Arya Loken had spent the majority of her childhood looking over her shoulder, waiting for the next drunken punch to come her way, waiting for the next set of bottles to be thrown. Her parents never had a good word to say about her, but it was their actions, not their words, that got to her. It was always the punching, slapping, and throwing. The lashing tongue, cruel eyes, and haunting laugh marked with biting slaps.
Her parents, who always smiled and laughed as they drank their minds and livers to oblivion, had never cared the slightest about her, or anything else for that matter, the only consistent thoughts in their drunken heads, those damned bottles in their hands.
Until, that is, Arya left. She graduated high school with stellar grades, anything else would have warranted extra beatings, and so she got scholarships, leaving her hometown for the lights and anonymity of the shimmering capital, Summit Lake.
In Summit Lake, Arya enrolled in a prestigious college. Living in a cheap apartment not too far from campus, Arya kept to herself. She didn’t make friends, she didn’t ask to partner with people when given the option. She dressed and acted as unassuming as possible, unable to break away from the years of “training” that she received from her parents.
Eventually, one year passed. Then two, three. Slowly, ever so slowly, Ayra came out of her shell. She learned not to flinch when people spoke to her, learned not to scream when someone went in for a hug, learned how to speak without a tremor in her voice, learned how to smile and laugh, learned how to enjoy life. She learned how to handle the little bits of common touching that were expected of her, being a twenty-something college girl.
Ayra gained a friend, then another, and another, until she had a whole group of people to call her friends. She explored how to be happy, explored what attraction is, explored with who she was as a person. She became more than a traumatic past, more than just a shell.
Then why was she here? Why was she curled into the tightest ball she could be, sobs falling from her lips as tears streamed from her eyes, trying desperately not to be too loud and wake up her roomate? Why was she plagued with visions of her father’s rough hands gripping, one on her hip, one too tight on her throat, on those nights her mother said no? Why were the memories of her mother’s cruel laugh and flying bottles so strong she could smell the liquor?
Where were all the happy memories, the ones with her friends? Where were the whispered secrets, the late night calls, the helping through break ups?
Ayra couldn’t think, she couldn’t breathe, didn’t want to live. She stumbled to the bathroom, feet unable to move from the floor, feeling heavier than they ever had. Every door she opened she expected to find her father behind, every corner she rounded she expected to find her mother’s lashing tongue around.
When Ayra finally made her way to the bathroom, the trip seeming to take years, she opened the door quickly before slamming it closed behind her.
Renewed sobs fell from her lips as she sank to her knees, tears blurring her vision as memory after memory pounded its way into her head.
“You wanted to be a woman so badly, well now you are! Take it like the whore you are!” One hand closed, too tight to breathe. Bruises appeared under his fingers, staining her light skin with a sickening blue.
Ayra shook, leaning against the door for support. She could faintly hear the sounds of someone outside, fear gripping her heart. He couldn’t be here could he?
The door behind her back shook as Ayra let sobs fall from her lips. She heard the shoutings of someone behind the door. A female voice, warped into something of nightmares.
“You can’t hide in there forever bitch!” His voice rang out as she cowered in the corner of her room, praying her door would hold against his rough fists. “When you come out, I’ll be waiting. Your mother isn’t very happy you let me do what I wanted to.” His voice lost volume, but not anger. “She’ll make you pay.”
Ayra tripped over her own feet in attempts to get away from the door, get away from the pounding, get away from the person on the other side. Shouts of her friend trying to help fell on deaf ears.
“Ayra! Are you okay?” Her friend, Jisoo, was almost screaming. She only wanted to help, wanted to make sure she was okay, wanted Ayra to let her in and tell her what was wrong. Ayra was her closest friend, and Jisoo wasn’t stupid, she knew Ayra escaped a... troubled past. She just didn’t know how troubled until today.
“Ayra! I see you there! I knew you couldn’t stay away for long!” She screeched, the bottle in her hand raised threateningly. “I bet you liked it, didn’t you? You wanted him to go to your room, didn’t you? You show off those bruises with pride!” A bottle whizzed past Ayra’s head, shattering on the wall behind her. “Such a slut! Can’t even keep your legs closed around your own father!” She took a couple steps forward, twisting the rings on her fingers so they all stuck out just right. She laughed, high pitched and haunting. Her hand flew, striking her child across the face, hitting her in the shoulder, swiping across her neck. Blood seeped onto the floor that day.
Ayra struggled, wedging herself between the counter and the toilet, arms wrapped around herself as tightly as possible. Panic settled in her mind, breath struggling to reach her lungs. She felt like she couldn’t breathe, like she couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but panic blindly, fumbling to try and make herself as small as possible.
Jisoo was becoming more desperate, her knocking following in suit. She was trying to turn the door handle, trying to open the door, trying to help her friend. In the two years they had known each other, Ayra and Jisoo had become the best of friends, become the type of friends you don’t need to hide things from. Ayra knew everything about Jisoo, and Jisoo knew almost everything about Ayra.
Ayra had told her once, late at night, that she had been abused. Jisoo took everything in stride, helping her friend and trying to convince her to talk to her about it more. Jisoo now knew more about Ayra than anyone else, sticking by her even through the worst life threw her way.
Before long, Jisoo got tired of pounding at the door, knocking occasionally but not shouting anymore.
“Please Ayra.” Jisoo finally whispered, fearing the worst when she could no longer hear anything from the other side of the door.
Suddenly, she heard a little click by her ear, whipping around quickly to see Ayra standing in the doorway, tear tracks still wet on her cheeks.
Almost tripping over herself, Jisoo opens her arms for her friend, drawing the slightly shorter female into her arms and hugging her tightly. Seconds pass, and Jisoo releases the other girl, holding her at arm’s length.
“What’s wrong Ayra? What happened? Are you okay?” Jisoo speaks faster than Ayra comprehends.
Ayra sinks slowly, down onto her knees. “Ji-” She starts, cutting herself off. “Ji, I- I don’t- I don’t know- know what’s wrong with me!” Ayra breaks into tears again, her hands shaking as her friend draws her into her arms, trying to comfort the distraught girl.
“It’s okay Rara. I-” Jisoo took a deep breath, using the childish nickname they came up with late one night to try to lighten the mood. And stop her from bursting into tears herself. “I’ll help you through whatever it is.”
The two girls stayed that way, on the floor in the doorway to the bathroom, for what seemed like hours. Ayra was sitting in embarrassed silence, still shaking slightly. Jisoo was worried, but didn’t want to push Ayra into talking about anything she wasn’t ready to talk about.
It was sudden, so sudden Jisoo didn’t even register it for a few seconds after the simple words had escaped from Ayra’s lips.
Then, Jisoo started laughing.
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for!”
“Nope! Nothing to be sorry for! I’ve always known you had a troubled past. Nobody walks away from a past like yours unmarked.” Jisoo laughed again.
Finally, the two girls stand, parting ways and going to their own bedrooms for a few precious hours of sleep before classes the next day, both of them knowing things could never be the same between them.