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Whoosh…Whoosh…Whoosh. A fan turns in lazy circles, trying to stir the tight air of the room. All is silent in the hazy darkness, save the steady metronome of the fan. Below, a girl tosses and turns in bed, sheets twisted around her damp body. They cling to her imperatively, grasping at tearing at her skin as she writhes. She stirs, pushing away her night-time chains. Opened eyes at first see nothing, nothing but a midnight hued void. Time wears down the shadows’ reserve, lifting the veils from their resting places in the room, her room. No. Shapes twist as lingering shadows distort her perspective. Walls tilt, forms distort, spinning terrible shades of night in her vision. Something is wrong. Where is the…no, its right there. It must be a trick of her mind, a trick of the night. Deep breaths, in and out. But it doesn’t go away. Maybe she is sick? Yes, what other forces have the power to make her world spin in havoc? She should try to sleep. Her eyes close, and she lies, counting the minutes in time with the fan.
Whoosh…Whoosh. A sigh of frustration escapes her lips. Whoosh… Whoosh… Creak. Wait. Steps in the hall. Who else could be awake at such a late hour? Creak…Creak. They are coming closer. The door opens. Heavy footsteps cross the room. A large figure looms in the darkness. It reaches the bed. There is no more creaking. The figure diminishes downward. A rough hand makes its way across her back, stroking over the cotton of her shirt.
“Hello there,” a voice breathes into her ear in soft tones. No, it isn’t soft. There’s something there, hidden in the color of his voice. Something is wrong. Her body tenses, each and every muscle. The stroking hand changes its course. It comes down hard over her wrist, capturing, wrenching her up. Her body jerks up, and sways, wakening her from her drowsy state. Malicious eyes gleam down at her, eyes unfamiliar to her. But though she cannot place the eyes, she can place their look, their hunger. Her own eyes widen, and her pulse quickens. A reaction as old as time overcomes her body, spilling out as the room grows contracts, her universe shrinking. The walls are closing in, slowly but surely. They twist and curl, mocking her with their mobility. He laughs, a cold sound, his other hand skating up to caress her face. Her mind screams “run!” but her body is frozen. She holds her pose, immobile as he closes the distance with a harsh kiss. The sensation sends alarms through her body as it bruises her tender lips. No. No, no, no. He is moving at the speed of light. His tongue forces her lips open, a familiar invader. No. His hands clutch at her body, plundering underneath her clothes, lower and lower. Pinching, squeezing, taking. He slides over her body, one hand clawing its way up her leg. No. Her mind screams, over and over. Why can’t she move? Panic pulses hot through her veins, voiced in a single thought: No.
The spell is broken. She finally writhes, struggling against him helplessly, her motions a light breeze against his fortress. Her protests a met with cold laughter. It haunts her. Her shirt is ripped from her body, leaving porcelain skin exposed. The air rushes against her body, followed by his hungry attacks. His hands now move lower. No. The last barrier is removed, leaving her in pageant, assailable. Arms flail, legs kick. Pain flashes through her cheek, stinging the skin, electrifying. Still, she continues. She cannot afford to stop. He quenches her efforts, strong arms pinning her thin frame, chains. He moves over her.
“You haven’t fought like this in years. What’s gotten into you, sugar?” She can hear the smirk in his voice. He is wrong. This is wrong. “You’re being such a naughty girl. Do you know what happens to naughty girls?” God, please no. But prayers prove to be as futile as her struggling limbs. His hands push her knees apart. No. His pants are gone, she doesn’t know how. He is on top of her, pushing in. She cries out, a bitter mix of despair and pain. An angry hand catches her scream as he thrusts in and out. Time drags on. His grunts blend with the whoosh of the fan. She forces breath into her body, breathing as deeply as she can. No. Tears mingle with her sweat. No. Breath: in and out. Whoosh…grunt…Whoosh. In and out. Endless, mindless repetition rules both bodies, fulfilling their separate needs. An eternity. At last he is spent, she is released, no longer the captive of Him and his midnight hour. But she is not free. Her abusers now come from within, ripping at her heart and her conscience. The room spins. Dizzy. He is whispering into her ear, the mindless words blending together in a swirl of cruelty. “Secret…if you tell…” All these words say is pain. She forces them from her mind, unable to bear. She understands; there is no need to say it. “You wouldn’t want that, would you?” No, she wouldn’t.
The bed springs up. There is movement. She cannot her it, she cannot see it. She is paralyzed, now confined from within. Footsteps leave the room, creaking with the forgotten fan. Alone.
There is a clock on her bedside table. Were they always there? Digits on the clock spin, faster and faster, a wavering red whirl. Light creeps into the room. Her body knows the patterns, they execute without the mind. In the light, the room still spins, the walls still waver. She is standing in front of a mirror. She doesn’t know what she expected to see. She doesn’t think this is it, this funhouse mirror. Is it her imagination? She shouldn’t look like that. Her body is too long, the mirror must have stretched. Her features are too spread, the mirror must have stretched. This is wrong.
Her body moves her through a blurry day. It moves faster than her mind. Her mind retreats. No. Memories echo, they call to her. She mustn’t think of them, not now. Before she knows it she is at home again. Home? Maybe. It is dark. Were those shadows always there? She doesn’t know. They are there now.
It’s only three. She is safe, for now. The numbers on the clock are safe. She breathes. Everything is alright. But wait. The numbers, see how they move. Time shouldn’t move that fast. But it just did. The numbers race to the finish, her body races to the room. Her room? It is night. No, it can’t be. No. How did it come so fast. Fear fills her. Its time to go. She can’t stay with her body tonight. Not again. She doesn’t belong. It is time to go. So she does. She cannot move her body. It moves of its own will. She does not have to witness the sins of her body. It is safe inside. Move deeper and deeper, let go of what is real.
In the morning, she returns. She is sore. She doesn’t remember, but she knows. Her body’s pains rival those of her mind. But bones and nerves cannot fathom such despair. Never again. She cannot.
Again the day is short. It is time to leave. No. Panic reaches out and grasps her. It creeps up quickly, moving even more swiftly than the spinning red clocks.
“Are you alright?” A hand on her shoulder. A girl is looking at her, her eyes filled with something. Concern, pity. No. No she is not. The girl waits expectantly. She wants more. Can she say more? Her eyes scan the horizon, buses are all around. There is the bus to take her…home. Her breath comes shallow now. All she sees are the eyes. Eyes void of care, compassion. Harsh, cold eyes. Eyes that spread their chill to her, freezing her body. Icicles pierce her heart, daggers. Her eyes dilate. Panic. No. No, no, no. She cannot. She takes a breath.
“Please. Please, help me. Help me.” There, she said it. A warm arm wraps around her shoulders. Its touch is gentle. Not like the other arm’s touches. It guides her away from the buses. Shaky hands fumble with the clasp of a seatbelt. She is shaking. She cannot go back. No, no, no. The friend’s voice is soothing. Gentle hands move her own away from the buckle. She tastes salt. When did she start to cry? It doesn’t matter; they run quickly down her face in drunken paths. The road blurs. Everything blurs.
Another house. It is bright, lights are shining. Warmth surrounds her. A blanket is spread over her lap; tea on the table.
“Tell me what’s wrong. Let me help you.” She is breathing better now. He will not know where she is. He doesn’t know what she does in the hours of light. It is only her darkness that matters. She is safe, at least for now. She is outside of His grasp. Breath flows easier through her body, as do words.
“I can’t go home,” she confesses. She doesn’t need to tell everything. The friend doesn’t ask. She understands. Gentle hands rub her back. The friend says everything will be alright. She doesn’t really believe. But it’s nice to pretend.
The family comes home. They are different from Him. So different. She had forgotten what it was like to have a mother. And the father. He is a gentle giant, a protector. Soothing hands brush her hair. Everyone around her is whispering. What to do? How long will life let them protect her? They don’t know. But tonight she is safe. Tonight she can sleep in peace. Her only fears will only come from dreams, not the flesh.
Too soon day breaks. The sun creeps over the horizon, its rays of life burning her skin. Today is a new day.
Her new day drags on. She is filled with dread. A slip of paper is put in her hands, beckoning her to the office. No. Please, no. Don’t let it be Him. Hands clench at her sides. She feels no pain when nails break the skin.
It isn’t Him. They want to talk. She tries, she does. But it is hard. Her tongue will not release it all. Words cling to her mouth. She can leave, but she should come back after school. At least she doesn’t have to go back there.
The torturous wait continues. Ring…the final bell. No. She forces her legs to rise, to carry her from the room. The friend is there, waiting. She takes her arm.
“Let’s go drop our books in my car. Then we’ll go to the office.” Okay. They walk across the parking lot.
No. She stops. The air flees her lungs. It is Him. No. No. No. The friend’s grip tightens, tries to pull her back to safety. But the eyes have touched hers. Their coldness has spread. Her limps are frozen. No.
Everything is spinning. Her world turns sideways, backwards, over every way, doing cartwheels. Lights dim and brighten. No. He is walking toward her, his path crooked. He grows and shrinks, turning out of synch with her world. Someone is screaming. No. The shapes and colors and sounds flood her senses, overwhelming. Overloading. There is an explosion of light. Her world goes dark.