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Your Voice

I dreamed of you again.


It seems that the years have only strengthened your voice. I can hear it perfectly. Sometimes I hear it from my own mouth. Whenever you echo inside me, your words become stronger, brighter, louder.


I dreamed I was back in Michigan, living again above the shop that filled my apartment with the fragrance of coffee and stacks of dusty books. I dreamed that you were there, calling me by that name. A whisper, a warning. You were always in that place, you know.


Why come back here? I know you are long gone.


Because I am sorry. I am sorry that I was so intent on my fear, robbing myself of my choices. It's funny how things like that haunt you, until you're left alone to realize that you brought it all upon yourself.


I was sitting in the women's shelter two years ago, with no car, no money, no job, crying over his cruelty. How could he do this to me? Didn't I love him enough? What had I done?


Silly girl, we all have to grow up sometime.


At some point I heard you again, your favorite word, choices.


Hadn't I made choices? That was a big word back then. The advocates in the shelter spoke about our choosing to leave, choosing to be victims. I had made those decisions. I woke up every morning and chose to continue living that way.


I was drunk on the power of choice.


Within two weeks I had moved out of the shelter. I had a car, a job, a place to live, and I was going to school. All because I chose to have those things, chose to be independent, powerful, strong.


It would be nice to say that I no longer make bad choices, but that's not exactly true. I still make them, maybe with more frequency than I should, but they're mine now. I control them.


Thank you for teaching me about choosing, about mindfulness. Thank you for the words that still burn in my heart and the pendant I always wear to remind me.


I still love you. The removal of my collar has not removed you from me. There will always be a part of me that belongs to you, perhaps because you helped me to own myself.


If you read this, I hope you can forgive me for the choices I made. Maybe I'll get up the nerve to call you, tell you myself. I fear that you have no desire to hear it. I fear that after all this time you hate me. I hope that's not true.


Thank you, Anthony, for everything.

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