A Courageous Battle (Chapter 5, page 3 of 4)

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Chapter 5

He looked her up and down, frowning and pondering. He was tired of training teen-age girls who looked injured if he asked them to dust the shelves. "All right, you can try, on probation.

When can you come in for training?"

"I can do it right now."

And with that, Lacey's life began to change. Four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday, she worked at the bookstore.

Money of her own released her from bondage. No more begging for money for clothes for the kids; no more day old bread or broken oatmeal cookies bought by the bag from a nearby bakery; no more darning and mending.

Lisa sulked and complained about having to help watch Julian, but Jana pitched in eagerly, wishing to demonstrate that she was a big girl, and after her twelfth birthday, she became the primary babysitter and househelper. She insisted on opening her own bank account to deposit the small payments that Lacey gave her for 'her job'.

Lacey enrolled in English Lit at the university. She took bridge lessons, and went once a week to the local duplicate bridge club. She joined a Tai Chi class. At Tai Chi, she met a woman who showed her how to meditate. Her success on the job, at school, and at the bridge club, gradually instilled selfesteem in Lacey's psyche and allowed her to realize that she was entitled to happiness and fulfillment.

Roger demanded that she spend her money to pay bills.

She refused. "It's not fair," he said. "I don't get to claim you as a tax deduction anymore. It's costing me money for you to work and I get nothing out of it." But she quietly went her own way, refusing to submit to his demands.

ONE DAY, about three years later, Lacey came home from an afternoon bridge game. Roger yelled obscenities at her, threatened to quit paying the mortgage, and said she was worthless and he should leave her.

"Look," she answered, glad the children were at the park and could not hear his latest tirade, "I never had a chance to do anything for myself. Now I have. For years you went your own way. Well, now I am going mine. And I will not let you get away with not supporting your children. I'll report you and I'll see a lawyer."

Roger drew back his fist and hit her. She ducked, but the blow slammed into the side of her head and knocked her to the floor. Shocked and terrified, she tried to crawl away. Breathing heavily, like a mad man, he grabbed her ankle to drag her back but she kicked out and broke free. She stumbled to her feet and escaped up the stairs and locked herself in the bathroom.

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