I took to staying up as late into the night as I could to avoid the nightmares and the Death Men. I hated sleep. I couldn’t eat without remembering how selfish I was…how unwanted I was. I learned to take very little. I learned to want nothing more. I learned something else during those nights. When all the world slept, a new silence settled into the forest.
With candle in hand and dressed in gowns of gossamer, I would slip out into the night and dance to the sound of silence. Barefoot, I would spin then lay in the cool grass in a strip of moonlight. I would lie there all night and gaze up at the stars, so silent, so clear there in the wood, and so, so far away.
I lived between worlds. The war, my reality, my hell and this world in the forest of fantasy. And I’m stuck. I can’t go back. I forever toggle between two worlds and one is ever so much more real to me than yours.
At night, beneath the moon, I didn’t need my worlds to escape. I only needed to open my eyes and see the world as it was. Quiet and calm and at peace, just as I still see it. I escaped through my music and wrote poetry to ease the pain…and letters. I poured so much of my heart into the letters that I wrote to Erik who I could see so easily on the other side. I still have them. Every letter I ever wrote him. During those times, when the world was dark, Erik became more real to me than anything else. He was quiet. He listened. He held me in the silence. He played his violin for me. And he loved me.
When I cried, I closed my eyes and felt him envelope me. Only Erik and the cats ever came. No matter how long and loud I cried, my parents, no one ever came. I was fourteen. I was alone and all I wanted was for someone to love me.
I heard Marie screaming. She was watching. I can handle the pain. I can take the hits. But Marie…
The pain fired off shots of heat then the sensation of warm blood seeping down my face followed. More fire and the hits kept coming and Marie kept screaming.
Then all at once, I stopped feeling it, and there was no pain.
It was like I slipped into Ireland right there under his fist. I felt him touch me, but there was no pain. With the pain gone, I could feel the strength to stand, to move. I was elated that he couldn’t hurt me despite beating me with his fist. It permitted me to feel anger. I couldn’t help, but feel the victor. I was elated. Through my strands of hair, I looked up at him as he pounded me with his fist and I smiled.
He looked horror-struck and paused. Marie stole that moment to pull at his back. I saw her crying for my sake.
“Leave her alone! Don’t kill her!” Marie shrieked.
Charles forgot about me and turned his rage to Marie.
He grabbed her hair, and a craze sank in me. It made me an animal and I saw black.
I can take the hits. I can take the beatings and the abuse and the torture. I can handle the war. Not her. Not Marie. I stood. I stood like he had never touched me, like I had never been beaten down.
Charles fisted his hand into Marie’s hair and she screamed. That’s all I needed to hear. As he dragged her through my room by her hair, I grabbed the scissors from my desk and I lunged. I stabbed him and drove the blade into his shoulder. He could beat me. I could take it. No one touches my sister. Not Marie.
Yelping, he released her and stumbled. He hauled off and punched me. I dropped the scissors and fell. I didn’t feel it, but I lost my balance and hit the floor. When I looked up again, he had Marie by the hair and had dragged her out of my room.
He closed my door and was gone.
I heard her screams. I listened to Charles slam her door closed, and then silence. I had to make sure he wouldn’t harm her and if I moved, he may just go after her to rile me just like he did my cats. I had no idea what he would do to her. I had no doubt he would kill me.
I slowly opened my door and peered into the hall.
Charles was gone.
Finalist for the 2015 Wishing Shelf Awards. Goodreads Reviews "Broken is graphic, shocking, raw, disturbing, intense, appalling, shameful, and so very, very sad." "This story has the complexity of The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, but written with the flow of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson." "Your ...More info →