Waking up, my eyes are slow to open; afraid of the nightmare I’ve been forced to accept. I don’t want to wake up anymore; my mind processes a constant beeping. The sound shatters my fear, it sends my heart stutter into overdrive. What is it? The new sound churns my belly, forcing my eyes open, a hiccup bubbles from my core. Where am I? Afraid to move more than my eyes I try to hide my quivering as I take in my new environment. The repetitive beep quickens, my eyes itch with tears. Is this a new game? The door opens silently as a man emerges, his eyes focused on the clipboard in his hands.
The new arrival strikes fear down my spine, my attempt to cry out is silenced, leaving me confused. Realization dawns for the man as he pauses in the doorway, stunned, his eyes raise to meet mine. Tears leak from my eyes as I struggle to figure out why my mouth won’t open. What’s going on? My attempt to raise my arm is thwarted, I drop my eyes to my wrist. Why are they cuffed to the bed? I jerk against the restraint and it proves futile and painful, tears fall faster and heavier. What is this game? “I need assistance in room 314.”
The sudden sound of his voice has my heart racing, slamming harshly against my ribcage. Why don’t they kill me already? “Is she awake? I want to see my daughter!” The voice holds me hostage as I become a statue, frozen in place. My eyes lock on the door, stunned; the familiarity of that melodic voice strikes home. How did they catch her? The constant beeping losses its importance as it slips to the back of my mind.
“Don’t touch me! I need my daughter; move out of my way!” The voice shrieks and I shrink into the bed to cower. No, this has to be a trick. Tears glide down my cheeks; they couldn’t have caught her, it’s impossible. The man is shoved from the doorway as a tall, slender form stumbles in. I watch stunned as her chocolate brown shoulder length hair softly sways, framing her face. Warm brown eyes stare back at me, my eyes take in her familiar round features. Is this a trick?
I try to look behind her; my captors wouldn’t let me out of their sight; they have to be holding her hostage too. Where are we? I’ve never seen this room, or this man; he’s not in leather like the rest. What’s happening? Daddy wouldn’t let her get caught by these monsters. “Oh, my Angel; Mommy’s here. Mommy’s got you now.” My mind can’t process her words quick enough. She strides to the bed, dropping to wrap her arms around me. I listen to the pained guttural sound that emits from her chest. What have they done to her?
My head falls to rest on her shoulders, to accept her embrace. Is this real? I don’t know anymore; I want to wrap my arms around her and never let go. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath; she smells like her favorite perfume and Daddy’s cologne. I don’t want to go back. “You’re awake.” A voice booms, shattering the silence; it forces me to pivot. My eyes grow as I’m greeted with a tall stout man in a white coat, I shake my head. I don’t like white coats; they hurt, shivering as I slide back into my mother. Go away!
Mom shifts back; a pained expression weighs heavy in her glassy brown eyes. “It’s alright Angel, you’re at the hospital.” She attempts to sooth me; it only makes my head hurt. The hospital? I don’t understand, my eyebrows pinch as I give my head a shake. That’s not possible; my eyes water as I try to open my mouth once more. Whimpering in pain, it hurts; why won’t my mouth open? What’s wrong with me? The thought makes tears form; I don’t understand.
Mom grabs my hand as I jerk against the restraints; I’m cuffed, just like I am there. It’s a lie! “Honey, you can’t talk right now. Please, settle down some; I don’t want to see them putting more drugs into you.” She shakes her head as a tear slides down her face; I stop. Am I making her cry? I don’t want to make her cry. I sink into the bed; I’m confused, worried that this is all a trick. They kept me chained, locked up; am I free?
“Do you remember anything?” The man in the white coat asks and I tense; I want to shrink away from him, disappear into the bed. I want him to go away. His question makes me pause and think; what do I remember? Dropping my gaze to my lap, my cheeks blush bright red, ashamed. A man was using me to take his pleasure; I was so hungry, I just wanted dinner. I didn’t do it correctly; the man took his pleasure, like always.
I didn’t do it right; I got a punishment, like normal. I think a man came in; I’d seen him around the basement before; he never hurt me. I think he hurt the man punishing me. What did he do after that? My head hurts as I try to remember what happened before and after that. “Someone called in a car accident; you were driving, the police arrived, they identified you through an amber alert. I knew my little Angel wasn’t gone.”
I lift my head seeing Mom’s teary eyed smile; I feel like I’m in a daze as the man explains details to Mom. I don’t know what he’s talking about; I’m still stuck on the fact that I’m not in that place with those people. Mom removes the padded restraints; her hands freeze, her finger traces over the white bandages. “What did they do to you?” She whispers and I look down; she doesn’t want to know. I’m a whore. She doesn’t want to know what I’ve had to do; what they made me do.
Mom climbs into the bed with me, holding me to her. Is this real? Closing my eyes, I fall asleep; I don’t want to wake up back in that place. I’m unable to fight sleep, I feel so tired; so lost. I don’t know how much time passes before I’m awoken by a loud sharp noise; jerking up. I automatically go into fight or flight. My arms flail and I hit the closest thing to me, a warm body, panting hard; the machine releases loud and unsteady beats. “Angel, honey, calm down. It was just a chair; your brother dropped it. You’re ok?”
My head snaps towards the melodic voice of my mother as realization dawns; I just hurt Mom. The reddening mark makes tears come to my eyes. I just hit Mom. My hand shakes as I reach for the mark; she gives me a sad smile. “It’s ok honey, it was a mistake; you’re safe.” The machine settles; the repetitive beeps slowing into a new rhythm. I fall against her, wrapping my arms around her; I want to hide from reality. Am I like them? The thought strikes more nerves than I thought would be possible.
“I didn’t mean it. It slipped; I’m sorry.” One of my brother’s trails off; upset by his actions.
“Son, it’s alright. Mistakes happen; you both are just going to need to be more careful around your sister.” I hear my Daddy’s strong voice and I shake. The things they made me do; how can I ever face my family again? New tears roll down my face; Mom runs her fingers through my hair carefully.
“What happened to her Dad?” My other brother asks, the twins were-are? I remember them being glued at the hip; are they still like that? What are they doing? I’ve missed so much it doesn’t seem real.
“I’m not sure boys, bad people did bad things to Angel.” Daddy responds, making me hide my face in Mom’s shoulder again. Inhaling her familiar scent.
“They got caught; right, Dad?” I hear a sigh, making me shiver. What happened? I don’t remember being put in a car; was it the man that hurt the one who had to punish me? I tried not to learn names; it hurt more. Where is that man? I wonder if he made it out.
“Does she remember anything?” Daddy asks Mom, earning a sigh from her.
“I’m not sure; her jaw is wired shut. They just allowed me to take off the restraints. You’ve seen the scars; are we sure we really want to know what happened?” Mom’s question makes me tense; I feel the need to answer with a slow head shake. They don’t need to know; I don’t want to see the looks of disgust that’s bound to be in their eyes. I had to do nasty things for food, for water; to survive. My family would be disgusted and ashamed of me.
“I’m just happy my little girl is home; we’ve missed you.” Daddy says close to my head, his hand gently touching my head. I squeeze my eyes shut and a new round of pain settles in my chest. How do I know that this isn’t some sick and twisted trick? I hear a knock on the door and I automatically try to hide. I don’t want to know; I hate knowing. Daddy sighs before he calls them in.
“Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Patel; we wanted to ask your daughter some questions.” I turn my head carefully; two men in uniform Police written across their vests stand at the foot of the bed.
“She should rest; not answer questions.” One man sighs, shaking his head.
“I’m sorry to have to do this; she’s our only lead to find a missing member of our unit.” Daddy stops, staring at the men; my eyes bounce between them. I’m the only lead? The partner looks towards me, catching my eyes, and takes the chance to flip the paper he had in his hands. My eyes widen as I scan the paper; I’ve seen him.
“He’s an undercover cop; have you seen this man?” Daddy looks at me, then back at the paper. I watch as his eyebrow raises; confused with this interaction. I slowly nod, afraid that I’ll be punished.
“He helped you, didn’t he?” Staring at the picture, I nod once again; Mom holds me, her arms wrapped around me securely. He’s the man who hurt the first one. I remember nothing else after that. The guy looks at his partner, his expression darkens. “We need to talk with the Sergeant.” Looking between the two I shake; what is that supposed to mean?
“What the hell does that mean? What do you know?” Daddy snarls at them and I flinch. I hate hearing angry voices. Turning my face away from everyone, I try to bury myself under Mom. I don’t want to hear anymore! I feel myself shake against Mom even as she tightens her arms around me; to sooth me.
“We have our speculations about where your daughter was being held.” Someone sighs even as footsteps walk away; they knew? Why didn’t someone come and find me? That’s not fair! Tears roll down my cheeks in streams.
“What are you going to do about it! You can’t let those bastards get away with what they did to my little girl.” Daddy raises his voice, making me cry harder; the machine beeps crazily again, the sound only scares me more. What is that thing? My breath quickens and I struggle to breathe. Wheezing, I ball my hands into a fist; I’m used to these strange attacks, squeezing my eyes shut. I feel light headed.
“Angel, you need to calm down. It’s ok.” I can’t focus on the hands or the slowly muffling voices.
“Ma’am I’m going to need to sedate her. She can’t be doing this.” The sound of a man’s voice startles me; I wail as I realize what he wants. Forcing as much sound past my lips as possible. I don’t want that! Bad things always happen, trying to force myself away from the voice and over my mother. My arm is grabbed and held still as I feel a pinch in my arm, crying harder I shake; black dots dance in my vision. I finally slip away from it all, hearing the pained cries of my family; I’m sure it’s all a nightmare. I’ll never get away from those people.