The client that never was

Tears, flowing from eyes filled with fear. I sit behind the desk and watch her fall apart in front of me. Begging for help, she tells me about her kids, the daughter who is 14 and can no longer eat nor sleep, terrified of what her dad will do next time he is mad, and the son who is 10 and with useless strength tries to protect her. Children that although have not themselves been beaten, carry scars and bruises inside, just like her.

And there’s a whole system that we revolve around, laws and statutes and a fancy word for control we lawyers call jurisdiction. But when the client I’ve seen the most disturbed and in need begs me for help, today there is nothing I can do, nothing I could bend to make her case fit these rules.

My stomach turns inside out of itself because I can just imagine what might happen to this woman if this man finds her since we were not able to hide her with our paperwork. I wonder if months, maybe even weeks from now, I’ll hear about her in the papers; and not in the happy section where they announce engagements. Her story might get even worse than these past 15 years that she’s spent as a prisoner in her own home, beaten by her husband. I shudder.

I can’t handle this today. I can’t handle cases like her. I can’t separate my heart from this.

I try to think with my head but I close my eyes and I see those woman’s tears, her words begging me for help in a foreign language I just happen to understand perfectly. I nod, try to keep myself together and just say sorry, my good-bye words whisper “suerte.” As if luck has been with this woman these past few years, as if it will suddenly strike her the moment she walks out our doors, turned away from the only place she knew might give her a new beginning. A life without fear.

Some days I still wish I could change the world. There’s still passion for something inside me, somewhere.

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