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A young, petite brunette lay on a white cot, staring blankly up at the equally white ceiling above as if it was the most fascinating thing she had seen in her life. Her hair was a mess of snarled waves, uncombed and uncared for, spread across the impeccable sheets carelessly.
She herself was dressed in a white, shapeless, knee length hospital gown of sorts. White was the dominate colour in her life and had been for years. She had her legs bent at odd angles, each pointing in opposite directions.
Brown optics were fixed unblinkingly on the ceiling and she had one hand outstretched as if reaching for it, drawing something only she could see in the air.
She was all of eighteen and she was broken.
The young woman let her arm fall to the bed, just over her head and she slowly brought her gaze down from the ceiling, letting her chocolate brown orbs take in the unremarkable, no-bigger-then-the-span-of-her-arms room. The only piece of furniture in the sterile room was the cot she was lying on, which was the only thing there was room for.
Slowly, lethargically she slid off of her bed and to the floor where she sat for a moment, deadened gaze staring at the metal door the separated her from the hall and the rooms of other patients like her. There was the smallest of windows in this door, covered in bars like a jail cell.
All things considered that was an apt description. She was a prisoner. Had been for many years.
And there was nothing she could do about it.
The worst part of the whole thing was that she hadn’t deserved to be put in there. She had been innocent of the accusations against her, but no one had listened to her because she was a young child and the words she had spoken in her defense had served to condemn her in the eyes of the adults involved.
It had been the ultimate betrayal against her; by those she had trusted the most.
But that was long done and over with. Not something she should be dwelling on- not that she didn’t have the time.
Vaguely, with the small part of her that was still tuned into her surroundings, she heard the sound of the metal door being unlocked and opened as someone stepped inside.
She didn’t so much as look up to see who had entered her room until a warm male voice rang out, calm and soothing. “Abigail, it’s me, I brought someone to see you.”
Hearing that familiar voice was all it took to make a smile brighter then the sun spread across her face. It was him. He was here.
Her searching eyes fell on a handsome, carefully unruffled man, quite a few years older then her. The one constant in her life. He had brown hair just a shade or two lighter then hers and slicked back. He was wearing a white lab coat and was carrying a clipboard which she knew was filled with papers with information on her. A friendly smile had lit across his face in response to her own, though she could see the warning in his eyes for her to tread carefully.
People couldn’t know just how close they were. He would be gone before either of them could blink. So, instead of jumping up and running over to him like she might have, she kept her response carefully in check- much harder then it would have been for the average person- and stayed on the ground where she sat.
She was trembling with the barely contained excitement and happiness his visit had elicited. It was so hard for her to keep her emotions in check, but she was proud of herself for doing so well, for having done so well for so many years now.
Grudgingly she tore her eyes away from Simon and let them slide over to the man who had come in with him, a severe looking, middle-aged man with short, gray hair who was looking at her in a way that made Abigail cringe.
Everyone her but Simon looked at her either like a particularly interesting experiment or with a certain amount of disdain and tolerance.
This particular man was looking at her in the former way. That unsettled her. She slid as close to her bed as she possibly could, back bending halfway under it in her anxiousness to get away. She wrapped her arms around her middle, breath coming raggedly as she stared down determinedly at the floor.
It wasn’t the first time this man had come and she knew it wouldn’t be the last. He was one of the people set to check in on her every so often, so how she was progressing and to make the decision on whether she would ever be let out of there.
She just wanted him to go away, though she knew it wasn’t that easy.
“Hello, Abigail. It’s nice to see you again. How are you feeling today?” He was obviously trying to soothe her, his voice light and friendly though it just set her on edge even more. Why couldn’t he just go away? Just leave her alone with Simon?
She shook her head, tears springing unbidden to her eyes in her distress. “Go away. Go away, go away, go away.”
She didn’t even bother trying to get the emotion in check- it never worked when she was upset. The water that had merely been stinging at the corners of her eyes just seconds before was already starting to pour down her face, uncontrollable. Just like her.
“Now, now Abigail. It’s all right. No need for tears. Everything’s alright,” He was crouching down a few feet in front of her now, looking at her with a kindness she didn’t trust. She cringed away from him, the frame of the bed digging into her back.
She heard the smallest of sighs escape the man before he got back to his feet, backing away from her in defeat. For now.
“Alright then Abigail. Another day. I’ll come back tomorrow.”
She kept looking at the floor firmly, waiting until the soft click of the door shutting reached her ears.
When she finally looked up it was to find the source of the soft padding of steps moving in her direction. She saw Simon, kneeling before her, closer then the other man had.
Relief flooded through her and a sense of security came over her at his presence and she slid forward to close the rest of the space between them. She curled her small body into his own, wrapping her arms around his neck loosely as she buried her face in his shoulder.
Abigail couldn’t hold back a sniffle and felt another round of tears pooling down her cheeks and onto his white coat. Despite the fact that she was getting his shoulder wet, Simon sat through this silently, rubbing her back gently in reassurance, trying to calm her down.
“Shh, Abigail. You’ll be out of here soon. I promise. It’s almost time. Everybody will be going home soon and then I’ll be here for you when the coast is clear. Soon,” She lifted her watery gaze to meet his, soothed by the warmth in his smile as he spoke. He put his hand under her chin gently, holding it up so she wouldn’t turn away from him.
“I know. Trust you. Always,” She allowed the full measure of her happiness to see him shine through finally, now that they were alone. She finally loosened her grip from him and settled her back against the bed once again. She had something to tell him, something she had seen just that morning. Something only he would understand.
“I saw something new Simon. Bad,” Her eyes were wide open and she leant forward to convey how important her news was, hands grasping together tightly in her lap.
Immediately Simon grew somber, understanding what she meant and taking her seriously. That was one of the things she liked so much in Simon. Where everyone else wrote her off like a crazy person, he took her seriously and listened. He was the only one. Her only friend.
“Tell me Abigail. What did you see?” He reached a hand out to take one of hers, gently prying them away from each other to stop her twisting them together.
“Lost. Lost in the woods. Can’t get away. Can’t escape.” Tears welled up in her eyes again. The memory of what she had seen was vivid, replaying over and over in her mind.
His lips were pressed together in a firm line and confusion was etched in his furrowed brow. He stroked his thumb gently along her hand, trying to make sense of her words and what she had seen.
“Do you know who it was, Abby? When? Where?”
She shook her head, tucking her chin down to hide the untruth in her answer. She thought she knew, but she didn’t want to worry him further when he was already nervous about getting her out of the prison she was in. “No. Lost in the dark. Can’t see.”
She closed her eyes tightly, trying to block out the image, terrified now that she was reliving it again. Moisture leaked from her eyes from the pressure of her eyelids coming down and she felt it dripping onto her bare leg, exposed by the hospital gown which had been hiked up from her constant movement.
“Shh, shhh. It’s fine Abby, don’t worry, we’ll work it out later. Relax. Why don’t you lie down and get some rest? I have to go for now anyway.” He swiped a roughly callused hand across her cheek, catching the water that traced tracks down her now swollen face. “Can you be calm until I come back for you? Can you do that Abby?”
“Don’t want you to leave! Don’t leave me. Alone. Scared. Hard to breathe. Can’t do it. Can’t function.” She was so scared to let him leave her. Always afraid that one of these days he wouldn’t come back for her. Just like everyone else in her life. Everyone always wanted to escape her. That was the way of her life and she hated it.
“Hey, Abs. You know I would never do that to you. I promised you I’d get you out of here and that’s going to happen. Tonight. I would never, will never leave you,” She had finally opened her eyes to look at him with heart rending fear and pain in her eyes. Her eyes were wide and unblinking trained on his as she listened to what she knew, despite herself was the truth.
He continued to stroke her cheek gently, voice low and just as soothing as ever. “If you can do this for me, if you can let me leave for a little bit everything will be fine by tonight. Do you think you can do this Abigail?”
Leaning her face into his palm, seeking out the warmth he gave her frigid, pale skin, she nodded her head once, biting her teeth into her lower lip painfully. He was right. She trusted him and if he said he would come back, he would. She could do this for him.
“Good, Abby, get some rest, I’ll be back before you know it.” And with that, he removed his warm hand from her cheek and stood up, giving her one last smile before he left the room.
Abigail sat staring at the closed door long after he had exited, arms wrapped tightly around her legs as she rocked back and forth, waiting.
For the most part she did nothing else, though when an interminable amount of time passed, thoughts eventually began creeping back through her mind, things to get her through until Simon came back.
Soon she would be with Simon somewhere safe, where no more doctors could poke and prod her. No more being drugged up with medication to keep her docile. No more doctors whispering right in front of her about the crazy young woman who they could never see getting well enough, recovering her mental health enough to ever leave her stark prison.
She could be happy and healthy, safe and free with Simon. Maybe she would never get back the innocence that had been taken from her in early childhood, but happiness was a start.
She knew deep down, in her muddled brain that she would never be whole again, that she would always be broken because of the things she saw, the visions that plagued her, but everything else was a start. She could never put herself back together again- not even Simon could put her back together but she was willing grab onto some sense of normalcy.
She was broken but had something to try for. Small stepping stones, but it was something.