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Claustrophobic, this Darkness in Your Mind This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Kittery Point, ME
Fog between the black spots obscuring your vision. Two faces, or maybe one. Cold, vulnerable. Weight on your body. Arms pinned. You’re trapped. Fight or flight? You can’t do either. Your limbs are heavy, and your mind struggles to find itself. The room is slipping, slowly, and you’re fighting. You’re struggling, squirming, but he’s too strong. Pain. Blinding pain. The black spots begin to take over. The weight lifts off of your body, and he moves away. Your face stings, and you try to raise a hand to touch the spot where the blood is forming a bruise underneath your skin. You’re not sure if you succeed. You find his eyes. He’s blurry in your haze, and you don’t understand what’s happened. You realize your shorts are around your ankles, and you pull them up. You trip over your suddenly awkward limbs as you stumble to the door. Everything spins and he’s in front of you again, forcing your shorts back down, and you’re crying. You can feel the tears of frustration and pain and helplessness leaking from your eyes. You feel hands like vices around your arms, pinning them against the wall. You fight a scream. You keep fighting, keep struggling. You won’t give this up. Your mind won’t let you, but your body wants to collapse. Pain. More blindingly sharp pain. The other side of your face. Again. You wonder why. He steps back, and you’ve never felt a sharper fear. You run, and you unknowingly reach the stairs; tumble, bump, black.
The next morning, you wake up. You’re in a familiarly unfamiliar room. Your body hurts. When you move, you can feel your bones stabbing at your bruised skin. Why does it hurt? Why are you bruised? You don’t know. It’s claustrophobic, this not knowing. Like being in a too-small space, and feeling your breath start to slip away, the air thick with carbon dioxide, and you feel the blackness closing in. Claustrophobic, this darkness in your mind.
You walk to the mirror, and examine your face. Your blue eyes are surrounded by bloodshot whites. Your face is a horrific mixture of blue and black. You see purple marks on your arms. Strange, you think, they look just like handprints. These bruises are bizarre. You don’t want anyone to say anything. You’ll just put it away, they’ll go away eventually. You stumble stiffly to your things, in a neat pile leaning by the door. You find your makeup bag, and make your way back to the mirror. The waistband of your shorts is digging into your side, and you adjust the elastic, noticing you’re not wearing underwear. You note the oddity of this, and walk softly back to your bag, tiptoeing for reasons you can’t exactly explain. Suspicions sneak into your mind, and you pull on your last fresh pair of underwear, tiptoeing back to the mirror. You examine your face, and layer makeup onto the bruises, thinking that maybe if you pretend they’re not there, they’ll go away.
You walk downstairs, dressed, long sleeves. It’s cold, and the remains of January storms linger in the mud of February defrost. You notice that you’re still tiptoeing. There is commotion in the kitchen. His mother is feeding the babies. You walk into the kitchen, and she says hello, warmly offering you breakfast. You decline, and excuse yourself to call your mother. You ask her to come and pick you up, in your tiny thirteen year old voice. She promises to be there soon, and you sit in the kitchen, listening to the babies talk, trying to collect your mind. You see no sign of him, and you surprise yourself by hoping it will stay that way. You’re so tired, but you just woke up. You’re confused. Your mom pulls in, and you wave goodbye, and walk out of the house, feeling an odd sentiment. Potential for freedom, you retrospectively understand.
It comes back to you, frame by frame, like a broken horror movie. The sharp fear returns, and you can’t get away. It consumes you. It always feels like he’s there, behind you. He’s hiding, waiting for you. You have terrible nightmares, and you wake up screaming and crying and kicking, sweating and terrified. You drown yourself in medication, in sleep, and in sadness. One day, you understand. You understand that if you tell someone, if you share your monster with another soul, you’ll get through another day. You tell your story to an open ear, and it feels like you can fly. It’s almost visible, the lift in your smile, the edge of authenticity to your laugh. You understand that you don’t have to be afraid. Not everyone wants to hurt you, some people will protect you with everything they have.






You are not his ghost anymore.





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