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The Velvet Curtain
It was my favourite season.
Autumn. It was very early in the Fall, so the air was still humid, but not for long. Tonight the first frost was supposed to take place. I rushed through the tinted dry leaves, towards my apartment down West.
After a tiring fifteen minutes, I finally reached my flat. The inside of my flat didn’t suit me at all. It was dingy, with a dim light fanning out from my mom’s bedroom.
I missed my mom. She was taken away by these men in dark blue suits. I asked no questions, and found no tears. Just a lump in my throat that ached, and at times, felt swollen and seemed to captivate and expand, putting pressure against my entire chest. It throbbed like a bloated heart.
My mom’s boyfriend, at the time, still stayed in the same house with me, claiming that I needed a guardian to look after me. This was not the case – he mostly ordered me around to look after him. There was nothing I could do about it, and I was smarter than to try doing something about it.
His name was Daniel, Daniel Fischer. I had made him mad again. He had ordered me around, and I just lost it. What can I say? Sometimes teenager instincts take the wheel. I couldn’t stop myself from saying what was on my mind. I inherited it from my mom.
So now, I was running from him.
My flip flops clapped against the bustling pavement as I shoved people out of my way. They complained and scolded me, but I kept going. No one would stop me now.
The streets were extra busy, of mostly tourists stopping by for Chinese New Year. I, on the other hand, was running for my life, and nobody seemed to notice. I was flailing my arms, but people just waved back, assuming I was only welcoming them to my country.
I cursed Daniel under my breath, as tears flooded from my already wet eyes that still stung from the cold. I blinked the tears back, nearly choking on the mist my breath left as I sprinted away.
Eventually, I looked behind me. It wasn’t a good idea.
He was close behind. His fists were red, clenched, and balled up.
What happened next I did not expect. I tripped. The pavement hurled up towards my horror stricken eyes and I hit the ground with a thwack! The sidewalk’s crack bit into my lower lip. My tooth wobbled. The blood hang like sap, until it dribbled down my chin.
Daniel was metres away now. I grimaced, my eye giving a responsive twitch. I felt a tight grip yank my shoulders back. He guided me towards an alley. Oh no, I thought to myself. Alleys are never good.
Once we reached the mouth of the alley, he threw me like a kite. I sailed through the sharp winds, but instead of banking on a happy cloud, I crashed into three rusty garbage cans that smelt rancid. I felt my collarbone snap as I collided with the brick wall.
“Come on, sweets. I don’t want to hurt you.” Daniel promised me.
“You don’t?” I asked with a fragile voice.
“Course not.” he promised me again. He held out his greasy hand, sweat trickling down his back. “Come on, Elle.” he pressed, politely.
I took a step forward. I was sure he noticed my hand trembling with terror. After a moment of hesitation, I reached out to him with my left hand, and slapped him as hard as I could with my right.
The chase was on. Reality flopped through my stomach.
As I was finally gaining speed, I took a sharp left turn.
Finding myself facing a dead end, reality stung me once more. A month before, a bakery had stood there. Now it was a brick wall.
“No!” I wailed. At that point, I can’t be sure, but I think I went into shock. I sat, in the middle of the closed off alley, hot tears warming my cheeks. The cold wind ripped at my ears as Daniel approached, chuckling with no humour.
I knew what came next.
“Get up.” he spat in my face.
I stood obediently.
He clenched my jaw, piercing his dirty nails into my frozen cheeks. I was pulled back a few steps, then charged into the brick wall. Before I felt my skull tear, before I felt my blood pool beside me, thick and viscous with the smell of sour pennies, I felt the cold. I drifted, floating through a firm velvet curtain, and, finally, the frost had found me.
I welcomed Autumn.