I pulled my jacket tighter around me as soon as I stepped out of the warm library.
It was an old jacket I had found around the house during a chilly night where Rick had refused to turn the heat on. Though it was a little torn in a few spaces, it had provided me shelter during chilly nights.
I could feel the warm air from the library lingering behind me as I stepped out into the cool afternoon. My hair flew in all directions as I stepped around wads of students making their way in and out of the building.
As I began the walk back towards my dorm, a wave of exhaustion flew over me. Lengthy nights spent without a wink of sleep had finally caught up to me and I needed a good night of sleep. I slightly smiled to myself as I came to the realization that I would finally be able to rest freely without the fear of being awoken violently, or from the unbearable cold that approached during the night.
Pushing a few strands of my hair behind my ear, I took my time walking back towards the dorm. The afternoon sun was slowly descending as orange and red colors began occupying the sky. I could hear the sounds of branches brushing up against one another as the wind picked up its speed. After a few minutes of walking, my dorm came in my line of vision.
Just as I was reaching for the door to the entrance of the building, a grip on my upper arm brought me to a halt.
I didn’t need to turn around to know who it was.
It had happened far too many times to not know who it was.
The rapid thud of my heart resounded in my ears as I slowly turned around. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as my eyes met the identical ones of Ricks.
It was as if a fire was raging within his orbs.
I could feel the anger roll of him in waves as his condescending stare burned into me.
No words were exchanged as his grip on my arm tightened and he began pulling me towards a secluded corner behind the dorm building. The sun had nearly set, and it was mostly dark outside meaning that Rick could do anything to me without anyone seeing.
We were hidden from anyones view, and screaming would only bring me intolerable consequences.
I scoffed internally at myself for even thinking that my life would be any different now that I was here.
Rick would always be around and I would never be far from his reach.
I would never escape this life.
As soon as we were securely hidden from anyone, Rick shoved me backwards into the building. The bricks from the wall dug into my skin as I tried to regain my balance. I let out a shaky breath as I looked up at Rick whose angry stare was burning holes in my head.
He took a menacing step towards me as I shriveled back into the wall. His rough hand gripped my chin tightly as he pushed me farther into the wall.
“Where were you.” He seethed as the pressure on my chin intensified. I let out a whimper of pain as I attempted to loosen his grip.
“I was in the library.” I quickly answered, my voice shaking.
Rick let out a growl in anger before pulling me back from the wall slightly before slamming my body into it once again.
I hissed in pain as the sharp edges from the bricks embedded into my skin. My head was pounding from the impact as I tried to contain my tears.
“Who do you think you are?” He questioned angrily. I could hear his harsh breathing above me as I stared at the ground. I could barely speak, the pain from the blow straining my ability to form a coherent sentence.
I was no stranger to this question.
Rick would ask me this question each time he felt I did something without his permission.
“Answer me!” He bellowed as he roughly pulled my face upward. My watering eyes met his cold ones as my lips quivered.
“Nobody.” I whispered, staring straight into his lifeless eyes.
“Exactly. You think you’re clever? I know everything that happens here. Stay in your dorm or go to your classes, but if I find out you’re doing anything else, you’re done.” He threatened as he clenched and unclenched his fist that I knew he was itching to hit me with. I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he kept a firm grip on my chin.
I let out a silent sigh of relief as a throat cleared from beside us. Rick’s head snapped to the right where a tall male, who looked to be about my age stood. He wore a dark hoodie, with the hood over his head, concealing a portion of his face. His hands were shoved into his pockets, and he wore an impassive look on his face.
I watched as a smile broke onto Rick’s face as he moved towards the man who stood there silently watching the whole ordeal.
“Roman, thank you for coming son.” Rick exclaimed as he clapped Roman’s back, completely unfazed that the man had seen what had just happened.
Roman, who still hadn’t uttered a word grimaced as an attempt to smile before his lips once again set into a thin line.
I watched the whole ordeal as any hope within me deflated. I had hoped that it wasn’t someone that was acquainted with Rick so that he would leave and I wouldn’t have to endure anymore of his wrath for the rest of the night.
Roman, who had silently been conversing with Rick, finally looked over at me. His eyes met mine for a brief second before they averted to Rick again.
I watched as Rick’s attitude completely transformed into that of someone I had never seen. He was speaking normally to Roman, even letting out a chuckle here and there.
It baffled me to see how different of a person he was to others and the facade he let on for others to see. Many could simply walk past him, completely unaware of the inhumane and cruel things he had been doing to another human for years.
I could feel throbbing on my back as I stood there silently watching their exchange. I leaned against the wall for support as I attempted to remain upright.
I stood there waiting for a few more minutes before I heard the sound of their footsteps approaching me.
“Isabella, this is Roman.” Rick muttered as my gaze snapped up to meet Roman’s. I silently nodded which Roman returned with a cold stare before looking away.
“He will be watching you around campus to make sure you aren’t doing anything you aren’t supposed to be doing.” Rick said, patting Roman’s shoulder in what seemed to be gratitude.
Horror filled me as I stared up at Roman.
Any hope of experiencing freedom, was stripped from me.
I would never be free.
Coming to college was simply a facade to divert any suspicions from people and I could never live the life I had dreamt of.
Roman, who stood a few feet from me beside Rick stared back at me, a blank look on his face. He stared at me for a few more seconds before he gave a firm nod to Rick who had been awaiting a response.
He was just like them.
He was just like Rick and the men he always had around him.
He was a criminal too.
“Consider him my eyes and ears on this campus.” Rick stated as he let out a sadistic laugh. I could feel my legs become jelly as I forced myself to stay upright upon hearing Rick’s words.
Any signs of contentedness flew off Rick’s face suddenly as he turned to look at me. He gave a hard look before opening his mouth to speak, “Meet me here tomorrow night. We have a small task to complete and you’re coming.” He informed, leaving no room for arguments.
I gave him a slight nod before he turned and began walking towards the curb where his truck stood.
I turned to face Roman who hadn’t left, but just as we locked gazes, he turned around and walked into the dark night, leaving me there with ashes of burnt hope.