Copyright C.M.

Cipriani 2009

1

6 p.m.

I felt the cold right away. It was a familiar cold though. A cold filled with distance and loathing that stabbed you to the marrow. All wrapped up in Martha Stewart centerpieces and Pottery Barn shams. Ha, sham. Exactly. I have to go outside in October to get warmed up. I barely noticed my pale reflection in the beveled mirror in the foyer. Yeah, the “foyer”. Not doorway or entrance. Throwing around five dollar words like we had the change to spare.

I shut the door as quietly as I could but in all honesty I didn’t give a shit who heard me. I was raring to go. The inevitable fight would be the catalyst for me to get out of my personal circle of hell.

This afternoon’s meeting with the school shrink did nothing to ease my angst. Apparently, that’s what I have. A compulsory angst that also embodies the entire eleventh grade student body, starting at puberty and ending when ever we can get the fuck out of our parents clutches. Funny how that works, at least in my experience, I haven’t heard of anyone perpetually suffering from teenage angst. So, there’s nothing special about me. I just have an overabundance of “angst”.

Angst seems to be a completely acceptable term, thought the synonyms are torment, anguish and sorrow. I’m surprised there isn’t a medical billing code for it. Then again there probably is but I bet our insurance doesn’t cover it. If you look it up, it means

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I feel an existential dread arising from an awareness of free choice. Which is complete bullshit. My dread and anxiety arise from very real awareness, which I have no free choice over.

My mother, Cathy -enter audible sigh here- strode out of the kitchen towards me; dressed to the nines in her Anne Taylor kakis, sporting her two-hundred dollar salon cut and color. She has seasonal highlights. It’s like she’s some snow wolf that changes it coat in cold weather. Well, she is a frigid bitch so maybe that’s not a very far off comparison. Sad part? She used to not be like this. I swear I’ll never change for a man.

“What are you doing home already, Krista? Did you skip therapy again?” she gave me an angry startled look like she did if I dared to come home when she was hosting Bunco. Here we go. Countdown to me getting tossed out…five…four…

“We finished up early. Doc had to get home for some family thing.” I sighed, “Look, I’m just changing and I’ll be outtie.”

“You can’t go out. You know the rules. Not on a weeknight.”

“But it’s Halloween! Mark said I could go if I went to school and the doc’s this entire month and I did. I showed him the paper all signed off on yesterday.” My “angst” was rearing up. This was bullshit. Mark, my stepfather, or stepfucker as I dubbed him, loved doing this shit. He’d dangle a promise in front of me and I’d toe the line, then

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BAM pull the rug out from under me, just for shits and giggles. No wonder I had angst for Christ sakes.

“Well, plans changed. You can’t go. Go tweek your homies or whatever it is you do. We’re having friends over later so grab something to eat and don’t come back down.” She huffed as I rolled my eyes at her and turned back into the kitchen. The smell of pumpkin pie wafting in her wake stabbed my heart reminding me her efforts weren’t for my benefit anymore. I grabbed an apple and a paring knife from the kitchen and headed back to the hall.

So much for going out in a snit. I was going to have to sneak it. Which is fine with me. Escape routes have been mapped and utilized for many years. Ever since the stepfucker visited my room. But, whatever.

I went up the stairs and into my room, decorated like I was still a ten year old with a freaking horse motif in pastel pastures. Embarrassing. Then again, that was when it was last decorated, my mother loosing all interest in me as soon as Mark moved in. Scratch that, she lost interest the second she met him and he feigned love.

Grabbing clean black baggy jeans, my cherry red Doc’s, a way too tight black baby doll T and my black wool pea coat and matching newsboy, I headed to the bathroom to get ready for the night. I learned a long time ago not to go into any room that

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didn’t have a lock or leave any room not fully dressed. Good lesson. Funny, they don’t teach you that in school.

I washed and dried my long flaming orange hair; the bane of my mother’s existence. Hey, who knew that fire engine red hair dyed back to blond would turn orange? I wasn’t really breaking down the science at the time. I put on some make up and dressed for the night.

7 p.m.

I heard the guests as they started to arrive. High pitched welcomes slathered with falsehood wormed their way up the banister and under the gap beneath my door.

Ridiculous.

I could picture our neighbors all dressed up with their false fangs and fake breasts, schmoozing while Mark played bartender; mixing up drinks that were more sugar than starch.

Pathetic.

At seventeen, I probably had more stamina for the sauce than these lightweight wannabes. At least I was determined to try in a few hours. This was only the first wave;

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the people that were obnoxiously eager and chained to a clock. God forbid they were late for a piss. Once the fashionably late arrived I’d have the distraction I needed to climb down the trellis, which I had happened to reinforce a few summers ago while mom and Mark were vacay-ing in Hawaii.

Did I go? No. I’d probably fuck something up and ruin their paradise retreat. I got stuck with Mrs. Hammerman instead. She smelled like hospitals and moth balls and death. She also napped. A lot. At least they were nice enough to bring me back photos of all stuff I’ll probably never get to see in real life. Ever. Just drive the knife deeper.

Waiting. Waiting.

I think my head is going to explode. Jumping on my laptop I wrote a few quips to my friends, threw a line to Trina to meet me at eight a few blocks over. I should be free by then. I messengered Johnny a few times. I really think I’m going to make this night, the “IT” night. I even wore some barely there black panties and shaved so I’d have no excuses to back out.

If stepfucker, Mark, had his way I’d never give up the goods on my own. Well, to no one but him. The last straw was when he dictated to me how he was going to tell me when I was giving it up. Like some sort of sick arranged fucking. What was he going to

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do? Sit the boy down and say “Hey, so I’ve been having sex with my wife’s daughter for six years? Just want to interview you to make sure I approve of your dick.”? Whatever.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Me and Johnny have been messing around for a while now. I think I could really love him, eventually, or at least tell him what’s going on. He’s one of the cool guys. He’s not like any kind of super hunky wrestler stud but he’s not bad. I’m a screwed up goth chick for Christ sakes. I dye my hair so often I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen out or given me cancer. Last year I pierced my ear with a thumbtack and popped a blood vessel that still bleeds if bang it just right. I have a fucked up family life and a really big fucking secret. Johnny’s probably better than I’ll ever hope to get.

In school, we have the stupid classes every year where the teachers blunder about trying to tell us about “our changing bodies” and sex while they’re stuttering and blushing six shades of crimson. They always say some stupid junk about how if someone in your family is touching you inappropriately how you have to tell someone. What the fuck? Like any kid in my position that has to get a beat down before surrendering is going to go talk to some lame ass teacher that can barely say the word “vagina”.

Nope. Tonight has to be the night. I’m so fed up with this shit it’s not funny. Actually, it never was funny, neither the “ha ha” kind or the odd kind. Nope. Just sad and sick as shit. My mom’s gotta know. I mean how can a guy, night after night, leave his

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marital bed and mosey on down the hall to his wife’s kid on the premise he’s “talking” to her and the wife have no idea. With these paper thin walls, if I don’t sleep through them together, I can’t see how she sleeps through this.

Finally, the doorbell rang and the next wave of losers was being greeted. I shoved my pre-paid cell and my MP3 in the jacket pocket, grabbed the black cat ear headband and climbed out the window. Perched on the lovely decorative edge I shut it and climbed effortlessly down to freedom.

8 p.m.

Hell’s bells, I’m cold! Trina was supposed to be here at eight. I thought she’d at least have the foresight to come a bit early. It’s practically snowing. Drafty pants and non existent underwear make for one cold ass.

Straight A’s in the gifted class and you’d think I’d be able to score at least some piece of shit clunker. I even have my own money working in the library three days a week after school and a couple weekends. Not a huge chunk of change, but enough.

I’m not even supposed to have my phone but a girl can’t be sneaking out and running wild through the night and not have a way to connect. Mark’s gotta have his grubby hands wrapped on my leash and forbid anything and everything he can. I’ve been

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saving though, as soon as I’m eighteen. Just three more fucking months, and I’m leaving here regardless of a diploma in hand. I’ll finish my work on my own; away from all this.

I could hear Trina’s piece of junk Olds coming down the block. I stepped out of the shadows to the edge of the sidewalk, watching as she came to a stop in front of me. Popping in the front seat I sank into the torn faux leather and gave her a look that said “Get me the fuck out of here”. She did.

Trina was nothing if not my polar opposite. Skinny, full-bodied blond; Cheerleader material. She’s even perky in the morning and wears pastels. Ugh. If we hadn’t gotten stuck as lab partners I don’t think we’d have ever spoken. I don’t know what it is about the kids that get abused but we kinda magnetize to each other. Either than or everyone, everywhere has shitty parents.

Trina’s got a “funny uncle”. Yeah, seriously that’s what they call him. Call a spade a spade or in this case a rake a rake. She’s not allowed to visit her mom’s sisters anymore. She’s alluded and I’ve alluded and now we’re like blood sisters.

“You eat?” She flicked her blue eyes from the road to glance over at me.

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“No. Cathy was making food for her stupid Halloween party. You wanna go over to the In and Out?” I asked. I really didn’t need to eat a lot and most of what Trina ate came back up ten minutes later anyway but whatever.

“Sure. Hey, Johnny’s set starts at nine over at Brass Knuckles so…we got some time.”

Brass Knuckles is a college bar with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. On holidays they dressed it up and let some of the local kids have sets, working just for tips. They also had a partially blind bouncer that couldn’t really see our fake ID’s.

Johnny’s band Maroon Midnight was pretty decent. I hoped he got his shit together and could get out of this place after graduation. Maybe he’d meet me in New York or something.

We parked in the lot at the In and Out and ate. It was way too cold for the shakes we ordered but we trudged through the chocolate cellulite anyway. Keeping our chatter to a minimum; just covering the basic “hello” bullshit.

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9 p.m.

The Brass Knuckles was packed with bodies. Smoke hung thick in the air and the odor of sweat and barley and vomit assaulted my nose and turned the burger and shake sideways in my gut. I shouldn’t have had those fries.

Johnny’s band was setting up and my heart did a little leap as I watched him cross the stage. The multi-hued lights cast oddly sexy shadows over his face. He gave me a nod when he settled on his side of the foot high platform.

Trina grabbed me from my daze, pulling me back to a few seats at the bar that were amazingly free. The bartender slid two drinks in front of us that smelled much stronger than the plain coke they were mimicking. Sometimes, being a perky booby blond had it’s…perks.

It was too loud to talk over the crushing bass and shouted lyrics. So we just sat and ogled the band, glanced around the bar and sipped our drinks. My mind kept playing out scenarios of the tryst Johnny and I would have. How coupling with him would just be so much better than anything Mark had forced on me. I kept envisioning the smug look I’d give Mark when I told him I defied him and how finally, maybe, just maybe, he’d leave me alone, knowing I wasn’t exclusively his anymore.

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It was probably the wrong reason to want to have sex with someone but it was the best one I had. I’m drowning and I know it. I’m reaching out of the cesspool and grabbing any kinda life line I can get. I did like Johnny a lot. As far as I knew he hadn’t been with any other girl but it didn’t really bother me if he had. His dad was a drunk and his mom ran off when he was little. I’m not real sure what kind of drunk his dad specialized in; abusive, oblivious, happy? I know Johnny had to keep his little sister out of the mix when his dad went on a binge but I had a feeling it wasn’t the same diversions Mark had. Maybe Johnny just didn’t want his sister to see what a piece of shit their dad was. I could respect that.

When Johnny’s set ended I was totally prepared just incase he wasn’t; I had a condom in my pocket. I got it the last sex ed class. I guess the class was actually good for something. There’s no fucking way I’m getting some crazy disease or, God forbid, pregnant. The last thing I need is to make litter the world with another messed up kid.

He dismantled his gear and helped the guys load it up in record time, seeing as the next group was aching to set up. They were practically vibrating in their Converse. I stayed off to the side of the small stage and waited for him to finish. He threw me glances as he packed up his band mate’s van. I had all but spelled out what I was interested in when we texted earlier.

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My hands were sweating as we left the bar and headed for his VW bus. It was another piece of shit but the fact he actual had a vehicle made me envious. Hell, I was jealous of a fucking roller skate at this point.

10 p.m.

I was growing more and more nervous as the van snaked its way through the shopping district. An abandoned quality settled around the blacked out store windows making it feel as though the world was deserted. The dim street lights flickered past as he drove around the back of a strip mall and parked.

In all my fantasizing of my first time having sex with a boy, the back lot of a strip mall was never one of the locations. But we hadn’t a lot of choices and by Hell, I was determined to do this. I shrugged off my coat and stood up as far as I could – crouching wasn’t very sexy at all - and got into the back. Johnny had a futon where the back seats should have been. Sometimes, he and his sister slept in the van when his dad was on a bender.

Fucking hell, I pushing the negative thoughts aside, this was so not the time or place for that bullshit. I sat down on the futon and watched him follow me back. His black hair covered his face, hiding his electric eyes. He was a good looking guy.

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Thank god he left the van running so we could benefit from the heater as warmth dripped out of the inefficient unit. My stomach was doing jumping jacks as he fell back on the futon and sighed. I felt his hand trail up my back and as he started playing with the tips of my bright orange hair.

“You look like a phoenix, you know.” Johnny said in a husky voice. Even though he couldn’t see it, I rolled my eyes as his words started a smoldering between my legs. It was a new feeling I got when Johnny and I made out. Throughout all Mark’s efforts, he never made me want to be there. Then again, I guess that wasn’t really about me.

“Yeah, well, it pisses Cathy off, so…you know.” Was all I managed to eek out. He pulled me backwards so I was lying on the futon next to him, his arm still behind me.

He moved on top of me and my legs instinctively parted, cradling him in the center of me. I could feel his erection growing already, probably just with the knowledge this was a sure thing. Even so, my body reacted like I had gotten shocked with a cattle prod. Sparks shot through my body, raising a desire tinged with apprehension.

He pulled my pants off and looked me over. Suddenly, I was embarrassed about the skimpy panties and felt my face heat up.

“You’re really hot.” He said. Yeah, how do you respond to that? Having all the horrible experiences I’ve had, its really difficult to have that kind of conversation and

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“thanks” really doesn’t seem appropriate. Like when the theater usher says something like “Have a good time at the movie” and you say “you too!” when you know damn well he isn’t going to be watching the movie with you. Plus, I had a feeling that half naked girls were almost always hot to horny teenage boys. Just one of life’s givens.

I reached up and tugged at the button on his jeans. Johnny jumped up and took off his pants without any fanfare and practically pounced back on top of me. I was starting to feel like I wasn’t really participating in this but, for my real first time, I had no idea what the hell I was doing or what to expect. So much for Mark’s “teachings”. Ha! Asshole.

What an un-fucking-spectacular event. I think the whole nonsense took about six minutes; including the three and a half of Johnny getting up fumbling with how to put the condom on. Devil’s balls, he better had gotten it right. One thing I did learn is that the size does matter. Holy crap. Yet another “fuck you!” to Mark and his teeny dick. I’m definitely going to be sore.

We got dressed quickly. It felt like all the warmth seeped out of the van when he was finished. Man, reality is a bitch. My insides felt empty, like a hole opened up inside me. It was a different kind of terrible feeling. I wondered if this was how life was for women; a constant sting of disappointment tinged with the sour pucker of being used.

Maybe I wouldn’t meet him in New York after all.

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But it’s done now and I can move on. I was hoping that, I don’t know, some crazy fireworks or life altering cosmic collision would have taken place. Guess all that shit in the movies is just that; shit.

11 p.m.

This is asinine. Sitting in the front seat of the van I looked over at Johnny who can barely maintain eye contact or utter enough words to figure out where the fuck we’re going. What the hell? Is he like, embarrassed he screwed me or something? He just keeps muttering “sorry” and something about taking me home. Whatever.

“Look Johnny,” I began, it was obvious I was going to have to sport the balls here since he lost his in the backseat, “I can’t go home. We just need to find Trina.” I took out my cell and of course, no signal. Crap.

“Ok, yeah! We can find Trina.” He said nodding and agreeing like I just offered up the lotto numbers for tomorrow night. Why does sex make men idiots? Castrated Johnny wasn’t such a great thing.

I sighed. Loudly.

“Ah, are you ok? I mean, like, everything’s ok? …There?”

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“Oh. My. Fucking. God. I am not even having this conversation.” I closed my eyes and rubbed my hands over my face. It was a blatant look of consternation. “Just drive Johnny. Let me get a signal.”

Finally, the Cellular Gods deemed me worthy, blessing my prepaid phone with two beautiful little bars after twenty minutes of complete and awkward silence circling the shopping district while I looked like a moron holding it at weird angles. Johnny parked next to the curb and I called Trina. She didn’t answer.

Is this like my fucking night or what? I was starting to feel like I did want to go home but the lame Halloween party would still be going on for at least a few more hours. I would probably end up slitting my wrists rather than listen to them habitually Macarena. Or even worse, someone finds the Saturday Night Fever album. I’ve been there before, it’s not pretty.

I tried Trina again. And, again.

The fourth time she picked up. The music was so loud on her end I had to shout at her to get outside so I could find out where she was. After many minutes of sitting listening to her flirt her way out the door, she told me she was still at the Brass Knuckles. Of course. We could have been there by now.

I hung up and we jetted over to the bar.

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12 a.m.

It wasn’t difficult to spot Trina in the bar surrounded by a gaggle of college guys. Par for the course. They ran to her sporty looks but her sardonic temperament usually had them back tracking. At this time of night, most of them were already too buzzed to get her male depreciating sarcasm. Though, she would let her verbal hell hounds rest if she found someone worthy to hook up with.

Pushing through the surge of testosterone I finally got next to Trina and shout/whispered over the noise that we needed to make a break for the ladies room. Grabbing a hold of her hand we made our way out of the sea of guys. I felt like Moses, they parted instantly for me.

The bathroom was black and non-descript. Like every other shit hole bathroom in every other crap ass college bar. A couple of girls were giggling in one of the stalls. God only knows what they were doing, but I had to talk to Trina about this whole sex thing.

“So you did it, didn’t you?” She wiggled one eyebrow and gave me a wry smile and I had about enough patience to just roll my eyes.

“ Yeah, it’s over. Thank god. Look, what do you do now? I mean Johnny’s acting like an idiot. He barely looks at me or talks to me. What the fuck is wrong with him?” I

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was getting really annoyed. I didn’t do anything wrong, if anything I helped the poor bastard out. It wasn’t like I really got any pleasure out of it.

“It wasn’t good, huh? That’s kinda the thing with guys and sex. Especially young guys. They think it’s over when they’re over. Completely selfish, I know.” She sucked her teeth and gave me a look like I was supposed to get this. “Trouble is, that’s how it is. Why I only date older guys now. At least there’s a little more stamina.”

What the hell. I should have had this talk with her before getting down with Johnny. Shit, if she knew this, she should have talked to me before! My night was just getting better and better by the hour. I stood there gaping wide mouthed at her like a bass out of water.

“Was he at least a decent size? I mean sometimes that can make it better. Did you come? You know, have “the big O”?” She was out of her mind and I was getting pissed.

“How the hell should I know if he was a decent size? Am I going to be sore tomorrow; probably. The whole damn thing lasted like five minutes. How the fuck am I supposed to know if I had an orgasm?” At this point I was shouting, the girls in the stall were quiet. I was totally mortified though anger ruled me. Trina seemed to not even acknowledge my shame blindly trudging on.

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“You’d have known if you had one. So, that means no. Can you like, show me with your hands how big he was? Five minutes?? You’ve got to be kidding me. No wonder he wasn’t talking or looking at you. I mean even a guy virgin has watched enough porn to know that it’s supposed to last longer than that!” Trina was now yelling but it wasn’t in anger, more like she was appalled enough for both of us. Yet, even so, her perkiness filtered through and highlighted her words.

“Ok, let’s forget this. I need to just…zone out. Tell me you have some pot or something. This is like the worst fucking night of my life.” Trina’s sympathetic look was almost too much.

Turned out Johnny had left. Surprise, surprise. Trina ushered me into the awaiting circle of men, all puffed up like peacocks as they vied for Trina’s attentions. I wondered how long they would have stood there waiting while we were in the bathroom before they got a ruler and whipped ‘em out. Maybe one of them would just club Trina over the head and drag her to a cave by her hair. I felt like I was watching a new show; Animal Planet: Mating Rituals. A few of the guys started hitting on me when they realized they had no chance with Trina. Isn’t that fucking lovely.

1 a.m.

“I gotta go, Trin.” I yelled over the cacophony of the bar, I tugged her shirt sleeve to get her attention, “I just gotta jet. The stepfucker will freak if he catches me

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out.” Which was the understatement of the year. How many times did I cover for getting smacked? Oh, he never hit where Cathy could see, really, only if she walked in on me changing or in the bathroom. She had a habit of doing that, or at least trying, the new lesson of door locking has been in full effect. I wonder if her subconscious was trying to show her what was happening or if she was just a rude bitch.

Trina didn’t talk but pulled me from the club and into the side alley. The lovely smell of ripe beer and vomit, urine and gawd-awful was sharp on the cold air, sending my gut into another loop-de-loop.

“Here,” she said and thrust a joint into my hand and I sighed loudly in relief and thanks. “Do you need me to take you home?” Her eyes darting back to the front of the alley as if she was waiting expectantly for someone to follow.

“Nah, I got it. It’ll give me time to mellow on the way home.” It wasn’t that far really, maybe two miles. I’d walked it before and you know, I had that whole kids-areinvincible thing going. It would give me a chance to clear my head to think about this Johnny business.

“Kay, well, text me or something when you get in just so I know you’re alright.” Trina was probably the only one of my friends that would have asked me to do that. It felt like a scary kind of nice stabbed my heart. I wanted a real friend but if anyone got close they might notice stuff or see something and I just didn’t have the balls to come out with

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my secret. Not even to Trina with her “funny uncle”. She probably didn’t really mean it like that anyway.

She went back into the club and I stood in the alley trying to get my joint lit. It was a tiny little thing but it’d take off the edge. Hopefully, the buzz would last a while. Then if he did come for me tonight, maybe it would make me a little numb. Just a few more weeks until freedom.

I gathered my jacket around me and set off down the dimly lit street; walking through the glow of the streetlight, quickening my pace just a tad through the shadows. The pot burned my throat in that truly terrible way really stemmy bud does.

Down a side street six blocks away from the house the joint bit the dust. It was enough though. I had a nice buzz going, all the thoughts floated around my head, crashing into each other like fluffy freight trains. Everything and nothing all at once. Finally mellowed out, I could relax a little bit. The normal trepidation home usually allotted me was a deadened feeling in my gut.

Walking back around to the trellis I was mildly aware that this was going to be quite a feat. My hands were numb with pot and cold and I knew my reflexes were sluggish but unless I wanted to be greeted with irate parents waking me on the front porch swing I had to manage the climb.

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I didn’t think I made much noise but then again the effects of dope make you, well, dopy. I somehow got to the window and toppled inside, the brief fleeting thought that it should have been closed drifted like mist behind my eyes. I turned and flopped face down on the bed, exertion and drugs pulling me into an unconscious state.

2 a.m.

3 a.m.

4 a.m.

5 a.m.

The painful stab in my head woke me up and I was vaguely aware of being flipped on my back. I bounced on the bed a few times before another jolting pain wrenched my gut. I was slammed into awareness with a fist to my jaw. Pain ripped

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through my brain. I tasted metal in my mouth and realized it was blood. My blood. What the fuck?

I tried to call for my mom, yell “STOP” and “NO” but my mouth was filled with blood and my tongue lolled like raw flesh in my mouth. I felt the back end swell as the tip dangled dead near my lips. I was reduced to guttural moans and grunts.

My eyes were searching the darkness as another blast of pain racked my gut. I expelled the air from my lungs with a loud groan. My eyes adjusting to the dim light, the shadow looming above me took on Mark’s shape. The same shadow I’ve seen looming so many times before the pain started.

But this was different.

Even while being pummeled I realized things had changed. I never really feared before, after those first few times, I just didn’t fear. I got hit, yes. I got held down and bruised. I got violated, a given. But it was never like this. This made me Fear, this was uncontrolled, this wasn’t pain to subdue but pain wrought in fury. I twisted myself up like a porcupine protecting the soft flesh of my stomach. How I wished I had that natural spiky protection. The blows kept coming and I felt my legs get cold.

It took me a minute to realize it was because I didn’t have pants on anymore. Another jolt of panic shot through me as my wrists were grabbed and wrenched from

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covering my head. I was being splayed spread eagle on the bed, my hands above my head, held in one of Mark’s hands while his other was wrenching down his flannel pajama bottoms. My legs kicked at him, panic and fear left me scrambling on the bed frantic to get away. When I saw his penis in the dimness I clamped my legs together like a vise.

Where was my mother? She had to hear my muffled screams and cries. There’s no way she could sleep through this. Again, I’ve been abandoned, though I only had a half a second to feel the stab of that particular pain. So many others were eager to take its place. I managed to wriggle a hand free and used it to rake my nails across his face.

“You no good bitch!” he bellowed, trying to recapture my arm. I knew if I let him I wouldn’t get free again. Not until he was done, and this time I wasn’t sure what done for him would mean. While he was distracted trying to capture my flailing arm, he rested a knee on the bed across my legs. I saw the opening, his penis dangling. I stiffened and propelled both legs up at the same time. I would never let him use me again. I would never lie down and let someone hurt me ever again. I put all my anger, fear, frustration, hurt and pain into that one action.

Unfortunately, physics was working against me. I didn’t realize in his position what the outcome of him getting injured like that would be. He was balanced over me and the swing from my kick propelled him forward, closer to me. His grip on my hands

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was instantly released and he fell on top of me. Pinning me with his entire body to the bed. The sudden weight on my chest violently expelled the air in my lungs. His shoulder pressed into the tender width of my throat. Mark’s groans and shallow breathing disgustingly close to my ear.

This was going to end. Tonight. I struggled under him trying to shift his weight off me and succeeded in pushing him far enough over to wiggle out from under him. My breath was ragged, the pain to grasp breath teared my eyes. Mark’s pathetic mewing noises added to the pain radiating through my skull. I dashed over to the door and gripped the handled. Immediately more pain spiked all over my skull as if someone had shaved off the first layer of skin with a dull butter knife in one swipe. I whooshed back into the room.

Mark had grabbed me by the hair, tossing me behind him. I landed against my desk like so much flotsam. Debris littering the floor, the glint of the paring knife landed beside me like providence. I grabbed it just as Mark was hauling me to my feet. His fingers dug into my arms as he hoisted me up.

I wasted no time slashing the nearest part of him with the two inch blade. What I wouldn’t have given just then for a hatchet or a butcher knife or anything with more bite. But this was what I was given and it had to do. He screamed out and dropped me and I stumbled backward, into the desk again. Luckily, this time I kept on my feet. He lunged again and my tiny blade sunk into his side. I could see the anger flaming in his eyes,

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almost illuminating my room. He wasn’t backing down. Why the fuck wasn’t he backing down!

I knew that my little knife wasn’t causing tremendous damage but I’d never fought back like this before. The consequences of his abuse had left Mark completely. He didn’t care if mom found out. He didn’t care if people saw the injuries he inflicted. I could see it in his eyes, the hatred burned me alive.

I slashed out at him over and over as he tried to get a grip on me. This was beyond rape though I’m sure that’s what it started out as. I never let go of my small weapon, it was my only lifeline. If I lost that I knew I was lost. I vaguely recalled things breaking in my room; the lamp tipped, the bulb shattering, my desk being wiped clean, the laptop slamming on the floor, framed photos falling off the walls. It felt like forever and a second all at once. The pretty pastel horses watched with dull eyes. Pain riddled my body though I was past feeling it any more. I did not let go of my knife and Mark never stopped fighting me.

One moment we were in the heat of battle, the next I was sobbing in the corner of my room. Blood coated my naked legs and arms; soaked into my remaining clothes, made squishy black puddles on the carpet. My hand cramped and knotted in the fist around my knife refusing to let go. I tried to call out but the swollen lump that was my tongue wouldn’t respond with more than a loud gurgling moan. My stomach was on the verge of purging but nothing could get past the lump in my mouth.

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6 a.m.

Bile ate at the back of my throat as the new morning sun rose. Light filtering through my window, rays danced on the breeze, settling down and illuminating Mark’s lifeless body splayed across my bedroom floor. His eyes, a blank stare boring into me, blood trickled out of his parted lips, it seeped from long cuts and small punctures across his face and neck and arms, it changed the color of his clothes and matted down his hair. I thought I could hear the drops splashing a tune on the saturated carpet, mixing with the sound of the waking birds chirp, orchestrating a lullaby for me.

Vaguely, I heard rustling as the door opened. A high pitched scream rent the air though my eyes never left Mark. I sat stoic in my little corner with my weapon in hand, waiting for life to twitch in him, ready for his next strike, waiting for the fight to begin anew. An alert panic thrummed through me, adding to the music in my head. Never, had I thought it would end. In my mind, the realization of it ending, when I graduated and moved out, never really truly entered.

Somehow I knew I’d always be bound.

I heard more music far away, a different beat, growing louder, shriller. No. Not music; sirens. I never broke my gaze from Mark as I rocked myself in the corner. The tears long dried up for this particular pain. People came into the room. Voices muffled

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and I finally tore my gaze away to look at them, their mouths moving in a dance I couldn’t follow; one that didn’t flow with the music ringing in my ears.

Their blue shirts and blue gloved hands made them look like Smurfs and I giggled; though it sounded more like a gargling. I was lifted up, big hands but gentle, not like those others. They carried me past Mark, past my mother’s crumpled sobbing frame in the hall, past holiday photos full of fake smiles and posed love, leaving splatters of red on the centerpieces and shams. I left the house in the arms of those blue men, their shirts and gloves now streaked with both Mark’s and my gore and I never looked back.

I only took with me the music. Forever in my mind.

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