“and like the moon, she had a side of her so dark, that even the stars couldn’t shine on it; she had a side of her so cold, that even the sun couldn’t burn on it.” -Abigail J.
I opened my eyes to stare into Theo's. He had rolled off the bed and abandoned the blankets to lay with me. He could have at least brought the blankets.
Theo yelped and quickly turned his head towards the sound.
"You have a cat?" he exclaimed. I nodded and Moody crawled into my stomach for me to pet him.
"Hi, Moody," I said, stroking his fur. Theo let out a weird high pitched noise and snatched my cat away, beginning to run his fingers through his fur.
"Moody! Hi Moody! Aren't you just the best!" he cooed, hugging the cat close. A small smile crept onto my face as I watched them, but it soon vanished when my memory of yesterday came back. I fake coughed and scooted back.
"Why were you on the floor with me? Did you fall off? You know I'm sick, right?" I asked, glaring at Theo. He shrugged.
"Well, I know you're not and you looked cold last night so I cuddled you to keep you warm. Problem?" he said, playfully quitting his eyes at me as if daring me to challenge him. I shook my head and stood up.
"Yeah okay. Go to school," I said, wanting him to leave. I didn't need him finding out my dad left me. I'm pathetic. Theo frowned and put Moody on the ground before leaving my room. I refilled Moody's food and water bowls before following Theo downstairs. I made him a piece of buttered toast before pushing him out of the door.
"Woah wait. You're coming too, Carson!" he insisted, but I shook my head and fake sneezed horribly.
"Achoo. Sneeze. Sick. See?" I explained and closed the door. Two seconds later, there was a knock. I opened the door and Theo smiled. I shut the door again, ignoring his constant knocks. I watched him punch the air in frustration and leave from my window. My phone dinged. And I checked the new text.
Hey, wanna come over? $100
I thought about it for a second before agreeing and grabbing the one hundred dollars from yesterday and heading out. When I arrived at the store, I began to walk down the aisles looking for things I'd need. I grabbed some food and other necessities. I was tired. I barely got any sleep last night. I received a text and checked it.
Hey I know you're sick and all that, but wanna hang after school? I'm bored as all hell and don't really care if I get sick.
I ignored the text. Scott would be better off without me. Everybody would. What use am I to the world? I'm not. I grabbed a loaf of bread and went to check out. I walked out of the store and in the direction of a different store. I purchased three more packs of cigarettes from that store and left. I was putting the remainder of my money away when I bumped into somebody. I looked up in the cold eyes of Brian and a few other men.
"Christian?" Brian asked. "Aren't you supposed to be in school or some shit?"
I looked down and shook my head, walking around him. One of his friends grabbed my arm roughly, throwing me on the ground. I tried to stand up again, but another one of Brian's friends grabbed my arm and dragged me towards a car. Is that his car? Is he going to rape me? Beat me up? Kill me? I was tossed into the backseat with minimal struggle. I was too tired to care anymore. The rest of Brian's friends, along with Brian, got in the car too and we drove off. I took my phone out.
Hey I'm going to be a bit late, sorry.
Oh, okay. :(
I'm really sorry, Caleb.
It's okay. I'll see you later then.
"Who is Caleb? Your boyfriend?" Brian teased. I shook my head and he frowned. "You don't seem to be scared. Why not? Do you know what I did to you the last time I saw you?"
I nodded. Of course I knew. I felt it for days. How could I even forget something like that. I was terrified. Now, I'm just numb. The car came to a stop outside a house and I was dragged inside.
"My turn first," Brian said and the other men nodded. There were about four of them, all big like Brian. He grabbed my arm and yanked me into a bedroom where the walls were lined with creepy items. I was thrown on the bed and Brian got on top of me, immediately sucking marks onto my skin.
"Don't go rough," I passively asked. Brian growled and a hard slap echoed around the walls. My cheek stung but he slapped me again.
"You think you can fucking tell me what to do, you slut? You listen to me; not the other way around, got it?" he barked and I nodded. He ripped the clothes off my body and rammed into me, causing a scream to rip from my throat. He was tearing me in half. It was that night all over again. He grabbed my wrists, pinning them above my head and slamming in and out of me roughly. It was a few minutes of torture before he finally finished and pulled out, leaving me shaking on the bed. Memories of that night at the party and that night so many years ago flashed through my mind.
"Stop it! You're hurting her!" I screamed. The two men holding me snickered.
I heard somebody enter the room and whimpered when they slapped me. They didn't go gentle either. It was painful. Another memory sparked in my mind.
"Stop! You can't touch me without consent! Stop it! Let me go!" I begged, struggling in his grip. He chuckled darkly and walked faster, dragging me up the stairs and to an empty bedroom.
The man rammed into me without warning and I cried out again. This man kept on hitting me and grabbing me too rough, definitely leaving bruises. He finished as well and pull out, leaving the room. That's two. Was I just some sex toy? Was I seen as this for everybody? For Scott? For Theo? Surely not, right? They wouldn't do this to me, right? I didn't think anybody would, but here I am. Lying pathetically on a stranger's bed with two men's liquids oozing out of me. Another man entered the room and got to work. He was a biter and left bite marks everywhere on my neck and body. I desperately pushed his face away. He slapped my face and continued. I let him take over and I went numb as he pushed in and started pistoning in and out of me.
"So tight, damn," he murmured and finished, pulling out and leaving. The next man came in. Then the next, and soon enough I was limping out of their house with eighty dollars in my pocket and my grocery's in my hands. Bruises, bite marks, and hand marks covered my skin and I pulled my phone out.
Can you pick me up? I'm here.
Thank you so much.
I slowly shrank to the floor and put my head in my arms. Was there any point in being here? Really, though, was there? I could list a thousand reasons on why I shouldn't be here, but couldn't list one that was positive. My phone rang.
"Hello?" I asked hoarsely.
"Carson? Are you okay? Where are you?" Theo's voice rang out. I sighed.
"You can't talk to me anymore. We can't be friends," I said, deciding to give it to him straight. There was silence for a little bit until I heard a sniffle. Was he crying? Because of me?
"W-why?" he stammered. He was crying. My heart ached more than my body at the pain in his voice. All I wanted to do was sit on that hill with him and talk and laugh and listen to music. We had only done it once, yet it was all I wanted to do. A car pulled up in front of me.
"I've got to go now. Please don't call me. Please, Theodore," I begged, hanging up and getting in the car. Caleb immediately pulled the collar of my shirt down, revealing the bite marks and bruises.
"Holy shit, what happened?" he asked. I shrugged. It wasn't important to him. He didn't need to know. I was only here because he likes me. I know I'd never like him back.
"Nothing, I'm fine," I said. He slowly nodded, understanding that I wasn't going to tell him. "We can't see each other after this. Sorry."
His head jerked my way in shock before returning to the road.
"What? Why not? Did I do something wrong?" he asked in panic. I sat silently, figuring out how to explain without actually explaining. I sighed and closed my eyes.
"It's... complicated," I decided on. Judging by his frown, Caleb was not too happy with my reason, so I added a, "sorry," at the end. His grip on the wheel tightened as he pulled into his driveway. The two of us sat in silence for a little bit before he leaned over and pressed his lips to mine. He clicked his seatbelt off and helped me with mine.
"I don't think we should have sex if we're going to stop seeing each other. Can I still text you?" Caleb asked. Did he not want to do anything with me because of the bruises and marks? Was I too ugly now? I don't see a difference between having sex as friends or as strangers if it's meaningless either way.
"Go for it, but I can't promise a reply," I said and he nodded.
"Tell Theo I said 'hi' next time you see him okay?" he asked and I nodded, even though I wasn't sure if I was ever going to see Theo again. I really hope not. It'd make this a whole lot harder. I got out of Caleb's car after rejecting a ride home from him.
It was getting dark by the time I reached my house. I went inside and put all of my stuff away before grabbing my cigarettes, my lighter, my coins, and my phone. I left the door unlocked. I wouldn't be coming back anyways. I started walking, the moon and stars shining down on me. I stopped when I was at the bottom on the hill and looked up. I limped up the hill and laid down, closing my eyes.
"Stop it! Stop it please! She doesn't like that, stop!" I screamed, struggling against the two bigger men holding me. I squeezed my eyes shut to prevent the tears when I heard her scream in pain. I hated them. I can't believe they would take her sparkle away! She was like the moon. She always was. So strong and so bright. She was so happy and beautiful. And like the moon, she had a side of her so dark, that even the stars couldn't shine on it; she had a side of her so cold, that even the sun couldn't burn on it. They took that side of her and slapped it right on her shining side until you couldn't even see her. Until she was so dark and miserable, nobody paid attention to her anymore. Nobody could see her shine. I hated that.
I opened my eyes and stood up. I made my way down the hill and began walking towards the cave. I had a couple more stops to make. Just a couple more.
I knocked on the wooden door until a short woman opened the door and stared at me curiously.
"Hi, is Scotty home?" I asked politely. The woman nodded and motioned for me to come inside. She led me to Scott's room and I knocked. He opened it and stared at me in shock before giving me a hug.
"Hey, are you okay? How are you here?" he asked, his eyes scanning over my bad appearance of tired eyes and bruised skin. He pulled me inside, thanked his mom, and closed the door, locking it. He sat the both of us down on his bed and stared at me in concern.
"Okay, I'm going to need an honest answer when I ask this, alright?" he said and I nodded once. There was no point in lying now.
"Alright. What happened? Details and all."
"I was raped. I... don't think you want to hear the details," I admitted and his eyes widened and wrapped his arms around me again.
"If you don't wanna talk about this, it's okay with me," he assured but I shook my head and looked into his eyes.
"I came here with the intent to tell you, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm telling you everything, no holding back. No more lies," I said to him. He gave me a small, sad smile and rubbed the back of his neck.
"This is the most serious I've seen you," he admitted, chuckling a little. I smiled, but dropped it. No more lies.
"I'm not happy," I started with, "my best friend since birth was raped when I was little and I killed her. She was four years older than me. We were walking home from the store when these men jumped us. I remember that night so clearly.
"Hey, Tia watch this!" she exclaimed, doing a cartwheel. I laughed and clapped my hands. I asked her to help me do it and she held my legs up. I fell to the ground with a hard thump when I heard her scream.
"Ow... why'd you drop- who are you? What are you doing?" I yelled, panicking. O rushed towards the man who grabbed her, but was swept off the floor before I could reach them. I thrashed in their hold as her clothes were being ripped off in front of me.
"Stop, stop! She doesn't like that! Stop, please!" I yelled. I couldn't move. I couldn't get help. I could barely even see through my pathetic tears. I was so useless. I was helpless. And I hated it.
"They raped her right in front of me, a six year old, and left her to die. I tried saving her, I really did, but I couldn't. It's all my fault. If I had ju-"
"No." Scott said firmly, "It's not your fault. You're not the disgusting man who raped her. You were being held back. There was nothing you could do. You need to see that."
"Maybe..." I mumbled. I knew it was my fault. If I had just been a little stronger, I could have gotten out of the men's grip and helped her. If I had just been a little quicker, I could have reached her in time. But I wasn't. "When I met you, it saved my life. I was going to kill myself, but you made me happy and I didn't. I realize I'm always gonna be happy around certain people, but I can't do this anymore. My," I paused. Scott had tears in his eyes. "my dad. He, uh, left. Me. Alone."
"Christian..." Scott said, hugging me yet again. "You know you can always stay here whenever you'd like. My parents love you even though they've never really met you."
I let out a short laugh and nodded. I couldn't. I wouldn't. It would be too much of a burden on his family to have to take in me and all my problems. That's too much to handle. I can't put it on them.
"Okay, I'll think about it. Did you know Theo liked me?" I asked. Scott raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. It's obvious. It's all the dude talks about. He's always: 'oh Carson and his beautiful face!' 'Carson is so adorable!'" he mimicked and I laughed. Scott always knew how to cheer me up a little. But he couldn't keep the dark thoughts and memories out forever. I stood up to leave, but hugged him really tightly as if asking him to save me before I left. He hugged me back, surprised for a second. I've never initiated a hug. I thanked Scott's mom and left.
"What are you doing here?" Beckett asked me. "Actually this is good. Bennett and Elliot just went into Bennett's room giggling and now I can hear the bed creaking. Come give me company."
I entered his house and looked around. I'd been to Scott's house once, but not the twins' house.
"I can't stay for long, but I just wanted to thank the both of you guys for being good friends to me. You can Bennett. I don't have any intentions of disrupting his happy time," I said. Beckett looked shocked.
"Wow, you're all serious. Uh, okay, yeah. Thanks to you too, man," he said in confusion. I nodded and left. They weren't very close to me, but they were still good people and I still appreciated them. I began walking again and ended up at the park. I walked past the bushes and up the familiar rocky hill. I peered down into the cave before carefully dropping in. I took my phone out and clicked the call button.
"Hi, mom.I miss you. I love you," I said into the phone, my voice cracking. This was the hardest part. She'll be better without me. Less to worry about. Sure, it'll hurt for a day or two, but she doesn't care about me that much. My dad probably won't even realize. He doesn't seem to notice the things I do, anyways.
“I miss you too, honey. Is there something wrong?”
“No,” I sniffled, “I just wanted to say that I loved you.”
“O-oh ok... well I love you too, Christian.”
“Okay. Bye, mom,” I said and hung up, a tear slipped out but I wiped it away. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it. I also took the coins out. I’ll use my wishes now. There’s no point in saving them. I don’t want anybody else to have them. I pulled one out and turned it over. This one had an arrow border and our elementary school on the back. So many memories from there. I closed my eyes and clutched the coin in my hand.
“I wish Scott and the twins and my mom not to miss me that much and they’ll be fine,” I whispered, tossing the coin in the blue water. I watched it sink before pulling my last coin out. This one didn’t have a location on it. It had a moon.
“I wish Theo can find somebody better who treats him nicely,” I whispered. The coin made a small sound when it hit the water before drifting to the bottom. I couldn’t see the bottom of the pool; just endless blue darkness. I took another drag of my cigarette and called Theo.
“Carson? Where are you? Are you okay?” he said, answering after the first ring.
“If I call you by your real name, will you tell me where you are?” he asked after a couple seconds. I’ve never heard him say my name. I wonder what it sounds like coming out of his mouth. Maybe...
“I need you to stop liking me,” I said.
“I don’t want to,” he said, panting. What was he doing? Was he running? Why is he breathing so heavily?
“You have to.”
There was a couple seconds of silence. All I could hear was his breathing. Then I heard a sniff.
“Where are you? Please tell me, I’m begging you...” he pleaded. Was he crying. I paused.
“Call me by my name.”
“Please tell me where you are, Christian.”
My eyes widened and my heartbeat sped up. What is this? Am I having a heart attack? What’s happening? I felt my cheeks heat up. I don’t like this.
“I think I’m having a heart attack,” I stated. He chuckled.
“No, that’s not a heart attack. Is your heart beating fast?” he asked.
“Does your face feel hot?”
“How do you feel?”
“I-I don’t know,” I admitted. I couldn’t describe this. “Say it again.”
“Christian. Tell me where you are.”
“I... I’m at the cave. You better hurry,” I said, hanging up. I threw my cigarette on the ground and stomped it out before standing up. I put my phone on the ground and let it ring. He was calling me again. It stopped ringing and didn’t ring again. I held my lighter in my hand and walked to the edge of the pool. The dark blue water tempting me closer. I wanted this. I knew I wanted this.
But I couldn’t help but wish Theo was here to stop me. To stop my thoughts. To look into my eyes and give me a reason not to. To give me a hundred reasons. I read the lettering on the lighter.
Estella Hope Pascau. I’m coming.
[December 9, 2020]