Watching your two best friends fall madly in love with each other sucks. Why can’t I be the one who falls in love with someone? Why can’t I be the one making out the guy I love on the couch of my best friend? Instead, I must watch Spencer and Jason display their affection all over my house, soon at school, and even the rest of the town yet I’m stuck being alone.
I live in a small two-story house with my brother and my parents. It’s nothing fancy and it’s a little dated, but it’s home. We live on a quiet cul-de-sac filled with other equally as dated houses in the town of Salt Grove, Massachusetts.
“Can you please stop being all over each other for like one minute? I just had to go to the bathroom.” I rolled my eyes and sat down on our large, beige couch between them to further disrupt their intentions.
“Sorry Maddy, we can’t help it.” Jason said, staring over me into Spencer’s brown eyes, with his blue ones. I know they’re perfect for each other, always have been, but it bums me out sometimes knowing I’ve never even been kissed let alone have someone that means as much to me as they do to each other.
“I know.” I sighed. “I’m just being ridiculous because I’ve never had someone to do all of that with.” I frowned and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Come on, you just haven’t come across the right guy yet. Your perfect person is out there I know it. Right Jason?” He glanced over me and smacked his other half on the back of the head, jolting him out of his trance on his cell phone.
“What? Oh, yeah right.” Jason gave me a half-assed smile and turned his attention back to the little device in his hands taking up all his attention. Spencer and I scoffed, and he continued.
“As sweet as you can be Spence, I’m a senior and I’ve never even been on a date. I’m starting to think everyone but you two find me repulsive.” I huffed and leaned my head on the back of the couch.
“Come on, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re gorgeous and I think this is your year!” He replied. “After all, it’s only September, you still have until June to find someone to go to prom with. You’ve only just come back; it’ll take a while to get to know everyone again. Plus, there are lots of new people from Pine Oak that had to come here remember. Their high school got shut down from that fire so we’re taking them on.”
“Thanks for the reassurance but I don’t think anyone will take an interest in me. I know I left for a while, but I’ve been back all summer and I haven’t even spoken anyone remotely my age except you two this whole time.” I sighed again. I have been sighing a lot lately.
Just then, my twin brother Grayson came down the stairs with his friend Dylan in toe. They sauntered into the living room taking up residence in the chairs across from us that match the couch.
“Hey Mads, what’s up?” Grayson asked me, then turned his usual gleeful smile into a frown. “You look sad, what’s wrong?” He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, flicking his light brown hair out of his green eyes in the process.
“It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” I told him, managing to muster up a weak smile.
“Madeline, I know when something’s up, just tell me.” My brother looked me dead in the eyes as he said this, clearly wanting an answer. He’s been so caring since the incident, and a little overprotective. Scratch that, a lot overprotective.
“She’s upset that she’s never gotten a date in her life.” Jason piped up, still entranced with the screen in front of him.
“Jason!” I pleaded, “Did you really have to tell him that?” he just nodded in response. I grimaced as Grayson started to speak.
“Maddy, you don’t need a boyfriend you’re still too young. Plus no one is good enough for you.” I rolled my eyes at his words. We’re literally the same age so he has no argument for that. He is two minutes older than me and never lets me forget it. He glanced at his watch and continued. “We’re going to be late for the first day if we don’t leave now, let’s go.” He and Dylan jumped off their chairs and made for the door to grab their backpacks. The three of us followed suit, Spencer having to drag Jason along with him since he still wasn’t paying attention.
I picked up my plain black bag from the entryway with all my school things inside and put on my black sneakers. I gathered my blonde hair in my hands and threw it up into a messy ponytail in the hall mirror. I took in my appearance, quickly straightening out my clothes. I had on a black tank top with a light green satin button up, undone and tucked into my black ripped jeans. Not too bad for a first day outfit. I wiped away the fallen mascara below my green eyes and turned back to the open door in front of me.
“Hurry up Maddy!” Someone called from outside. I scoffed and hurried out behind them.
I hopped in the backseat of Grayson’s rusty, old pick up and shimmied myself between my two friends. Of course, I had to have the middle seat since I was the smallest. I managed to sneak a peek over Jason’s shoulder to see what he was doing on his phone this while time. Typical, he was playing a stupid game. His phone buzzed and a message appeared at the top of his screen, but he quickly swiped it away, realizing I was looking over his shoulder.
“It’s not nice to spy Maddy.” He said and I just rolled my eyes.
“It’s not spying if you’re just playing a game.” I told him, but a voice in the back of my head was nagging at me saying maybe it wasn’t just a game. I quickly shook the thoughts from my head. Jason loves Spencer, no doubt about it.
As we pulled up to the school, Grayson parked close to the door, and we all scrambled out of the truck. I took a deep breath and stared at the looming, brick building in front of me. It looks bigger than I remember, but I was also 13 the last time I saw this place. It’s just school. I tell myself. It doesn’t matter that we moved away for 4 years. This is what I needed. To come back and see my friends and get back to some semblance of a normal life in the town I grew up in.
Grayson, my parents, and I moved a few towns over 4 years ago after the incident. I was walking home from volleyball practice one night when I was 13. You could say I was a small 13-year-old, and I haven’t grown much since then. A black car pulled up as I was passing between two streetlights and waved me over. I was tentative until they called out that they were looking for directions to the local grocery store. I walked over to the car and was about to tell them where to go, when the man pointed a gun to head through the car window and said if I ran, he would shoot me.
He told me to get in his backseat, but I shook my head ‘no’. That’s when he grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to the gun, pressing it against my forehead. At this point I was in tears and didn’t want to die, so I got in the backseat. I tried to look for a way out, but the back door handles had been removed like it was a police car in its past life. He drove around for hours until I eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, I was tied to a small twin bedframe in tiny room that was concrete on all sides. The mattress was incredibly uncomfortable with springs sticking out in certain places. I pulled at the cuffs around my wrist until they were raw and bleeding. I cried until I didn’t have any more tears and eventually fell back asleep.
The next morning, I woke up to toast and orange juice sitting on a tray, but it was just out of my reach. I heard a sick laugh from the dark corner across from me. It was a man in a mask getting a kick out of my failed attempts to get to the food, and boy was I hungry. The man told me that I’d get to eat if he let me take my pants off. I refused and he tried again at each mealtime to get me to do it, but I still refused. The following morning, I woke up without them and I fought to cover myself as much as possible. He laughed at my futile attempts and came closer. I scooted back on the bed as far as I could and tried my hardest to get away from him. This time he brought my breakfast closer and tried to feed me. The first day I kicked and kicked and kicked at him until he left. The next day though, I woke up without my shirt on and I was way too exhausted from the lack of food to fight anymore.
I let the strange man feed me breakfast, lunch, and supper that day. He didn’t do anything to me, just gave me the food and water that I desperately needed. On the fifth day is when it started. I woke up that morning without my underwear on and my ankles cuffed as well, and I was so scared. I started crying immediately and didn’t stop for hours. He came in later that day and did such unspeakable things to me I can’t even repeat them. He did these things for what I found out later was 4 weeks. That was a month of me being held by this man and made his plaything.
I got out at the beginning of the fifth week. By that time, he had unshackled my ankles because I had stopped fighting him. It was useless at that point to try and fight the inevitable. He would also undo one of my hand cuffs so I could eat at meals. One night though, after re-latching my handcuff, he sat on the bed and talked with me. When he left, I heard something fall to the floor with a jingle and he didn’t seem like he heard it. Once the door closed, I leaned over the bed to see what it was. I almost burst into tears when I saw the handcuff keys laying on the floor below me. I managed to pick them up with my feet and with enough maneuvering I got them to my hands. I undid both of my handcuffs and winced as I touched the raw skin around my wrists.
With only the light of the small lamp he had given me, I put all my clothes back on and wrapped the blanket I had around my shoulders. I crouched to the floor and peeked out under it, seeing no movement. I slowly eased the door open to see a set of stairs leading up to another set of doors, like a cellar would be in the ground. I tried to squint the best I could between the small gap in the doors, but there wasn’t enough light for me to see. I decided risking it was worth it and gently pushed on the doors. My spirits sank as I realized they were latched. My tears and came back and I sank down on the stairs. I was so close to escaping.
I looked up and saw an old white nightgown hanging on a hanger on a hook on the back of the door. I had a feeling he was going to dress me in it when he killed me. At least that’s what I thought back then. I noticed the hanger it was on was metal and that’s when an idea formed in my head. I grabbed it, threw the dress on the floor, and carefully shoved the metal wire through the gap in the doors. I managed to flick the latch open and tried my luck opening the doors again. One at a time they gave way, and I poked my head outside, looking both ways to make sure no one was coming. When I saw the coast was clear I took off. I ran in the woods for hours crying and smiling. Not caring that my feet were burning from the cuts I had gotten from running for so long. I finally found a well-worn trail and collapsed against a tree near it. It was pitch black outside and I had lost all hope of running into someone so I thought that’s where I would spend the night in hopes the man wouldn’t find me.
I was shaken awake the next morning by a hiker and the rest of my rescue was honestly kind of a blur. I was taken to the police department where my parents and Grayson were waiting, but I can’t exactly recall how I got there. I remember being in hysterics when I saw them and crashing into them. They said I slept for 3 days after that, and I spent 4 more in the hospital recovering. I was shaken back to reality by a hard hit on my shoulder.
“Hello, earth to Maddy, are you in there?” Spencer waved a hand in front of my face. I shook my head a little and smiled at him.
“Yeah, I’m here. Let’s go.” I said, and the three of us started making our way inside the looming building before us. It’s just high school, I told myself. It won’t be that bad. Plus, I may be able to find someone special here. Ever since those weeks’ I spent with that awful man, I’ve wanted to find someone to love me. Someone who will protect me and cherish me no matter what and never hurt me. I took a deep breath entering the front doors and the boys took me to the front office. They had just dropped me off so I could get my schedule as they already had theirs. Something about them being students here last year so they get special access. I’m not exactly sure. I, however, am new, so I get the pleasure of receiving a paper copy as well as meeting the principal.