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He was nineteen, I had just turned fourteen. I knew I was jumping into shark infested waters, but that didn’t stop me. Tragedy seemed to be what I lived for back then. He was a mystery, like that huge present sitting under the Christmas tree; you can’t help but wonder what’s inside. You’re so excited you rip some of the wrapping paper just to get a quick peak. Then to your disappointment you find the exact opposite of what you wanted in the first place.
There I was, sitting on the corner of this old, smelly couch that was probably a hundred years old and had never been washed. People crowded everywhere in this tiny basement. It was so loud I could barely hear myself think,
“Why did I come here? I shouldn’t have trusted Lauren. This was a stupid idea. What was I thinking?”
Distracted by my own negative thoughts, I didn’t even notice the beautiful creature sitting on the opposite end of the couch. I couldn’t help but analyze every inch of him. He carried that I-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude, plus a half sleeve that screamed, “I love trouble.” Necklaces and bracelets so worn out they were about to fall off. His long, dirty blonde, curly hair fell on his shoulders perfectly, without even trying. You could tell he hadn’t showered in a while, the smell of beer and cigarettes lingered off him like a sick perfume. His skin, olive colored, smooth, like a baby’s face, he had no flaws.
He turned his head, and eye contact was made. I turned my head the opposite direction, out of reflex, and pretended I never saw him.
“My name’s Dallen,” he said. Looking out of my peripherals, I realized he was
talking to me. I looked at him like a deer in head lights.
“Aren’t you Laurens’ friend?” He asked while grabbing the cigarette out from behind his ear and placing it between his lips.
“Um... Yea, I am.” I replied, trying to drown out the sound of blasting music and drunken laughter.
“I um, I’m . . . I’m Shannon.” He looked at me in curiosity and then lit up his cigarette.
“Cute name.” He smiled and turned his head. My heart started racing, and my mind wouldn’t shut up,
“Shannon what are you doing? Say something, say something! Don’t’ make this awkward!” Of course, I made it even MORE awkward.
“SO, do you have a girlfriend!?” His head slowly turned back towards me,
“Actually, she’s sitting right next to me.” Puzzled, I looked around him and saw no one else sitting next to him.
“There’s nobody by you?” I asked in confusion.
“I know.” He smiled. It hit me and I couldn’t help but to smile back. It was like a dream, and I never wanted to wake up.
My parents are divorced and neither of them were ever around to care what I did, or who I was with. They were too busy with their own lives and their own problems, that they didn’t have time to worry about what I was doing. I was free. No rules, no
expectations, no nothing. Now I don’t know how most teenagers would react to this lifestyle, but I went wild. I started ditching school, going to parties, experimenting with drugs, and having sex. I was scared on the inside, but invincible on the outside. When I met Dallen I felt something exciting, something dangerous. I liked it, so I went for it. We started spending everyday day together and before I knew it, it had been over a year that Dallen and I had been together.
Dallen moved into my Mom’s house with me in the summer of 2008. My Mom didn’t care, so why not? I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to have my boyfriend live with me. It was Dallen all day everyday, 24/7. It started off being easy to live with Dallen, and then went downhill. I loved spending time with him. We did everything together, but only together. We wouldn’t hang out with his friends or my friends anymore. I was interrogated frequently about every second I didn’t spend with him. I started isolating myself from everyone, because it was easier, than I didn’t have to deal with explaining myself to him.
Dallen didn’t allow me to have guy friends. He told me,
“The only reason you want guy friends is so that you can cheat on me.” I’m not a dramatic person, so I never argued back and Dallen meant the world to me, so If not speaking to my guy friends made him happy, I was fine with it. I wish to myself every day I would’ve realized how controlling he was becoming, but I thought it was normal.
It was the first day at a new school for my junior year. I was so careful not to wake him as I got out of bed. I made sure his eyes were still closed before I left my room.
I turned on the light in my bathroom. Staring at my reflection in the mirror, I starting crying. I couldn’t stop staring at the bruises on my upper arm. You could almost see his exact hand and where he grabbed me from the fight we had earlier that week. I pulled myself together and thought,
“Shannon, you’re overreacting. He said he didn’t mean to hurt you, remember? It was an accident, an accident.” I wiped my tears away and turned my flat iron on. I pulled out my brush from underneath the sink and started brushing my hair. Ten minutes later Dallen walked in. He stopped in the doorway and just stared at me.
“Dallen, what’s wrong?” I asked, wondering why he was awake. He didn’t answer.
“Did I wake you up? I didn’t mean to, I tried being really quiet.” Ignoring my words, he came and stood right by me looking at me through the mirror.
“Why are you getting so ready?” He asked in a rhetorical manner.
“Because I have school.” I stated.
“So you can look good for all the new guys you’re going to meet? Huh?”
“No, Dallen, what are you talking about? Its school, can I not get ready for school?” Without even acknowledging my defense, he shouted,
“I’m not stupid Shannon. I know your trying to impress guys. You wanna cheat on me, GO AHEAD! No one’s even going to go near you, your ugly and useless, why am I even with you? I just use you; I hope you know that Shannon, I just use you.” He grabbed my brush off the counter and threw it at the wall right next to my face. In shock, I froze. I couldn’t move. For the first time in my life I couldn’t feel my emotions. The one person I felt comfortable with was against me. Dallen unplugged the flat iron and held it in his hand. He smiled. This smile wasn’t a happy smile. It was pure evil that I had mistaken for love. My body quivered, goose bumps arose on my arms and legs. Before I could turn around he grabbed my arm in the same bruised spots and put the flat iron right next to my face and grinned. He whispered,
“Where do you think you’re going?” I ripped my arm out of his grasp and ran for the door. He threw the flat iron at me, luckily it didn’t get me in the face, but it landed on my ankle and clamped shut on it. I had third degree burns on both sides of my ankle and fell to the ground in pain. I couldn’t help the tears rolling out of my eyes. I felt like it was a dream and I was just going to wake up in his arms and everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t okay. This wasn’t a dream. This was reality and I had to think, but I couldn’t.
Suddenly, this evil corrupted Dallen turned back into the sweet, loving, compassionate Dallen I fell in love with. He ran over to where I was laying.
“Shannon! Shannon! Are you okay? I’m so sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking.” He sat down and picked me halfway up off the floor. I saw the look of fear in his eyes when he saw the burns on my ankle. He started tearing up. For some reason I was feeling bad for him and not myself. I came to the sick and twisted conclusion that he was the innocent one and I was guilty.
Things started looking up again. Dallen got a job and moved out and into his own apartment. We were still together; it had been almost three years now since the day we met. I’d still cry at my own reflection every now and then, looking at the new bruises,
manipulating myself into thinking it was my fault. Dallen started doing drugs, a lot of drugs. He started selling them out of his apartment. He would always try to convince me to help him, but I tried to stay out of the way.
Dallen didn’t have a license because it was suspended from a previous drug charge. He wanted to drive out to Ogden to see one of his friends. He asked me if I would drive him out there. I said yes. We arrived to his friend’s house and it looked as though it was abandoned. Dallen stepped out of the car,
“You should come inside with me.”
“I don’t know Dallen, this place looks pretty scary.” I replied looking the house up and down, like it was a threat.
“Just come in with me.” He gave me the “look” and I knew what would happen if I refused, so I followed. Dallen knocked on the door. A short, chubby, Hispanic man, probably in his early 20’s, met us at the door. Dallen greeted him,
“What’s up Dirty Rick?” Dirty Rick nodded his head and let us in. Inside there were three other older hispanic men sitting on the couch. I felt uncomfortable as chills ran up my spine.
“You got it D?” Asked Dirty Rick. Dallen said,
“Yea, it’s right here.” Dallen reached into his pocket and pulled out a white sac. It wasn’t the first time I had seen these “white sacs“. There were tons of white sacs hidden in a box underneath his bed. I knew it was drugs.
“Dallen, what’s going on? WHAT IS GOING ON? I told you not to bring me into this type of stuff?”
Dallen glared at me over his shoulder,
“Shannon, shut up.” My anger was broke by something being shoved into my back. I turned around and found myself staring into the chamber of a gun. I had never seen a gun in real life, only on TV or in movies. I looked over at Dallen and one of the other Hispanic men that was sitting on the couch, had a gun pointed against his back.
I was numb. Dallen said nothing and I knew to say nothing too, or my life could end in the pull of a trigger. My mind was blank. I thought to myself,
“This is the end.” I wanted so much more out of my life. I wanted to have a music career, kids, college, and a family. My life that I hadn’t lived was flashing before my eyes. I tried to cry, but I couldn’t. Dirty Rick, Dallens’so called “friend”, took the drugs out of Dallens’ hand, searched his pockets, took his phone, his money, and his ID. I was next. They took my phone, my money, the keys to my car, and my ID.
“I’m about to die, I’m going to die. What about my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister. Oh my god what did I get myself into.” I had given up.
The door swung open, and people in cop uniforms came rushing in. They handcuffed the men with the guns, and then the others, except one of the Hispanic men. A girl cop took me, handcuffed me, and put me against the wall. A man handcuffed Dallen and took him outside the house. The girl cop told me everything was going to be okay and that the man was wearing a wire and they heard everything. I felt like I was in a movie and just when things should’ve ended, the fairytale ending happened. The cop walked me outside into the cop car and said I needed to go down to the station for questioning. I watched Dallen get put into the back of a cop car. His eyes were watering and we just stared at each other. I knew it was over. He was gone.
I talked to Dallen through a Bails Bond Company the next day.
“Please bail me out of here Shannon. It’s only 2,000 dollars for bail, get me out of here Shannon, I’m sorry. I Love you, please. Please forgive me I didn‘t mean to lie, I’m sorry. I can change, I‘ll never hurt you again, I promise. Please.” I had thought a lot that night about my relationship with Dallen. All the times he hit me and threw things at me.
I’m better than that, I’m not an object. I was never going to escape this path if Dallen was involved in my life. I was spiraling into a black abyss and going nowhere. I finally realized what I needed to do.
“No. Dallen, I’m done.” I paused, and then hung up the phone.
Dallen is still in jail to this day, I haven’t spoken to him since. I slowly got my life back, got my friends back, my family. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I isolated myself so much from other people, I had no one. I don’t’ feel like a 17 year old should. I feel different, like I’ve experienced something no one should EVER have to go through. The sad thing is situations like this are happening all the time. I know now I have the power to control my own life and so does anyone else in this world. Nobody deserves to be treated like that.
I jumped into shark infested waters, got hurt, but learned from my mistakes. I’m going to remember every detail of that gun, the scars on my ankle, and the first time I ever looked into his eyes. I’m a stronger person today because of what I went through. Dallen showed me what life can be like if you let someone else control it. I know who I am now and what I want. This isn’t a dream anymore, it’s my reality.