to struggle to get a deep breath in. The chaos is over, but only physically. Inside, he feels like he’s living in a never ending storm that he doesn’t know how to stop. This time he’s going to die. He made a mistake that can’t be fixed. It’ll be the dark, cramped cabinet until he dies.
He flinches so hard at the gentle touch to his hand that his head hits the thick wall and he winces. But no pulling away. He’s been taught much better than that. It takes everything in his body to open his eyes and stare into Amanda’s. She’s not angry or disgusted or any of the things that Doll usually is. She’s worried. Worried about him. It’s a strange, foreign feeling, unlike the small hand now curled around his wrist.
“She can’t hurt you anymore. You’re safe.”
The first thing out of his mouth is “I was safe with her. I- it was my fault. I was bad.”
“You know better than anyone,” she starts, “That whatever that woman did to you is not your fault. Nothing you could possibly do would make you deserve getting starved, beaten and raped.”
“She didn’t do those things to me.”
Amanda doesn’t seem to believe him, but she doesn’t push. With her help, he’s able to stand up and guide him to the front door of the courthouse. She says that she’ll take him home, which makes him realize that he hasn’t paid rent since he moved in with Doll, and that his only home is her house in the middle of nowhere. He fights down the knot clenching in his chest and follows her. Her car is a low to the ground, beat up grey Chevy that he doesn’t have to fight to climb into. It runs smoothly and the radio turns on automatically to some pop station with rumbling bass that rattles his chest all the way to Amanda’s apartment.