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He Was a Smoker

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There are certain days and memories that stick with you for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky they will mostly be the good times that are remembered. Graduations, weddings, perhaps family vacations. But if you’re unlucky, like me, the bad ones, those are the ones that will plant themselves in your brain like a leech, sucking the life out of you, slowly at first, and then all at once.


“Why did you wake up screaming?”
“Because I had that dream again.”
“And what was the dream about?”
“You know what it was about.”
“Yes, but I want you to explain it to me, we’ve been at this for months, and you have yet to tell me what truly happened that day.”
“I can’t- “
“Try, but don’t try for me, try for yourself.”
“Okay…”


“It was a night in early December, hardly past 10. I was tired, pulling a double shift at the office can do that to you. My eyelids dropped down wanting more than anything to close. It took every ounce of strength in my legs to keep walking the mile that led to home. The cold breeze snipped at my ears till they were numb. I started shivering, wishing I had a heavier coat, though more so wishing I had taken a cab. But money was tight, why else would I have worked double shifts that whole week? The gravel roads were rough, hurting my already sore feet. And then I felt it. A warm breath of air on the back of my neck. I felt shivers run down my spine, and I felt ice cold, and I knew it wasn’t from the winter weather. I stopped, turning around. And there he was.”


“It’s okay, you can do this. What happened next?”


“He grabbed me by the neck and put one hand over my mouth. I couldn’t tell you what he looked like, it was so dark, but I remember the smell of cigarettes, and it wasn’t just on his breath, but his clothes stunk of it too. I tried to scream, but it just came out muffled against the weight of his hand. He dragged me into this alley way that wasn’t but a few feet away. I looked around hoping, praying that someone would see, but there was no one, nothing out there to save me. He threw me against the side of this brick building, and when I collapsed to the ground, he picked me up and threw me against it again and again. I could feel the blood running down my back and I felt it become sticky against the back of my shirt.”


“It’s okay take your time.”


“He tied a gag around my mouth. My tongue kept pushing at it, trying to resist it, but it didn’t matter. All it did was send the taste of dirt further into my mouth. My gag reflex kicked in and I vomited, but I had to swallow it back down. He then tied my hands together with the same type of cloth. It was cutting off my circulation and my hands and arms started to get a tingling sensation and I couldn’t really feel them. And it was strange but I think the thing that scared me the most, was that he was silent. He didn’t say anything, not to me, or to himself. He did everything with calm and ease. But whenever he breathed I could still smell the stench of cigarettes on his breath. And that was the only thing I knew about him, that he was a smoker, and nothing else. One of the biggest fears that went through my head was that he is going to rape me. I was almost certain of it.”


“And did he, did he rape you?”


“No, he didn’t, but he found something just as worse to torture me with. He grabbed a knife from his pocket, like one of those giant cutting knifes you keep in the kitchen, and he rolled up my pants on my left leg. I could see the moonlight for just a brief second and it shone on the metal of the knife, making it sparkle and I saw his mouth, and it was in a smile. He raised the knife above his head and my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. And then he brought it down onto my foot, just above the ankle. I could hear the cracking of my bones. The pain, the pain was like a million bullets were ricocheting through my entire body. I screamed and I screamed but of course no one could hear me, and I remember thinking that if there is a God in this world then He will let me die right now because I cannot bare this pain. Then I started to see white spots in my vision and I knew I was going to black out. If not from the pain, then from the blood. But right before I did, I, I saw it.”


“What did you see?”


“I saw him holding my foot in his hands. And that’s the last thing I remember before I woke up in the hospital.”
“Listen to me, you’re safe now, and I know how hard it was for you to tell your story, but believe me, it’s a story that needs to be told. And you will get through this. I’ll see you next week.”


“Thank you.”


As I’m walking home I feel better, and I smile. A story that needs to be told. I’m so proud of myself for telling her. It’s almost like a giant weight was lifted off my chest. I grab my key out of my pocket and unlock the door, stepping inside, and taking off my shoes. I hang my jacket and purse on the metallic hanger and walk to the kitchen. I think I deserve a glass of wine, I think to myself. I open the fridge and pour myself a small glass of the red liquid and sit down at the table. I slowly sip it, letting the bitter liquid linger in my mouth, when I feel a warm breath brush against the back of my neck, sending goosebumps trickling down my spine, and it smelled like cigarettes.






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