Chapter 15 | The Past
Mark Hale is a stain. Just like when you eat good food, painting your new project, or cleaning something to make it shine. After doing the things you love, it might leave stains that may be very hard to erase. Some stains take a lot of scrubbing, others cannot even be washed away. Mark Hale is a stain.
He was once a good time. He was the only person she looked forward to meeting the most. She loved every moment spent with him. After all the fun had passed, it had all disappeared. And what he left was a stain in her heart. A stain that could never be removed.
When she was just a child, her mind was opened too early to the reality of life. Her mother surely was very extroverted, outgoing and fun. She indulged in all the sides of life, but that costed her future.
Getting raped in a small alleyway beside an abandoned house at midnight. It couldn’t be helped. As what her mother had told her before, unexpectedly, there was a camera put up by a shop owner above that very alleyway. Though her mother’s family was poor back then, she insisted to her grandparents back then to pay and sue. The trauma was heavy, and the tears were overflowing; they agreed and would report it the next day after they had made their decision to do so. They already asked the shop owner to reserve the footage for police inspection tomorrow.
There was hope, and her mother’s tears gradually stopped, knowing that soon she would get justice. But that night, angry knocks erupted from their own front door. The noise completely awoke her mother’s family. As her grandmother opened the door, an eager-looking couple busted in and said,
“Please! Don’t report our son! I know what he did to your daughter, but he can’t go to jail. He shouldn’t!” The unknown lady said, taking a hold of grandmother’s hands.
“He needs to take over the company in a month! Or else, we’ll go down.”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot forgive him for what he did to our daughter.” My grandmother replied then.
“We’ll pay you anything. We did a background check and you have an enormous debt and it seems like they are looking for your husband right there.” The lady said, pointing to grandfather behind her.
They then forcefully entered the house and the entire family was speechless as they did so. Elizabeth’s mother said that she could hear everything that was going on outside but she didn’t dare to show herself and instead made do and saw the scene through a little crack on her wooden door.
” We’ll pay you anything, no... everything! We’ll pay off your debts and give you our son to make do with what he did to your daughter,” the lady said.
Her husband agreed and continued, ” We’ll let them marry and through that, your daughter will have 20% of the shares in our billion dollar company, you will be rich!“.
Her grandparents back then thought about it. In the end, they really couldn’t say no and agreed to the deal on the same night. Not asking for her mother’s opinion, who was now drowning in tears and muffling herself after witnessing the whole transaction.
The next day, the same couple came again with smiles. She didn’t wonder why their plans of going to the police station that day was forgotten, nor was she shocked when they explained to her the whole thing with congratulatory words and cheerful blessings.
That day was the only day her mother felt like she was truly oppressed. She couldn’t get away with her cheerful jokes, witty actions, or naughty deeds. She could only sit there as everything spun around her head, around and around, until the only escape route she found was death.
Her mother told her that after that meeting, she went to bed with a ring on her finger and bloody bandages on her wrists. The attempt didn’t work, as her parents quickly found her out. They calmed her by saying,
“Think about the money sweetie.”
“Yes, isn’t it a blessing!”
“You’re going to be rich soon! You won’t have to go to school anymore, you can buy everything you want. ”
Her mother couldn’t answer. She couldn’t fathom the idea of her rape being a blessing or money being tissues for her tears. Sleeping was much better. She wanted to sleep forever and was sad as she woke up the next day; the sunlight shining on the ruby ring on her finger.
A couple of suicide attempts later, the whole thing was seen through. They were married in a grand garden, many people cheered for them, many gifts were piling around, and many blessings were said. But throughout all these, Elizabeth’s mother couldn’t bear to smile at the face she saw as her rapist. She couldn’t accept him as a husband. All she saw was her life cracking in pieces as she said the words
Tears weren’t in joy, and the first night was filled with pain. She couldn’t escape. Even god denied her freedom after all the suicide attempts she had tried.
Her husband was nonchalant and beat her for all her mistakes. Salty food, dirty floors, and broken bulbs.
“All the money is already yours! Why is the food so late!? Why is my room dusty?!” He always said as he beat her.
Over and over again.
Every time she called her grandparents for help, all she heard was, “Think about the money.” She was on her own, she thought.
Soon she bore a son. His name was Nathaniel Lane. From that day onward, everything seemed to be not so bad. Life caring for her son helped her forget the pain from the beatings at night. There she thanked God for preventing her death. The smile on her son’s face healed her wounds every day.
Soon after, she bore Elizabeth. She felt like an angel in her bruised arms. The tears she cried were mending her heart. She didn’t mind the beatings every night they happened. Her kids were with her to face it all every morning.
She could hear screams of pain every night as she tried to go to bed next to her brother, covering her ears. Tears were dripping from their faces, as they knew what was happening to their mother every night. In the morning, they could only smile as they observed her getting new bruises and wounds.
They didn’t want her to know that they knew what was going on; they didn’t want her to worry about her children. Elizabeth was broken, as she knew she could only hug her mother every morning to ease the pain. From that day forward, Elizabeth could only conclude that marriage will hurt and love isn’t real. A stranger will always be one and family will be enough.
One day, as she played in the park with her brother. He was there to draw with his friends. Sitting beside them, she didn’t have any fun. As she was always jealous, to see their lines so straight and the colors always inside the lines.
She ran off and ran around by herself in the park, soon meeting a pair of siblings. A boy and a girl, kicking around a ball in happiness.
She joined in the two, and they happily took her in. Passing around a small ball on a hot sunny day. She asked for their names.
Mark and Michelle Hale.
Two siblings completely free, fun, and young. She liked the time she spent with them. She introduced the two to her brother that day, and the four children went home together. There, Elizabeth found out that they were just neighbors. Their house was just a three-minute walk from theirs.
“Come play with us again tomorrow!” Michelle said to her. She answered with a smile. A real smile, which she hadn’t let out in so long.
She nodded eagerly and replied, “Okay! I’ll be going to yours.”
The passing days, she spent her free time after class at the Hale’s household. Noticing their parents worked all day, so they had to make do with taking care of themselves in the morning. She went there during afternoons and she like this because she got to avoid the sight of her father returning from home. She only went back by dinner. Her mother was happy, and her father didn’t seem to care.
She resonated with Mark Hale; he was three years older than her, yet dedicated his extra time to take care of his sister. So she spent her time with the excuse of ‘helping Mark’. Soon, the three became best friends.
Sometimes, Michelle would have a nap. During those short periods, she and Mark would exchange stories. About school, friends, and more. Through this, Elizabeth got to share her experiences at home. She let go of the pain she felt in front of Mark.
That day, in a long time, again she shed tears in front of another person other than her brother. He comforted her in a hug and told her it was all going to be okay. She smiled at the kind boy back then as she finally found someone she could vent out her feelings to.
Her brother soon immersed himself in after school art activities. Just like Elizabeth, he wanted to make himself busy outside and forgot about the problems inside their homes. Elizabeth spent more time with her best friends. The more time she spent, the more she looked at the boy always next to her.
Mark Hale had kind eyes and a kind smile. Though he was small, he carried around an aura of a protector. He felt reliable and comfortable to be with. She liked to see how much he cared for his sister and how much he smiled at her and didn’t mind at all about her past.
She liked him.
She was opening up and see that not all boys were as mean as her father. The bond the three shared was the kind she wanted with Mark. Though she was a child, she knew it wasn’t some joke. The feelings she felt were real.
She felt shy the next time she saw Mark and decided that she couldn’t tell Mark about it now or he’d laugh at her. So she played every day coy. She laughed and smiled with the siblings as they spent every free moment together.
Until, one day, she visited their house as usual. There, the door was answered by their mother rather than the usual Mark.
“Hello Sweetie. The two are still in school right now, sorry. Would you like to wait for them, they arrive late though.”
She frowned. “No, it’s fine, Mrs. Hale. I’ll just go home. Thank you.” Elizabeth said as she hurried home.
She reasoned out that they must be busy, but she continued on a few more times and found out they were late at school every day. Even the days when they were home, they wouldn’t talk to her, with the reason being extra curricular.
Soon after, she stopped visiting their house, and stayed home cooped up in her room like she always did back then. Her brother quit his after-school activities to be with her by that time.
The beatings went on and the tears never stopped. All Elizabeth thought was.
“What if they didn’t want to see me after knowing all I’ve been through?”
She thought herself to be a disgrace, a nuisance. She remembered the kindness in Mark’s eyes and realized all of it was fake.
She believed he forced himself to act like that. She knew he didn’t really like her to be with them and abandoned her when they found the perfect time to do so.
Elizabeth smashed the love she had for the boy and continued to harden her heart in the presence of her very own abusive father.
After a few months, the family moved to a bigger city where their business will be expanded. They moved into an enormous mansion and they enrolled her in a prestigious private school. Where she immersed herself in tests and aces, to forget about everything she has been through.
Elizabeth grew up to be strong and confident, eventually finding a passion she would fight for.
The day her father died, not a single tear dropped from her eyes. Her brother soon became an architect and smoothly inherited the business. She decided to move to a bigger city and chase her dreams.
She thought she had let go of the past, but after seeing Mark Hale at this very moment. All of it came rushing back, and she saw he wasn’t really gone from her mind after all.