As the days turned to weeks, Tess tried to adjust to life at the foster care home. She became closer to Brett and leaned on him to fit in to the crowd. But it wasn’t long before he encouraged her to skip school, taking her to a spot where the teenagers hang out during school hours. There was underage drinking and smoking marijuana. It was the first time she had ever smoked marijuana and all she could do was sit and watch everyone else. She felt paralyzed. But she liked the feeling and understood why they smoked it.
Skipping school and smoking weed became a routine for her. But eventually, Brett took her to the local shopping strip and taught her how to shoplift. Encouraging her, she stole small items at first, then it became another habit, shoplifting several items at once.
Maddy was beginning to question where the new items were coming from and had her suspicions. She knew somewhere inside, Tess was a better person than that and began to become more strict on her. And Tess felt like they were choking her so she began to sneak out of the house with Brett.
Visiting the hangout spot one evening, they were the only ones in the basement. Brett sat on the couch beside Tess, putting his arm around her. “At last, I get to spend time with you alone. That doesn’t happen very often.” He said.
Not sure what to say, she just looked at him. Slowly, he leaned over to kiss her but at the last second, she turned away. She did like him but it just didn’t feel right.
“Tess?” He said and lifted his hand to her face. With one finger, he turned her head back toward him and leaned again to kiss her. This time, she let him kiss her, but it still didn’t feel right.
Pulling back from the kiss, she stood to her feet. “It’s getting late, we should probably get back home.”
No matter how much he fought the idea, he knew she was right. Drawing in a deep breath, he stood up. “Yeah, come on.” He took her hand and led her out of the basement.
Sneaking back into the house the same way they came out, they went to their separate rooms. Tess changed into her pajamas and laid in bed for an hour, just thinking about the kiss. It seemed to taunt her, she couldn’t get it out of her mind.
Just after she fell asleep, she was woken by her door opening. In the darkness, she saw a shadow moving toward her but she remained quiet, not sure if she was dreaming or if it was real. “Tess?” She heard Brett’s voice.
Still, she remained quiet until he leaned on her bed, kneeling down beside it. “Tess?” He said again.
“What?” She whispered, deciding to respond.
“I had to come see you, I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss.” He said.
“Funny, I was thinking about it too.” He said, looking down at her in the darkness.
Without another word, he leaned down and kissed her. She responded to his kiss, knowing it was wrong. Suddenly she felt his hand slide across her belly and up to her breast. Instantly, she felt uncomfortable.
“I have to have you Tess, have sex with me?”
“No!” She said. “You should go now. Let me sleep.”
“Someday, I promise, you will have sex with me.” He said and stood to his feet, leaving her room.
Tess was left feeling uncomfortable by his statement. She suddenly questioned their friendship and wondered what he was in it for. Has he been a friend to her just to get her in bed, Tess wondered. She laid in bed for another hour before she could fall asleep.
Just before the alarm sounded, she felt the strong nausea that caused her to get out of bed and run to the bathroom. She understood that her head wound had left her feeling nauseated since she woke from her coma, but it suddenly worsened and she was concerned. Not wanting to make a big deal of it, she ignored it.
It was the last day of school before Christmas break, Christmas being only three days away. Casey was in gym class, exercising with the rest of the class. A feeling of weakness came over her and she was suddenly dizzy. Trying to stand up, she saw stars before she passed out, collapsing on the gym floor.
As she woke up, she saw the entire class standing around her and the teacher was knelt down beside her. “Tess, are you alright? You just passed out.”
Shaking her head, she sat to a sitting position, her head still spinning. “I think I’m alright. I think I just overexerted myself.” She said as they helped her up.
Tess still felt weak as the teacher let her sit on the bench for the remainder of the class. Feeling worse by the end of the day, she knew she was coming down with something. Feeling exhausted as she returned home, she excused herself from the dinner table and went straight to her room where she laid down.
Waking two hours later, she knew she had came down with a fever and she felt the chills in her body. Getting up, she knew she would be ill as she ran toward the bathroom. She was sure she had come down with the flu.
Stumbling down the stairs, she went to the kitchen where Maddy was and asked for some Tylenol. Maddy was concerned with her and insisted on making her some soup. Wrapped in a blanket, Tess felt cold as she shivered but she sat at the kitchen table.
“Tomorrow, Elliot and I have some last minute Christmas shopping to do. I was going to ask you to watch Colin, but I think I’ll take him to a sitter. You’re too ill to watch him.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, normally I wouldn’t mind but...”
“You’re alright, I’m not even going to ask. Eat this soup, then get more rest. It’s the only thing that will help you.”
Tess nodded and slowly ate the soup, with crackers. When she was finished, she went back up to bed. It seemed the soup helped settle her stomach and managed to stay down. It was three AM when she woke up shivering. Pulling herself out of bed, she ran to the bathroom where she knew she would again, be ill. But by then, there was nothing in her stomach and she only dry heaved.
Pulling another thick comforter out of the closet, she went back to her room and covered with all the blankets but she was still cold. She managed to fall asleep again until ten AM when she woke up sweating and knowing her fever had broke. She felt somewhat better as she climbed out of bed and went downstairs.
There was no one around when she went into the kitchen and searched through the cupboards, looking for something to eat. Once again, she made a can of chicken noodle soup and filled it with crackers. The soup felt good on her empty stomach.
Before she finished eating, she saw Brett enter the kitchen. “Oh you’re here. I thought you were gone.” He said, reaching into the refrigerator for some juice.
“No, I’ve been sick the last twenty four hours, the flu. I haven’t been out of bed very much.” She explained.
“Oh. I guess you and I are the only one’s home.” Brett smiled.
“Well, I’m going back to bed, I still don’t feel well.” She mumbled and stood from the table.
Tess climbed the stairs and returned to her bed, peeling the extra blanket off. Draping the extra blanket over the window, she made her room dark so she could sleep better. Laying in bed, she was asleep again within ten minutes.
Another ten minutes went by before she was woken by her door opening. “Tess?” She heard Brett whispering but ignored him, hoping he would go away. But he didn’t. Instead, he shut the door and walked toward her bed. “Tess?” He said again but she still ignored him.
Then she felt as he pulled the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed. “What the hell are you doing Brett?” She said, pulling the covers back over her.
“We are the only two here. We won’t get caught.”
“What are you talking about?”
Forcing the covers off her, he laid down beside her. “Come on Tess, you know how much I want you. This is the perfect time...” He said, pulling the covers over them.
“Get the hell out of my bed. I told you once the answer was no and it still stands.” She said, pushing him toward the edge of the bed.
Grabbing her arms, he overpowered her. “I’m not taking no for an answer, I guarantee you will like it.” He said as he climbed over top of her, forcing her legs apart with his knees.
Tess knew she was in trouble, wearing only a night gown and underwear. With everything she had, she struggled against him, punching him in the face. Surprised, he looked down at her and returned the punch right between the eyes. Instantly, her nose began to ache and bleed and she knew he had broken it.
Everything she did to avoid it was in vain as he succeeded his attempt to rape her. Giving up the struggle, she cried, waiting for him to finish. Climbing off of her, he buttoned his pants. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it.” He said.
“Fuck you, you bastard.” She yelled at him.
As he looked at her, she knew she had pissed him off as he stepped closer and grabbed her by the hair. With the other hand, he punched her in the jaw. “Don’t ever call me a bastard again.” He said.
“Fuck you bastard.” She dared.
Sitting on top of her on the bed, he punched her repeatedly in the face until she was nearly unconscious. Climbing back off her, he left her room. Knowing he would be in trouble, he gathered some things and left the house.
Tess laid in bed for ten minutes, trying to absorb what just happened to her. She cried, thinking Brett was her friend, but now she knew different. She felt guilty for trusting him. Pulling herself out of bed, she wasn’t sure if he was still in the house, but she stumbled downstairs to the phone and called 911.
The paramedics cared for her facial wounds as they transported her to the local hospital. Completing the rape kit, they confirmed her rape and now had Brett’s DNA. The doctor performed a complete examination, rendering blood tests to confirm a suspicion.
Returning to her room, the doctor asked her different questions. “How have you been feeling lately, how is your appetite, despite the flu?”
“My appetite seems different, I’ve been feeling extremely tired, falling asleep in class, I’ve been ill lately, headaches, but I believe it is caused by my head trauma.”
“No, you’re nausea and fatigue is caused by pregnancy. You appear to be ten and a half weeks pregnant, according to these hormone results. Were you aware of that?”
“What, no. How can that be, I was in a coma ten weeks ago.”
“Well, at some point before your injury, you had unprotected sex.”
The revelation was like a smack in the face to Tess and she felt numb. She didn’t understand how that could happen, she thought she was still a virgin, at least until today. Tess cried harder, not understanding or knowing what to do. It was the last thing she needed right now.
Seeing her fragile mental state, the doctor knew what she needed. “Can you wait right here for a few minutes, I think I should have the social worker speak with you.”
Without speaking, Tess simply nodded her head. She could barely move anyways. Ten minutes she waited before she heard a woman’s voice on the other side of the privacy curtain. “Tess?”
“Yeah, come in.” Tess responded.
Pulling the curtain back, a woman in her forties entered her room. “Hello Tess. My name is Sarah and I am the hospital’s social worker. Dr. Smith stated you might want to speak with me. He has told me a little about your visit today but why don’t you tell me what happened.”
“I was raped by my foster brother then I found out I was ten weeks pregnant. I don’t understand. Ten weeks ago I was in a coma. I woke up with retrograde amnesia in a dissociative fugue state. I don’t remember anything so this pregnancy is a complete shock to me.”
“Wow. That’s quite serious. Do you remember anything about that incident?”
“No, I just know my parents and brother was murdered. They tried to kill me but I survived and my twin sister is missing. That was all explained to me, I don’t remember it. Any of it. I’m just floating through life lost. And I don’t like the person I’ve become.”
“Because I’ve been skipping school, smoking pot and stealing. I don’t feel like that’s me. I hate life, I wish I would’ve died.”
“But for some reason, you didn’t. Maybe there is a reason for that.”
“I can’t imagine why. I can’t help the police if I don’t remember. I suppose I could be in grave danger if I don’t remember the man who tried to kill me.”
“How do you know it was a man?”
“I don’t, really. I’ve been having dreams about the incident and in my dream, the man in the mask had a glass eye. I don’t know if it’s real or imaginary. I’m so confused.” Tess covered her face and cried again.
“One thing I’ve learned in life is that if you’re not happy, something has to change. Life is too short to not be happy.”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“You may have to reach deep inside you to find the root of your sorrow. Was it your parents murder or not being able to remember. Or is it something else?”
“Perhaps it’s a combination of all things. I think I have to give up my security and return to Holland. There is nothing here to help me remember.”
“How do you plan to do that?”
“After the rape, I can’t return to that house. Only long enough to pack my things and get out. I can’t live there, knowing Brett may return. I don’t want to be anywhere near him.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure he will go to jail for this. You shouldn’t have to worry about him.”
“But still, I hate living my life the way I am. If I return to where I am from, maybe it will spark my memory. Maybe it will help me be a better person. I will find a job, maybe an apartment. I have no where to go right now, except to the foster care home.”
“Do you have any money to get you started?”
“No.” She mumbled, thinking about it. “I don’t care, I’d rather take my chances.”
“What about the case, have they arrested any suspects?”
“No, last I knew, they had no leads.”
“What if the killer is out there, still after you?”
“Still, I’ll take my chances. What else have I got to live for?”
“What about your child? There is a reason to live.”
Tess said nothing, just nodded her head. She was undeterred in her decision to move back to Holland. It was the only path she could see taking. But she knew it would be risky and she would have to try to stay hidden.
Giving her a business card, Sarah smiled at her. “Please call me if you need anything, regardless of your decisions.”
“Thank you.” Tess said, taking her card.
“You be careful out there.” Sarah said, patting her knee then walked from the room.
Tess sat there for a few minutes longer, tears still falling from her face. She couldn’t remember ever being so depressed in her life and wondered if suicide would overrule her mind. Closing her eyes, she wiped them and drew in a deep breath before sliding off the bed.
Walking to the desk, she asked to use the phone to call Maddy for a ride. But still there was no answer. They had not returned yet. Knowing the house was a few miles away, she left the hospital on foot with no coat, jogging the majority of the way.
By the time she arrived, she saw the minivan in the driveway and knew Maddy and Elliot was now home. Walking through the front door, Tess saw Maddy walk from the kitchen and took one look at her and saw the bruising and swelling around her face.. “Oh my God Tess, what happened to you?”
“I’ve been at the hospital for the past two hours because Brett raped me and beat the hell out of me.”
“What! Brett did?” Elliot said, coming from the kitchen.
“Yes. He’ll be going to jail as soon as they find him.”
“Oh Tess, I’m so sorry, I had no idea.” Maddy said, hugging Tess.
“I’m going to lie down, I still don’t feel well.” Tess said.
“Let me know if you need anything.” Maddy said as Tess went up the stairs.
Knowing she wouldn’t be able to pack and leave with them here, Tess indulged in a long shower, scrubbing the filth off of her. Hearing the knock on the door, Tess responded. “Yeah?”
Maddy cracked the door open enough for Tess to hear over the sound of the running water.. “Elliot and I are going out to dinner, do you want to come?”
“No, thank you.” Tess answered.
“Is there anything you want us to bring you?” Maddy asked.
“No, I’ll be fine, thank you.”
“Ok.” Maddy said and closed the door.
Tess watched them leave through the window before she quickly gathered her things and threw them in two suitcases. Then she went downstairs and searched for any money she could find. Finding three hundred dollars wrapped in a baggy at the back of the freezer, she put it in her pocket and looked around again where she found another hundred and fifty in an inside jacket pocket of Elliot’s.
Throwing her coat around her, she grabbed the suitcases and walked out the door. Walking to the end of the driveway, she at least knew what direction she needed to go. Traveling toward town, she was hoping she wouldn’t pass Maddy and Elliot.
Just as she crossed town, heading toward Holland, the sun was going down and it was getting colder. Stopping along the side of the road, she set her suitcases down and zipped her coat all the way up. Seeing a car traveling in the right direction, she put her thumb out but they passed her without slowing down.
Sitting in the same spot for merely twenty minutes as it grew completely dark around her, a car finally pulled to the side of the road. Grabbing her suitcases, she ran toward the car and opened the door. It was an older lady, concerned.
“Young lady, what in the world are you doing out here all alone, hitchhiking. Don’t you know that’s dangerous?”
“Yes, I do.” Tess said in a low voice.
“Where are you going?” The lady said.
“That’s like sixty miles away… get in, I hate to see you picked up by the wrong person.”
“Thank you.” Tess said as she slid her suitcases in the back seat.
“So, what’s your name? I’m Catherine.”
“Te...” She stopped and thought. “Casey. My name is Casey.”
“Well Casey, it’s nice to meet you. May I ask why you’re going to Holland?”
“I’m going home.”
“Oh.” Catherine said. “You’re pretty young, how old are you?”
“Do your parents know you’re here?”
“My parents were murdered ten weeks ago. And my brother. I survived a gunshot wound to the head, but now I have amnesia. I don’t remember anything so I’m returning home to try and remember.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry. That’s so tragic.”
“I’m completely alone in this world. I don’t know who my friends and family are.”
“You must be a very strong, young woman. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you.”
Although Casey was still ill, she was feeling much better. She felt a sense of relief, knowing she was returning home. To the only home she’s ever had but doesn’t remember. They held conversation between the two of them for the hour trip, but Casey was reluctant to reveal much more about her life since she woke up from the coma.
“Where do you need me to drop you off?” Catherine said as she reached the Holland city limits.
“There, there is a hotel. I’ll stay there for the night.” Casey pointed.
Catherine pulled into the driveway and told Casey to wait in the car. In an attempt to help the unfortunate girl, Catherine paid for the first night’s stay at the hotel. Returning to the car, she handed Casey the keys.
“I wish there was more I could do for you but I’m not sure what that could be.”
“I appreciate and thank you for what you’ve already done. I think that’s enough.” Casey smiled at her as she got out of the car.
Getting her suitcases out of the back, she opened the hotel room door and walked in. Putting down her suitcases, she waved at Catherine before shutting the door. The room was dark but she didn’t care. After the seemingly long day, Casey lay on the bed fully clothed. Knowing she was alone in the room gave her a sense of comfort and she relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep.
Casey could feel the movements before she realized she was having sex. Again, she thought she was being raped but realized she had a calm, wanting feeling. Confused, she already knew she was dreaming. But in her dream, she felt her arousal grow to the point of orgasm. When the man lifted his head and looked down at her, she realized it was the same man from her other dreams. The man with the glass eye. Except he had no mask. She saw every contour of his face.
Instantly she woke up screaming, climbing up on the bed toward the headboard. Then she realized it was a bad dream and wondered what it meant. With her knees pulled into her chest, she cried and felt like she had been raped again.
Hours passed as she sat in the exact same position, staring into the darkness. She was afraid to go back to sleep for fear of having a bad dream. Finally pulling herself off the bed, she put her coat on. Grabbing the room key, she left the room and walked through town in the middle of the night.
But nothing reminded her of her past, it was like she was looking at the town for the first time. And in her mind, she was. Then she came to a restaurant that was closed but in the window, there were both a help wanted sign and an apartment for rent sign. She knew she would come back in the morning for an application. The restaurant reminded her of somewhere, she just couldn’t place it. Then she realized it was the same one from her dream where she was kissing the unknown boy.
As she began to grow colder, she headed back toward the hotel but it took her a half an hour to return. Putting the keys back on the counter, she took off her shoes and coat and laid back in bed with her clothes on.
Hearing the knock on the door, she responded, “Yeah.” She said and opened her eyes, realizing she was in the hotel. Jumping out of bed, she went to the door and slightly opened it. Relieved, she saw the cart and knew it was just housekeeping. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was so late. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“Ok, I’ll be back.” The maid said and walked away.
Casey closed the door and stood there for a minute, thinking. She remembered the help wanted ad in the restaurant window and knew where she needed to go first. Even if she didn’t have a place to live, she could have a job.
Leaving the key on the table, she left the hotel, toting her suitcases with her. Half an hour later when she arrived at the restaurant, her arms were so sore, she could barely carry the suitcases. Pushing through the front door, she went to a booth and dropped the suitcases on the bench. The patrons of the restaurant looked at her as she sat across from the suitcases.
As the waitress turned and walked toward Casey, she suddenly had a confused look on her face. “Oh my God, Casey, is that you?”
“Yes.” Casey said, knowing she knew her.
The waitress pushed the suitcases over and sat across from her. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it, are you just returning?” The waitress said, looking at the suitcases.
“Yes.” Casey answered, looking at her name tag. Carol is her name. “Do you know me?”
“Are you kidding?” Carol asked.
“No, I’m sorry, I’m suffering from amnesia.”
“What? You don’t remember me, what about Joel?” Carol asked, pointing toward the kitchen.
“No.” Casey said, shaking her head.
“I don’t remember my parents, or siblings. I have no recollection of my past whatsoever.”
“I’m so sorry. What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know, I need a job, that’s why I stopped, also to get breakfast.”
“I think Joel will hire you back, you’ve worked here for the past year.” Carol said as she stood from the booth.
Casey watched as she walked toward the kitchen. A few seconds later, three people came from the kitchen. Carol, a man and another waitress. They all walked toward Casey. “We’re so glad to have you back Casey.” The man said.
“You must be Joel. I need to speak with you about a job.”
“It’s already yours.” Joel said, looking at her suitcases. “Yes, I’m Joel. What’s up with the suitcases?”
“I’m just coming back into town, I haven’t found a place to stay yet.”
“You’re in luck. Follow me, I want to show you something.”
Hesitant at first, she followed him through the kitchen and out the back door. Beside the door was another door that he opened. Following him up a flight of steps, he led her to the end of a short hallway to a door with a number two on it. Unlocking the door, he opened it to show her the one bedroom apartment for rent.
“This apartment is small but it includes heat and electric and it is furnished. I will give it to you for four hundred fifty dollars a month, or you can pay me fifteen dollars a day from your tips.”
Casey looked around the small apartment and liked it. It would be hers and hers alone. And no one would have to know. “What if I paid you one hundred five dollars for the first week. We’ll go from there.”
“This will be an open lease, you can move out whenever you want. Or you can stay as long as you want. You will take the job downstairs, won’t you?”
“Yes, and I’ll take the apartment too.” She said as she took the correct amount of money from her pocket and handed it to him. “I can’t thank you enough Joel.”
His hug surprised her. “I’m just glad you’re alive and well. You will make it through this. Whatever I can do to help you remember...” He said, thinking of the pictures on the wall of homecoming night. “Come on, I have something else to show you.” He said and handed her the key to the apartment.
Stepping out of the apartment, he paused. “I live right here across the hall if you need anything, anytime.” He informed her, then led her downstairs and back through the kitchen. Taking her over by the cash register, he took the picture off the wall and handed it to her. “I took this picture the night you were shot. It was the homecoming parade, you were with Travis.”
“Travis?” She asked.
“Yes, this is him.” He pointed at the picture. She was kissing him.
“You took this picture? I saw it online.”
“Yeah, it was in the newspaper too.” He said as she handed the picture back to him. “Go ahead and order whatever you want, it’s on the house this morning. I figured I would give you a day to settle in and you can start tomorrow. Will you be attending school?”
“It’s not in my immediate plans, no.”
“You really should Casey, but you can start at six in the morning. That’s when we open.”
“Ok. Thank you so much for everything Joel.” Casey said then returned to her seat.
Ordering breakfast, Casey ate then lugged her suitcases upstairs. In the bedroom, their contained a small closet as well as a small dresser. Putting her clothes away, she hung some up and put some in the dresser. Then she put other items away. Returning to the restaurant, she asked where the grocery store was. Carol was just getting out of work and offered to give her a ride. She accepted but just to the store, not back.
Knowing she had to carry what she bought, Casey went for the most important things. The store was merely three blocks from her apartment. Exhausted and hungry by the time she returned, she ate a bowl of cereal and made the bed with clean sheets.
The bed was comfortable and broke in as she laid in it. But she couldn’t go to sleep, recent events kept running through her mind and she wondered when life would get better. Then she realized it had already gotten better, her own apartment and a job, she couldn’t beat it. Finally after tossing and turning for an hour, she managed to fall asleep.
It was the best sleep she had in a long time, not dreaming of anything, just sleeping contently until she woke up at five. Taking a shower, she got ready for work. Walking down the stairs at five forty five, she saw that Joel was already in the kitchen. She pushed the door open and greeted him.
“Oh, Casey, good morning. Just like always, fifteen minutes early. Do you want a quick bite before we start?”
“Sure, I am hungry.” She said and grabbed a plate, filling it with food.
When she finished eating, she unlocked the door and turned the open sign over, advertising that they were open for business. Then she raised the curtains. It was still completely dark outside and it was Christmas Eve.
Their first customers was an older couple. She served them coffee then took their order. Before the sun came up, the room was half occupied and Carol showed up to work. Casey’s feet were sore and swollen before she was finished at three PM. Returning to her apartment, she soaked herself in a hot bath then curled up with a blanket in front of the TV that had satellite service.
The following day was Christmas. She had no work and stayed in the apartment all day knowing nothing was open. It was around five PM when she heard a knock on the door. Reluctant to open it, she did slightly. Then saw Joel standing at her door. She opened it for him to come in.
“I’m sorry to just show up like this but I figured you might be here. I wanted to bring you some Christmas dinner.” He said and put two containers down on the table.
“Oh, thanks for thinking of me Joel. That was very nice of you.”
“I have people at my house so I don’t want to stay long, I just wanted to bring you that.”
“Merry Christmas Joel.”
“Merry Christmas to you too Casey.” He said before shutting the door.
Casey went to the table and opened the aluminum foil that covered the aluminum containers. One container contained hot items, turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and corn. The second container contained cold items, fruit salad and three different kinds of pie. Grabbing some silverware, she sat at the couch with the hot container and ate everything in it. Then she ate the contents of the cold container, surprised she had eaten that much. But now she felt bloated and stuffed.
Laying on the couch, she felt more comfortable. Watching TV, she drifted off to sleep. It was early morning when she woke with incredible heartburn and that familiar nausea. Running to the bathroom, she vomited what was left in her stomach. Wiping her mouth, she climbed into a hot shower then dressed.