The blows were fast and furious now. Instinctively she cupped her arms over her head, folding herself as small as possible. She caught herself mewling and bit hard on her lip to stop. Find the light, she told herself, and dragged herself away from the pain, away from the pounding, away…
She could see it now, light filtering through the leaves of the oak in her grandparents’ big backyard, dancing across new-mown grass. The old tire swing swayed in the breeze, one of its chains still hanging slack, another job Pap never finished. She walked over, climbed into the opening and leaned back, gazing up through the branches.
A quick push of her foot in the dust underneath set her rocking back and forth. She timed her breathing to the swings and let it lull her into contentment. Slower. Slower. Finally it stopped.
She uncurled herself and stood, walked into the bathroom, checked herself in the mirror, wet a tissue, dabbed at the cut near her eye. Satisfied, she headed back into the kitchen to remake his dinner.