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Mirrors: Chapter 1
Chapter 1: Amaranthine
I was panting wildly as the coarse northern wind hit every exposed piece of my skin. My name was being called from a distance, but I kept running. Brambles hit my face and arms leaving violent red welts, but still, I did not slow my pace. I hardly even noticed the tears coursing down my cheeks in the dripping rain. "Get back here Ara! I said come back w****!” he called to me, his voice nearly inaudible because of the distance I had covered. The forest that had seemed so small in daylight now seemed safe and thick.
Chest heaving and knees quaking I glanced down at my phone, praying that I had a signal. The sight of one bar gave me hope. I was dialing my best friend Aerýn when my battery died. My tears began to fall harder as the word 'typical' resounded from my lips.
The only sound to be heard was my whimpering at this point. I had spaced out and even the rain sounded distant as it incessantly fell upon my delicate features. My sobbing grew so loud that I lost control of myself. A branch falling in front of me finally caused me to snap back into reality.
I became silent. I heard Cegin’s voice becoming louder and began to run again looking for a place to hide. I spotted a small cave, hardly an overhang, a couple of yards away and ran straight to it. In my haste I slipped on the slick stone surface and heard the sickening sound of a bone breaking as my shin hit a large boulder. As much as I wanted to cry out in pain, I couldn’t bring myself to do it; I couldn’t afford to have Cegin find me. I bit down on my lip and tore at my palms to try and get my mind off the searing pain. Now only a couple feet from the cave I dragged my weight the rest of the way. Every inch made the pain grow, but the choice was between pain and Cegin and anything was better than Cegin.
I kept going until I felt the bottom of the cave. Safety fell upon me and I relaxed simultaneously. Judging from the sound earlier it was a broken bone. But even that was just a guess. Using each strike of lightning to guide my eyes, I took off my drenched jacket and tightly wrapped it around my shin, tying it in a knot. I grimaced as a shot of sharp pain ran up and down my leg.
Cradled by the thought of being at home, in the safety of my own bed, I laid my head on the softest rock I could find and virtually passed out.
Soon enough the movement of a Whip Scorpion on my face caused me to wake up. I threw the spider off of my face and sat up with a quick jolt. Peering outside of the cave’s entrance, I could see nothing but thick fog and hear birds and frogs carrying on their melodies around me. There was only the moon out now to help me see, but that was more than before. I now had the opportunity to look at my bone in relative light.
Carefully untying my jacket I winced. I had been correct in my hypothesis an hour or so before. It was broken. A bone could not possibly stick out that far and not be broken. However bad it was though, I had to walk on it if I wanted to make it home. So grabbing my jacket I gradually lifted myself from the dewy floor of the cave trying my best not to put any weight on my right leg.
Regardless of the pain, I paced myself and started walking. Outside the cave I carefully bent down and picket up a broken off branch to use as a cane. It became my right leg for the next couple hours.
Judging from what I could see through the fog, I was near the road. Maybe once I reached the cool concrete I could get someone to stop and pick me up. But in order to do that, I would have to first reach the road, which so close seemed that much further from me.
Slowly making my way through the dense trees I felt alone and helpless. Besides the songs of the creatures stirring about and the touch of the branches and leaves on my damp skin, there was no one around. So alone I continued to walk at a more than slow pace. From the day I was born to today, the only goal I had ever had was to get away from my parents as soon as I possibly could. Now, I had a goal. However short term it was, my goal was to reach the road as fast as I could without hurting my leg further. With a dead cell phone battery, it was my only shot at making it home before the sun would rise.
About thirty minutes later I reached an old house that looked like a barn. Hoping for a second of rest I walked to the door and knocked. A few animals scuttled around in answer to the wood shaking from my hand. Other than the sound of a squirrel scuttling to my left, there was not an utterance. I began to weep again, more in self-pity, and slid to the moist ground. All hope became lost. Even my hope of reaching the road faded for no apparent reason. Never before had so many tears fell from my face. Never before had my life been so miserable. Everything was going wrong. At least it felt as if it was. My wound had started to bleed again, but there was nothing I could do this time. I just knew I had to hurry and find someone for the sake of my life. For a second I thought about giving up and just laying there for the rest of the night and just let the night take me, but I was strong, and my better judgment prevailed. Even my parent’s faces seemed better then lying out in the forest with a broken leg.
Drying my eyes and using the broken branch as leverage, I got up and started walking again. I had heard a car pass not too long ago. It lifted my spirits and gave me an extra jolt of adrenaline; I picked up my pace. After about five minutes my left foot felt concrete. Excitement ran through me for what would usually just be a mode of transport to her. I waited for a car, a truck, or something mobile to come by and stop.
An innumerable time later I saw two headlights coming over the road’s crest. I struggled off of the ground forgetting momentarily about the pain and started waving my arms frantically to make the little blue Honda Civic stop. The car slowed down letting off a few clumps of dirt and the window on the right side was rolled down. There was a lady of about forty-seven in the driver’s seat that seemed like a decent person whom I could trust.
"Could I possibly get a ride back to town? Or at least borrow your phone if you have one? You see, I've been running all night because of something that happened to me and I hurt my shin. I just need to see a doctor or get a hold of my friend Aerýn.” I managed to croak out; it’d been a few hours since I’d used my voice.
"Well, I'm on my way away from town going to visit some family so I can't give you a ride, but you can borrow my phone." She said as she reached into her purse. "I hope it will help to some degree." The lady seemed to stare at me as I dialed every number with my thin, shaking fingers. I knew that Aerýn would be at work, but that never stopped her from picking up her phone. I listened intently as the phone rang on and on, just waiting to hear Aerýn's voice.
A couple seconds later the word ‘hello’ came through the phone and a soft, relieved smile spread across my face.
"Aerýn! It's me, Ara. I need you to come to the forest by Cegin's house and pick me up. Something has happened and I'm hurt." I choked out, now crying because of the simple relief of Aerýn's voice. I knew that Aerýn hated the dark and would probably hate me for asking to come get me, but she was the only person I could think of to pick me up at this hour.
"What happened? How bad are you hurt? Are you okay Ara?" There was a sense of urgency flowing through the phone with every word the Aerýn said. I could hear her picking up her things and leaving work.
"I'm afraid there isn't time for questions right now because I'm on someone else's phone. So I'll tell you everything when you get here. And Aerýn, please hurry! I'll be sitting at the side of the road so you can see me. Just turn your fog lights on so I know it's you."
"Okay okay! I'm on my way. Just tell me one thing right now. Does Cegin have anything to do with you being hurt?"
".....I, I'll tell you when..." Aerýn cut her off.
"Answer me Ara. What did that jerk do to you?"
"See you in a few minutes." was all I said and the line went dead. I knew that Aerýn would be upset no matter what I said and I would rather wait to tell her in person about all the events of yesterday evening and this morning.
I bent down and reached into the opened space of the car and gave the lady back her phone.
“Thank you so much.”
“No problem. Hey, are you alright? Do you need me to wait here with you until your friend comes?”
“I’ll be fine.” I said with hesitation. As for waiting with her for Aerýn to come, I wanted to accept. But going against my heart I simply told her no.
Not ten minutes later I saw two bright lights floating my way. I had been sitting on the pavement to prevent any pain I could in my shin, so I stood up and started waving my hands as I had twenty minutes earlier. Aerýn’s car came swiftly to my side. I went for the door handle with my right hand and opened the door so fast that it almost came back to hit me in the side.
“I need you to take me to the hospital.” was the first thing I said to Aerýn as we drove off.
“What happened?” I sat there for a minute contemplating how I would tell Aerýn, or what I would tell her for that matter. Tears started flowing into my eyes as I went over everything in my head.
“I didn’t want to, but he said that I had to. That it was the only way he would love me. I still said no, and then he forced me.” Aerýn stopped in the middle of the road and looked at me with angry eyes.
“Forced you to do what Ara? Did he rape you? Oh that jerk!” The tears continued to fall down my face. It didn’t help at all that Aerýn was getting mad and yelling. Any form of violence now, even something as small as someone raising their voice hit me like a slap in the face.
“Ye...yes. Oh Aerýn, what’s going to happen to me now? I can never look at him again. Or any guy for that matter. Why did this have to happen to me? How could I be so stupid as to think that he actually cared about me? He didn’t want me!” I hiccupped.
“Ara, this isn’t your fault in the least! Don’t even think to start blaming yourself. When I see Cegin at school he is going to wish that he hadn’t even looked at you!” Aerýn said as she leaned over, giving me a tight squeeze.
“No Aerýn. You must leave him alone. It will do no good to even talk to him. I’m just a prize for him to put in his trophy case as the last girl he got in bed with.”
“If you don’t want me to I won’t. But I can’t promise that if he ever comes near you or looks at you I won’t give him what he deserves” she said gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.
“You never told me how you got hurt.” Aerýn had not taken time to notice dried blood on my leg in all of her worry about me and what had happened earlier on what would have usually been an ordinary Saturday night.
“I was running from him when he was chasing me.” I said simply compared to the emotion in the past parts of our conversation. “As I was running I tripped and smacked my shin on a rock but I had to keep moving or he would have gotten me.”
“Oh, okay. The nerve of that boy…”
“What will I tell them?”
“Tell who?” Aerýn said in confusion.
“Everyone. They’re all going to think I’m easy. Them and the doctors. I don’t think I want to tell anyone else what happened. It will cause too much uproar. My parents. I have to come up with some story as to what happened. Knowing my mom, I’ll cause a big fuss just for the attention. My dad won’t care though.”
“You have to tell Ara. It’s the only way you’ll keep other girls safe from him. You wouldn’t possibly want that to happen to anyone else. You must tell. He has to be punished in some way.” Aerýn sounded agitated at my decision to keep it hidden. “If you don’t tell anyone, I will.”
“No Aerýn!” I begged, “No one will believe me anyways. If it was you it would be different! You’re the one that everyone wants to be. You’d be the first person everyone believes. But me, I’m just an average student that no one cares for!”
“Exactly, they will listen to me! If I tell them what happened then they’ll listen!” She retorted.
“But you weren’t there so they won’t listen because you didn’t actually see anything happen! I don’t want to talk to anyone about it! End of story. They’ll ask me every question I don’t want to answer and I’ll have to tell every horrid detail. I don’t even want to think about it anymore so please just drop it!”
Aerýn looked at me with a friendly concern that conveyed her, albeit minimal, understanding. But at the same time, it didn’t make sense to her why I would chose to keep quiet.
“Okay. I won’t tell. But are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine as soon as my shin is fixed and I’m safely at home in my own bed.” Then an idea popped into my head. “Can I spend the night at your house tonight? If I go home now my mom will wonder where I’ve been and why I was out so late.”
“Sure. Whatever you want. You’ve had a rough night and I think it’ll be best if you don’t go home right now too.”
“Thanks.” I pulled out a half smile as I glanced over at Aerýn who was starting the car back up. Normally Aerýn would have music playing loudly and they both would be singing along to the tunes, but tonight was different. No one wanted to make a sound anymore. So we drove on in complete silence, listening instead to the sound of the tires on the smooth road.