Chapter 17: Broken Body
He comes closer and tears my t-shirt apart leaving me bare from the waist up. He chuckles viciously.
“I see you have healed. It will be so nice to mar you anew.”
I brace for the harsh whip on my back digging my fingers in my palms. I promise myself not to scream and give him the satisfaction. I bite my lip and press my eyes harder. I know that when he is like this, it is better to go to a happy place and keep the pain at bay. But I never knew what a happy place would look or feel like and I had nowhere to run to. This time it is different.
This time Rage’s vision comes before me, exactly as he was that morning in the kitchen looking breathtaking and menacing at the same time. My mind runs to him once more and feel him close, his skin against my face. The whip hisses in the air and then lands against me. My jaw clenches but I keep it shut, no screams, no pleading. I am in Rage’s arms and no harm can come to me here. In my vision, Rage holds me in his arms and the feeling is so great that all pain is shed. I have found my own, little happy place. And no one can take that away from me.
“Oh, did my little Iris grow?” the irony in his voice fills the room “No need for your sister to take care of you now?”
When he mentions her, all my concentration breaks and Rage dissolves around me. The whip tears my skin, surging pain through my body. My sister. My Tamie. We shared the same mother she and me but not the same father. Our mother was a prostitute and a crack addict so keeping tabs on who fathered her daughters was out of the question. But that mattered little to us. My sister was all I had in the world. She was three years older than me and took it upon her to be the mother I didn’t have. I never really knew where Tamie found all the inexhaustible strength she had in her but through the years she never failed to feed us and keep the house relatively clean. She took care of me and she distracted me when our mother was falling on the couch unconscious or brought clients back into our home. Tamie always had stories to tell, popping out of her head easily and listening to her while or mother groaned or the man she had brought home swore loudly was the only thing to keep me from crying. And then...
“Aah!” he lets out loudly.
I feel blood run down my back and that is the sight he wants to see. Before I left I was his possession, his property, had been for years and that was how I felt. When my mother found herself in great debt to him, she didn’t hesitate to pay him offering her daughters. Tamie and I were given to that man and our already wrecked life became a nightmare. At least our mother pretended we didn’t exist and we had each other. As soon as we came into his possession, all that changed.
I still remembered the day his goons dragged us out of the house, our mother passed out on the sofa. I was 13 at the time, so scrawny I looked younger, and Tamie 16. They took us before an old, big, round man that looked at us as if we were animated things. He came up to Tamie and groped her swelling breasts. He then fixed his eyes on me. Sweat broke on my skin when he fixed his small eyes on me with a disgusting fixation. Tamie was quick to read his expression. She threw herself at the man.
“She is just a kid. A bit retarded if you ask me. I will do whatever you want me to.”
I was young but I knew what Tamie was offering that man to keep me safe. And for a while it worked. The man forgot all about me and I was thrown in a warehouse, locked in a room with a bucket in the corner and no bed. Tamie would come to me with food and she would sit with me to tell me her stories, keep me calm. After a while they moved me to a chop shop, chained to help clean some of the small parts and that was where I learnt all I knew about motors, found out that I could read them easily. Tamie had managed to have me moved there but at what price.
When she would visit me, she would be more and more frail, thinner. She smiled but that smile never reached her eyes anymore, her stories weren’t all colorful and joyous. She was fading, slowly eaten alive by whatever that man did to her. I begged her to leave since she had more freedom than me. She never did. I knew why. If she left, she would leave me behind to face the consequences. She stayed and she did god knew what to keep me safe. For two years.
Two whole years me tied to a chain in a chop shop eating whatever they threw my way, fixing motors, with a bucket in a corner. No one talked to me, no one looked my way and soon I was forgotten as if I were a wraith, a ghost in the place.
Then one day that man with the small eyes came into the chop shop. He stood before me and yanked me by the chain behind him. As he dragged to a large room and tied me up a hook before taking his whip.
“Your sister lasted for a while.” I remember him telling me “I hope you last longer.”
He had whipped me half to death that day. After he left me, a woman came and took care of me. I laid on the bed for weeks, recovering, doing nothing but crying thinking if death would come to me quickly. The moment I was better and up on my feet the same thing happened over again. And again, And again. No end to my suffering, no death, no release. The woman taking care of me told me that the man had a disease, a disease that had taken his ability to have sex. And that made him mad, angry. All that gave him pleasure was take out that anger on others. I asked her about Tamie. She said nothing.
That was my life for two long years. An endless torture of me being whipped relentlessly, then the long recovery and at the intervals I would go to the chop shop to find solace in the motors I liked so much. I was still a ghost, an ethereal being, invisible to all, a nothingness. And then one day I realized that being invisible was a good thing. I was working at the chop shop when the door opened and a new car came in. All I did was go up and the door and walk out, simple as that. And I ran. I ran with all I had, ran till my feet were hurting me and my lungs burned. And then I ran some more.
“One year” he howls “One year I was looking for my favorite plaything, Iris. You didn’t go far, stupid bitch. Did you think that going across the Bay was far enough? You are mine, my property, whore.”
His words hurt worse than the whip. I am his property. I don’t exist for the world, my own mother never bothered to even register I was born. No one will look for me, no one. I will be gone from the world and it won’t matter. And then I think of the Riders, of Ava. And Rage. He saved me from Vik, sheltered me from his own brother. He kept watch under my window restlessly, the first time someone did that for me. No, Rage will look for me. He will come for me and save me. And instead of a cry, a smile blooms on my face.