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All that Remains This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


Maybe it was stupid of me to think that I could get away with it and never look back. In reality it was no harder than acing a test: it just took preparation. It took time. Something I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of these days.

The first time he hit me, it didn’t feel like I expected. Or, at least, it wasn’t only pain. I felt things that are hard to describe. Like when someone dumps hot coffee on you, and all your emotions are so jumbled it becomes hard to pull them apart. The first thing that registers is the pain – the burning flesh that makes your skin crawl and your heart hammer and your body flail. The second thing that hits you is the shock. Why did he pour coffee on me? Why would he do that? Last is the anger. Sometimes it comes fast, a speeding bullet that practically skips the first two stages. Other times it takes longer, and for a moment you just sit there, dumbstruck. But once the anger hits, you know. Because the only thing you feel is the hatred and the red-hot desire to hit somebody.

The same thing happens when someone hits you, only there are different emotions. The pain, the shock, but not the anger. Instead you’re filled with a chilling fear. A fear of the pain, of the shock. A fear that it will happen again. A fear that all of those news stories are true, and you might be next.

He hit me for the first time two years ago. I was 13, and when his fist hit my cheek bone, it broke. The pain was piercing – a screaming agony I can barely stand to think of, let alone describe. He called 911; he got me an ambulance. But he lied. He told them that a robber had broken in and stolen our computer, punching me in the process. While he buried it in the backyard, I was locked in the closet, unable to call for help. He left me there for an hour, my body wailing in agony. That man was my father.

Three months later, he hit me again, this time in a less noticeable place. For weeks I had a giant purplish-black bruise covering my upper arm. I wore sweaters and long-sleeved shirts, despite the summer heat. My friends would ask, “Why are you wearing that, Lizzy? It’s like a hundred degrees!” and I’d say, “Yeah, I guess Weather Channel was way off. It told me it was gonna rain!” I think they knew I was lying, but they let me keep my secrets. Looking back, I wish they hadn’t. I wish they’d pulled up my sleeves and somehow known my dad had done it. That they’d stopped him.







I feel a tear slip down my cheek in silent protest. He’ll be here soon. My plan failed and any moment he’ll be here, and no one will hear my cries. He’s coming to kill me. I guess I should run. Run away and never come back. That’s what I tried yesterday. Turns out running didn’t work so well.

When I got home from school, I’d packed my backpack full of granola bars and water bottles. I’d dumped out all of my school stuff and packed one unnecessary item: a book. I’d found a flashlight too, a good one, compact but it gave off a lot of light. I shoved in two thin-but-warm blankets and was ready. I would’ve liked to bring my iPod, but aren’t they tracked or something?

Looking at my home and knowing that I’d never see it again – no matter how things went down – was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And I’ve done some pretty hard things. A thought of my mother flashed through my mind, subtle but definitely there. I’d been thinking of her more and more lately. Of what would have been different if she’d stayed.

My mother left when I was six. Just old enough to remember her, but too young for my memories to hold any meaning. All that remains is the memory of what she could have done, but what she did instead.

She left me alone with him.

When I think about it, I can only guess at her motives. Did she hate me? Did she hate him? Or was it someone else entirely that drove her away? But deep down, I know it must have been me, because otherwise there’s no explanation why she left me behind. But I just can’t accept the fact that my own mother doesn’t love me! So, I don’t. I lie. I tell myself that she is a loving, compassionate woman and she’ll be back for me someday. That she loved me and couldn’t take me with her for some reason. That she was a victim of circumstances. That she misses me.

I tell myself I don’t care anymore. Why do I care if my mother loves me or not? Not like it’ll make a difference – she’s gone.

I hear a creak as the metal-hinged door opens, and suddenly the once-dark corridor is flooded with light. I put up my hand to block the light, trying to see who’s there. But I know who’s there.

“Elizabeth! I’m gonna kill you for what you did to my house!” he growls angrily. “I dang well know it was you, I ain’t stupid!”

I suppose I forgot to mention the match. The match that I lit the curtains with. The match that produced the fire that I watched devour my house, the only place I ever called home. I’d hoped he’d burn with it. That the police would believe I burned with it too. I’d hoped that my old life would burn with that house.

I stand up and look at him – his ash-covered clothes, his scraggly beard. His eyes meet mine and I know that I can’t run anymore, that I am done running. That I am gonna fight him. Today, for the first time in my life, I am gonna fight back.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 21 comments. Post your own now!

lonelyAngel said...
Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm
this is really  so touching and it drives me madder than ever. how can a parent ver do that to a child? how can you watch as your child cries in pain....I pray that Jesus is out there with eache and every person thats being abused and raped.
 
theatregirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm
that was good. you took the over use premises of domestic abuse and gave it a whole new life. your writing was descriptive- the analogy between the feeling of being hit and the feeling of being burned my cup of hot coffee was brilliant. The way you understate how main character burned their house down was so good it left with more shock that great.  THAT REALLY DESERVED A SEQUEL- IT COULD BE MADE INTO A WHOLE NOVEL. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, KEEP WRITING
 
theatregirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm
WOW! THAT WAS GOOD! You took the over sue topic of domestic abuse and gave it a new life. I love your metaphor  with the coffee and the hitting. the mention of burning of the house was so well understated a made a greater impacted. It was so realistic I had to keep scrolling to the top to make sure it was realistic fiction not personal experience. great job. PLEASE KEEP WRITING!!!!!!!!!!
 
Sonza said...
Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm
THATS SOME WRITING..............really i liked the way you wrote the whole thing keep on writing!!  
 
lalaland said...
Nov. 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm
this is beautifully writen, heart-breaking story. you could write a novel about this!
 
a.e.always said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm
wow, just amazing, and I especially love the ending. plus, your characters were origional,too. if you could, please check out my work.
 
CammyS said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 6:21 am
Very clever! I love how you just causally mentioned the match at the very end. You are a really good writer!
 
JoshuaChen said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm
Another word of advice: In the second paragraph after the big Dot Dot Dot, I'd do something about that colon. It seemed to ruin the flow a bit. Although maybe that's just me.
 
JoshuaChen said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 10:23 pm
So many mistakes -_-. "Something I didn't seem to have a lot of these days." *those. Maybe this was a typo. "...it didn't feel like I expected" *I had expected And that's just the first few lines. I'm sorry, it's just hard to take this seriously when you clearly don't even understand basic tense. Teachers really need to focus on grammar more. And how did the editors not pick those errors up?
 
JoshuaChen replied...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm
Blegh, paragraphs don't work.
 
JinxedLoverThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm
Just because it wasn't written to your standard doesn't mean you need to belittle it. I believed it was well written and would love to know more about what might happen to the girl, if she made it out of the fight alive or if he did kill her for sure. Very lovely story and deffinatly 5 star! :)
 
JoshuaChen replied...
Nov. 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm
My dearest apologies for being one of the few users kind enough to offer criticism on this site. From now on I'll limit my comments to "That was AMAZING" and "I love this!" and "omg i wish i culd be such good writer as u." Screw being constructive; criticizing is just a sneaky way to belittle others' works.
 
jess-marie said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Very interesting! :)
 
seppydesoto said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm
I absolutely LOVED this! There was so much thought, she seemed sooo real!
 
Ghrenqi said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm
That was really good! The ending is such a cliff hanger, though, and that was kind of dissapointing. I would've liked to see what else happened. It was also pretty vague, but I guess these are just to help with the story. But you wrote truly about what a beaten daughter feels and goes through. Very well written.
 
fly.Robin.fly said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm
This is so meaningful and deep! :-)
 
BubblyTea said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm
so bold!!            
 
LinkinPark12 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 4:19 am
I love this! :) Great description!
 
boookworm said...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm
i looooved it! the detail how it made you feel the pain and the setting!! HOPE you write your own novel in the future!!!!
 
Trees said...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm
Amazing!  :)
 
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