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Today: Chapter One
By
Colors_of_the_Wind

Today: Chapter One

"Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone..." -Otep, Jonestown Tea.

“Once upon a time, I ripped the wings from my spine…” - Special Pets by Otep.

“Can’t get your way, so you’re angry.” - Halestorm.

“I can’t keep quiet…” - Quiet by Milck.

“No!”

The nightmare ends as I re-enter reality, feeling around for the lamp in the darkness of the early morning. The alarm clock alerts me to the fact that it’s only two-thirty in the A.M. and I still have four hours to go until I have to be up for the court date, but my heart is racing and I’m covered in cold sweat. There’s no way I’ll get back to sleep now, not after that.

Instead of attempting impossible sleep, I turn the lamp on next to my bed and sit up fully, planting my feet on the fluffy, warm carpet. My hair is stuck to my face, my clothes to my skin, and my heart is in my throat. I contemplate taking a shower, wondering if it will wake up Garrett, and decide against that too. It probably would help me fall asleep again, but it would also definitely wake him up and he needed at least one good night of sleep.

I do get up, however, and walk into the kitchen, turning the television on to one of the local news stations at a low, low volume with the captions on. They’re doing some story about a high school a few miles out- some coach was caught with pictures of the girls volleyball team. Nothing new, not really. It happens all the time.

I’m living proof of that piece of truth.

I’m not going to lie, tomorrow - well, today, I suppose - is terrifying. I am not, in any way, looking forward to sitting in that court and telling everyone that I waited a whole decade before speaking up about Stepmonster. I’m not looking forward to having to sit in the same room as him again, see his wide grin as I stammer and quiver in fear though the logical bit of my brain knows he can’t do anything to me there. I’m not looking forward to possibly gagging on his scent again or having to relive the worst moments in my life just so the courtroom can know, without a doubt, that he’s guilty.

Not like they don’t already have proof. I am, of course, pregnant against my will with his child. Mother was, obviously, found in the backyard just as I said she would be. But those facts don’t matter. They want to hear about the beatings and the mind games and the dirty little secrets hiding behind that tiny little house. All the stories behind each bruise and broken bone. Who am I to deny them their sick pleasure? I want him locked away, so I get to recite my life like a play, put on a show for the lawyers and the judge and the jury.

He’ll probably lose his cool, call me a bitch. As if that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. I’d rather be a bitch than still be stuck there with him. I’d rather go through all of these terrifying things than ever have to go back to that house. If telling the truth makes me a bitch; if it causes a bit more trauma, if I have to deal with people twisting my words and the press yelling at me for even more details of my horrendous existence just to lock him away and keep him there?

I’ll gladly do it, and I’ll do it for me. For me alone.

***

A couple hours later, Garrett joins me on the couch, yawning and sporting dark circles under his eyes. I can’t say I was all that optimistic about either of us getting a good night’s sleep last night, but I guess I just keep hoping he’ll wake up energized. I feel so bad for moving in, stealing his bed--even though he keeps saying he doesn’t mind--and causing him so much stress. If there were elsewhere for me to go, I would, just so he could be happy again, but, at least for now, he’s the only one I trust enough to fall asleep around.

Garrett gets up to make breakfast and I let him know I’m going to go take a shower. He nods and goes back to cracking eggs. Omelets and apple juice. Yum.

The bathroom is cold when I enter it, but a few minutes of hot water and steam changes that and pretty soon I am toasty warm and my trembling has stopped, at least for right now. I wash my hair and my body and then just stand there, letting the hot water run down me and swirl into the drain. Salty tears join with soapy water and I let them come. It's not very often that my inner pain manifests physically, so I may as well allow it its occasional periods of time.

Soon, of course, the water has gone cold and my skin has gone pruney, so I step out and into some loose-fitting jeans and a grey sweater, wondering silently if I should dress in something a tad more professional, but shoving the thought aside. If I had needed to, someone- probably Boss- would have told me. With the way my memory is nowadays, she probably would have repeated it multiple times over and called me this morning, just to be sure.

My hair gets towel dried and put up in a lazy ponytail and I exit the bathroom to find a third plate at the table, currently being gobbled up with abandon by someone in black leather and black jeans. My omelet- in all its gouda, green peppers and mushrooms glory- is settled across from him.

“Hey, Philena. How are you doing?”

I just took a bite, so I shrug. I really don’t have much to say anyway. How am I doing? I’m free? I have nightmares every night and feel like shit every day, need counseling, but at least I’m alive? At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. School is hell. Now that everyone has seen Stepmonster on the news and knows all about everything I can’t hide anymore. Evangeline has tried to get close again, but I’ve ignored her. So far, it seems to have worked--she’s left me alone. Liechent doesn’t go there anymore since everything has blown up, but he drops me off in the morning and picks me up in the afternoon. It’s nice, at least, not to have to walk or catch a bus.

I swallow my bite and realize he’s still waiting for an actual answer. What am I supposed to say? I feel like running away and never coming back? I feel like dying? I feel like a zombie; like I could sleep for days and still be exhausted? Instead, I stick to a short reply.

“I’m alright.”

He frowns at me, knowing there’s more under those two words, but he just finishes his breakfast and cleans up, sitting back down to wait for Garrett and I to be ready. He’ll be the one driving as neither of us has been to the courthouse before. My omelet suddenly doesn’t look very appetizing, but I finish it anyway, gagging down the last three pieces and chugging my juice. I excuse myself from the table and walk quickly to my room, collapsing onto the bed, resting my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands. My stomach hurts and I feel like I’m going to puke up everything I just ate. It was so easy this morning to convince myself that this is worth it--and it is--but I’m so scared. Everything scares me now--unless the mind fog takes over--and I feel like I’m constantly gasping for breath.

There’s a soft knock on my door and Adam’s voice follows it, asking if I’m ready to go. I close my eyes and sigh, trying to do what my counselor told me to do and take deep, calming breaths. It helps a little, but not as much as it does when I’m actually in her office. I guess it wouldn’t though, would it? I don’t feel safe going where I’m going whereas there, in her office, I feel as safe as I think I’ll ever feel.

“Philena?” Adam sounds concerned and a little like he might open the door, so I hurry to reply.

“Sorry, yeah. Just gotta shove on my shoes. Be out in a second.”

I grab my sneakers and get up to grab some socks when the door opens and Adam enters. Guess I wasn’t that convincing. I try to be, I do, but either I’m crap at it or he’s just really good at reading between the lines. I’m going to go for the latter.

I shut my sock drawer and plop back down on my bed to put them on. My feet are sweaty, my hands shaking, and it takes me a little bit to get the first one on. Adam sits down next to me, but not too close to make me uncomfortable. He seems to know just where that line is and I wonder how that is. Yes, we’ve been around each other quite a bit these past couple months either in the car on the way to school or on the way to my counselor because Garrett works and Adam doesn’t want me walking. I don’t really understand what he thinks will happen to me that hasn’t happened already, but I accept the rides because I really don’t want to walk anyway even though I feel bad for taking up all his time.

I hear a sigh next to me and look up to see his worried eyes on me, not much different from when I requested the pregnancy test half a lifetime ago. I try a smile and he rolls his eyes--not buying it for a second--so I shrug my shoulders and put the other sock on, grimacing as my nervous stomach gurgles, then shove my shoes on. Just have to get my wallet now, which has my state ID and some actual money and my therapist’s card for emergencies, but my legs don’t want to work for me now, so I just sit and stare at the floor.

“You’ll be safe, you know. Garrett and I will both be there, as will Boss, and he’ll be in cuffs. There’s no way for him to hurt you.”

I look at him, a sad smile on my face. I am glad they’ll be there--I’m even glad Boss will be there--but just because he can’t hurt me physically, doesn’t mean he can’t hurt me. Not to mention having to tell everyone everything… again.

“Physically. Physically, he can’t hurt me. He’ll have plenty of words though--him and his attorney.”

I get up before Adam can say anything, grab my wallet and walk out to the living area where Garrett is waiting on the couch.

“Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

And we leave. Time to face my worst nightmare, literally.

 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012-2017 by Aria Leitner aka Colors_of_the_Wind

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