My inspiration for this piece was from a previous relationship of mine. Although nothing to the...
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“So he assaulted you, and then you got away,” Dr. Moor summarized. “Yes,” I said curtly. “Did you tell anyone about it? A friend or a teacher?” I burst out laughing. “Yeah, right!” I said between the giggles, “I am not a snitch. I didn’t tell anyone.” She looked at me with a blank stare for a moment before she spoke again. “Alright, so after Friday how did things play out? Did he do anything? Say anything?” Daren wasn’t at school. In fact he seemed to have disappeared. I was beginning to think that he was never coming back. That thought didn’t bother me in the slightest. Then four days later, on Friday, he suddenly appeared again. He looked horrible. His face was sullen, his skin an ashen shade, and he had dark, purplish circles under his eyes. I could tell he had been drinking and obviously using some kind of drugs. But I didn’t care. I was done with him. I passed him in the hallway without a glance. After school, I was preparing my books for the weekend and going to head down to the choir room for practice. Students all around me were shuffling this way and that more than ready to leave. I joined the flow of people down the stairwell and caught a glimpse of Daren behind me, but he became lost in the crowd. I was one of the last to arrive at practice. I set my bag down on a chair and took a seat next to it. “Hey, Abby!” I looked up, hearing my name. It was Casey. She was one of my best friends. She took a seat beside me and leaned over for a hug. I liked Casey a lot. She had long blond hair that fell just below her waist line. She was thin, and had the most beautiful crystal blue eyes I had ever seen. She was always fun to talk to and have a good time with. She and I got caught up in a conversation about making plans to go to the mall after practice and other plans for the weekend. Our conversation paused and when she stopped to look at me, she put a hand on my knee. “What’s wrong?” she asked concern on her face. Casey was insightful. She didn’t miss much. I turned and smiled at her. She smiled back accepting my silence as an answer. A few other students arrived then, along with James, a classmate who has had a little crush on me since I started last year. Since then, we have become good friends. He was tall, taller than Daren, but not as built. He had a child’s face and a smile that could light up a room. His light brown hair was cropped short above his gentle bright green eyes. He took a seat next to me and placed his hand on my knee. I looked over at him. His eyes were concerned. I smiled at him and he gave me an encouraging grin in return. He winked playfully at me and I gently shoved his shoulder. All of the choir members had arrived and were gathering around in little groups chatting about the day and their plans for the weekend. No one was paying attention to who was coming and who was going from the room, engrossed in their conversations. So all heads turned when the thick door slammed shut with such force the sound proof wall shook. I gave a small, inaudible gasp of shock. Daren stood in front of the closed door with a strange expression. His hair was messy and disheveled; eyes hard and brooding. He was breathing heavily and his cheeks were flushed, as if he had just finished running. He was tense. His left hand hung at his side while his right hand rested in the front pocket of his black sweatshirt. His dark eyes darted from face to face, scrutinizing expressions. The room was silent, waiting for him to do or say something. Fear shot through me. My heart began to beat wildly out of control. I knew who he was looking for, but what could he possibly do with so many people around? Casey tensed beside me, her hand rising to her mouth. She saw the look on his face and knew immediately something was terribly wrong. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye; I mirrored her worried expression. James shifted in his seat to a protective stance, partially covering me from Daren’s view. Daren combed through the faces that continued to stare at him. His eyes came to a stop on mine. The hard expression immediately left his face; fury taking its place. Daren turned towards me and took a single step forward. My view was instantly cut off. James had risen from his seat, squarely planting his feet in place. I leaned slightly forward to see Daren from behind James. Casey reached over and grasped my hand. I laced my fingers through hers and held tight. All eyes in the room had settled on the two boys. While some students reached for their book bags and their cell phones, others stared in anticipation. Daren’s breathing picked up and he gave a grunt of rage. “Move out of my way,” Daren said, struggling to keep his voice calm. I had heard his voice strained like that before and it made my skin crawl and my heart pound behind my ears. His eyes were hardening, developing a strange cast to them. James folded his arms over his chest “No way,” he said defiantly. I watched and scrutinized Daren’s face. Suddenly, a new look came to it. It was hotter and more evil than I had ever seen. The expression was wild and out of control. He was about to explode. I darted my hand forward and pressed it against James’s waist. I wanted him to back down and leave Daren be, but my movement ignited the flames. Without warning Daren’s hand pulled from his pocket; in his hand, a gun. Screams sounded and everyone froze. James took a step backwards and Casey squeezed my hand hard. My heart leapt to my throat and I squelched a scream: he was looking straight at me. Daren lunged forward, gun shoved in James’s face. “Get the hell out of my way!” he screamed. James stood frozen with shock. Daren shoved past him, pushing James to the floor. “Everyone down on the ground! NOW!” Daren screamed. Immediately students dropped to their knees, sliding from their chairs onto the ground. “All the way down! Hands on your heads!” he roared. Everyone slid to their stomachs and placed their hands protectively over their necks and heads. Casey pulled me to the ground with her for I was immobile with terror. Daren walked quickly around the room, gun at arms length away from his body, pointing where he was looking. He emptied book bags and broke cell phones. I glanced around at the other students. The girls were crying and the boys looked forlorn, not sure what to do. Utter terror in all of their eyes. Daren finished his destruction of the room and returned to the front. Going over to the door, he quickly kicked the door knob, breaking it. There was no escape now. The room went dead silent. Daren began pacing and muttering to himself. He looked unsure and nervous now that his rage was spent. Casey still held my hand. She gave it a hard squeeze getting my attention. I looked over to her and saw that she was crying too. “What is going on?” she silently mouthed to me. I couldn’t say anything as I turned back to watch Daren pace. James had scooted forward towards me. He found my gaze and reached forward to wipe the tears off my cheeks. He let the tips of his fingers rest on my skin for a moment. His gesture of kindness calmed me some. His eyes bore into mine with concern and fear; fear for me. I moved my hand and pressed James’s palm to my face. I didn’t want to look away from his comforting face. Suddenly, Daren turned and stalked towards me. James stared helplessly as Daren halted in front of my vulnerable body. I let go of James’s hand and he withdrew it, eyes filled with pain. “Get up!” he demanded. When I didn’t move he reached down with one arm and with little effort, dragged me up like a rag doll. My arm throbbed as he shoved me back toward the front of the room. He threw me back against the wall; my head cracked against it and I slid down into a sitting position, placing my hands over my head, trying not to scream. Daren knelt beside me and shoved my head back, forcing me to look at him. He was menacing, crouching over me, pointing the gun in my direction. Silent tears slid down my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw James shift his weight. I prayed he wouldn’t try anything stupid. “So, Abby, you don’t love me,” Daren said in a smooth casual tone that didn’t match his wild eyes, “but you are supposed to love me. And there is only one way that you will realize it.” Superiority rang in his tone and it made me shrink back, wishing I could melt into the wall behind me. The threat in his words was sinister. “You will take me back, Abby,” he said too confidently. Terror was pulsing through my veins, my breath becoming heavy. My body shook and my heart raced. “You WILL take me back, Abby!” he shouted, making my ears ring. I whimpered. With his free hand, he gently pushed my hair back out of my wet eyes. With a softer voice he made a final comment, “You have five minutes to realize you should be mine,” he said rising to his feet, “or I will kill everyone in this room, one by one, until you agree. Starting with this one.” Everyone screamed as he lurched toward Casey. He pulled her to her feet by her hair, put her in a choke hold, and pressed the mouth of the gun to her temple. Students cringed and whimpered in fear. She screamed an ear splitting cry of pain and panic. Through her tears she spoke. “Don’t do it, Abby! Don’t do it! Don’t give in to him! Don’t!” Daren pressed the gun harder into her head and shook her “Shut up!” he screamed. Casey went silent, tears still streaming down her face. I knew she was my best friend and I knew she loved me with all her heart but I wasn’t about to let her get hurt, or killed because of me. Gathering what courage I had, I slowly stood. I took a cautious step forward feeling all eyes on me. Daren’s barbaric eyes followed my movements reverently. “Daren, what are you doing? Why would you want to hurt innocent people who have done nothing to you? Why did you have to involve them when it’s me you want? It’s me you want to destroy!” The words slipped out from my mouth before I could stop them. Daren froze. Shock appeared on his face. Suddenly, he removed the gun from Casey’s head and shoved her to the ground. She scrambled to the side and shook with fear, her eyes still trained on me. Without warning, Daren lunged forward. He came at me, and grabbing my hair at the base of my neck, yanked my head back, forcing me to look him in the eyes. Their caramel color was hard and malicious as he shouted “No! Why the hell would you think that? I would never hurt you!” He shook me violently. Releasing my body from his vice grip, I fell to my knees from the force. He knelt in front of me, shoving the gun in my face. “Please Daren,” I begged, “please put the gun away. Then we can talk.” Daren placed his palm against my face like James had done earlier. But it was not like James’s touch. It felt wrong. It was hard and full of venomous power. Daren was motionless for a time: thinking. I thought he was considering what I had said, but then his expression changed. His eyes became sinister; I withdrew from his hard touch. Angered, he lurched and stood. “Time’s up, Abby,” he said in a hauntingly calm voice. He turned back around toward Casey. He was going to kill her, so I acted. Lunging forward, I reached for the gun in Daren’s hand, but he saw me coming. He turned and his hand flashed out, catching me across the face. I spun backwards from the force, my face burning and my head throbbing. His hand shot forward again into my chest, sending me back, cracking my head against the wall. Miraculously, I still stood, but my vision blurred. A sickening click sounded before my face. I opened my eyes and saw the gun, cocked, pointed straight at me. “Stupid b***h,” Daren spat. Terrified, I closed my eyes, waiting for the impact that would lead to my death. Nothing. When I dared to open my eyes, I was horrified by what I saw. James had thrown his arms around Daren’s neck and tried to pull him over backwards, away from me. Daren kept his balance and turned to place a punch in James’s stomach. James staggered backwards but came back at Daren, taking a swing at his jaw. But Daren was faster. He shoved the heel of his hand, hard, into James’s chest, forcing him to back up a few steps to regain his balance. Suddenly, Daren’s hand struck out and a single crack rang through the room. Then, nothing but eerie silence. My ear splitting scream shattered the quiet and a chorus of others followed. James fell to the ground with a thud. He moaned a painful, pitiful sound then lay motionless. I couldn’t tell where he was shot but I saw blood spreading quickly on the carpet. I didn’t see him breathing. The room stilled. No one moved or breathed. Cautiously, some of the students closest to James inched forward to help; Daren noticed. “Nobody move!” he shouted. Ignoring his demand, I jumped towards James, but Daren caught me by my hair and dragged me backwards, pinning me up against the wall. Tears spilled down my cheeks as I helplessly looked at James’s badly broken body. Daren was going to kill me, just like he killed James. There was no shadow of doubt in my mind. “Look what you made me do!” Daren screamed in my face. “Daren,” I choked through the tears, “why? Why did you do this?” He laughed a horrible, venomous laugh. He placed his palm gently to my damp cheek. “Abby,” he said as if speaking to a child, “it was all because I love you.” Suddenly, there was pounding at the door. I could hear loud shouting voices on the other side. The words were muffled but I knew help had arrived. They were coming for Daren. He looked me straight in the eyes, and surprisingly his expression was defeated and heartbroken, all signs of blood thirst and fury gone. He knew his time was up. “Tell me you love me, Abby,” he whispered. I stared at him with unfathomable confusion. After everything he had done, how could he possibly think I would love him? “Tell me!” he screamed. I jumped, startled by his outburst. I opened my mouth to tell him to shove off when I looked back at his eyes. But I didn’t look at them, I looked in them. I didn’t see the eyes of a killer. They were the caramel, honey eyes I saw that looked at me on the first day of school last year. I saw the love and the devotion that I always knew was there somewhere. I saw the sheer desperation to hear those words spoken by the girl he loved, one last time. Fresh tears spilling from my eyes, I raised my hand to his face. It was rough under my soft touch. Stroking his cheek with my thumb I took a deep breath. “I…I love you, Daren,” I whispered softly to him. I hoped this would put him at ease and I was surprised to see a single tear form at the corner of his eye and escape, drawing a sorrow trail down to his chin. With so much crushing force, he drew me up into a hug, placing his lips to my ear. “I love you.” He sighed. Placing his mouth over mine, he kissed me fiercely but tenderly. Quickly, he let me go and took a step back. Before I could comprehend what he was doing, or try to stop him, he raised the barrel of the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.