one

Travis talks of love and smiles and happiness. Katie pretends to understand.

She pretends because she likes his voice: a melody, sweet and harmonic. Sometimes she cannot answer him, so she does not, and there is a silence stretching between them that she does not know how to gap.

Katie imagines one way to do it, but she is a sunny, cheerful, green-thumb daughter of Demeter. How would that look?

The darkness inside her stretches wider than the chasm of the silence.

two

He talks to her. Travis can tell she doesn't quite know how to respond. He likes it.

He likes the way he challenges her to speak — he likes the way her brows furrow when she searches for a reply.

Travis says nothing. He can tell she wishes he would.

He likes the way he wants to fulfill all her wishes, but he does not like it when she backs down from a challenge.

three

They dance around each other in an odd way; Travis speaks and Katie shies away, because all that she wants to say is locked in her throat, by the memories of her father telling her, "Don't speak, girl!"

Finally she succumbs to the lure of something to break the stillness. She closes it with a kiss.

Katie can see him smile through the corner of her eye the rest of the day.

"Words can't explain it, I suppose, how much you like me," offers Travis with a mischievous smirk.

Katie smiles. "I suppose not."

The darkness grows like the plants in her garden; it germinates and peeks out of the ground, sprouting beautiful leaves — they are purest black instead of forest green.

four

Travis regrets the kiss. Later on neither of them know how to speak. They do not know what to say.

Katie drags him to the Demeter cabin and kisses him again; Travis acquiesces.

Then the silence drags in again. He does not know what to say. Neither does she.

He can see the glimmer of something he doesn't like shine in her green eyes. Travis wonders if the same sparkle is in his own. He wonders if Katie likes it.

five

The darkness has grown so much she supposes it is like a beanstalk of old fairy tales.

But this is not a fairy tale, muses Katie. It is the story which children remember late at night and get nightmares from.

The silence is all-consuming now. It consumes her light, too.

Travis lays beside her in the cabin; it's lunchtime, and they finished early.

It was supposed to be a time of quiet contemplation, of peace. It is not so.

When she can bear it no longer, Katie fills the silence with his screams.

a/n: my take on abusive!tratie. every story i see shows katie as the victim and travis as the abuser. i wanted something different, and i also wanted people to know that men are also the victims of domestic abuse, and anyone can abuse anyone; but this is not intended to undermine the violence against women, just to show that men don't have it all sunshine and rainbows either.

-readersarethebestwriters