b r u i s e s
“Everyone has a secret. Some mental. Some physical. And some that cannot be described”
“You skipped school? Again, Athena?”
I scowl to myself, tired of hearing the same words over and over. I know what’s to come next; the endless lecture on the importance of education.
I pull my hoodie sleeves down lower, snuggling deeper into the oversized jacket.
In truth, nearly everything I wore was too big on me these days.
My ribcage rattled as I breathed, eyes lowered.
Every since I had gotten jumped a week ago breathing had been painful. They always came when I wasn’t ready, and never left my face bruised... never.
No one would even guess that I received regular beatings.
I always wore long, baggy clothes to cover the bruises, scrapes, and scars.
A stone wall protected my heart.
My older sister begins to rant and rave, her green eyes blazing. I look away, not giving her the time of the day.
Dorian is only four years my superior, but for as long as I can remember she’s been more of a mother to me than my mother has. Mom and Dad are never home, always off at work in another state or even sometimes another country, not returning for days.
It’s me and Dorian against the world.
Smokey pads into the room, his yellow eyes narrowing as his gaze falls on my face. Only a cat can emanate such disapproval. I roll my eyes. “You’re a butt, Smokey.”
Dorian’s gaze snaps to my face.
“Athena, have you even been listening to me?”
“No....” I answer truthfully, with a small apologetic shrug that sends an ache of pain across my shoulders.
She facepalms, spinning away from me and taking a kitchen knife from the drawer, aggressively cutting up a carrot.
Her arm moves quickly as she cuts and I watch her back. Today she is dressed in her usual work outfit; spandex workout shorts and a breathable tank top. Her dark hair is pulled into a messy bun and her face has a light dusting of makeup.
I can’t help but sigh.
Dorian is everything I could wish to be.
She’s smart, well liked, strong, beautiful, witty, outgoing, tough, and determined.
She would never let people beat her up.
She would never let the other girls torture her.
She would never let herself get broken.
My heart lurches in my chest and I clear my throat.
“I’m going to go take a shower,” I mumble, lifting my tired legs as I begin to climb the rickety staircase.
Dorian looks after me with worry. “I’ll leave you some food, okay Athena? I have a few sessions, but I should be back by nine o’clock tonight,”
“Mm,” I reply, disappearing into my room.
I pull out a pair of leggings and a long sleeved maroon sweater as well as a pair of wooly socks. One I have gathered up my outfit I make my way to the bathroom and strip down.
I can’t help but wince at my reflection.
My body is covered in bruises, scars, and cuts, some new and some not so new. My face is untouched, yet my eyes are dull and black bags hang under them.
My long black hair is a tangled mess and my mascara is smudged.
With a sigh, I look away from the mirror and hop in the lukewarm shower. Water washes over my body and I scrub the day’s worth of grime off, being gentle on the cuts.
The water begins to grow cold after only a few minutes and I was the cheap shampoo out of my hair before turning off the water and hopping out of the shower.
I dry myself off with an old towel and take my hidden bottle of dollar store ointment, applying the medicine to my cuts and bruises before sticking a few bandaids on the harsher cuts.
I pull on my clothes and braid my hair, grabbing Smokey on my way to my room.
With a small smile I pull out a book, bury my nose in it, and begin to read, the memories of today’s abuse washing away.