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  • She had no idea her step-father had tried to kill himself.

    When she left that morning, there he was - sprawled out on the couch in his tighty-whities, slurping a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal, watching reruns of THE SOPRANOS and playing several hands of online poker.

    Clearly, there was no reason to suspect that anything was amiss.

    The trick, she had learned, was to get out the door without getting stopped. Preferably, without being seen but often she settled for not getting stopped. "Stopped" meant laps, long kisses, gropes and slaps on the ass.

    If she waited until the very last minute to leave it was always fair to claim she'd be late for work again. Planning her departure around a bathroom break was an absolute coup.

    "Don't you think you're going to sneak out of here without saying goodbye," he'd call after her, the weaselly coils of the couch wincing underneath him as he craned to look towards the font door. She always obliged.

    Easier to feed a hungry beast than to attract further attention by running away.

    Coming home was even worse.

    When they guided him back into the house that night, hobbled, bloodshot and high as the Chrysler Building she still didn't know what exactly had happened.

    But it didn't matter.

    She was free.
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