Where No One Would Think to Look

October 13, 2010
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What had once been a warm, comforting sanctuary was now just a house. It was a square gold fish bowl, complete with simple furnishing but bare of anything that could potentially be used as a weapon. I know. I checked.
The gold fish bowl was a prison, with nothing left for me. The doors were there but unwelcome. I was stuck here until my boyfriend left. I would never be allowed to leave on my own. Sir would not be happy.
Two years ago, when my mother’s schizophrenia took hold of her, anything could be used as a weapon. I had been hospitalized far too many times by her hand. I still had four-pronged scars tearing through the soft flesh of my upper arms in angry, pink crescents. We switched to spoons. The knives were buried somewhere in the red Earth of outside, deep enough that neither would be able to find them.
My mother had been sent to a psychiatric hospital soon after the last scar she caused closed. Still, all we had were spoons and paper plates. When my mother left, so did my father. The man whose name was on the deed of this ancient, peeling, blue shack of a house was known only by ‘sir’ to me. I had the recycled beer cans on the side of the road to blame.
It was nearing dusk in my small town of Grand Lake Streams, Maine, when the doorbell rang. I was home alone, thankfully, standing by the full-length mirror in my room, trying to find a square inch of unmarred flesh on my face. The skin stretched over high cheeks bones and a pointed chin was permanently dyed grey by all the fresh bruises I was given by daily beatings. If my drunken father wasn’t there to turn me green, Peter was. Peter was my boyfriend.
I could hardly blame the two of them for what they did to me. It was my fault. Every punch or kick was my fault. I always provoked them or did something to make them do it. When would I learn to be better?
The rings around my eyes from countless broken noses were a shade away from purple. The newest bruises had been received just two days earlier from Peter. I had forgotten to bring his textbook to school. When I had offered him my book, it only seemed to make him angrier. The grey was a startling contrast to the brilliant jade green of my irises. Each bruise chained to another until the procession disappeared into the hairline of my shoulder-length, light blonde hair. They seemed to be marks that would never fade.
I bounded down the stairs as quickly as I could. This small town was a town within a town. We didn’t get many visitors. If it was Peter or my father, any slower would result in a beating. I aimed to please.
Of course, it took some time to get from my third floor bedroom to the first floor front door. The door had a big window in the center of it to look out onto the lake beside the house. Over the snare-drum-like ratta-tat, I heard the loons moaning on the water. They floated by on the glass-smooth water, singing hymns as the only form of comfort I received. I was fully braced for a punch when I opened the door to Peter. For once in his life, he didn’t look angry.
He was taller than my 5’8 at his own 6’3. He was well-muscled (unfortunately) with eyes as black as his hair [or his soul!] Those eyes were set into a suntanned face from working in the sun of mid-August just that day. He carried a walking stick that he had stabbed into the ground. Despite the saturnine expression he wore, he was still good-looking; and he knew it.
“Hi!” I greeted, pretending to be oblivious to his obviously bad mood. He hated it when I pried.
“Take a walk with me,” he ordered coldly.
I mistook the red flag going up in my head for excitement, possibly even hope. My dog, Toby, didn’t. Chained to a post in the back yard, he snarled and growled at the man he had never liked. Toby was a Siberian husky with thick grey fur, twisted into white fur on his face to look like a mask. His eyes were as startling a blue as mine were a green. His teeth were surreally sharp. Toby had always hated Peter, as he had shown every day he saw him.
“Okay,” I nodded with a grin, a glutton for punishment; a masochist. I couldn’t get enough of the pain.
With a silencing scowl at Toby, I skipped off the porch step and followed him onto the trail beside the lake; the uphill scale began almost immediately. Once we reached the top of the hill, where the cliff side reached fifty feet at least, he wasted no time in getting to the point. He dug the end of his walking stick into the soft Earth and turned to look at me. He looked deeply hurt for a moment before his face glazed over with a winter’s frost. He scowled as cruelly as his face could manage.
“Nikki said you were planning on breaking up with me,” he accused.
My eyes widened. I knew I shouldn’t have told Nikki. Nikki was my best friend since preschool, the one I thought I could tell anything, even my deepest darkest secrets to, and never tell anyone. The truth was that I had thought hard about leaving Peter, but had decided against; who knows what he would do? Besides, I didn’t have half as much courage as Nikki, and would never be able to get through it without breaking down or freezing up.
“She’s lying,” I falsely swore. “I couldn’t leave you. I love you!”
He nodded with the scowl still in place, as if he had expected this response. He opened his arms, an invitation. I readily embraced him and began to pull away. He kept me tightly where I stood, one arm around my back and the other smoothing down my hair, admiring his work of the bruises peppering my face there. “I love you, too, Hannah,” he crooned. “Don’t ever leave me,” he begged in a voice like that of a child during a thunderstorm.
“I’m not going any-” I started.
“No!” he interrupted harshly, then abruptly his tone softened, “No,” he repeated, “You’re not going anywhere.”
The hand stroking my hair disappeared for only a short moment. Before I could inspect where it went, I felt the intense agony in my chest; burning, flaming, stabbing, smoldering, fierce, shooting pain. Compared to this pain, the beatings were simply stubbed toes or paper-cuts. My breath left me in staggered gasps. Peter was shivering, as was I, as we tottered toward the edge of the world. Before we fell over, I looked down.
His walking stick had an end as sharp as a knife. It had pierced my chest where my heart would be. It had not stopped there, though. The thick wood had sailed through my skin, through the thin air between us, and finally began its venture through Peter. He had planned the disposal of the bodies well, even in death. We tipped over the hard rock face and hit the frigid blue water beyond; the place no one would think to look. Or, perhaps they would think to look. The problem lies with who would dare try to venture through the expanse of the lake to find two people there, beyond saving.
The corpses rotted at the bottom with no one to find them.
My father died later that night with a beer in his hand and a look of terror upon his face. His black leather chair, the fanciest piece of furniture in the house, was torn to shreds by some kind of animal. Over the weeks, police investigated but no one could find a reason for his death: it was not a heart attack, nor an aneurysm, there was no mark on the body to suggest that whatever animal clawed up the chair had touched him. He just died. No one dies like that and no one knew how. Except me. The case went cold.
My disappearance, as well as Peter’s, was overlooked. But my father’s death stirred all of Maine. It was not a secret that a healthy, middle-aged man had died with no cause here in our small town. Some people worried, some people forgot, but I will never forget and neither will he, in whatever h*** he went to. The torment lasted forever, knowing what I had been through, but I will never forgive, and never forget.
Never forgive…
…Never forget.





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