How the River Looked that Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A story about a girl who struggles to find love and happiness in her world filled with cruelty and hate. Will she be able to find the happiness she thirsts for? Or will she forever live her life in
misery?

Submitted: June 03, 2018

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Submitted: June 03, 2018

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HOW THE RIVER LOOKED THAT DAY

 

 

As you lie on the cold asphalt, on a cold summer night, you recall the earliest memory from your childhood. It was not particularly something happy for you to remember even after so many years have already gone, but you remember it anyways, so fresh like it was something that happened only yesterday.

You were running away from home and it was a night just like now, beautiful but cold.

 

---

 

You run towards the door, your feet pounding on the wooden floor. You run, one foot after the other, slamming the door shut behind you. You stumble on the stairs, fall face first- it is a painful fall, but nothing compared to the fists of your father- scramble back up, and run again, leaving one shoe behind. Even though your world is in chaos, you have a silly thought; that Cinderella also left one of her shoe behind as what you’ve read in the old and tattered fairytale book you found at your neighbor’s garbage bin. You think that you two are the same, but when you look back to your porch, to where your other shoe lie, you cry for you are silly to be thinking that Cinderella and you are the same. Cinderella lived in a fairytale, and you are in a nightmare to which you cannot wake up from no matter how much you want to, and that alone set you from Cinderella apart, that makes all the difference- and also Cinderella had glass slippers, and yours are old, faded and worn out converse.

You continue to run more and more furiously, only momentarily stopping to catch your breath and then run again. Your left foot starts to feel stingy and hot, despite the cold asphalt and you realize that maybe you should have gone back to get your other shoe back, to damn with Cinderella. Nevertheless, you never stop running. You run and the breeze blows hard on your face. It is surprisingly cold for a summer night, and your face damp from tears make you shiver every time the wind gushes. You are crying, and the wind howls with you. It sympathizes with you, and creates a sad harmony with you. It is such a beautiful night, although it is tragic. You continue to run and run farther away from your house that seldom feels like home. Now that you think about it, you feel more at home here outside, with the wind wrapping its arms around you-if it ever has one- and the trees talking to you, comforting you, and the stars, glinting, and winking and smiling at you. Maybe you have gone crazy, and you wish that you did. Everything here on the outside is better, than inside your house where your father constantly beats the shit out of you, and your mother flailing her arms, crying, sobbing, whimpering. You are fine with the blows, you are used to it, but your mother’s helpless face was what made it unbearable.

You look up at the star-filled sky, not coming into a halt. They shine brighter especially tonight, like it knows that you need them. The world around you is beautiful, even though it is dark, and you think that maybe your existence was what made things a tragedy. To even think of such thoughts at such a tender age is already tragic, you think again, and a new wave of hot tears pour down from your eyes, blurring the light of the lampposts ahead of you, blurring your thoughts. To where are you headed anyway?

You fight your way against the bushes, and branches and leaves. Minutes ago, you abandoned the road and turned right, into the thickets. Your arms and hands are full with scratches from trying hard to clear the path.

Now, you are grateful that the stars are extra bright, for if they aren’t, you will not see the beauty ahead of you. You come into a clear, and in front of you is a river. Its current is as calm as a sleeping baby and the soft gushing of the water sings you a lullaby. The light from the stars reflects on the river, and it is invitingly glinting at you. You are gasping, both because of running for so long, and because of amazement. You never saw anything as beautiful as this, and you cry again, only this time, you are not quite sure why.

You wake up to the loud crashing sounds from the kitchen. You aren’t surprised. This isn’t a first. You tiptoe on your way outside, the wounds on your left foot throb each time it lands on the floor. You see from the doorway of the kitchen, not a new sight, but it still makes your stomach churn from fear and anguish. Your father was out drinking again last night, thus waking up full of energy, lashing at your mother with the food she has offered him for breakfast. Your stomach growls at the sight and you think how glad you will be if you are able to eat those.

“We have no other food left, darling. This is all I could cook. Please do not waste it.” Your mother stutters to deliver every word, her eyes never lands on your father’s.

You don’t know how a demon looks like, and you don’t know how evil it behaves, but witnessing your father, you now have the idea. Your father treats your mother like a slave, probably just like how a demon treats the poor souls it had devoured to make them as miserable as it was. Your mother is one of those souls, and you shudder with fear, thinking that you might become one of them too.

Your father sees you peeking from the doorway. You perch up and tears threaten to fall from your eyes as you wait for your father to lurch at you. He grabs you by the hair, and you ask yourself for the thousandth time why. He throws you on the floor, plants a kick at your ribs which makes you gasp and choke. He grabs you by your collar, forcing you to stand and yells at your face, “You little piece of shit. If I knew, you ate all the food last night!”

You vigorously shake your head, “N-no, I didn’t.” you manage to say, pools of tears now flooding your face, trickling down your neck, unto your father’s rough hands.

“You liar!” says he and grabs you one-handedly by the face and throws you at the floor again.

Before he can land another hit at you, your mother comes rushing to your father and takes a hold of his arm.

You look up and she too is crying. “Dear, she did not take any food. I did. I am so sorry, I was so hungry from doing all the chores I could not help myself.”

You sob even harder. You ate the food last night.

You scramble back up on your feet, dash to the doorway as fast as you can, so fast that your father cannot even get a hold of you.

You hear him shouting angrily, and your mother saying repeatedly, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

You find yourself on the riverbank once again. Last night when you found this place, you swore to yourself that this will become your hideout. This is where you would go when things get all messed up again. The river will take away the pain of your father’s hits. The river will wash away the image of your mother’s helpless face inside your head. The river will make you forget. It doesn’t matter if it’s only for a little while; you want to forget so badly, even a minute is eternity.

 

 

You shot your eyes open when you feel a soft and cold thing touching your cheek. For a moment you stop breathing, scared that it might be your father, that he must have found you, but your father’s touch has never been as soft and gentle as this.

It is your mother. She smiles at you, sadly. She’s always smiling so sadly it hurts you so bad.

You get up and see the sky’s color orange and crimson.

“How did you find me?” you ask while rubbing the grogginess away from your eyes.

“I just know. I’m your mother after all.”

You do not understand what she means, but you smile nonetheless.

You sit together in silence for a moment; the water gushing from the river is the only sound and the occasional chirping of birds.

“This place is wonderful, isn’t it?”

You take a glance at your mother’s face and she looks so peaceful. “Breathtaking.” She adds. You continue to stare and silently utter a prayer that may she always look like this.

“I’m sorry. I ate the food last night.”

You both fall silent again and your chest feels so tight. “Are you mad at me?”

She looks at you, stares deep down into your eyes and she breaks down crying. “Are you mad at me?”

You look away, crying. You’re so tired of crying.

“Let’s run away from here, Ma.”

You turn to look at her, with a look so determined, because you actually meant what you said. And if your mother’s with you, if your mother will always just be with you, you’ll feel less terrified.

She is also looking at you, her eyes boring onto yours. Your mother’s eyes are green, just like the river. Beautiful.

“That’s a great idea, isn’t it?” She smiles, touches your face and plants a kiss on your forehead, “I wish we could, but it’s not that easy.”

You do not understand why, but years later, you did.

 

 

Eighteen years old and you still don’t know anything about love, and everyone at your school is raving all about it.

One girl in your biology class, who wears nothing but pink everyday, speaks sparkly-eyed about how she wants to be close with her lover all the time. And you wonder if that is love. One boy, as you are on your way to your locker, can’t stop grinning while talking to a very pretty girl. And you wonder if how he looks at her is love. Past the doors of your school, unto the driveway, you see your Math teacher picked up by her husband in a car and he rushes out of it the moment he sees her wife, greets her with a warm embrace that lasts for more than a minute before kissing her on the cheek. And you wonder if love is gripping someone so tight, hugging that person closer and closer when it’s already the closest you can get. While walking down the sidewalk that leads home, you walk past an old married couple, feeding the doves at the park. And you wonder if love is not getting enough of a person and wanting them more and more even after all the years and their beauty have withered.

You open the door of your house, still full of thoughts about love, and you see your father, pointing his finger at your mother, cursing at the top of his lungs and you think quite surely, that that isn’t love, even if you know nothing about love at all.

You close the door again, and walk away from it, until your feet leads you to the river.

You take out your old fairytale book- Grimm’s Fairytales- which you found back when you were young. You flip through the torn pages and start to read about The Sleeping Beauty.

You finish reading, and then you take out from your bag a vintage leather cover notebook which you bought using your salary from a thrift shop. The owner, a nice old lady gave you a discount because its back cover was already partly nibbled by a rat.

You feel its smooth cover and you open it and you write your name on the bottom left of the very first page. Amelie Davies, 1987.

And then you start to disappear from this world as you start to write about a boy with blonde hair and baby blue eyes.

 

 

You never get a day off from work, but it’s what you actually want so that you won’t have to stay at your house and get beaten by your father again. Frank, the owner of the restaurant, never asked you about it. And for that you’re grateful. But then just before you are about to get off work, Frank motions you to come to him.

“You can take the day off tomorrow, Amelie.” Your forehead furrows upon hearing this.

You are about to say something when Frank gets up from his seat and clasps you by the shoulders. Frank is a grey-haired gentle old man. He doesn’t have a wife nor kids and he spends all of his day at the restaurant, talking to regular customers, or reading the newspapers at the counter, or watching the TV hung up on one ceiling. Frank is nice. Everyone around you is nice, except of course for your father.

“I am sorry Amelie that I never bothered asking you why you don’t want a day’s off. I just assumed that you needed the money that much.” He lets go of your shoulders and digs inside his pocket. He takes a small envelope out from it and puts it on your hands. “You don’t have to worry dear, take this, and take the day off.”

A confused look crosses your face and you are finally able to ask him why.

“Actually, your father stopped by yesterday.”

You stop breathing and your chest tightens. Your mind is muddling with thoughts of horror.

“Your father is a nice man, Amelie.” He smiles at you and you picture your father as one of the characters you have read in your book, the big bad wolf, pretending to be nice to Little Red.

“He told me he worries about you because you work too hard, and does not spend much time in your house anymore.”

You’re going to be sick. Your insides are in a knot and you have trouble breathing. You clasp your hand over your mouth.

“What’s wrong Amelie?” Frank looks at you wearily.

You shake your head and walk out of the restaurant without saying a single word.

You arrive home, but you are just standing by the door. Your hand is shaking as you grip the doorknob. You twist it open, it was locked and you let out a sigh of relief. No one is inside. You feel your knees wobble and then you furiously search for your keys in your bag.

Your hands do not stop shaking as you insert the key to the keyhole, and then you finally manage to open the door after a few seconds which painstakingly seems to last for years. And then you dart inside, and you rush inside your room and lock it. You barricade the door with your bedside table. You sit on your bed, exhausted and you stare at your barricaded door. You lie down and pretend you aren’t there, and you cry yourself to sleep.

You wake up, just before the sun rises. You get up from your bed very carefully, so as not to make a sound. You change into your work clothes. You’re going to work, even if Frank just told you it’s your day off.

You take a deep breath as you grip the corners of your beside table which you barricaded at your door last night. You drag it away and you wince as it makes a little screeching sound. When you finally move it away from your door, you’re already covered with cold sweats.

You’re breathing heavily, muttering a prayer under your breath, to someone above, that may you safely get out of this place.

You reach your front door and you twist it open. You are about to think that someone really heard your prayer when a piercing voice cuts through you.

“Where do you think you’re going, Amelie?”

You look back, and you see the big bad wolf with its eyes looking ready to pounce on its prey.

“I’m going to work.” You said coolly, but your insides are screaming for you to fucking run and get out of there.

“Don’t play me with your shit.” He spits. “I talked to your lousy old boss yesterday, saying he’ll give you the day’s off.”

“What’s it with you anyways?” you blurt out and you curse yourself to death.

“Don’t test my patience Amelie. Give me the money.” He says and he lays out his hand.

You gulp and try to look as convincingly oblivious as you can. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any money.”

You jump up as he kicks the table beside him, knocking a vase over. “YOU LIAR!” he roars and you whimper and backs away closer to the door. You feel the door knob on your hand, and if you can just open this door and run fast enough, you’ll be able to escape.

But then you stop turning the doorknob open as you see your mother go out of her room. As she gets closer, you notice her left eye is swollen and deep purple. There was also a cut on her lower lip and the blood is dry around it. You let out a sob when you see her.

Your father yanks your mother’s hair and she falls to her knees on the floor.

“No! No! Please stop!” you shriek, and you feel the little courage you had earlier slip away from you.

“TELL. YOUR. FUCKING. DAUGHTER. TO GIVE. ME. FUCKING. MONEY. YOU. USELESS. WHORE.” He yanks at your mother’s hair furiously with his every word that it looks like he’s going to pull out all of her hair.

“Okay! Okay!” you shout in defeat and your father let go of your mother’s hair, and she silently lumps on the floor.

You nervously ruffle through your bag until you found the envelope given to you by good, old Frank.

Your hands quiver as you hand the envelope to your father. He steps closer towards you until you can smell the alcohol on his breath.

“I already gave you the money. Now leave us alone.”

But your father never gets satisfied until he beats the life out of you. So he punches your face, plummeting you down on the floor and you can taste the stale blood on your mouth. Before you can recover, he kicks you at your stomach and it knocks the wind out of you. You lay there on the floor, half-conscious, and you see the blurry feet of your father going out of the door, and you can hear him cursing and laughing. And you see your mother, staggering towards you. She picks you up and hugs you tight, whispering on your ear that she’s sorry over and over again.

You break free from her hold and you smile faintly at her. You softly touch her blackened eye and then you run for the river.

After washing your face by the river’s cool water, you sit down at the pebbled ground and draw your notebook out of your bag. You turn to the page to where you last left off and you start to scribble furiously, tears dropping at the pages, blotting the ink. You write about the boy with the baby blue eyes, sweeping you off of your feet, taking you away from here, and slowly a smile forms on your lips amidst the tears. But then an image of your father muddles the image of the boy with baby blue eyes inside your head. And the faint feeling of hope that just started to light up dies instantly as it shines.  And you remember that there is no such thing as fairytales and there’s no one saving you. So you turned the once fairytale you have written into a nightmare, and the boy with the baby blue eyes, after saying he loves you, turns into a beast, who, just like your father, drains the life out of you.

 

 

You think your life can never go worse than this, but it actually does. Your mother is out late, working her ass off at rich household blocks away, doing the laundry.

So you spend the night alone in your room. You pray inside your head- even though you know you won’t be heard- that may your father never come home, even just for tonight. But because you are scared that he might, you prepare to go outside. You can sleep by the river until you think your mother is home.

You are on your way to your door when you hear footsteps outside. You hear the front door creak and your father’s drunk rumbling. You step away from your door quickly, and jump at your bed. You cover yourself with your blanket, shaking. You shake even harder when you realize with horror that you haven’t locked your door. You jump up and when your foot lands on the cold wooden floor, your door swings open.

You fight your tears from falling and you close your hands so tight your nails bite your palm and your knuckles turn white.

Out there, in the dark hallway of the living room, stands your father. You edge to the wall as he sets foot inside your room.

Your chest rises and falls with rapid breath and you grow even more terrified as he closes your room’s door shut behind him.

He drunkenly staggers towards you and you cannot hold your tears any longer.

As he stops in front of you, you close your eyes shut, anticipating for another painful blow, but nothing comes.

But still, you shiver with fear as your father’s rough, cold hands glazed your tear-streaked face. Your heart beats wilder and you cannot move.

He pins you on your bed and you start to scream, but he covers your mouth. The night is dead silent, and only your muffled scream and your father’s shushing can be heard.

You shake your head over and over, your eyes begging for mercy.

But you hear a belt unbuckling and you start to helplessly struggle beneath him.

He slides his hand inside your shirt and the hairs down your spine rise. You in desperateness, bite his hand. You manage to let out a scream but your father slaps you, almost knocking you unconscious. He covers your mouth again and you wriggle as you feel his hands unbuttoning your pants. You scream and you scream no matter how futile it is, and you grow tired of screaming and wriggling that the only thing you can do now is sob.

Your feel your father’s finger inside you and you writhed in pain and in horror. You struggle hard and you plant a kick on his groin and he backs away for a second.

You scramble away from him, as he’s clutching the part where you kicked and you fall to the floor, crawling on your knees and elbows.

A few more paces and you’ll be out of this room, but your father drags you by the waist, and completely removes your pants. You scream and scream with a hoarse voice.

Please help, help, help, help, help. Help me please.

He starts to strip your underwear and you writhe furiously out of his lock, but it is pointless.

At this moment, you start to curse the someone or something above, whom people say hear everyone’s prayers. You certainly have prayed more than anyone else, but why can no one still hear you screaming?

He yanks your hair, craning your neck upwards. And you see his grinning face and you revolt. He licks and sucks your neck and shivers run down your spine.

“Do you know, Amelie, before your mother and I got married, she cheated on me with some rich guy whom she worked for before?”

Your eyes widen with surprise. What the hell is he saying now?

You spend every bit of your strength lashing out but every time you do so, his grip on you tightens even more.

“I caught them of course, they were about to board a ship, away from here, away from me. But I caught them!”

He laughs evilly. “And guess what Amelie? I beat the shit out of that rich guy and he ran away!”

He yanks at your hair again, and you feel something hard on your ass.

“He ran away, leaving your mother behind! What a coward piece of shit he was!”

He bends over you, his hand over your mouth and his other hand on your waist. “And then Amelie, you know,” he whines like a little baby and you’re so disgusted and scared. “After that man ran away, and we got married I discovered your mother was pregnant. And I haven’t even fucked her!”

“She was on her knees, begging me not to hurt you, and that she’ll do everything I’ll tell her to do. So I told her not to cheat on me ever again and not to leave me ever again, or else, I’ll kill the baby inside her belly.” He’s now transformed into a real devil as he laughed and laughed like a crazed maniac. “Your mother is so obedient, Amelie.”

Your eyes burn with anger and a new wave of strength shots through you and you lash out again. His hands slip but he pulls you back again, he clutches you so tight, his fingernails start to dig on the bare skin of your waist.

And you feel something hard slowly go inside your ass and you scream so loud your throat hurts.

And he thrusts and he thrusts over and over again.

The floor’s flooded with tears and your father- or so what you have been brought to believe- is panting, and laughing like a maniac.

You writhe, and you lash out and you think for what seems to be a millionth time, what have you done wrong to deserve all this? For a brief moment, you feel anger towards your mother. Why do you have to pay for her mistakes? Why can’t she run away from this horrible man? Why do you have to suffer such a fate because your mother isn’t brave enough to choose between running and fighting? Why does she have to be so stuck with the past? And why do you have to suffer with her because of that? Why cannot she save herself? Or you, her own daughter?

He pulls you closer again and you’re envelope with fear once more.

No more, please. No more.

Just as he’s about to thrust again, a shrill scream drowns the room and the next moment, you lie on the floor, numb and weak.

You see your mother through your tear filled eyes, lashing, slapping, and scratching at your father.

She gets yanked by the hair and is thrown against the wall. She slides on the floor but stands up again. The man punches him, kicks her at her belly, and your mother coughs blood. You don’t ever want to stand again, but you do as you see your father picking up your chair, and slamming it hard on your mother’s back.

You finally get up and you lightly push your father away and he laughs at your effort.

He wraps both his hands on your neck, the force lifting you up from the floor. You kick and you flail your arms at him.

“You look so much like him. That coward son of a bitch. That bastard.”

His grip grows tighter and tighter and your windpipes.. Your windpipes.. You slowly close your eyes, and you think it will probably be better if you let the darkness swallow you now.

But then the man’s hands suddenly slip away from your neck, and fresh wind surges inside your lungs. You choke and cough and breathe desperately.

The man is bending over his stomach and your mother, clutching a bloody scissor, screams at you to run, drawing you back to what’s really happening.

You stagger and run away. You stumble, knocking things over. You hear your mother screaming and the man, choking and cursing. And you’re out the door.

You trip over and stay lying on the cold asphalt floor.

 

---

 

As you lie on the cold asphalt, on a cold summer night, you recall the earliest memory from your childhood. It was not particularly something happy for you to remember even after so many years have already gone, but you remember it anyways, so fresh like it was something that happened only yesterday.

You were running away from home and it was a night just like now, beautiful but cold.

You hear sirens coming and you see the lights of patrol cars.

You gather your strength and push off the ground and you stagger away from your house.

You remember ages ago, you were running away from home after getting beaten by your father, but now, you have no more strength to run, and so you walk slowly, dragging your feet behind you. You fall down some times, so you crawl instead.

The stars are extra bright again tonight, just like before and you have the feeling that they’re helping you by leading you the way. The trees howl with the cries of the wind and you cry along with them. And you feel angry. You stand up and point your finger above, cursing whoever is up there. They say that God has no favorites and that he sees and treat everyone as equals, but why are you so sure that he does not love you at all?

You curse and curse and scream at the top of your lungs, but no one hears and you cry again and continued to drag yourself until you arrive at the river.

The moment you see the river, you think maybe you are back to the past, because it exactly looked as it did before. But no you’re wrong as you feel your ass throb with pain and you feel that man’s hands all over your body once again.

You run towards the river, crying and wailing and you trip again and small little pebbles goes inside your mouth. Your face, legs and arms are full with bruises and scratches.

Your feet touch the river but you grow so numb to even feel how cold the water is. You waddle your way deeper and deeper into the river until the water’s chest-length. And you furiously wash and scrub yourself. But no matter how much the effort, the touch still lingers and you feel so dirty you are revolted with yourself.

You move deeper into the river until you’re now tiptoeing so as not to get drowned, but then you think why not let yourself drown? With your head up at the skies, seeing the stars, so many of them that the skies’ have no more rooms left, you think how much you wanted to be up with them when you were a child. And you think that maybe you can be with them up there now. And you fall back down on your tiptoe. There is nothing to see under the water, but at least now, you feel at peace. The air is running out of you but you never resurface, instead you let yourself be dragged down and swayed by the river’s soft current.

You don’t know how long you’ve been underwater, but your vision starts to be filled with black dots, and your lungs feel like they are being wrung dry.

You finally close your eyes, and you hear muffled voices, and soft sounds of sirens everywhere.

“She’s over there! In the river!”

“Quick! Go get her!”

You feel strong arms around you, dragging you out of the water, but you’re too exhausted to care so you let him.

“Is she alive?”

“She’s still breathing! Get out of the way!”

“Quick! To the car ambulance. Get out of the fucking way people!”

You hear a radio static.

“We found the girl. Over.”

“Hey little lady,” you feel a warm breath on your ear. “You’re father’s dead, stabbed to death by a pair of scissors by your mother. What a tough and brave woman she is.” And you hear him laugh, not in a ridiculous manner, but in a way to make someone feel better.

“You’re mother is badly hurt, took too many blows, but she’s now being rushed to the hospital.”

You felt the man’s hand, warm and gentle on your forehead and before you go fully unconscious, you hear him say, “Everything’s going to be alright now, sweetheart.”

And all goes blank.

 

 

---

 

On a hot summer morning, you are waiting tables at a family restaurant. You feel the sweat dribbling down your back as you are working your way through the tables to serve a half-melted parfait.

Noon comes, and dabbing at your face is no longer of use in such sweltering heat. The bell by the door chimes, and a boy whom you have seen for the very first time in your small neighborhood comes in.

“Ask for his order,” says Frank.

You feel for your pad and your pen on your apron’s pocket and embarrassingly half-walk and half-stumble on your way.

“It sure is hot isn’t it?” the boy says, when you are still two tables away from him. As you close in on the distance, you see that his face is beat red from the heat and he wipes a sweat that trickles down between his bushy blonde eyebrows.

You are standing by his table, and you see his beautiful baby blue eyes. He runs his hand through his soft and smooth- or what you assume- blonde hair. He has unruly curls that stick up no matter how many times he runs his fingers over it. Then you have to stop yourself from thinking how much you want to smoothen them out.

You hand him the menu, and his hand brushes into yours. You feel shivers up your spine and a confused look crosses your face. Have you always been this sensitive to touch? You don’t think so. Does this happen every time? Definitely not. So what then?

You look down at the boy’s face. His face is serious. He must be thinking hard what to order as his eyebrows are furrowed and he’s chewing on the inside of his cheek. “I don’t really know what to have. Have any recommendations?” He locks his eyes unto yours. His mouth curves into a smile. You hold your breath.

 

 

He keeps on coming back to the restaurant you work into. Some days he orders real food, some days he orders just water, or tea, some days he doesn’t order at all, and just sits there with Frank, watching the TV.

You now know his name. Damien. That’s so far the only thing you know about him, his name. Because why would you know more things about him? Even if you want to, you can’t ask him. Because why would you? Just look at you.

But he asks things about you. He asks you little things like your hobby, your favorite color, your favorite food, favorite movie, favorite song, where you go to school, and all those other little things. It isn’t exactly the kind of conversations that riles you up, but you’re strangely happy, drunk happy, if there is such a thing.

One rare rainy morning, he asks you what you think of Paris, and you look dumbfounded because you don’t know what to think of Paris, because you haven’t been there. But you like how he says Paris, he says it without pronouncing the‘s’.

“I haven’t been to Paris, but they say it’s the most beautiful city in the world.” He looks away from the glass window covered with raindrops and he looks at you and smiles, his uneven dimples deep with glee. “What do you think of the idea of coming to Paris with me, Amelie?” He says your name in a soft, low whisper and it never sounded so beautiful.

“I have never dreamt of going to Paris,” you do not say Paris the same way he does and you look away shyly from his gaze, “but I have dreamed more times than I can count of being some place else, other than here.”

The rain continues to softly pour outside, pitter patter, pitter patter. The soft, grey ambience outside makes you sleepy and emotional. The rain makes you want to do something crazy and different.

“Let’s go some other place then. It might not be as beautiful as Paris though.” You look at his baby blue eyes and it feels like you’re floating in the ocean, and you’re letting the waves take you wherever.

And then you realize you’re in too deep when his eyes have become your favorite.

 

 

You hear a soft kathunk on your window so you draw the curtain, and you see him outside, beneath your lamppost, pebbles at hand.

The sight of him- white V-neck shirt, denim jacket, faded jeans and chuck taylors, and with his unruly blonde curls sticking out and of course his beaming baby blue eyes- sells you out. So after putting on a cardigan and shoes, you open your front door as quietly as you can, close it back as quietly as you can too and the moment you turn around, he’s already in front of you, rubbing his hands together, and a smile plasters on his face.

“How did you know where I live?” You ask as he lay his hand on your arm and leads you away from your house.

“I asked Frank.” His face lights up and you press your lips together to stop yourself from smiling.

“Wait a moment.” He lets go of your arm and digs inside his jacket’s pocket. A few seconds later, he pulls out a pair of gloves.

“Here, wear this.” He says as he takes your hands and puts them on.

You stare at him while he puts on the gloves in your hands and you’re quiet not sure what’s happening inside your stomach. They feel funny and ticklish and warm all at the same time.

“How about you?” you say in a soft low voice.

“Doesn’t matter.” He sniffs, rubs his hands together as he’s done putting on the gloves and looks up at you and smiles. His nose is red. “Warmer?”

You nod and you say nothing, but a smile starts to form in your face. Your nose starts to sting and your eyes blur because this is the first time someone has given you something.

Minutes later, you walk down a familiar path and then you find yourself in the river. The same river you always go to when you run away from your father.

You look at Damien and he looks as excited and in awe as you were the first time you saw the river.

“I came to see this place just yesterday, and I was surprised that you were the first person that came to mind upon seeing this.” He takes a deep breath and chuckles like a little kid. “Do you like it? It’s not as beautiful as Paris though.”

You smile. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

And you never tell him that you’ve been in this place a hundred times, because the fact that he remembers you want to be someplace else and actually found you a place, though not so beautiful as Paris, makes you so happy.

Two months later, you were right about his hair being soft and smooth, as you run your fingers through his hair, locking your lips into his, and crushing yourself into his warm body. Your fingertips tingle as it trace his bare skin, and the hairs at your nape and at your back, rise at his every touch, at his light, feathery kisses, at his hands clasping you at the small of your back ever so gently. You melt as the both of you cramp up on his single bed on his room, you on top of him, and you wonder if this is love.

You tell him about your father and you show him your bruises, and you even let him see the scars inside your heart.

You let him gently kiss the bruises all over your body. “I’d like to take these all away.” He says in a whisper and he wraps his arms around you so tight that all your broken pieces have come back together.

And at this moment you crave nothing more but his touch and how much badly you want him to hold your pieces together. At this moment you think of how much you want to let yourself be saved by him because you’re exhausted of trying so yourself.

Maybe I can let him save me. Maybe I can let my guard down this time.

 

 

“I like your eyes.”

You’re on his bed, sprawled together, lazily watching the sun set outside his bedroom window. You feel so tired and sleepy after a long day’s work.

“I hate my eyes. They’re the parts of me that resemble my father too much. Why do you like them?”

He shifts beside you, so you now have your head on top of his chest and his arms beneath your head, wrapping your shoulders, and you’ve never felt more comfortable and at place than now.

“Because every time I look at them I could feel like I am only talking to your eyes. Does that even make any sense?”

“Go on.” You said sleepily, as he is tracing small circles on your arm.

“It’s like your eyes, though they look empty and hollow because they’re pitch black, seem to say thousands of words you couldn’t say so yourself. It’s like I could almost hear them.”

“You maybe right.” And then you close your eyes because you cannot fight the sleepiness anymore, and then you dream of Damien, and what he said to you about your eyes and then you see yourself in the mirror, staring into your pitch black eyes. But in horror, your father comes into shape gritting his teeth and he reaches out of the mirror, grips you by the neck, choking you with his rough hands and you shot your eyes wide open. You pant and cold sweats trail down your forehead. You look beside you and Damien is there, softly snoring and you feel relieve.

“Damien is here.” You say to yourself and you drape your arms over him, hugging him close and tight, then you finally sleep again, no more dreams this time.

 

 

Damien was born and raised by his grandmother in France, but he lived 400 miles away from Paris, so he had never been there before.

“But when I was 10, my grandmother died, so my parents decided to take me back again to London. After leaving me there with my grandmother immediately after I was born, and only visiting me once a year, they decided to take me back.”

It is a lazy afternoon in Bristol and you’re in the river, having a picnic. It was Damien’s idea. You’re sitting down the picnic blanket Damien had borrowed from Frank while watching him peeling the apples.

“But how did you get here in Bristol?” He hands you a slice of apple and you mouth ‘thank you.”

Damien’s parents got divorced, he tells you. For awhile, he had been staying with his mother but after she remarried and had a new family, he decided to move out and live alone, shuffling from one work to another.

“My father has his own family now too, he lives in Nottingham, so I am basically alone.”

It is your first time hearing Damien in such a sad voice. His voice isn’t smiling anymore, and his baby blue eyes do not twinkle.

You feel sad for him but a guilty feeling starts to rise from your stomach up to your throat, for you feel relieve too that you’re not the only one who’s alone.

“Maybe we could be alone together.” You whisper and the wind blows hard and you think he doesn’t hear you, and it probably is better that way, because what you said was just downright stupid.

But then he takes your cold hand, and put it on his face and whispers back, “You’re right. Maybe we could.”

The wind blows hard again, the trees around you shake and howl, but your hand feels warm. Everything feels warm. And you start to feel a light flicker of hope warm your insides. Maybe this time, you can now finally be happy.

 

 

Damien is an artist. He paints and he writes poems as well.

He picks you up from work and you stay at his place so that Damien can show you his drawings and read you his poems.

“My sense of artistry,” he says while wiggling his eyebrows and you giggle, “Was influenced by my grandmother. She paints as well.”

He is ruffling through stacks of notebooks and papers, and then he finally gets one out. It’s an old leather skinned notebook. He tells you it’s a gift from his grandmother before she died.

You scan through the pages, and you couldn’t stop praising him.

“They’re lovely, Damien. I swear.”

You continue to marvel at his exquisite works until you see a sketch of your river. Yours and Damien’s river. The thought makes you smile.

At the next page was a sketch of someone’s eyes. As you stare at its familiar pitch black colors, you realize it’s yours.

Damien puts his arms around you. You continue to scan through the pages.

The last sketch in the notebook was sketches of arms, neck, legs, thighs and stomach and all of them have bruises on them.

A tear drops from your eyes into the pad and you moved it away. Damien takes it away from your hands and draws you close for an embrace.

He rubs your back consolingly as you softly sob.

“You’re the most beautiful thing I have ever sketched. You’re still beautiful, even with all those bruises.”

And Damien recited a poem; “Beautiful Amelie” is what you only hear for you drift off to sleep.

 

 

He tells you he loves you and it takes your breath away. You believe him, because just like in the movies and in the fairytale books you have read, he looks at your eyes when he says it, and he takes your face into his hand, and he plants a kiss on the top of your head. He says he loves you, so you say you love him too. And you know you do, because his touch, and his kiss, and his breath are the only things you know to be real.

Your father is dead, and you and your mother is safe. He’s not here to hurt you anymore.

You introduce Damien to your mother, and you can see in her eyes that she’s genuinely happy for you.

And you marry Damien and you have never felt so happy before. You are looking forward to living with him, and creating a lovely family with him. Your kids will not turn out to be like you, you swear to yourself and Damien swears it too. And Damien tells you of his plans, that when you’ve both save enough money, you’re going to Paris and you’re going to live there for the rest of your lives. He says your mother can come too and you know for sure she’ll love Paris. He says he’s going to sell his drawings and paintings, and he’ll find other jobs as well, and if that does not still make enough, you tell him not to worry because you will always have his back.

Everything is in a dreamlike state. You are happy, only it was fleeting because somewhere along the lines of bliss, things start to go wrong.

You don’t know where exactly everything starts to go wrong. What you know is that the once dreamlike state you were in has vanished, and every night you scream at each other, arguing even at the littlest things.

He says you will never make it to Paris. He says that the dream you created together about living in that city was too good to be true, and you were both foolish to even dream about that. In your state, he says, you should have known better than anyone else. He says there is no hope for broken people like the both of you in such a fast-paced and cruel world. He says he’s not good enough. He says he doesn’t paint as good as others. He says the words of his poems do not go the way he wants it to go. He doesn’t sleep at night anymore, and the light in his eyes that once exuded brilliance and positivity, now becomes manic. He starts to go beyond the line of insanity. His passion slowly takes its toll on him and you both do not see it coming, until you both cannot stop it anymore.

He tells you one night, his eyes screaming crazy, that you cannot fix each other. Your heart shatters when he tells you love isn’t enough. Your heart shatters, because the love he says that isn’t enough was what’s been keeping you alive and hopeful all along.

He does not look at your eyes anymore when he says he loves you, nor he touches your cheeks and kisses your forehead when he does. And a looming fear slowly starts to take shape ahead of you. And his hold starts to loosen around you and your broken pieces start to crumble once again. And this time no one’s going to pick them all up, because the boy with the baby blue eyes who put your pieces back together, crumbles now as well.

Your father is dead but you realize with horror that your father was only a temporary vessel of the demon. And it still lurks.

And then somewhere along the lines of chaos, you end up lying on the bathroom floor, heavily bruised.

You see Damien, before your eyes, slowly turning into someone you feared all your life- your father.

He hurts you. He punches you when he cannot paint the way he wants to. He kicks you when he cannot fathom his thoughts into words. He beats the shit out of you when insanity eats him whole. But you never leave his side, because you still love him. You cannot run away, because there is still a little hope inside you, that Damien will come back, that this is just a set-back. Damien will fight this insanity, and you will fight alongside him. His baby blue eyes will gleam again just like before. And Damien will love you again, and you’ll both start living the dreams you made together.  

But you’ve been kicked and punched and cursed countless of times over, and Damien still isn’t back. You have waited for so long, and you know deep inside you that you are still much willing to wait for him to come back, but your strength has failed you. You do not have the strength to wait anymore, no matter how you will yourself to wait for his return.

You feel so exhausted as you lie on your bed after being beaten so hard and you finally accept the fact that the demon has found another vessel in your husband’s body. And the beaming baby blue eyes you love so dearly is now dead.

Maybe God condemned you to suffer and you curse him, for this.

And you think you’re probably meant to stay in misery forever.

 

 

 

 

2002

 

 

“Dr. Grace, we’ve already given the patient a sedative. We’ve taken her back into her room.”

A woman in a white robe looks up from a patient’s medical chart. She smiles up at a nurse, and dismisses him.

She looks at the medical chart again and there she sees a picture of a girl. She was beautiful with long ash blonde hair, only she was pale and her eyes were black and hollow, devoid of any human feelings.

 “Amelie Davies.” She reads.

Her stepfather raped her, and her mother stabbed him to death by a pair of scissors. Her mother was rushed to the hospital after the incident, but then died before the ambulance could arrive at the hospital. She took so many blows her body was too frail to take.

And her daughter, Amelie, 15 years have past when she was first brought up in this facility. After being in a coma for 2 months after drowning herself in the river, she never talked again, and thus was brought here.

Ever since she arrived in the facility, she never talked, but the first time the young doctor saw her, she wondered what was going on inside Amelie’s head for her to look so happy and at peace, after all the horrible things she had been through. Back then, if she did not know of her past, looking at her would make her think she was in love. Her dreamlike state continued for days, but then a night came when she became wild and there was fire and terror in her eyes, and she never stopped crying until they gave her a sedative. The days when she went crazy lasted for days and nights. And then she went from being hostile to being at peace and blissful again.

And this cycle, repeated itself over and over, for 15 long years.

She sits back on her chair and thinks about how the meeting earlier did not go as she planned. Her patient, after 15 years of enclosure in this facility, is set to be lobotomized, subject for an experiment. The young doctor did everything she could at the meeting but the board had already made up its mind. Her patient is the only patient in this facility who does not have a family and it’s the government funding her medical needs.

She opens a drawer on her table, and takes out an old, brown vintage leather notebook. She traces her long, slim fingers on the part where the owner’s name was written. Amelie Davies, 1987.

She reads the story about the boy with the baby blue eyes for the nth times over.

She thinks of Amelie as she scans page after page, and how the young girl had written this story in order to feel what love is even if she didn’t know what it was. She can feel how Amelie must have felt so desperate when she wrote this.

She reads of the boy with the baby blue eyes, throwing pebbles at a girl’s window.

She reads the part where the girl was able to run her fingers through the boy’s blonde, unruly hair.

Halfway through it, she reads the part where the boy tells the girl she will take her pain away, and the part where he tells her he loves her, and how they dream together of living the rest of their lives, happy, in Paris.

There were only 2 pages left of the story, but happy never came.

At the very last page of it, the doctor reads how the boy with the baby blue eyes crumbles and how his passion turns him into a hungry monster. She reads how the gentle boy with the baby blue eyes, who once loved a girl so dearly, starts to hurt her instead.

And that was the last of it. But the doctor does not believe that Amelie intended for it to be the ending. She knows, her intuition tells her, that this was not the ending Amelie imagined, but because something really terrible happened at that moment, she was never able to write it at all.  And she feels inside her heart how badly she wants things to have a different turn and ending- both in Amelie’s story, and her reality.

The doctor lets out a heavy sigh and sinks back on her chair again, feeling her work starting to take its toll on her. So before she drowns herself thinking, she pushes herself out of her chair, takes off her white robe and walks out of her office.

She sets off for a drive, and minutes later, she stops her car in front of an old crumbling house no one has lived in for years.

She stands in front of the house, and she pictures Amelie, lying here on the asphalt, bruised and crying.

She steps inside the porch and she smiles bitterly as she remembers this must where Amelie left her other shoe.

She circles her hand on the doorknob and she feels the terror Amelie must have been feeling every time she opens this door.

Inside the cramped up, dark corridor, she sees a vivid image of Amelie Davies unfolding before her eyes. She closes her eyes and hears the cries of a helpless girl being beaten by who she thought was her loveless, cruel father, and if you’ll shut your other senses, just like what she’s doing now, and listen very close and hard, you’ll probably hear them too.

She goes inside the four walls of Amelie’s small-spaced bedroom. The wall paints are peeled off and webs and dusts dominate the room. She walks to Amelie’s bed and feels the cushion that has never been slept in for 15 years. And she sees Amelie again, silently crying, clutching her vintage leather notebook close to her chest.

Before she can picture what happened to Amelie during that terrible night, the doctor walks out of the house, unable to handle the darkness and the heavy feeling that weighs down her chest the place gives her. And once she was out of that house, she feels insurmountable sense of relief rush down her system and she imagines this must be what Amelie felt too every time she walks out that door.

She walks down the asphalt road, to which Amelie had set her own feet upon countless of times, running away from the terror of her house. The sun is still about to set, so there are still no stars yet, just like what Amelie had written in her notebook. And the wind and the trees are silent. She smiles at herself thinking that they probably know she is not Amelie, the miserable young girl who needed their help, so they don’t howl at her just like how they did with Amelie.

She strolls for several minutes down the road, until she finds herself by the river. The same river Amelie created as her sanctuary years ago.

And she sees her there, beside her, sitting down on the pebbled floor, scribbling down at her notebook and her old, tattered Grimm’s Fairytale book lying beside her. She sees her smile as she writes, and she sees her cry as she writes too.

This is the place where Amelie wrote about the boy with the baby blue eyes, and how she created that boy to save her. But then her terrible reality and the constant beatings of her father distorted the image of the boy with the baby blue eyes, thus her fantasy became distorted as well, turning the character of the boy from a knight in shining armor, to a monstrous beast.

This is where Amelie created the world in which she lives in now.

But Amelie never finished her story, so she lives inside the world she created in a loop, repeating the same scenarios over and over and never having an ending.

She looks out at the river and she wonders with such overwhelming sadness if what she’s looking now was exactly how the river looked that day- when Amelie Davies’ world finally wallowed in darkness.

 

 

-END-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex in Wonderland

 


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