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Wake Me Up (chapter two)

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For the next five days, Ed and I didn't interact much. I still hadn't gotten over the awkwardness and slight fear of him, so I tired to stay away from him as much as possible, making it even more awkward for the both of us. He wasn't too hard to avoid considering I couldn't go many places with cut up feet. Whenever I would have to go to the bathroom or to the living room, I'd have to walk slowly and take breaks to sit on the ground to ease the pain before getting to my destination. I'd try to stay in the bedroom for most of the day, pondering ideas, and getting rest. I even found myself watching the bruises and cuts I had before slowly begin to fade. Some of the wounds would leave scars and take a while to heal, but I was excited that I hadn't got any new cuts to replace the old ones. I was finally beginning to heal after years of torture, and it felt better than anything I had ever experienced in my life. I just wished my mom was there to feel it with me.
I started thinking about her the more I spent alone. Most of the time I tried to recall when she didn't have a bruised face, but it became almost impossible after a while. I only saw her hurt sad expression, the one that I saw normally at home. But now I saw none of her at all, and I could only wonder if things were alright for her.
"Amber, promise me you will never get married," I remember her saying to me one day while I helped her clean up another mess he left for us. She was down on her hands and knees in beer bottle glass, not giving a care if any of herself got hurt from it. When you're that tired and wounded from everything, you just don't care anymore. That's what our life had come to, "they may seem sweet at first, but they will only turn into what your father has. Men are mean to women, you need to realize that now."
I questioned this everyday of my life, when I saw a couple together or even when I saw my mom and dad interact. I respected my mom and what she said, after all, she was the strongest, most brave women I had ever known. Many times she would take my beatings for me and spare me another scare. Sometimes she would hide me when she knew he would come home drunk again. And she was the one who urged me to escape, probably taking another punishment for me.
Every minute I worried for her, wondered if she was still alive, if maybe she escaped and was looking for me. Maybe she got the chance to turn my father into the authorities so they could arrest him for what's he has done to her. Maybe she hit him back to try and drive him away from her, it was time for her to stand up for herself. All in all I just hoped she was safe and not taking anymore blows for me, she wasn't the one who deserved them, I was.
A beautiful determined lady like her could get far in life. In fact, before him, she had a job as a manager for the local bank. That was before I was born, but I could still imagine the money she forked in with a job like that. She had a beautiful face and an even better heart. She had long, dark hair like me and green eyes that were sharp, but so comforting at times. I would catch myself staring at her, hoping I would look just like her one day, and be as brave as her at the same time.
However, I wasn't being brave now, hiding from the only person I knew in London in his own house. But, every time I looked at him, I would only remember my mom's words. I didn't want Ed to be like that, for his sake, he was much too kind to turn out like my father. I knew I needed to talk to him but everything was holding me back. It seemed like the only times when I had enough courage to try to talk to him were when he was gone or on his phone. I could never spark up an interesting conversation when we were actually together or making small talk. It was beginning to seem like I would never get to know this guy.
The more I thought about him, the more I was regretting not spending the time I had with him, getting know him. If I didn't, he might turn me into the police. Then they would call my father and he would request me back. I would end up right where I started, and not to mention the punishment I would get for what I did.
Ed was different from the other men I had seen. He wasn't loud or demanding, I could tell he would listen if I spoke. He seemed caring, and it really touched me when a few days ago he came home from wherever with a few new t-shirts, shampoo, a toothbrush, and other stuff for me. It was like I was family to him, even if he didn't know me. I wasn't sure why he was doing what he was for me. He must have better things to do in life then worried about the broken girl on the streets.
I thought about what my mom would think about him, maybe she would see that not all men are mean and abusive. But, that was nothing for me to say, I didn't even know Ed, maybe he was mean, maybe he was just like my father. That's what confused me. One minute I would trust him and the next I'd be planning an escape route out the window so I would never have to see his face again. I didn't want him to be part of any nightmare waiting for me.
The nightmares I already experienced where torture enough. Every night I would have a new one, and sometimes wake up crying. A few times Ed came in because he heard me shout or whimper, but it was only to check to be sure I was okay. Once he was sure I was, he'd leave again, sometimes never making it past the doorway. After that I wouldn't sleep through the rest of the night, I'd just stay awake and think, fight back sleepiness. Recently I had given up on sleeping all together, so I would take cat naps during the day just to keep myself together. I could sleep in the daylight, but it was just something about the night that reminded me of home.
At times I wished someone would spend the night with me, to help me sleep. It was something about having someone in the same room while I slept that made me feel safe. Even if they were sleeping I would feel like they would keep me safe from anything, watch over me while I slept. I felt like they could protect me even from my own dreams.


One day, the sixth day that I had spend with Ed, I was laying on the bed listening to him play music in the next room over. I was drifting between sleeping and not, finally feeling calmed by the music that was echoing through the house. It was a better day, I made it all the way from here to the bathroom without taking a break on my feet, and I felt calmer. Maybe it was how sunny it was outside, or the birds I could hear singing through the window in the park next door, but something made that day different.
Ed had been home all day, and hadn't been on his phone once. I still avoided him, but he found reasons to talk to me when we ran into each other. I noticed how much more smiley he was being towards me, and how his eyes seemed brighter, I decided the weather was making him happy as well. He was singing softly to himself in the room next door, words I couldn't make out, but still felt the same in my head. It made me want to sing along, but there was no way I was going to do that. I had never heard myself sing, and I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to.
I opened my eyes when Ed changed his song and began playing a familiar tune. My fingers tapped on the mattress to the slight sound, not too much guitar playing, and the right amount of voice. I was beautiful and I recognized every word of it. Although I had only heard it once, I felt as if I knew the lyrics by heart. I moved my mouth to the words being said and smiled. That smile was the first smile I had smiled in a long time, even longer than I could remember.
At that moment in time, I felt as if anything to could happen. My cheeks embraced the smile and it made me want to laugh out loud. I kept it in, but sat up in the bed, looking down at my socked feet. I decided that today, right now, I was going to confront Ed. There was going to be no more times when he started all the conversations, it was now going to be the both of us who would talk. And I knew exactly what to ask about.
I slid gently off the bed and made sure my feet could handle to weight I gave before continuing on. They stung a bit, but I sucked it up and hobbled to the door that I kept closed most of the time. I opened it and the music got louder. I took a deep breath and walked up the hallway a few steps and peered into Ed's room. He didn't look back and kept playing the guitar on the swivel chair in front of the wooden desk near his bed.
I stepped into the doorway more and listened silently while the words poured out of lips. He didn't stumble or break tune, and he was steady and confident. My eyes traveled down his body and to his fingers that worked hard on the neck of the guitar he was playing, pressing strings onto the wooden frame. His other hand held a pick and strummed a few chords to the beat of his singing. I noticed how his accent came through with every word he spoke.
I opened my mouth to speak but licked my lips instead, trying to get some confidence to interrupt him. He seemed too confident, and I was not. For a split second I thought about turning around and forgetting about the whole plan, forgetting I ever thought of it. But something kept me there and I knew I had to be as brave as my mom.
"What is that song called?" I tried to project my small voice over his and interrupt him. He must have heard me because he stopped singing and looked up at me from where he was sitting, just as baffled that I was there as I was. He stopped strumming the guitar and opened his mouth to say something but he stopped and stared at me for a second. A slight smile pulled his cheeks up and he lifted his head even higher.
"What was that, Love. I didn't catch you the first time," his voice boomed and sounded excited that I had come to him. I shuttered slightly at how loud he has gotten, he wasn't usually like that. But there was no backing down now.
"What song is that? I've heard it before," I repeated in the same small voice. He smiled even wider and nodded at me. He was happy that I was finally taking notice of him.
"That song I call Wake Me Up," he told me. I mumbled the name back to myself, trying to memorize it.
"I like it, it's... Pretty," I said vaguely. He thanked me and we stood there in an awkward silence for a few more seconds before I backed up and turned the other way to leave.
"Thanks," I said to him as a goodbye then took a step forward into the hallway back to the bedroom.
"Wait," his voice stopped me in my tracks. I looked over at him expectantly. He nodded his head at the bed he was beside and said, "why don't you stay for a while?"
I hesitated for a moment, I wasn't going to risk my life going in there, was I? But was he really going to hurt me? Would he hurt anyone? Was it time for me to trust him? Not yet... But what harm could spending a few minutes with him do? I limped into his room and sat down on his bed uncomfortably. He looked at me in silence and strummed a few chords on the guitar.
"I never knew you were into music," he said after a bit. I shrugged and looked across the room.
"I'm not really. I don't really... Listen to any," I replied shyly.
"You seem like the type that would love music," he tried to get my hopes up.
"Why do you say that?" I asked, still not looking at him.
"I don't know, I can just see it in you," I didn't understand what he was saying. How could he see music in me? But I didn't question him.
"I don't know what you've been through, but I might be able to help you," he said suddenly. My head shot into his direction almost with anger, but I was more surprised. He had no clue what I had experienced, and no man could ever repair that.
"Well... I'm not sure if I can fix you, but music may be able to," he shook his head and corrected himself, "why don't you just listen for a bit, you might like what you hear."
I didn't say anything back while he strummed a few chords, then slowly began playing with a beat. It was quicker than Wake Me Up, but still soothing. He opened his mouth and began singing lyrics that I had never heard.
"I fell in love, next to you. Burning fires, in this room. It just fits, light and smooth. Like my feet in my shoes. Little one, lie with me. Sew your heart to my sleeve. We'll stay quiet, underneath shooting stars, if it helps you sleep. And hold me tight, don't let me breath. Feeling like you won't believe. There's a firefly, loose tonight. Better catch it before it burns this place down. And the light if I, don't feel so right. But the world looks better through your eyes," he sung, not looking up, at me, but focusing on where he placed each of his finger on the guitar's neck.
I scooted back on the bed, feeling sleepier from his voice. I didn't sleep last night and hardly any this morning. I gently let myself fall to the side so I was laying against the bed, but still facing him, and still trying not to distract him. I tucked my feet under my body and watched how Ed'd hands were busy at work. The red sweater he was wearing had the sleeves rolled up to the elbow and I noticed how tattooed his left arm was and I wondered why I had never seen it before. I couldn't help but stare and try to make sense to all the designs he had, and what they meant to him.
I found his other arm to have a few more tattoos as well, they made no sense either, to me anyways. Maybe one day I would ask them what they were about, maybe not. It depends on how long he wants to keep me, and I'm not sure how long that will be. I could be shipped back to Massachusetts tomorrow and never see Ed again. Of course, I wasn't sad about Ed, I was scared of my father.
As Ed began finishing up his song he looked over at me and sung directly to me like the song was about me. It wasn't though, it was a love song, and he didn't feel that way about me. I'm sure he was ready for me to walk out his front door any day.
"What do you think?" He asked when he was done. I smiled slightly and nodded at him.
"I like it," I told him truthfully. He smiled widely and I saw him blush a bit.
"You're they guy in the radio, aren't you?" I asked suddenly, not really meaning to.
"Well, Love, sometimes they play my songs on the radio," he told me. That wasn't what I was talking about though, I sat up in a huff and frowned.
"No I mean that you were on the radio that night you found me," I said. I didn't realize how much I was talking to him and how much louder I had gotten. He looked at the carpet and thought for a bit. I watched him concentrate and then when he realized it, he smiled.
"Yea I guess I was. Was it Wake Me Up that was playing?" He asked I nodded and he grinned.
"So does that mean you're famous?" I asked next. He shrugged and played with the nubs at the top of the guitar.
"I just play a few shows here and there," he, I later found out, lied. I nodded and looked over his guitar.
"But before all that I worked at a pub, singing here and there," he started to tell me, "I was only 16 and got paid in alcohol." I found his eyes when he said it and felt a little scared again. Dad was usually twice as mad when he was drunk, was Ed like that too? He must have seen the concern in my eyes because he dropped the subject quickly.
"But that was then and this is now," he finished he short story off, and I felt bad for cutting him off.
"Do you have... A family?" I asked. He nodded and smiled at the thought. We kept silent for a bit while he thought.
"I have a mum and a dad, and an older brother, Matt," he said, "in fact, he used to stay in that very room you are using. But one day he took the bed and his belongings and left. Cheeky fellow, really."
"I always thought it'd be fun to have a sibling," I told Ed after his story, he looked over at me and smiled. I'm not sure if he knew what to say to that, but I was okay with it.
"Sometimes I wish I didn't, but they come in handy in the long run," he said, "one day you'll have someone to take take of you." I swallowed at what he said, he couldn't be meaning I was getting a sibling.
"But for now, I'll be there to help you get back on your feet," he smiled at me. I attempted to smile back, but my mind was still thinking about what he said.
"That is, when they heal, they are getting better, aren't they?" He changed the subject again.
"Yea, I'm almost back to normal," I over exaggerated a bit by saying that. It would take weeks for me to get back to my old self again, running and such.
"I'm sure we'll have more fun when you are," he said. I yawned in reply and stood up from the bed.
"I should go take a nap, I didn't get much sleep last night," I said while I walked away and out the door. But before I left, I turned to him and said, "and most of the time, the world doesn't look better through my eyes."

~*~

As the dark began to enclose the house I got prepared for what would be another sleepless night. I knew it was going to be hard because I didn't get much rest that day, I was to busy thinking about what Ed and I talked about it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to say to him, I wanted to find out more about this guy.
I was waking back from the bathroom late that night when I thought I heard someone talking. I stopped to listen and heard Ed's voice saying, "I've got myself a problem."
I don't usually eavesdrop, but there was nothing else to do at one in the morning, plus it was strange that Ed was still awake. I positioned myself so I was sitting cross legged in front of his door.
"Yea but its not what you think," I heard him say again. I wondered who he was talking to and what they were saying back.
"I was driving back from a gig in town, right. It was pretty late and during that huge storm we had earlier this week. There was like no one else on the road but all of a sudden I could see this... Person crawling up the road. I got closer and saw this girl with her hand up trying to stop me. I stopped in front of her and got out of the car... And I... What?" He began to tell the story about me. This perked my interest, that he was talking about me.
"No, she wasn't a zombie, this is serious, Harry," he sounded a bit frustrated, "I took her home and she completely blacked out on the way there. But what was interesting was that the next morning I was woken up by the sound of glass breaking. I hurried out into the kitchen just in time to see the girl I just rescued trying to escape through my front door with an arm full of my food."
"But the interesting thing was, she must have stepped on the glass from the plate because she was leaving bloody footprints everywhere," he explained every detail then was silent for a bit while the person on the other line spoke.
"No, I tried to help her with her feet but she wouldn't let me touch her. It's is like she's scared of me whenever I do something sudden, she just... freaks out," he said, "but then, that night I was woken up again. She was screaming in the spare bedroom. I ran in there and she sat up quickly and looked at me. Her eyes were so big, and she kept screaming at me saying, 'don't hurt me'. She fell off the bed and cried while I picked her up and back onto it. She literally cried in my lap for an hour before she fell asleep again."
"I don't know, I never asked her. But a couple times this week she had woken me up, and now I can't sleep at all, I just think about it all night, and I wait for her to scream again," he said, "that one night really scared me, I thought someone was attacking her. I wasn't sure how to act, I just know that something is going on with her. She hardly speaks to me and won't let me get too close to her."
"Well I don't if they will get much out of her, they'll probably just interrogate her into hysteria. I don't want want to turn her in yet," he said after another pause. He must have been talking about turning me into the police, and the thought of it made me shake.
"Yea I know, but I don't have to go until next month, I have a few weeks. Maybe I can get something out of her before then. She came here alone, and did I mention she is an American? How could she have gotten over here by herself?" He asked the phone.
"No, she has to have a family somewhere, and I think I can figure out where," he argued back, "and once I do I can send her back." I was shocked her hear what was coming out of his mouth, send me back? He didn't want me, he just wanted me to get out of his life. He wanted to give me back to my father, without knowing what he does to me. I felt myself getting worked up, my stomach felt like it was in my throat at the news I was hearing.
"No, just give me a month, then she'll be back where she came from. Don't worry, lad. This won't affect me, I just want to help her out, that's all," he began to conclude his conversation. My head fell to my chest and I whimpered silently to myself at the thought of going back home. I knew what my father would do to me when I came back. There was no way I would survive his wrath let alone my fears about him.
"Alright, yea soon. Maybe in the next few days?" He asked to his friend. A tear ran down my cheek and I watched it fall into my lap. I caught the next one in the palm of my hand and looked at it for a bit while Ed made plans to meet with his friend. When he hung up I heard nothing from the room.
After about 5 minutes I was sobbing silently and heard a loud sigh from inside the room. The bed squeaked and footsteps neared the door. I sat there while the door opened and two feet appeared in front of me.
"Amber? Why are you still up?" Ed asked, and I didn't reply. He eventually resorted to sitting in front of me with his legs crossed like mine, but I still didn't look up at him. I was still trying to soak in what he had just said.
"Are you alright?" He tried to speak to me again, but I kept quiet. He then reached over and with a gentle hand, lifted my tear soaked chin up to face him. I kept crying while I looked over his tired face. He ran his hand through his messy, red hair and sighed at the sight of me.
"What's wrong?" He tried again. This time I answered.
"If you wanted to help me, you can never send me back," I said through sobs. He looked me over in concern.
"Back where, Love?" he asked.
"To my family," I replied and tears poured out of my eyes. I watched as he slowly reached over and wrapped his arms around my body protectively. I leaned forward until my head hit his chest and I let his t-shirt soak up the tears I was still crying. His fingers combed through my now clean hair and held me until I couldn't cry anymore.
His voice was still ringing in my head. How could I trust him if he only wanted to see me go back home. I should have left in the beginning... When I had the best chance. Or maybe it was finally time to tell him what was going on... Maybe then he would understand. Maybe he wouldn't send me back. But, like he said, I had a month, I could at least have a few days to think it over.
"I know you haven't been sleeping the past few days, and I haven't either," he spoke again after a bit and I nodded in agreement, "I think I can fix that."
I stood up and snatched my hand to lift me up. I held onto him like a small child while he led me into his room. I didn't resist when he set me down in his bed. I curled up in a ball on the mattress and watched him turn off the light in the hallway and shut the door to the room. I felt his weight on the other side of the bed in the dark room and the sheets he covered us with.
I stayed awake for a bit more and considered going back to the other bedroom, but the presence of someone in the same room with me made me feel overwhelmingly comfortable. I found that I couldn't get out of the bed and I fell asleep without saying another word to Ed.



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