We were alone in the house together for the first time in a week after taking my parents to the airport. With just the two of us in the house, the silence felt awkward. As we sat in the family room and watched television, an unnatural stillness loomed around us. Normally we would be out on the deck, watching the tide come in, but the new patio furniture Brandt bought this week just made me think of the reason we had to purchase it in the first place. He wanted me to pick them out, but I couldn’t. I told him whatever he picked out was fine, and he took his mom with him before she left. She had better taste, and besides, it was his house after all.
Brandt made leftovers for us. Lord knew we had a ton and my sisters and mother also froze some casseroles for in the future. Eating your way out of any issue was the Moltke family way.
Brandt sat over on the loveseat while I sat on the couch. We had the news on, but I hated watching it. Terrorist activity, house fires, the stock market dropping yet again. There was nothing upbeat on the news. Nothing I would ever care about.
We felt the strain of the last week on us. We never really watched TV before and now I thought we both agreed the sound of the television was better than silence. He commented on my lack of eating, and I told him I wasn’t hungry. Unlike my mother, he didn’t force me, and I appreciated it.
We sat in silence for the rest of the night. Although we were in the same room, it felt as though we weren’t in the same atmosphere. He surfed the channels absently, and I viewed the screen without any cognition of what I had watched. It wasn’t until close to midnight before he asked me to come to bed.
Nervously I swallowed and nodded my head. Did he want to make love? Was he going to touch me? Oh, please don’t. I couldn’t stand the hope at this point. I didn’t deserve his tenderness.
Making our way to the bedroom, he went to the bathroom for his nightly routine while I quickly change into sweatpants and a t-shirt without him seeing. My bruises were still a vibrant hue of angry purple-yellow-green and I didn’t want him thinking at all about the bruises he left on me almost a lifetime ago now.
We exchanged places when he came out, and I shut the door behind me. Brushing my teeth, I used the toilet, thinking if I lingered in here long enough he might already be asleep. My hip bothered me like it usually did this time of the day, but even that pain had lessened. After using it to walk and climb steps, it gave me some trouble, but as usual, I welcomed the distraction.
Opening the door, I found him right outside, holding my pain medication in his hand. “Chelsea, I think you should take some. Your hip has been bothering you all day, and there is still the same number in here as when I first picked it up.”
Only when I hesitated further, did he add, “It might even help you sleep tonight.”
He could see the bags under my eyes and knew my sleep schedule was less than desirable. I missed getting a full night’s sleep, and with him looking at me so hopeful, I decided to give it a try. I nodded, and he shook out two of the pills in his hand only to have me return to the bathroom for some water.
Entering the bedroom, I saw him already under the covers. The lamp on his nightstand illuminated the room until I could slide in next to him. Pulling up the covers, I held them tight to my chin and settled on my left side facing away from him. Besides being more comfortable than on my right hip, it allowed me the benefit of not looking at him and seeing the distance between us.
Feeling the bed dip, I realized what he was about to do. He put his hand on my shoulder and kissed my cheek. I stiffened in response. Oh God, please don’t be so nice to me. If you are mad at me, tell me. Let it out. I may have been fragile, but I knew it needed to be said.
Instead of speaking his mind, he released his touch and leaned back over to his side of the bed to turn off the light. Darkness instantly shrouded the room, the only light now shined through the French doors. There were clouds in the sky, dimming the glow from the moon, making it dimmer than normal. Dark and sterile. We lay in silence, although I could tell that neither of us was sleeping.
Sometime in the night, I woke up disorientated, feeling off-kilter as if in a trance. There were clouds on the horizon and an occasional lightning bolt lit the sky, although I didn’t hear any thunder or see any rain. All I could think about was getting back to sleep. Hiding from my reality, so I wouldn’t have to face my pain. My mother used to say a glass of milk had a way of making people tired. Gently removing the covers as to not disturb Brandt, I made my way downstairs to give it a try.
There was an eerie change here, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Walking around in Brandt’s house I seemed light on my feet as if floating more than actually walking. Going down the back spiral staircase, I saw the clouds with their ominous threat piling up. Drifting through the darkness of the house, I tried to focus on my goal but felt as if my head was full of cotton. The kitchen. Milk is in the kitchen. Why is it so hard to think?
Padding down the hallway, I thought it strange I didn’t hear my footsteps on the wood floor. Not only was the sound muffled, but I didn’t really feel it underneath me, and I wondered again why my senses were so off. Getting to the kitchen, I reached into the cupboard for a glass. The first of the thunderclaps sounded in the background and the lightning strikes became more frequent. I observed the looming storm through the patio doors in the kitchen, knowing my mind missed some important fact but all my efforts were on getting a drink of milk. Placing the glass on the countertop, my hand hesitated on the door handle to the refrigerator when I scanned the room and saw it clearly.
The patio door.
It all came rushing back. I could almost hear the glass shattering and feel the sting to the back of my legs. Dan’s face abruptly appeared before me with the lighting of the sky. Fear seized me, and I suddenly couldn’t remember how to breathe. How did I get here? I couldn’t dislodge the fogginess in my head, making me panic and tremble.
My heart pounded its staccato beat in my chest, threatening to escape. I needed to get back to Brandt but froze to the spot unable to move. More lightning flashed, and I looked over at the countertop, spotting the knives in the butcher’s block. Grabbing the large cutting utensil for protection, I was certain Dan stood somewhere out there watching me and was coming back for me.
Seeing the butcher knife in my grip but being unable to feel it, gave me an out-of-body sensation. This wasn’t real, was it? Or was it more than real? My senses were telling me conflicting information, but my only concern was getting out of here. The feeling of being hunted by the monster responsible for hurting me came collapsing down on me.
The rain and wind intensified, causing a loud howling noise, even in the confines of the house. It came on strong and every time the sky lit up, I saw him outside the windows, looking in at me. He was in the shadows, watching me and waiting for the perfect time to snatch me. To take me back to the hunting shack and finish me off.
Every step felt as if I were stepping through wet cement as I inched by in slow motion, making my way along the hallway wall, keeping my back to it for fear that he was behind me. I could even hear his voice. Come here, you frigid bitch. I got you.
More thunder boomed down around me causing me to shake so badly I had a hard time holding onto the knife. The light reflected off the blade, sending flashes of light to glint in my eye. It almost looked like a gun flash, and I started to shake even more.
Although uncertain how I did it, I finally made it to the open area by the family room across from the spiral staircase leading to Brandt. The familiar piano stood between me and the steps to the second floor, but my mind settled on the forgotten wall-to-wall glass doors to the back deck. With the next strike of lightning, I saw his face outside the French doors and let out a small cry, nervous he would hear me if I was any louder. If he heard me, he would see me if he hadn’t already. I was convinced he would succeed in raping me and killing me, and fighting him off would be impossible this time.
My back went flat against the wall opposite the staircase, knowing it led to Brandt but being so scared I couldn’t even take one step. It might as well have been a million miles away. Unable to take my eyes off of the glass doors, I tried to make myself small against the wall to hide from view, but the transparent panels were everywhere exposing my whereabouts so easily.
Rain, lightning, and clouds shown outside and seeped into my head. I couldn’t think straight. I still felt as though my body floated among the flooring. There was some type of disconnect from my mind. I couldn’t figure out what to do and finally gave up, slinking to the ground, shaking and certain he would find me and kill me.
I envisioned myself back at the cabin. Dan was there with the gun in his one hand and the other on his groin. Youfucking bitch! It seemed so real. It was so real.
This time when the lightning flashed and illuminated the outside of the house, I saw him standing there with only half a head. Unable to stop myself, I let out a scream and shook with fear so badly that my body went numb and darkness obscured my mind knowing the end was near.
It was a dream. My subconscious mind could tell, but it felt so real. Chelsea and I were in our bedroom, naked in a lover’s embrace. My tongue lazily traced her skin, her jawline, her neck. She moaned and brought her arms up, grabbing the railing of the headboard. Scarves wrap around her arms of their own volition, and we were having one of our ‘play’ sessions. As I was about to slide my cock in her, I saw Dan materialize in the corner of the room. Chelsea didn’t notice, staring at me with total devotion and trust, and when I looked back to him, I heard him say: So you like to hit her too?
“No!” I woke up with a start and tried to get my bearings. Rain pounded at the French doors in our room, and lightning and thunder sent intrusive thoughts through the sky. My lungs fought for air in a state of panic and the sweat-soaked bed beneath me turned cold, but I refused to let Dan get to me.
I looked over to Chelsea’s side to find her missing. Bile rose in my throat with a fear so deep my whole body clenched. Where did she go?
Jumping out of bed, I tried not to make a sound, so I could hear her. It seemed almost impossible to listen over the sound of my quickening breath and the beating of my heart. There was something wrong, I felt it. Just like I felt it a week ago.
And then I heard her scream.
Running down the darkened back stairs, a small flash of light caught my eyes. I didn’t know what it was, but when the lightning made its ominous trek across the sky, it lit up the room, making her visible. Chelsea sat trembling and crying huddled down by the corner of the wall. Quickly I made my way all the to the bottom and turned on the lights, flooding the room brightly.
Chelsea had a butcher knife in her hands. She shook violently and stared straight forward into nothing. “My God, Chelsea.” She didn’t even acknowledge me in front of her and it scared me. Coming closer, I called her name, “Chelsea?” She lashed out with the knife in the air, almost cutting me but still giving me that far away look.
I had to get through to her. She looked panic-stricken, and I couldn’t stand to see her like this. With more caution, I made my way over to her. “Give me the knife.” She tilted her head at me, but it still didn’t register. With glazed-over eyes, she looked disjointed as if she lost her mind, and it tore at my heart.
“Drop the knife, Chelsea. You are okay. I am here.” My command only made her grip the knife harder. I took another step toward her, and if I hadn’t jumped back, she would have sliced me when she stabbed at the air in front of her once again. This time, I gave her my commanding voice. The one she always obeyed, “Give me the knife, Chelsea.”
This time recognition shone in her face. She looked at me then. Not through me, but at me. In my eyes. She was still shaking, but her look turned to confusion more than pure fear.
Cautiously I crouched down closer, and added quietly, “It is okay now. Please, give me the knife. You are safe.” Awareness showed in her eyes as I looked from the knife and back to her. She followed my gaze and saw what I was looking at, seemingly bewildered about the knife’s presence in her grip. Shocked, she dropped it immediately as if it were too hot to hold. I kicked the knife out of the way, and she started to sob frantically while I gathered her in my arms. Doing my best to soothe her, I shushed in her ear quietly and rocked her gently.
I needed to get her back to bed. To tuck her in and make damn sure she felt secure now. Looking like a lost little girl, I realized I had done nothing to help her overcome her fear. She was weak as I half-lifted her, half-supported her small frame as we made our way back upstairs.
Once in the bedroom, I got her lying down. This time, I brought the ottoman up to the bedside and stroked her hair absently while she calmed. Quietly over and over, I said the only thing I could think of, “Shh Angel, everything will be all right.” I would watch her all night if I had to. Nothing would ever touch her again.