Identity Series Book 2: I Am Sarah

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Chapter 12

I opened my eyes, but the darkness surrounded me, and I could see nothing. I reached my hands out and before they were fully extended, felt the wood of the door. I stood up and tried the handle for the millionth time, knowing it wouldn’t open, knowing my mother had locked me in again. I couldn’t tell time, but I knew I had been in there for hours, so long that I had soiled myself…again. I was cold. There was no heating in our apartment, and my mother never left me any type of bedding to protect myself from the winter cold.

Without warning, I heard the front door slam, and my mother’s footsteps came toward the closet she had locked me in while she disappeared to do whatever it was she did during the night. I sat down in the pitch blackness, trembling as the steps got closer and louder. I curled up into myself, squeezing my eyes tight, knowing that when the door was finally wrenched open, I would feel pain. My mother would tie me up, hang me from the bar above the closet door, and use her belt on me, the black one with the studded buckle. I tried not to whimper, for that would only make the beating worse, but I couldn’t stop a small sound from escaping me.

The door flew open, and pain sliced through my shoulder as I was yanked to my feet.

“You filthy pig! Pissing on yourself like an animal! I’ll teach you to get your filth on my floor!”

“No, Mama! Please, I’m sorry!”

She ignored me and dragged me to the corner where the rope lay. She held me down as she tied my wrists together and then dragged me back to the closet, my bare feet trying to keep up with her much larger strides. She threw the rope over the bar and pulled until my feet dangled above the ground.

I could hear the leather of her belt as she snapped it behind me, and then she lifted my threadbare dress over my head, covering my eyes.

“Mama,” I whimpered, “please!”

“Shut up, you little brat!”

The first strike hit just below my shoulder blades, and I bit my lip hard to keep from crying out. As I spun, my mother waited until my back was to her again before delivering another blow. Blow after blow hit my back, my mother’s words landing just as hard with every hit.

“Stupid! Ugly! Pig!”

“Sarah?”

I flinched at the voice in my ear, and another whimper came from me, try as I might to stop it.

“Sweetheart, wake up, please.”

I curled up tighter as I felt hands on my arms.

“No, Mama, no more.”

“Sarah! Wake up!”

My eyes popped open, but all I saw was the darkness, and I clamped down on my bottom lip to stop myself from making a sound as I closed my eyes against the blackness.

“Sarah, look at me, please.”

I felt a strong, gentle hand on my cheek, and I opened my eyes again, my brain slowly coming out of the nightmare. I looked around, and my gaze landed on Erik. He was kneeling in front of me, his blue eyes black in the darkness. A few lights were shining on the boat, so it wasn’t the pitch blackness of my dream, but it was still very dark.

“Erik?”

“Oh, my God!” He pulled me to his chest and let out a sob. “I was so scared!”

“Why? What happened?”

“You were having a nightmare, and I couldn’t wake you up.”

I shuddered, the dream still clear in my mind. I could still feel the pain of the belt and of the rope. I could still feel the cold of the closet, and I still could hear the hateful words that had been directed at me every day. I shivered, and Erik wrapped his arms around me tighter.

“Erik, I’m cold.” My shivering intensified, but I knew it wasn’t all from the weather.

Without a word, Erik stood and picked me up, cradling me like a baby. I had been lying on the bench on deck, but now he carried me down the stairs and through the door to our cabin. He laid me down on the bed, pulled my shoes off, and tucked me under the comforter and sheets.

“Erik?”

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“Will you hold me, please?”

He immediately kicked his shoes off and climbed into the bed next to me. His arms encircled me, and I curled myself into his embrace, tightly gripping the front of his shirt.

“Don’t let go,” I whispered, my voice trembling. “Please don’t let me go.”

“Never,” he answered.

We lay there for at least half an hour before he said softly, “Do you want to talk about it?”

My trembling had stopped, but my hands hadn’t released his shirt. I nodded into his chest and took a deep breath. As I told him of my dream, he caressed my hair and my back gently, but I could feel him tensing up just the same. When I mentioned the rope and the beating, a low rumble came from his chest. I could feel the vibrations as his arms tightened around me.

“I swear to God, Sarah, I’ll kill her if I ever find her.”

I didn’t contradict him this time. Instead, I nodded and scooted closer to him. He was still tense, but he held me even tighter, and I slowly warmed up. I breathed in his scent and started drifting off, but as I reached near-unconsciousness, I suddenly jerked and snapped my eyes open.

“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?”

A tear escaped the corner of my eye and soaked into his shirt. “I don’t want to have another nightmare. I’m scared to go to sleep.”

“I’m right here. She can’t hurt you anymore. I’ll never let anyone hurt you again.” His words were soft, and his arms were strong, and I heaved a deep sigh.

“I love you, Erik,” I whispered, burrowing into him.

“More than life, Sarah,” he answered and kissed my hair before starting to hum a soft song that I didn’t recognize. The song and his embrace calmed me, but it still took a long time to fall asleep, and I think I dreamed of my mother again.

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