Lou made appointments for us all to go to our old dentist in Delaware on August 21st, which was Anjelica’s 8th birthday. I planned a celebration dinner with Sandy and Rob. The sky was sunny and clear yesterday for the familiar flight from Nashua to Wilmington. I took some photos of Anjelica, who was settled into the back, content as usual. Shortly into the flight, I was overcome by an unusual, unfamiliar, unrelenting sense that Lou planned to intentionally crash the plane with our three souls on board. There had been nothing said or implied, his behaviors were normal, yet I just intuitively knew. Lou was focused and quiet, other than occasional communication with air traffic control.

I sat in the passenger seat and made my plan to save us. I was a fierce mama bear ready to pounce this time, not a helplessly doomed immobile deer. I scoped out the large folding knife in the storage pocket by my side. If he put the plane into a dive, I was ready to use the knife to first blind and then kill him. I had enough flight training to be confident I could pull the plane out of a dive, stall or spin. I knew how to operate the transponder and make a distress call. I would tell them the pilot had died and that I needed headings and a clear path to the nearest landing site. Most of all, I needed someone who knew the Trinidad TB-20 to talk me through the final approach and landing, which would be rough.

None of that happened. He landed, we rented a car, went to the dentist, enjoyed a picnic, and played at the park. I was upbeat and fun because it was Anjelica’s birthday, and I knew Lou had to feel a happy family vibe. With a balloon and gift bag in hand, Sandy and Rob met us at Air Transport Command, a World War II themed restaurant, our standard go-to place for dinner near our old home base airport. We laughed, caught up on the latest news, and finished off a great meal with cake and the happy birthday song. All was good until Lou said we should get on our way back to New Hampshire. Anjelica sobbed, “No! I don’t want to go back! I don’t want to get in the plane!” We reassured her we would visit often, but she was inconsolable. Sandy and I escorted her to the ladies’ room to distance her freak-out scene from the dining area. When asked why she was upset, she choked that she did not know; nothing we said or did quelled the panic attack tantrum. Lou eventually ended it outside the restroom by yelling at her to knock it off. After that, I was able to hold her close and coach her to breathe deeply as her gasping sobs eased to tears and we were eventually able to give our hugs goodbye.

On the flight back last night, Anjelica slept, exhausted from her emotions. I gazed at the lights below through the passenger side window, and silently cried in the dark cabin, careful to not get caught wiping tears away, knowing I had to find the strength to actually leave.

I missed work again today. I phoned my sister to give an update on what’s been going on, including his vague threats to me and the hints of suicide. She is concerned that if he does not value his own life, Anjelica and I are seriously at risk. In a small notebook under the heading of “Pathetic Hotline” I wrote the number she asked me to call. I was surprised that I actually picked the phone back up and dialed the domestic abuse support line. I briefly explained our situation and asked if I was right to be afraid. Before the call was abruptly disconnected, I heard the response that if I was afraid, I should safely get out. Safely. That’s been the paralyzing issue all this time. What is safe? Which of the two terrifying unsafe options has the lesser risk: stay or go?

We picked up the new Jeep and parked the Mercedes in the town courthouse lot since our driveway was paved today. The plan is to drop the Mazda off at the dealership for service tomorrow and retrieve the Benz on the way back.

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