I let my head fall back against the side of the house and a long sigh escaped me. My little episode had been a couple weeks back, but I still don’t think Luke had fully recovered from seeing me like that. Right now, I was hiding. Yes, I was hiding from my family. Ever since I had lost it that one day because the images got so strong, they had been constantly hovering, always there. They would pester me with questions. I knew that they were only trying to help, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t stand being watched all the time. It messed with me.
Travis had continued coming around to the house. After he heard about my episode, he started coming around more; I think he blamed himself for it. I don’t see how, though. It’s not like it was his fault in any way.
My other friends, or my so-called friends, like Macy, for example, had stopped coming weeks ago. I hadn’t spoken to Macy in at least a month, and I couldn’t say that I honestly cared. She was awkward around me, seeming to think that I blamed her for what happened. I didn’t. They say you lose a lot in your life. But are you supposed to lose so much in such a small period of time? I felt like most everything was being ripped away from me. I couldn’t talk to my family normally anymore. My friends, except Travis, were nonexistent. My brother couldn’t look me in the eye. I wasn’t sure that I was even sane. I couldn’t control myself. I was constantly caught in the past. The list went on and on.
Shuddering as another big gust of wind hurled itself at my house, I closed my eyes. I heard a car pulling up, but ignored it. I already knew who it was. It wasn’t like I didn’t want Travis to be here, it’s just that I felt bad for being the reason that he was gone from his actual life so much. His other friends probably blamed me, too. Rolling my shoulders, I opened my eyes. Travis was standing in front of me.
“Hi,” I said weakly.
He sighed, sitting down next to me. “Hey, how’re you doing?” he asked softly.
I laughed harshly. “Do you really want me to answer that?”
He looked over at me. Wrapping an arm around my shoulders, he pulled me into him. If it was anyone else but Travis, I would flinch at the contact. But with Travis, it was different. I let myself lean into him, and my head fell against his shoulder. I sighed, really sighed. It felt like it came all the way from my toes. I turned my head against his chest and shuddered. His arms tightened around me and he kissed the top of my head.
“You can’t keep on like this, Liz,” he whispered into my ear.
“I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do,” I admitted very quietly.
“You have to get some help.”
“I don’t want any help.”
“You have to open up to someone, Liz. It’s the only way.”
“Why can’t I just open up to you?”
“I wish you would. But you haven’t told me anything about what happened except the basics. I know nothing of what happened.”
The problem was I didn’t really want to tell him. I didn’t want to tell anyone. No one would get what I’m going through, so what was the point?
“See? It’s hard for you to even think about telling me.”
“Give me some time, Travis. I just need some time,” I said, my voice cracking.
“Oh, Ellie,” he whispered. He used to call me that, but then I made him call me Liz, like everyone else. This was the first time he’d called me that in a long time. I melted at the name. I wrapped my arms around him and leaned on him fully. He clutched me, saying it again and again. “Oh, Ellie.”
That’s when I started to cry. “I’m s-sorry Trav, that I c-can’t t-tell you. I just don’t w-want you to hate m-me,” I choked out.
“Oh, Ellie, why would I ever hate you?”
“B-because I’m so d-dirty.”
He held me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t care, though, because I felt safe.
“Ellie, you didn’t want it to happen. It’s not your fault.”
“It’s n-not yours either,” I whispered, trying not to start sobbing. I let out a ragged breath and tried to control myself.
He put his head behind mine and sighed. His warm breath traveled all the way down my spine. “I shouldn’t have let it happen,” he whispered.
“It wasn’t your fault, though. Please d-don’t blame yourself.”
“Ellie, I’m just so mad that it happened to you.”
“That’s why I can’t tell you,” I said, regaining control of my shaky voice.
“What do you mean?”
“Because you’ll only blame yourself more if you know what happened in detail.”
He kissed the base of my neck comfortingly. “But I have to know. It’s killing me not to know what happened to you.”
I shivered. “Thank you for being here for me, Trav.”
“I’ll always be here.”
I was suddenly overwhelmed with sleepiness. Letting my eyes flutter shut, I continued to lean on Travis, letting his chest be my pillow. I fell asleep like that, in his arms. He whispered comforting things until I had drifted off, but his voice followed me into my dreams.
When I woke about two hours later, I was in my bed. I glanced down and found Travis lying on the ground next to my bed, sound asleep. Feeling too far away from him, I snatched my blankets off of my bed and got down on the floor next to him. I covered us both up and laid my head down on his pillow. The ground was hard, but it was better than being alone in my bed. Feeling around for Travis’s hand, I grabbed it, linking my fingers in his. I fell asleep once again.
This time when I woke, it was dark outside. I wasn’t on the ground anymore; instead, I was back in my bed. I felt unusually warm. I started to sit up, when I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Travis was lying next to me, still asleep. So, for the third time that day, I laid back down next to Travis. I turned on my side and let my head rest on his shoulder. Laying my hand on his chest, I felt his heartbeat. I closed my eyes once again and let his heartbeat rock me to sleep.
I stretched out, opening my eyes. Travis wasn’t with me in the bed anymore. He had probably gone home by now. Glancing towards the window, I noticed that it was bright outside. So, all day yesterday I just slept with Travis, huh? Not a bad way to spend the day. Slipping out of my bed, I walked over to the window and looked outside. It was one of those bright, sunny days where you feel as if nothing could possibly go wrong. I felt my spirits lift slightly as I took in the cloudless sky. Glancing back down at the road, I noticed a man walking his dog.
It couldn’t be.
How was it even possible?
Was he alive again? I was positive that I had killed him. Shrieking, I fell back from the window, but the image of the man was still fresh in my mind. With glasses, slightly graying hair, and about the same height, there was no doubt in my mind as to who it was. I started to cry. Why was he back? Why? Scrambling up, I ran to the window again. There he was, just casually strolling down the street. My body was shaking. I couldn’t breathe. I turned around and ran towards the door of my room. I had to tell everyone. He could hurt them. I was running so fast down the stairs that I tripped. I landed sprawled out in the middle of the living room, but I didn’t register what had happened before jumping back up again. My parents were both sitting on the couch, staring at me.
“Get up! He’s right outside! Get up!” I screamed, glancing out the window. Tears were streaming down my face. “Get up! What are you waiting for? He’s right outside!” Why weren’t they moving? What was wrong with them? Didn’t they get it?
My mom got up and walked towards me. She laid a hand on my arm and spoke softly. “Honey, the only person outside is Mr. Hubert. He’s been our next door neighbor for years.”
I looked back outside at the man. I became very quiet. It was Mr. Hubert. I had mistaken my next door neighbor for the man who raped me. Was I going insane? I started crying again and pushed my mom away. I ran up the stairs and retreated back into my room, slamming the door closed.
I collapsed on my bed and sobbed into my pillow where Travis had lain his head only hours ago. What was wrong with me? Why had I become like this? Why couldn’t I just be normal?
I sat up cross-legged on my bed and did nothing to stop my tears. I didn’t make a sound. Looking around the room that I had lived in for so long, I realized that before this had happened, I had taken everything for granted. My life, my family, my friends, everything.
And now that my whole world had turned upside down, all I could think was one thing.
Where did I go wrong?