… … …
She saw the looks. She could read the looks. They weren't surprised by his behaviour - they were used to that; they had been on the receiving end on numerous occasions. But they were surprised - shocked, really - that it was directed at her.
She knew it had always been a comfort for them - a shield - to know that she would stand up to him; to know that no matter how many times he fired them, she would see to it that he didn't mean it. So she understood the fear in their eyes; the feeling that their world was about to cave in around them. They interpreted her passivity as resignation; they thought she had given up; they were convinced it was only a matter of time before she walked away.
They didn't understand that she would never walk away. They didn't realise that she was a bigger shield than they could ever imagine. They didn't understand that she knew exactly what she was doing.
Fighting him wouldn't work. If she fought, he would push harder; they would see much worse than they ever had before. If he actually thought he was losing her, he wouldn't handle that. So let him think that she couldn't find the energy to argue, and he would carry on as he was.
No, they didn't understand that what she was doing was protecting them from so much more. She was the dam keeping him in control; holding him back. If she stepped away, for even a moment, they'd be consumed by what was released and she wouldn't be able to fix it.
So she wouldn't push him. And she wouldn't leave. For him. For them.
They didn't understand why.
And she hoped it stayed that way.
… … … …