Memories are poison
A typical night used to be my mom yelling at my Abuela; their odd, hispanic way of discussing if one Mexican soap opera was better than the other one. My dad would come home late and sit down in his relax chair to watch the late night news. He’d ignore the Spanish babbling. I’d be bored out of my mind, texting on my phone or playing games on my laptop to keep myself busy.
I wish I was there, now. I wish my life was boring again.
A typical night in this house is something else. There’s John, playing Playstation games and drinking beers. And then there’s us, sitting quietly next to each other. Scared to say something wrong, we just shut up. If he’s hungry, one of us gets up to grab him a bite. If he’s thirsty, one of us gets him a new beer. Do we disturb during one of his difficult combat levels, he throws a can our way and threatens to kick the living shit out of us. God, I wish his mother had taught him some manners. I remember that I loved watching a TV show called Castle just before I was taken. I’d stare at my television screen and absorb it like it was a weekly religion. I’m not allowed to choose my favorite TV shows anymore. Detective Beckett and Rick Castle would probably find a way to get out of this place. On a whim. I don’t. I’m stuck. And now I still don’t know if they ended up being a couple.
Lauren and I are not supposed to drink anything else except tab water. That’s why I’m holding a large glass in my right hand. One of my fingers circle at the rim, so many times that I forget I’m sitting in this couch. A nostalgically grin takes over my face, just by remembering some of my favorite scenes from that series.
Ellen was a fan as well. We’d text during breaks. My mom would get really nervous over it, since the laughing and shrieking over teenage silliness all took place in the living room, where everyone else was sitting.
And that’s how in an instant, my happy memories get replaced by homesick feelings and sadness. I bet my mom’s not watching Castle. Maybe she’s not watching anything anymore. She probably thinks I’m dead. Her only daughter is dead.
A gentle touch shakes me out of my folly. Lauren’s looking at me cautiously. Her eyes ask me if there’s anything wrong. She knows me well. When you’re stuck with each other, you tend to see through one another rather quickly. A silent denial takes place. We better not talk. Not now he’s here. The girl next to me frowns deeply and then memorizes the way my middle finger is tapping against the glass. It’s making a sound. A somewhat irritating, shrill sound, but I’m doing it unintentionally – still completely absorbed by my past. Memories of my mom and dad take me away from here and I can’t shake them off. I remember when my dad taught me how to ride a bike. The first time I fell over, I kicked that crappy thing so hard that he had to tape my foot. No more bike rides for two weeks. Later, he encouraged me so passionately that I turned into a better rider than Ellen. On his days off, we’d hit the roads, simply to discover the city. We both share an embarrassing interest in art and architecture. My mom would wait for us with home baked cookies every single time. Chocolate chip cookies. My favorite. She always knew what my favorite was.
Without realizing, I’ve started humming a song that she always listened to. Something Spanish. I don’t even remember the name or the artist anymore.
John, surprisingly in a bad mood tonight, looks over to me and hisses to shut up. That’s when I snap out of my confusion a second time and make a really big mistake. For a second I forgot where I was, which makes me act cluelessly. In that moment, I turn back into the bitchy Mariana from high school.
“You shut up!” I answer all agitated, like it comes natural.
It takes a rapid heartbeat before I realize who I’m talking to. John. Shit.
When I dart to the right, there’s Lauren, anxiously and nervously staring in front of her, praying that it never happened. Too afraid to search for the other person in this room, my eyes shut tightly. My heart’s racing so fast that my entire body starts shaking. I am afraid. Afraid of what he’ll do. Because I know – I know he’ll explode and come after me. It’s only a matter of time … of seconds, actually.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I try.
But it’s too late. I knew it’d be too late. My eyes are still desperately squeezed shut, but that doesn’t stop me from imagining the picture that accompanies the sounds I’m hearing. John rises from his chair without saying a word and stamps the ground with his heavy boots on his way to my seat. His breathing is heavy and unsteady. It means he’s furious. Furious that I still manage to fight back, after all this time. He’s a time bomb.
“What did you say?” he asks with a raging tone invading his voice.
Before I can emphasize just how genuinely sorry I am, his strong fingers grab the back of my hair. It hurts so bad, so quickly, that I crawl out of the couch to drop on my knees. He has no sympathy at all. This will end bad, I just know it will.
“I’m so sorry.” I beg him. “I forgot. For a second, I forgot.”
I put my hands on top of his, pleading to let go. But he doesn’t. He pulls my hair even harder. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. He starts to move, which scares me even more. Because he’ll literally drag me along with him. My body tumbles over, as he takes me to the kitchen. I’m paddling over the floor, vainly trying to get on my feet. But he’s too fast, and I’m squirming to reach a position where it’ll hurt less. The pain feels like a thousand knives cutting through my hair-line. The worst thing is, I can’t stop crying. As soon as I finally open my eyes, there she is: Lauren, hysterically chasing us both. She’s begging him to let go of me, but the asshole just threatens to treat her similarly as well.
“You forgot, you say? Forgot about what? Huh?”
His strong arm pulls me up, until I finally manage to regain my balance. I’m standing. At least I’m standing now! But that doesn’t retain him from hurting me. His second hand comes crawling around my throat, crushing it. It’s hard to breathe while his fingers are shutting off my windpipe from all the air around us. I am so afraid, yet I can’t shake the thought of how much of an animal he is. I never deserved this. Lauren never deserved this. My squeaking sounds lack any harmony. Most of it is begging him to let go. But I’m just so mad. I seriously want to kick him so hard between the legs that he will regret it for the rest of his life. Soon enough, I realize: it’ll only backfire. His eyes are spitting fire. They look more psychopathic than ever before. He was mad enough before I dared to snap at him. Look what I did now.
My feet follow him every step of the way – in an attempt to get ahead of his movements – desperately hoping it’ll temper the pain. I fail. The grip of his hands still feels like torture.
When we reach the back door, he opens it to literally toss me outside like a little piece of garbage. I hit the ground hard, so hard I feel some of my bones cracking. Dirt immediately soils my already unclean clothes. My right shoulder and the entire part of my upper body aches. But my childish, yet heartbreaking moaning brings out no compassion in his vicious insanity. It just irritates him. While facing the cold, muddy ground, I bite my upper lip in pain. Breathing is hard, but at least he let go of me and now I can finally try to work up a solid pace again to regain control over myself.
“John. Please, don’t. Don’t hurt her.”
The voice. It’s like a mirage in a distant dream. It’s Lauren, pulling his arm back, in an attempt to slow him down. I see it, but it happens in a blur. John’s not listening to her, though. The remarkable thing about Lauren is, she’s gentle enough to not upset him even more. Just friendly, asking if he’ll reconsider, without making him question about hurting her as well. He just pushes her back, tells her to mind her own business and she realizes quickly that nothing will stop him tonight. She has such a spot-on approach when it comes to him. I haven’t been here long enough to forget about my life-long normal way of communicating with people, so I keep putting up a fight. She’s been captured and manipulated for years – she doesn’t know any better. She’s the lucky one.
“You said you forgot.” he screams aggressively while approaching me slowly. “Explain that to me. Forgot that you are a nobody? Forgot that you should be lucky I haven’t killed you yet? Huh?”
He’s so full of himself. The more the soreness of my bones and flesh reaches my blurry mind, the more I get upset. How can someone just hurt a person on purpose, all the time, and feel good about it? What kind of masochist is capable of this?
Every single breeze of air that reaches my lungs feels like a gift. But at the same time, it raises my chest up and down, and that’s about the most painful experience in the world right now. I am so mad. So freaking mad at this bastard.
“Nothing, Mariana? Not a single fucking silly-ass comment left for me?”
He’s thrilled to see me like this. Self-confidently, he quickly kicks my feet.
“I hate how you think so little of me, Mariana.” he admits.
My head turns his way and I spit out some of the dirt that has reached my lips.
“I don’t think little of you, John. It’s just that you are.” I courageously answer with a smirk.
He licks his lips and bends over to me, just to provoke my character.
“I am what, huh?”
He’s laughing at me – enjoying just how much I’m hurting. At the same time, he’s clearly amused by the amount of resistance I still manage to put up. But this is the point where I no longer care. My hate for this man is so big that it trumps every other feeling.
“You’re a complete fucking tyrant. You’re a fucking madman.” I answer him, completely supporting my choice of words. “You’re a pathetic excuse for a man. And you’re a freak.”
Lauren, standing behind him, closes her eyes completely disappointed in this situation. But I can’t help it. I realize that I might rather be dead. That would feel a lot better than this, I suppose. Just let him kill me already.
But by replying, I’ve signed up for the thing that’s much worse. Dead is an easy way out, he won’t let me have that. He nods all satisfied by my courageous comment, because this offers him another reason to terrorize me a little more.
The next five minutes are the worst of my life. He kicks and beats me until the blood comes gushing from my mouth. My body turns into his personal punching bag and there’s nothing to do but suffer his superiority. It feels as if he’s breaking every single bone in my slim, exhausted body. Lauren’s screaming and crying a couple of feet away from us. Tears are flowing down her face, but there’s nothing she can do to change this. Seconds pass and every fiber in my body goes numb. There’s only so much a person can take. Strangely, I do not longer cry. I’m too occupied with feeling all the pulses rushing through my body that it stuns the natural reflex. His vicious eyes ultimately get bored and after what seems like a million years, he lets go of me completely. I drop to the ground and moan in pain. Gasping, unsteady sounds flow out of me. The blood dripping from my face meddles with the dirt underneath me.
“You won’t forget anymore.” he states, cocksure.
That’s when he turns around to re-enter the house. Lauren’s frozen up, hands covering her face in desperation. I’m left choking – moaning in pain.
“Take her to your room. I lock the door in five minutes.” he tells her.
Again, John doesn’t talk with you. He talks to you. He demands.
The second his shadow has disappeared, she comes rushing to me.
“Mariana!” she gasps.
She’s so worried that her tears screw up her beautiful voice. Her hands touch my back carefully, because she knows it’ll hurt to lay a finger on me. She saw it happening, she must realize what agony I’m in. Another gasp for air before I bravely crawl on my feet. The adrenaline and rage are what keep me going.
“What are you doing? Don’t move.” she orders me.
But I refuse. I need to get out of here. I need to run for my life and disappear forever. It doesn’t matter if I get lost in the woods. I don’t care. My instincts tell me to protect myself. She claws on to me and pulls me back, but even the soreness of every muscle in my body can’t be bothered for a second. Unsteady, little steps bring me further down the yard. She follows me hysterically.
“Mariana. What are you doing?” she wonders out loud.
There’s only one eye to look through. He made sure the other one won’t open for a couple of days. But I see trees and the moon anyway. I smell freedom, no matter how far away it may be. However, my body feels her hands, grasping on to me – trying to prevent me from doing something stupid. I slap them away from me, but she’s more alive than I am right now. The girl knows what I’m out for. She reads it off my face.
“Stop. Stop it, Mariana. You can’t do this right now. You can’t even walk!”
Her words make sense. Because no matter how determent I was a second ago, my knees already go weak after a dozen of steps. I fall down and hit the ground again. This pain feels way too familiar to be healthy. She puts her hands underneath me to pick me up, with all the worry and compassion filling her heart.
“Let me take you inside.”
Her touch. It teases and comforts me. I hate it and love it at once. But I refuse, faintly, by crying with desperation. She strokes my dirty face for comfort as I stare her in the eye.
“If you want to do this, I’ll let you.” she tells me. “I’ll distract him the next time we get the chance and you can do whatever you want. But please, I beg you: don’t do it now. He’ll find you. You’re too weak; he’ll find you, no matter how long he’ll have to search. And he’ll kill you, Mariana. He’ll murder you.”
I let her drag me on my feet again. She’s so gentle and careful that it makes me relax. I forget about the pain for a second. I’m just so desperate to get away from here. But I can’t. She’s right.
As my body dives into her embrace, she wraps her warm arms around me. Our tears meddle, along with the blood and disheartening.
“Next time.” she promises. “Now let me take care of you.”
That’s when my breaking point is reached. I nod with pouting lips. She always does.
As predicted, the door gets locked five minutes later. I am so glad that he’s gone. Even though he holds the key to unlock the door, it feels like he can’t get to me in here. Not with Lauren right next to me.
I’m crawled up against her, while she has her arms around me. She’s soothing me, in an attempt to make me stop crying. But now that some time has passed, the level of pain finally penetrates. However hurt I just felt, it is multiplied by a million right now.
She has her fingers on my face, softly pressing tissues against my bleeding lips. This always happens: she always cleans me up.
“I am sorry.” I tell her, panting. “I am so stupid.”
She shushes me and strokes my hair. The tissues get taken away. After a few moments, I stretch my body while moaning. Oh, God. This is hell. I am on my back, facing the ceiling. I pinch my unharmed eye, because that might be the smallest chance to smooth the hurting.
It opens again the second her soft, warm lips reach one of my fire-red bruises on my arm. No matter how many painkillers I would take, they wouldn’t feel as comforting as that. Her eyes flare up to me and the blueness dazzles my existence. I do not longer cry or blink or move. I just stare at her in wonder, in awe. She moves her head to my shoulder and kisses another red spot. It stings a little, but I don’t care. Her hair lingers over my skin.
A loud, deep swallow cuts through the fragile silence. Her eyes! They pierce through me and I have no idea what’s happening. She’s about to burst into tears, I guess. Just as I’m about to ask her what’s wrong, she crawls on top of me and aims for my mouth. Her lips, her soft and pink and warm lips, touch mine and it startles me completely. I don’t know how to react. This never crossed my mind.
She lowers her body down on mine and puts both hands on each side of my face.
“Lauren!” I gasp as I finally find some breathing space.
It’s a faint effort to make her stop.
She doesn’t listen. For the first time in her life, Lauren doesn’t listen. She presses her lips against mine again and that’s when I realize just how great they feel. The careful hands from before find their way down my body. They caress my skin and feel me up like no other boy in my high school life ever has. I enjoy it too much. Too much to be intended platonically. And it’s not hurting.
I never thought about kissing her, and yet this feels completely natural. Our movements evolve rather rapidly. Before we both fully understand what the hell we are doing, her hands disappear underneath my shirt. I like it. They touch my boobs and slide along my caramel skin like they did it a hundred times before. I like it. Loud gasps for air reverberate. I follow her lead unconsciously. Her tongue arouses me. It makes me feel things I absolutely let go of a long time ago. The last time I kissed someone, it was Jake Tomlin, a week before I got kidnapped. It didn’t feel like this. It didn’t feel this great.
She lowers her head and kisses my uncovered breasts, my collar bone, my stomach. My skin is hers to be tasted. Everything inside of me tingles. It’s happening in a blissful blur.
Her index finger forces a way down my panties and I choke the second it touches my most sensitive spot. Her teeth bite my lower lip, which causes me to moan – in pleasure instead of pain this time. I move my no longer hurting body up and down the mattress and force myself to be as quiet as possible. She has her vision pointed at my face, at my reaction. We don’t know what’s coming over us, but this feels like an apocalypse. Like the earth underneath us is sliding away – vaporizing into thin air. I hold on to her hair tightly as I allow her to do whatever she wants with me. Her fingers orchestrate my body like a perfect symphony. My mind feels blurry, but that’s okay. Because I see the look in her eyes and all the hidden fear. And I feel safe. After all what happened tonight, I feel completely safe.
When I wake up the next morning, I don’t actually put the pieces together immediately. All I know is that every breath reminds me of how fragile my body is and just how beat up I am. I groan and moan before my head turns around to find a naked and dreaming Lauren next to me. That’s when reality hits me – and it’s even harder than John’s fist.
I slept with her.
I had sex with Lauren.
My jaw drops, as my upper body rises from the mattress immediately. For a minute, I remain in shock, just thinking over last night.
How did this happen? When did I start … ?
But I can’t even finish the sentences in my mind. I get up from the bed, stop halfway to silently curse away the enormous pain I’m experiencing, and collect my clothes as quickly as I can. They’re put on in just a second. In a far distance, there are footsteps to be heard. John’s awake. I press together my hair in a messy ponytail. My eyes search the bed again, and sneakily observe the way she’s sleeping. Her bare back is beautiful. It’s perfect, reflecting some early sunlight. And her face, half buried in a pillow, looks so peaceful while she’s asleep. She’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. No wonder I slept with her.
Lauren surprises me by yawning and blinking four times in a row before she notices me, standing next to the bed, all nervous and confused. Her naked body turns to its side and with one hand supporting her head, she smiles tenderly.
“Hi.” she whispers shyly.
My heart’s racing. She looks hot, lying there like that. She even has an after-sex glow. I did this to her. I gave her the glow. God! Well, actually, God has very little to do with this.
“Hi.” I stammer, ignorant on how I should act.
She’s looking at me, waiting for a further response. But I have nothing to say, actually. I don’t even know how I feel about this.
“Are you okay?” she asks, frowning for a second.
She guesses I’m freaked out a bit. Except I’m not: I’m freaked out a lot. The only thing I can come up with, is changing the subject.
“John’s up already. He’ll come get us soon. You should get dressed.” I tell her, doing my best to avoid her look.
I feel embarrassed, but not because of what happened. Or maybe I do. Honestly, I don’t know how I should feel exactly. I just know that I want John to get me out of here. Because being locked up with your my feelings without a way out – that’s the worst thing ever.