The nurse examined me left, right, up, down, in and out, before determining that no I was not pregnant, yes I had been raped many times, and yes my wounds would heal with good care. She eyed the bandages still wrapped around my forearms, but I stubbornly refused to let her see them, even when Goethe gave me a strange look.
I was discharged with a promise from the policeman on duty to come back after I had rested so he could get the details. Exhausted, all I had to do was tug Goethe’s sleeve and he understood. I was fine with walking, but he scooped me up off my feet once more and carried me the whole way. I didn’t protest, wrapping my arms around his neck and savoring the warmth of him I’d been missing so much the whole time he was gone.
Within half an hour, I had been changed into my most comfortable clothes, the nurse’s salve applied to my face, then I was curled up on my bed, with Goethe’s arms around me, holding me close to him. We’d been silent the whole time, but I finally gathered up my courage and looked up at him. “Where’ve you been..?”
He held his silence for another few minutes, then pressed his cheek to the top of my head, his hand gingerly running through my head so he didn’t aggravate my sore scalp. “My mother’s been sick for a few years. Doctors gave her until last month to live. My brother asked me to come home to be with the family when she was on her deathbed, then we had the funeral…” Here he trailed off, kissing my hair, his arms tightening around me.
After a moment or two, I wiggled my hands free and lifted them to his face, cupping his cheeks and pulling him down, kissing him softly. At first he was indifferent, slow to realize what was happening, then he was suddenly kissing me with a passion, his hands gripping my upper arms to pull me even closer. He seemed desperate, clutching me like I’d vanish into thin air if he dared to relax his grip at all, and I let him. I needed to be held as much as he did, and whatever he wanted, I would give him without hesitation.
When he broke the kiss at last, both of us were breathing heavier, staring at one another intently—him looking more vulnerable than I’d ever seen him and me, trying to project understanding and love. It must have worked because he laid his forehead against mine and closed his eyes, running one hand over my uninjured cheek. “My love…”
This time I was the one who cut him off, though I put a finger to his lips instead of another kiss. “Shh…” He stared at me, and I felt myself smiling, even though tears were welling up in my eyes again. “Shh, Goethe. Rest. We can talk later, I promise.”
He eventually nodded and lay back beside me, pulling me into his arms once more. My head tucked under his chin and one hand resting over his heart, I knew when he fell asleep. Once he had begun to relax and loosen his grasp on me, I wriggled free, sitting on the edge of the bed, and grabbed a pair of scissors, slowly cutting off the bandages on my arms. I was scared of what I’d see, but I had to look anyways.
I don’t know what I expected, but I gaped at the words neatly carved into my arms, now just scars still slightly puckered from weeks of hiding under bandages.
Together on the left, Forever on the right.