I remember in school growing up I was taught to resist any potential kidnapper. I have seen news reports of women resisting potential rapists and children screaming alerting those nearby that they needed help. I have seen movies where POWs escape war camps and hostages somehow fight their way out of the stickiest of situations. The message always seems to be fight to the end.
I hate myself for not putting up more of a fight and I hate myself for giving him the idea that I was somehow interested in him. How did that happen? I spoke to him only that one time. I lay on the floor for hours, my mind going back and forth between how I should have fought him and how I showed interest in him. Did I smile at him as I passed him in the hall? Maybe, I definitely smiled at a guard, but was it him? Why didn’t l leave the pen in my waistband? I could have stabbed him. I suppose I should be glad that the teacher walked in when he did because I am useless.
After lying on the floor for while I decide to crawl to bed. I must have already missed several classes- not that it matters. No one came to get me and I don’t need to waste my time listening to tall-tales about Pinn. Tomorrow I escape or die trying.
I cry into my pillow as I have often since finding myself here. It’s not just the assault. It’s the whole experience. I have no idea what to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I have no idea why it happened in the first place. Did I do something that could be construed as an invitation on Pinn? Was assault something I have to worry about? One of the teachers had mentioned that it would be up to my partner to protect me. Or maybe I had just been unlucky when I ran into the guard, after all, assault is common enough on earth.
You would think that with everything that is happening I would have a terrible night’s sleep – tossing, turning, and waking up constantly Yet, perhaps due to emotional exhaustion, somehow after a good cry, I drift off. It’s a deep sleep- the first real sleep I’ve had since arriving on this prison ship.
I wake up startled. I stare at the ceiling for a good two minutes slowly remembering where I am. It’s not that I’ve truly forgotten, but it still doesn’t seem real. I had dreamt that I was at home in my kitchen, cleaning because my mother was coming over and I didn’t want her to know that I was still the slob I was in high school. I want that again. I want to have to rush clean because my parents are coming for a visit. I want to stay up late baking a cake and debate with myself if running the vacuum at 11pm will wake my neighbors.
The thought somehow gives me the necessary will power to pick myself out of bed. I’m not going to be here much longer. I glance at the clock. I missed yesterday’s classes and dinner. It is now the very early morning. Not that I am hungry. I walk over to my closet throwing the grey doors open before reaching for another set of the white shirt and pants uniform they gave us to wear. I feel a bit cold and wish they provided sweaters, somehow I always found a good cardigan comforting like a hug. I need it. Everything around me feels icy. Not cold in temperature, but hard and steely, grey and sterile, nothing soft to provide the illusion of comfort. But I should count my blessings- at least the uniforms are loose and comfortable.
There are communal showers down the hall, halfway between the bedrooms and the cafeteria. Apprehensive about running into someone, I glance back and forth several times before exiting my room. It is still as the dead of night. Even though it is what I want, the silence makes my anxiety skyrocket.
I scurry down the hall, swipe my wristband across the panel, and slip through the door without waiting for it to fully open. The communal showers are shockingly nice. Whereas the individual rooms are minimalistic, the classrooms sparse, and the cafeteria looks like it was transported from a prison, the showers were spa-like. There are rolled fluffy white towels on a side table when you enter as well as several shelves of shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, and other bathing goods. Sure the decor is plain: white-tiled walls and white-tiled floors. The ceiling is a light green with matching shower curtains in front of every shower stall. There is a large white bathtub at one end. Someone even went through the trouble of placing a large leafy plant in the corner next to it.
I place my clothes and towel on a long white bench in the center of the room before ducking behind the furthest stall from the door with my selection of bathing products. I place my things on a small shelf before twisting the knob, allowing the water to flow. The warm water envelops and comforts me. I simply enjoy the relaxation it brings.
I’m actually proud of myself. Through being kidnapped and assaulted, I am still here. Sure it may be because I feel numb a lot of the time and I cry an awful lot, but I am still functioning. I don’t know how or why. I must be tougher than I thought. I message shampoo into my hair before slipping under the water to watch the bubbles swirl into the drain.
Before I know it my shower is over and I am a bit sad to leave it. I pat myself dry and throw on my clothing. I leave my hair wet. I haven’t bothered drying or styling it- who am I trying to impress? There is also no makeup around meaning I get ready in a matter of mere minutes. I toss my used clothing in a basket provided.
I hear the door slide open and two women enter chattering about their plan for finding out which suitor will have the most money. It makes me feel a bit ill, but then if you have to pick the person you are going to have kids with after a short chat, you might as well chose them based on their profession, there isn’t much else to go on. I decide it’s time for me to leave. After checking myself in the mirror and nodding to the women as I pass, I confidently exit the communal showers.
There are more people in the hallway now, many making their way to the cafeteria for breakfast. This too is where I ought to go. I suddenly feel a hunger pang and mentally remind myself that I skipped dinner last night and with that reminder of yesterday I feel my confidence falter. Damn. There isn’t much to be done about it, however.
I gulp and head towards the cafeteria.
“Miss Ivy” I head a masculine voice behind me.
I turn with trepidation to see Mr. Hertilz. He walks towards me from a door he clearly just exited. A stern expression on his face. He is unhappy.
He towers over me looking down. “Miss Ivy, due to the circumstances I believe it would be wise for you to attend an extra session with the psychiatrist today after breakfast.”
I just nod and look down. His eyes are too much for me. He saw me, he saw it, and it is too much.
“Good. Head to his room after eating”
“Okay” I reply meekly.
“You don’t need to worry about Mr. Korper anymore. He has been taken care of”
I shiver at the name. Now I know my attacker’s name. I don’t know what taken care of means, but it doesn’t make me feel any safer.
I nod still not looking up at him. What can I say? He stopped the guard, saw that he was punished or whatever happened, but he is still part of this- this thing that took me away from my family and my home.
He turns to walk away. I bite my lip and head towards the cafeteria, thinking about how much I hate the idea of spending time with the psychologist by myself, a seedy-looking Pinn who led the group therapy classes. Honestly, the idea of spending time alone with any Pinn terrifies me.
Wait, no, after lunch this nightmare will be over. I nod to myself causing some of the people passing by to look at me. Today is it.
Today I will gain my freedom.