Sometimes I have felt like a gerbil, running around and around on his wheel! Living in New York had proven to be a mistake once I met him. I had run away from New Jersey to the busy streets of New York City. It was cold that night as I was walking home from looking for work when he came to me. I knew I shouldn’t have fallen for the act, I should have ran, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Something drew me to him. Maybe his sent or the sweet promise to forget. As the months went on, I gave him everything. I put his needs before mine and though I tried to escape I alway came right back. His sweet words and soft tongue made me feel a sense of exuberance that I hadn’t felt in a long time. There were days where he left me feeling relaxed, but soon after I felt harried. I didn’t leave him. I couldn’t leave him. He filled the emptiness inside me. So I pushed and I pushed until I couldn’t go a day without him. Then one day I pushed too far, needed him too much, and he tried to kill me. I felt myself smile while my body went numb, and I fell into darkness. The happiness that I used to feel was only in my head now. His true evil unveiled.
“Compression one.” I press down on the lifeless girl under me who couldn’t be older than eightteen.
I hear a muffled voice above and a surge of pressure as my mind is flooded with images. A memory of me sitting at the kitchen table as a child, my family enjoying dinner and laughing.
“Compression two.” I put on a brave face and do my job, knowing that her life is in my hands.
Then I hear the voice again, but I plunge deeper into my memories. Freshman year of highschool when I won the writing contest. I remember my mother had been so proud, inviting all of my relatives to my house to celebrate.
“Compression three.” I look down. Her lips are blue and cracked. Her hair a rat's nest, but it is her skin that stands out. It is covered in black and blues. Her face and neck are flushed. Something within me crumbles at the signs of abuse on her body.
The muffled voice is getting louder, but I ignore it. Instead I think of my parents screaming and calling each other terrible things. I’m laying on my bed crying wishing they would go back to normal.
“Compression four. ” As the other EMT gives her mouth to mouth, I look down at her face. She is beautiful, but all the signs of manipulation make her look older and ugly.
I feel a rush of air inside me and the memories are coming faster. The shadow of a man I had once trusted is forcing himself on me as I lay defenseless. My body shaking in pain as I beg for him to stop.
"Compression five.” One million things go through my head and I can’t help but shudder at the thought of my children and I wonder where her parents could be….
Something in the voice changes, there's more urgency, I don’t want to see the memories anymore. I can’t stop as the next one hits me full force. My mother's hand across my face calling me a liar when I tried to tell her.
"Compression six.” She must live. I promised her in my head that it would be okay. I see my face in hers, and know how hard she must be fighting.
I want to find the voice as I feel another rush of air, but everything is foggy and the memories keep coming, me in the bathroom looking down at my naked body, every scar showing the emptiness and regret for every time I tried to speak up.
"Compression seven.” I think of my suffering and how I had been so close to death, just like her. I had been battered and used, but someone saved me. I would make sure to be that someone for her.
I push trying to get closer to the voice as the next memory brings me back down, trying to stop me. I’m in my bedroom, tears streaming down my face as I pack my bags no longer able to keep it all inside.
“Compression eight.” I feel her faint heartbeat get a little faster and I know that she is fighting for her life and I have to do all I can. I turn to my partner. “Come on! We are not letting this girl die!”
The voice is anxious and I struggle to try and find it, when I remember him and how he made me do the one thing I needed most, to forget. I remember the feeling of tremendous pain every time I tried to leave him, how it was easier to risk my life then to fight for it.
"Compression nine.” A hint color appears on her pale cheeks. I relax a little and think of what will happen to this girl.
The voice from above gets louder pulling me forward, but I don’t feel the strength to continue. I am ready to let go, to get lost inside myself. I remember thinking how I was nothing without him, thinking that if I went a day, just one without him, I would crumble. But then, I remember how he tricked me with injections of false hope and I just let him. I would not let myself crumble, this time I would fight for my life.
"Compression ten.” Something in me hopes that she will not let herself get used again, but I know how hard it is to break free from those chains that bind you for so long. I remember when I was stuck in an endless pattern, letting myself be used but knowing deep down that I was only hurting myself.
I can hear them right above me. Sirens, feet running past me, someone stepping on broken glass. I start feeling my surroundings. The hard cold ground below me, heavy hands on my chest pushing hard, dry lips pressed against mine trying to pull me from the darkness.
“Come on, wake up, you can do it, wake up.” My eyes fluttered open as I gasp for air. I turned my head to the voice I had heard. Two people staring down at me, one with slight tears in her eyes, and her hand on my chest. She had brought me back to life, had saved me from the hell hidden deep within myself that I wasn’t ready to face . She took my hand and squeezed it reassuringly .“It’s okay, relax, you’re okay. We are here to help, but I need you to work with me. Your name is Marisol, right? Marisol Luna?”
I nod as she puts an oxygen mask over my head. As I am lifted and placed on a gurney, I feel something heavy in my pocket and I realize that he’s here with me.Tears fill my eyes and out of instinct my hand tightens around him seeking reassurance, but I stop when everything comes back to me. I wonder how someone so small could have held so much power over me. He who had made me feel happy one moment and empty the next. He who had brought me to this point. I needed to let him go. I tighten my hand around him one last time. I watch as he falls to the ground and shatters, and for the first time since I injected myself with him , I feel as if control of my life, what I yearned for so long, was finally within reach.