The Button


Aubrey Cruson

A woman’s hand with long red nails pushing a red button

Everything in my life led me to that exact moment. 

I remember it like it happened only moments ago. I knew that I should leave. Staying would have killed me… just like it was killing you. I couldn’t make myself walk away though; I couldn’t abandon the one person who knew what it was like in that cursed house.

We were a team back then. A broken team that would have inevitably lost, but a team nonetheless. 

For as long as I could remember, it had been you and me. You had always done everything you could to keep me protected from everything. The yelling, the violence… all of it. You didn’t always succeed, but you always tried. That day was no different. 

“Just go,” I remember you yelling. You never yelled, at least not at me. It scares me even now. 

“I can’t just let them hurt you! I can’t abandon you.” My words were muffled by sobs, but I could still see you soften slightly.

“If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me,” you begged. “If you go, I know you’re safe. It wouldn’t be abandoning me; it would be helping.”

“I need you though,” my tears came faster. “I don’t think I could survive without you.”

“You‘ll never be without me though,” you smiled gently. “Just remember that you don’t have to look too far. Wherever you are, that’s where I’ll be.”

Even before the last word was out of your mouth, you shoved me out the door. I saw the sadness in your eyes. We both knew at that moment, it was over, I never saw you alive again. 

The door closed in my face, and just like that my sister, my only friend, was gone from me forever.

For years to come, your final words to me echoed in my head. When the news of your death came, I collected your ashes. I scattered them in a meadow, underneath the pines in a field full of daisies. I visit it every week to talk with you. 

I understand now, why you did it. What you meant with those final sentences. Leaving was the best thing I could have done. If I had stayed, you may still be here…but you wouldn’t be the person I knew. I wouldn’t be the same person I am.

We aren’t who our family tried to make us. You’re in every breath I take; every child I see laughing. You surround me every day, all because you sacrificed everything for me to escape. I have a life, and for the first time ever, I’m happy. There were two paths I could have taken that day. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed and we would both be alive and miserable, scared of every sound louder than a whisper. We never would have recovered from what they did. You forced me down the other path. I didn’t get to choose, and I know now that it was for the best.