“Chloe, I know you’re not happy about it but we have no other choice,” Elizabeth Pierce said to her daughter with a loud sigh. She had her back turned on Chloe and was helping her packing.
Chloe had always lived in this house; it was the house where she had grown up with her family. With her mom and her brother, her twin brother, William, or Will like Chloe liked to call him. This house was so full of memories, good ones and bad ones. She remembered having fights with Will but also playing with him in the garden, climbing the tree in the backyard, he would always be careful and stay behind her, to be there if she fell.
She also remembered all the sleepovers she had had, in this very room where she was standing, with her high school friends. She remembered being here with Steven a couple of times; well, almost all the time actually. And now she was leaving this house, her home, her memories, her entire life was there.
Chloe looked around to see the empty walls around her, her mom had decided that it would be better if she took everything with her and put it all in her new room, so she would still feel at home. Chloe didn’t want to leave though, but she didn’t say anything. Actually, not a single word had left Chloe’s mouth since the ‘incident’, like they all called it.
It had been three months now without Chloe saying a word. At first the doctors had said that it was normal after going through a trauma like she had, that she was shocked and she would start to talk again soon. But now after three months they didn’t know what to say to Chloe’s family or friends anymore, after three months they could clearly tell that it wasn’t only the shock but also something else, but they couldn’t quite tell what it was.
No one really knew what this trauma was exactly. Since Chloe didn’t talk she couldn’t tell them what had happened. So they were all just acting cautiously around her, waiting for her to say something, hoping she would say something.
She just looked empty at first, not moving much, just staring at the walls not even at the person talking to her, as if a piece of her was missing. Now she was a little better, she could handle looking at the person talking to her, and she did it just so she wouldn’t be rude. And even if she still didn’t say anything, at least now she nodded or shook her head, sometimes she would write on a piece paper to make herself understood. There was also another thing, she hadn’t cried once since they had found her, even after getting hurt she would just keep everything inside of her and she wouldn’t let herself cry.
A lot of things had changed in her life since that ‘incident’. She had been about to get married with Steven McQuinn, they had been engaged, but he had left her two weeks after the incident. Saying he couldn’t stay with her like this because she wasn’t the woman he had fallen in love with anymore. He had given up on her after only two weeks. What kind of man would give up on the woman he is in love with after two short weeks?
“I’m never at home and I don’t want you to be here alone so trust me it’s for the best that you leave,” her mom said turning around as she finished packing Chloe’s stuff.
Chloe just looked into her mother’s brown eyes as usual and didn’t say anything; she simply nodded and tried to give her a little smile. It was new too, Chloe was now smiling occasionally, but it was still really rare. She could see the pain in her mother’s eyes though, every time she looked into her mother’s eyes she saw pain.
“You’ll be fine. You’re lucky to have friends like them because it was either that or I would have been obligated to put you in a specialized center, honey.” Elizabeth came closer to Chloe and cupped her face in her hands. “And I don’t want that for you, I love you.” She kissed her forehead lovingly, “Come on, sweetie. We have to go now.”
Elizabeth grabbed one of the bags that were on Chloe’s bed and Chloe grabbed the other one before following her mom out of the room. Before leaving, Chloe turned around once more to look at her now empty room. She closed her eyes before closing the door and walking into the corridor.
She looked at the picture that was on the wall and smiled a real, genuine smile. Those smiles were rare, really rare. On the picture there were Will and herself, both smiling at the same thing and holding onto each other. Chloe looked at Will’s beautiful brown eyes that were shining with happiness, just like hers. She closed her eyes for a second before grabbing the picture and putting it in her bag; she would keep this one with her. She looked back up to see that her mother was already gone so she quickly caught up with her.
“The doctor said to avoid leaving her alone at home.” Elizabeth said to the blonde and curly haired woman standing in the doorway with a smile on her lips and shining green eyes.
The entire way to get here Chloe had watched the outside through the window of her mother’s police car. She didn’t leave the house much anymore; she actually almost never went outside. Most of her time was spent in her room or in the kitchen eating chocolate or cereals. Chocolate and cereals were her weak spot and she couldn’t deny it, ever. So every time she went out she would look around to see if something had changed, to see if she could see new people on the street. But nothing changed here, it was always the same.
“Don’t worry, Elizabeth, I was not going to leave Chloe alone. If I’m not here my husband will be and if he isn’t then we’ll ask one of his siblings, or even one of mine, to stay here with her,” Emma answered keeping her reassuring smile plastered on her face.
“Okay, and don’t forget her appointments to the doctor at the hospital,” Elizabeth said and Emma nodded.
“I have the dates noted on the calendar and Jason really never forgets anything, trust me he won’t forget that either,” she said annoyance laced in her voice. She was probably thinking about how Jason would never, ever, forget anything, including things she said during a fight for example, things she didn’t mean. Chloe couldn’t remember how many times Emma had complained about that.
Elizabeth turned toward Chloe and kissed her on the cheek before saying, “I’ll come to see you often, sweetie. I love you.”
Chloe gave a little smile to her mother and then watched as she walked to her car, got in it and waved with her hand to say goodbye once more, before turning the engine on and driving away.
Chloe loved her mother but she hated the way she treated her like a baby. Ever since the incident everyone treated her like an infant, at first she had understood it, but now it was annoying. The fact that she didn’t talk anymore didn’t mean that she was a baby; the fact that she looked so empty most of the time from the outside didn’t mean that she was empty inside. She was just hiding all of her emotions, but they were there, boiling inside of her, she just couldn’t let them out. But she was still an adult and she hated being treated like a child.
“So, now that your mom’s gone I can be a little more myself. It kinda scares me that she is a cop!” Emma exclaimed looking at Chloe who just looked at her and nodded.
Emma smiled once more before turning around waving at Chloe to follow her. Emma had always been so natural around Chloe; she had always been her best friend since they were little kids. But now there was always this bit of awkwardness, as if she didn’t know how to act around her anymore. Chloe just wanted to scream at her to act normal around her, but she didn’t, she just kept it inside of her like everything else.
Chloe had so many emotions inside of her that when she looked at herself in the mirror she was always taken aback by how empty she seemed. She was always wondering how she was able to hide her feelings that way, it wasn’t like she meant to do it. It was just instinct, her body protecting itself from breaking down completely. She was the only one knowing why she had this impulse to keep everything inside, not showing her emotions, not talking. It was calming not to hear her own voice, it was making her feel better about herself. She could barely handle hearing the sound of her voice. Chloe was brought back from her thoughts when Emma started talking.
“You’re gonna stay in the guest room and you have a bathroom just for yourself,” Emma said as they started climbing the stairs. “Jason will be home soon,” she added before opening the door to Chloe’s new room. “Tada! This is your new room. Do you like it? I know you love it; I know all your tastes anyway so you can only love it.”
Emma and Jason King were married for six months now and everything was perfect between them. Chloe had been the maid of honor at their wedding. It was all before the incident so it was when Chloe was still her bubbly self. She knew that deep down inside of her she still was the same Chloe but something had been broken, making it impossible for her to express it on the outside.
But most of the time Emma managed to bring a small smile to Chloe’s lips like right now, just the ghost of a smile that had once been so radiant and so full of light.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you two things,” Emma exclaimed turning around to face Chloe who looked at her confused and a little taken aback by her outburst. “First, tonight you’ll be wearing a dress, you’ll put some make up on and you’ll look beautiful because I might have invited people for dinner to show them that you are fine, since everyone is worried about you. And second, if there is a stranger barging in the house and acting like he is at home, don’t worry it’s normal. Jason’s really unmannered brother stays here a lot,” she commented, and seeing Chloe’s confused look she added.
“He is the one who wasn’t at the wedding; you know the one who is in the military and was out of the country on a mission god knows where. He came back to the country two weeks ago and he doesn’t have his own place yet. Sometimes he stays with Ian and Lana, but most of the time he stays here ’cause the house is bigger. That’s what he says but we all know it’s just to avoid killing Ian,” Emma explained before she heard the front door opening and closing.
“Oh, Jason is home so I’m gonna go downstairs and tell him you’re here. You can unpack your stuff and act as if you’re at home because this is your home too now. And one last thing, I might have forgotten to talk to Jason’s brother about you, he is not really the kind of person I love to talk to because at the end of the conversation I always want to kill him. See ya later,” she said before storming out of the room to greet Jason.
Ian was Jason’s brother and Lana was his best friend and roommate. Chloe only knew that they had been friends since kindergarten and they were inseparable. Ian had brown hair brown eyes just like Jason and he was very good looking but a little immature. And he always joked and flirted with women. But it was just playful most of the time. Lana had light brown hair with black eyes. Lana was a beautiful young woman.
Chloe didn’t like to meet new people in those circumstances, saying she wasn’t at her best would be an understatement, and knowing she had never been anyone’s first choice. Never the person people would choose first, even before the incident, how would someone who had never seen her before want to meet her now?
Chloe looked around once more and decided that she didn’t like those empty walls; she quickly went to her bags and opened the one where she knew all her pictures were. She took them out, one by one, to hang them on the wall. By the time she was over it was already halfway through the afternoon.
The next thing Chloe did was to unpack her clothes and put everything in the empty drawers and wardrobe. Once it was done she went into the bathroom and sighed in relief when she saw that she had both a bath and a shower. She quickly put all of her stuff in its rightful place. The last thing she took out of her bag were her pills.
Because Chloe had medication, people would think that she had to take pills because she was crazy but that was not it. She had to take them because it helped her to sleep at night. It helped her with her panic attacks too, she had a lot of those, but it was better with the medication. At first she had a lot more drugs to take because initially she had refused to eat anything and it had made her weak.
Chloe shook her head to stop the memories, before putting the medicine in their place. Then she looked at herself in the mirror, empty chocolate eyes looking back at her, pale cheeks, not rosy like they had always been before, not a single trace of a smile on her lips. And this was one of her good days, she had put a little of make up this morning knowing she would leave the house, she had curled her hair like she had always done before but it was still not the same, she still looked different.
Usually, she would stay at home all day without a single trace of make up on her face and her hair in a loose bun not caring much about how she looked. Her mom would tell her to do some effort to look more presentable but Chloe would just ignore her.
Chloe looked at her reflection in the mirror once more before closing her eyes tightly, it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her that she was seeing in the mirror, it was a complete stranger, someone people didn’t want to have anything to do with. Someone people were always cautious around, as if she would snap and explode. People would think that she was weak, she was reacting that way to her trauma because she was weak and she couldn’t handle it, and maybe they were right, maybe she was weak.
But yet again, would someone weak be able to keep everything for themselves the way she did? Would someone weak be able to keep everything, every emotion inside? Would someone weak be able to keep the tears from falling even when hurt, physically and mentally? Would someone weak be able to deal with their pain on their own? Would someone weak be able to cope with all this overwhelming sadness that was boiling inside of Chloe? Would someone weak be able to cope with all this guilt Chloe had inside of her? No, only someone strong would be able to do this, but people didn’t see it that way. Even Chloe, knew it deep down inside of her, but she still saw herself like everyone did, she saw herself as weak.
Chloe re-opened her eyes, turned away from the mirror and went back into her room. She walked toward the bed and sat there for a few minutes before deciding that she would go downstairs to drink a glass of water before getting ready for dinner, she had to try and look like her old self, physically at least. She didn’t want to make everyone uncomfortable, because that was what constantly happened, they were always uncomfortable around her, all of them. She had seen Jason’s sister and her boyfriend only once before and once after the incident, and yet they were the ones seeming the less uncomfortable around her. Emma was less uncomfortable than the others too but she still was a little.
Chloe stood up from her bed and walked toward the door, she opened it and looked into the corridor happy to see that no one was there. She preferred to stay alone, since the incident she didn’t enjoy people’s company as much as she used to, which brought her back to her earlier thoughts; she didn’t enjoy their company because they were uncomfortable around her.
She quickly went downstairs; she quietly walked toward the kitchen hearing Emma and Jason in the living room. She entered the kitchen and searched for a glass, once she had found one she filled it with water and drank it slowly. She felt good in this house, at least when there was only Emma and Jason at home she felt good. Her thoughts were broken when she heard a noise, it sounded like it was coming from the front door.
She put her glass down on the counter top and started to walk toward the entrance of the kitchen to go and see what was making noise when she came face to face with a gun. Chloe’s eyes widened in fear and as much as she wanted to scream, no sound came out of her mouth, she saw the person holding the gun press the trigger.
She closed her eyes and took some steps back waiting for the bullet to pierce her head and kill her, but instead she felt water hitting her face and she barely had the time to understand that it was just a water gun. However the realization had come too late, her mind was now filled with horrible memories she would do anything to forget.
It was dark outside; she was walking toward her car to get home after spending her evening at The Grill with Steven. Will was still inside, he worked there as a barman. She finally reached her car and started to search for her keys in her purse. She abruptly stopped moving when she heard a noise right behind her. She slowly turned around and found herself face to face with a gun. Chloe felt the panic rise in her organism, she felt this unbearable fear taking over her body.
“My mother is a cop you know,” she stated with what was supposed to be a strong voice but only came out as a trembling one.
The man holding the gun didn’t say anything and just came closer, his gun was now touching Chloe’s forehead and she closed her eyes tightly feeling tears dropping down her cheeks as a sob escaped her mouth.
“Please, don’t kill me. You can have my purse and you can have the car just please don’t kill me,” she cried, her whole body trembling.
“That’s not what I want,” a deep male voice answered before hitting her with the back of his gun, Chloe felt herself drop to the floor and everything went black.
She let herself fall to the floor and felt her breathing getting heavy, it was starting again. She hadn’t had a panic attack in three weeks, and now this man had to provoke her one. She hated feeling so weak.
Chloe was breathing hard; she put her hands to her chest that was moving up and down frantically. She looked up to see that the man was now crouched down next to her saying something, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying, she could only hear her heart beating fast, hitting her ribcage, and her ragged breath. The man was looking at her concerned with his deep gray eyes. Chloe looked away standing up and started to walk toward the stairs.
She was still breathing hard and she still had her hands on her chest, as if that could help. She quickly climbed the stairs and walked into her room before walking into the bathroom and quickly taking her pills. She put a few in her hand and brought them to her mouth before quickly swallowing them. When she started to calm down she put a little water on her face. She was lucky it wasn’t a heavy panic attack, just a small one. She looked toward the door to see that the man had followed her and was just looking at her form the doorway.
Chloe had always been smart but she would be an idiot not to understand that this was Jason’s brother, first he had barged into the house as if he was home just like Emma had said he would, second, she could clearly see a resemblance with Ian and Jason. He was quite handsome she had to admit but now wasn’t the time to think about it.
Now that the fear and panic was gone Chloe felt anger rise inside of her. He had provoked her another panic attack. If the doctors learnt it they would want to make more tests again, they would ask to see her more often and she hated it. She wasn’t angry at him, he couldn’t have known, she was angry at herself. Her face was now flushed red in anger as she walked toward him and quickly pushed him out of her room before slamming the door in his face when he turned around to tell her something.
Chloe was now looking at the door in wonder. She usually wouldn’t have shown that many emotions, they were supposed to stay hidden inside of her. Why was it that this man, that she didn’t even know, Ethan if she remembered well from the wedding, when Emma had explained that Jason’s brother wasn’t there, managed to bring out that much anger? The panic was normal she didn’t control her panic attacks, but the anger?
Ethan was now standing on the other side of the door looking at it bewildered. What was this girl’s problem? First, she totally panicked when he aimed at her with a water gun and now she was angry, for whatever reason, and pushed him out of the room before slamming the door in his face. While, if he might add, he had tried to help her out when she was having her panic attack.
“Rude. Another one of Emma’s bitchy friends I guess,” Ethan muttered before turning around and walking toward the stairs.
He had intended to scare and throw water at Emma but he had realized too late that it wasn’t Emma in front of him. It was a little childish but he loved to anger his sister-in-law. Instead of her, a beautiful brown haired woman with those amazing chocolate eyes that held so many emotions, had been standing there. When you saw her, at first sight she seemed empty and emotionless but when you looked into her eyes, you could see that she had a lot of feelings and was just hiding them. Ethan had seen a lot of soldiers trying to mask their fear before, so he knew what he was talking about. But it was different in this case; it seemed this girl wasn’t only hiding her fear but all of her feelings as well. She obviously failed at concealing her panic and her anger, at least she had a few minutes ago.