I liked this story. Bobby's story was very sad. It was wonderful to see her fit right in at Alma's house and have a loving relationship with her. She grows so much by being away from her husband.
From the author:
The moving story of three remarkable women--one physically abused, one depressed by age and infirmity, and one temporarily derailed from her life's purpose--who meet and are profoundly changed.
When Bobby Salton runs away from her violently abusive husband, Joe, taking her six-year-old daughter Penny with her, she knows she is fleeing for her life but has no idea where she is going. Her wish to see the ocean leads her to the Connecticut shore, and a help-wanted ad takes her to the home of Eva Rule and her aunt, Alma Ogilvie.
Bobby bears both the mental and physical scars of her beatings and Eva, independent and self-possessed, is both fascinated and repelled by the victim she sees before her. Ultimately, it is the ebullient, precocious Penny who gains them a place in the household by winning the heart of Alma, a stern but loving retired teacher who has been incapacitated by a stroke.
The unexpected--and sometimes unwanted--emotions aroused by Bobby's entrance into the household haunts the women's dreams and private thoughts. But whereas Eva and Alma are stalked by the past, Bobby is pursued by fears of Joe, an unseen but ever-present danger. Penny, finally, is the catalyst who breaks down the barriers each of the three has built around herself.
OneShe stayed where she was even after the front door slammed. Sometimes he came back. So she waited until she heard the car go roaring off down the street. Then she sat up against the cupboard door, looking around at the mess. She hadn't cried this time, hadn't tried to reason with him, or to defend herself. It hadn't made a difference.
Her face hurt. So did her hips and the backs of her thighs, where he'd kicked her. She looked at the spaghetti sauce splattered on the wall, the pieces of broken plate, the chair lying on its side by the sink. Spaghetti all over the floor, some of it mashed into the linoleum.
Her heart wouldn't slow down. It kept rapping too fast in her chest. She had to breathe through her mouth and it made her lips sting. Blood ran down her chin, dropped into her lap. Penny had slept through it this time, thank God. Last time she'd come running in and Joe had slapped her, sent her flying all the way into the hall. It was bad enough the things he did to her but she couldn't let him start hitting Penny. And if she'd awakened this time, he'd've hit her again. Next time, though, she might come running in and Joe would hurt her. That couldn't be allowed to happen. It was one thing for him to hit her. She was used to it by now. But Penny was only six years old; she hadn't done anything wrong; she deserved better.
She staggered into the bathroom, ran cold water in the sink, and bathed her face. No more, she thought, her heart still going too fast. If she didn't take Penny and get out of there he'd wind up killing both of them.
She ran to the bedroom, got the old suitcase from the back of the closet, and started shoving her clothes into it. Then, moving fast, she got the duffel bag and went to Penny's room. She wasn't going to waste any time thinking about it. They were going, and right away, before he came back.
"Honey, get up," she said softly, touching the sleeping child on the shoulder. "Get up and get dressed."
Opening her eyes, Penny murmured, "Where we goin'?"
"We're leaving. Get dressed fast as you can."
"Where we goin'?" Penny asked again, sitting on the side of the bed and watching for a moment as her mother emptied drawers, pushed clothes into the bag.
"Away," Bobby told her, running her tongue over her split lip, feeling the sting. "Get dressed now. We've gotta hurry."
"Are we running away?" Penny wanted to know, pulling her nightgown over her head.
"That's right," Bobby said, at the closet now.
"Good," Penny said, reaching for her jeans. "I hate it here. Where we goin' to?"
"I don't know," Bobby said breathlessly. "Hurry up. And don't forget Mr. Bear."
"What about Mr. Rabbit and all my other books and toys?"
"Listen." Bobby dropped down in front of her, fumbling at the buttons on Penny's shirt. "We can't take everybody, just Mr. Bear. We've got to go right away, now, before Daddy gets back. Okay?" She got up and handed the child her sweater, then grabbed the pillow and comforter off the bed. Arms laden, she tore through the house, out the back door to the car. After tossing the bedding on the back seat, she got the trunk open and threw in the duffel bag before running inside for her suitcase and their coats, Penny's boots and backpack.
Grabbing up her handbag and the keys, she did a quick check of the house. The envelope with all their important papers. She got it from the desk drawer in the living room. What else? Think! There was nothing else she wanted, and the urgency was singing in her ears. Go, go, go! She opened the freezer compartment of the refrigerator and grabbed the foil wrapped package from under the stack of frozen pizzas. Her secret savings. Nickels and quarters she'd saved for months on end, converting the change into bills until she'd amassed almost three hundred dollars, all she had in the world.
Penny was standing in the kitchen doorway, thumb in her mouth, taking in the mess.
"Come on, honey." Bobby lifted the child onto her bruised hip and picked her way through the shards of crockery, the slime of spaghetti. "We're going now."
She got Penny settled in a makeshift bed in the back, then climbed into the driver's seat and got the car started. The old Honda was falling to pieces. The valves were about shot and it had an oil leak. Just get us away from here, away from him, she prayed. Tasting blood in her mouth, she reversed out of the driveway and headed down the street. Knees shaking, hands slick on the wheel, she drove automatically. She had no idea where they were going. Just as far away from him as they could get.
"What about school?" Penny asked, startling her.
"You'll go to a new school when we get where we're going," Bobby told her. "Lie down now and go to sleep."
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