The door slams and Svetlana hurries to shove the worn letter back into the envelope. No sooner than the envelope is hidden inside her book, a dark hair, gloomy man walks into the living room.
"Evening, Tolya. You're home so late. Is everything alright?" The beautiful blonde forces out the words, pretending she doesn't notice the overwhelming stench of alcohol.
"Just...working late..." His words slur together as he staggers across the living room. Rage flares inside Svetlana at yet another lie. She refuses to stand for this.
"Oh really? Working on what? Your drinking habits?" Her words carry an ice cold bite, the cold anger girls need to survive. Her pulse rushes as her husband turns and she sees the drunken anger in his eyes.
"Why do you care where I was? It's none of your business." He staggers back towards her but she stands her ground.
"It's none of my business? Oh really! I'm the one working all day to provide for our "family" while you spend your days playing chess and drinking away your sorrows. Remember when you used to say we were a family? Families are there for each other, Anatoly. Where have you been?" Svetlana's fiery words end their crescendo as Anatoly's fist smashes into her face. Her jaw drops as pain shoots through her head. She ignores the pain and turns to face him again. Before she can utter another word, another blow falls on her petite figure. The punches, the kicking, the pain, the fear. By the time Anatoly leaves the room, Svetlana is curled in a childlike ball on the floor, eyes dry, but not for long. The door of what used to be their bedroom slams shut and tears stream down her bruising face. She painfully works her way to a sitting position, rising slowly to her feet as she crosses to the telephone on the wall. She enters the number she's dialed often enough to know by heart.
"Tonight." One broken word is all it takes. Help will come. Tonight she won't be alone. Tonight she will be safe. Svetlana limps to the bathroom and digs to the back of the cabinet. Anatoly always uses the master bathroom, so she's safe here. For now. She retrieves the bag she's packed if the need were ever to arise. And tonight it arose. She bustles around the apartment as quickly as she can, grabbing the few things that couldn't be kept in her hidden away bag. Once completely ready she assumes her position by the door, looking out the peep hole. Dressed in all black, her flowing blonde hair stands out, hanging to her thin waist. Her rescuer appears in the peephole veiw and Svetlana silently flips the dead bolts. She slips out the door and shuts and locks it behind her.
"Florence." With a hushed whisper Svetlana throws herself into the arms of the slightly taller brunette. Florence holds her there for a minute but the draws back. She takes in Svetlana's face for the first time since arriving,
"Honey...come on, my sweet. We need to get out of here." She places a soft kiss to Svetlana's forehead and takes her hand. Tears continue to pour from Svetlana's soft blue eyes as they slowly make their way out of the apartment building. Florence helps Svetlana into the front passenger seat of the car. Striking green eyes meet teary blue ones. "We're almost there, my love. You're almost safe." Florence walks around and climbs in the drivers side, starting the car and beginning the drive to freedom.
"Thank you." Svetlana's voice sounds like a child's in this instant. Sad, broken, innocent.
"I'm so sorry, honey. I'm so sorry I didn't get there sooner. I'm so sorry I couldn't save you earlier. I'm so sorry–" Florence's heart breaks with every apology she makes. If only she'd gotten there sooner.
"No." Her words are cut off with a small whisper. "You're here now. And that's all that matters." Svetlana studies Florence as she drives, studying the tears forming on her beautiful, long eyelashes, studying the slight tremor in her hands as her knuckles turn white on the steering wheel, studying her s she swallows back tears to try and speak.
"I love you." Florence tries to put all else from her mind and focus on the fact that Svetlana is here, and she's safe.
"I love you too." For so long Svetlana has waited to hear those three words, and be able to return them wholeheartedly. Florence slips a hand from the stearing wheel and grasps Svetlana's softly. Hand in hand, they approach freedom.