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Now That We're Free

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It was over. No more conspiracies. No more prisons. No more escaping. Michael was alive and home, and their family was safe. They were finally free.

But Sara couldn’t help but worry about Michael. Sure, he was still handsome, selflessly kind and the best father little Mike could wish for, but something about him seemed…off. As much as she wished to deny it, Ogygia had broken him.

He ate very little and remained too thin. He tossed and turned in bed, flinching when Sara touched him ever so gently. And when he slept, he experienced night terrors.

Please stop, I didn’t do it!, he would scream audibly. You’re hurting me! Get away from me!

When Sara woke him from these nightmares, he cried and shook, as if he were ashamed of the trauma he had experienced. As if it were his fault.

“Do you want to talk?” she would whisper softly, her gaze tracing his bare torso. His back, chest, and ribs were covered with thick white lines—scars, likely from being lashed and cut with knives.

He would shake his head and reach over to turn off the lamp. And the night would drag on, Michael sleepless once again.

There were moments, too, when his personality seemed to shift. The soft, sweet Michael she knew would become loud and angry. She recalled one night where she had asked Michael, who was sitting on their bed intently reading a novel, to read little Mike a bedtime story.

“You interrupted my story!” he yelled, violently slamming the book onto the floor, so hard that the book ripped and pages flew out and floated around it.

“Okay, okay, I’ll read him one myself. He just really likes the way you read to him,” she replied gently.

He then turned apologetic and self-hating, going on about how he was so sorry and was a terrible father and yes, of course, he would read to Mike.

These instances happened frequently. Five times a week, maybe once a day, Michael would become angry. It didn’t make Sara love him any less, she was just…concerned.

Today was one of those days.

“Michael, I made you pancakes,” she said as he walked into the kitchen from the bedroom.

Despite the dark circles beneath his eyes and the hollowness of his cheeks, he was so adorable and kissable and Sara was grateful he was hers. “Thanks, I’m not super hungry. I’ll have a bight if you insist.” He approached her and wrapped his arms around her slim waist, lightly pecking her cheek.

Sara flipped a pancake onto his plate and passed it over to him. “Please eat the whole thing, you really could use it.”

He smashed the plate on the ground, pancake and all, the white ceramic blasting into shards all over the floor. “Don’t tell me what to do!” he shouted.

Mike tiptoed into the kitchen, his big eyes peaking out under a mop of short brown hair. “Daddy, are you okay?” he asked.

Michael’s cheeks flushed as he sadly mumbled, “Yeah, I just dropped a plate on accident. Be carefully buddy, watch your step, okay?” Michael walked up to his son and planted a kiss upon his head.

“Michael,” Sara said. “I’ll clean this up and grab Mikey some breakfast. Why don’t you get yourself dressed.”

Michael stumbled into the bathroom, closing the door firmly and locking it behind him.

Mike and Sara ate their breakfast together leisurely, talking and playing for almost an hour—it was a Sunday, after all, and Mike had no school—before Mike left to go to the bathroom.

Little Mike approached the bathroom door and turned the handle to open it. It was locked. Is daddy still in there? he thought.

“Daddy!” he shouted as he knocked. No reply.

Using the creative genius that he inherited from his father, Mike ran into his parents’ bedroom and picked up a bobby pin from Sara’s nightstand. He twisted the pin into the little hole on the bathroom door and busted open the lock.

He couldn’t believe what he saw when he opened the door. “Mommy!” he screamed in horror. “Call 9-1-1!”

Sara grabbed the phone and ran to the bathroom, gasping as tears welled up in her eyes. Michael’s pale, slender form lay limp in the bathtub which was filled with murky, red water. Blood drained from a long, wide laceration down his left wrist, and a razor lied on the side of the tub.

She made the call quick, before kneeling down next to his unconscious, bleeding body. She put her right index and middle fingers to his neck. Please let him be alive. Please.

And, thank god, she felt a pulse. It was slow and very weak, but he was alive.