Sasha opened her eyes. The darkness greeted them. The fear clutched at her chest once again; the tight in draw of breath burnt her throat. The light snapped on. ‘Sasha, I’m sorry, I forgot,’ the voice was gently pained, as it always was. She attempted to smile bravely at him, her angel, her savour.

‘You ok?’ he whispered. She smiled bravely, to ease his pain.

‘I’m fine, sorry, its just… you know,’ she looked away, ashamed that yet again she had behaved like a small child. Yet again. But the fear snaked its way around her treacherously. She whimpered without meaning to. ‘Do you want the lavender water?’ he asked, concerned. She nodded, mutely allowing him yet again to rescue her. He got a small glass bottle and sprayed its golden green contents on the pillow whilst uttering a prayer she had taught him. On of her pretences, one of her defences, like the light. If she kept still, so still and quiet, like a frightened mouse, she would be safe. He returned to the bed and gently embraced her, whiping away the tears she hadn’t known she was crying. ‘I just want you to be happy, Sasha. What can we do to make you happy?’ His words were meant kindly, but they made the pain grow. She was causing him so many problems; that’s all she had ever caused. He must have seen the change in her demeanour. ‘It wasn’t your fault Sasha, you couldn’t help what happened.’ She stiffened in his arms and tried to make herself small, hating herself for the stupidity; he gently stroked her until she was calm again.

‘You really need to talk to a professional about this, Sash.’ Again she stiffened. Her breathing became a rapid sore rasp yet again. ‘They won’t say you’re mad, honest, not with what happened to you. She looked into his compassionate eyes, aware once again that tears were escaping down her cheeks, big fat tears.

‘Why do I always cry?’ She asked and laughed wetly, petrified.

‘Because you’re healing, do you remember when we first met? You hadn’t cried, not once since you were 13’ The sensation came again, that strange sting, the pressure behind it, the feeling that every rapid panicked breath would cause the blade to go deeper. The strong muscles holding her, hands so big, she could smell them, she knew all their names all their faces, and she knew a lot more that she wished she didn’t. The tea towel they had cruelly abraded her smile with. She had thought she would suffocate, especially when the filthy hessian sack, reeking of earth, had been shoved over her head. It was all there; the textures, the pain, as clear as if she was there again. But his voice was there, gentle, reassuring, bringing her back to reality, back to the here and now. ‘It’s just another flash back, Sasha, that’s all, just another flash back, I’m here, I love you, I’ll protect you.’ She focused on him with her wide scared eyes. He looked haggard. She had put this new stress on him. ‘I’m sorry’, she sobbed. He made calming noises at her.

‘Will you make the doctors appointment tomorrow?’ She shook her head.

‘I ..’ she was scared of phoning, scared of people, scared that if she went outside they would come and get her again, and this time she would be punished for her escape. ‘What’s happening to me?’ she whispered, mortally afraid. He smiled at her. He was tired, and she knew he had several important meetings in the morning. Guilt at her selfishness hit her harder than any of their punches ever had.

‘All that fear, all that hate, all those memories you had buried, convinced that you had to be the perfect human to make up for it all, but now you know it wasn’t your fault and you feel safe so they have to come out, and its painful but it will heal you hon honest. But I can’t cope, we need outside help, Sash. You’re not mad. That maddening confidence you had was a mask, you knew that. I almost missed asking you out because of it, but I saw the you the real brave struggling you within, that night you bit Andy.’ She giggled slightly at that memory; ‘I just panicked’ she blushed.

‘He was a fool, you told him that he was scaring you and that if he didn’t get up you’d bite him, he had a girl pinned to the floor underneath him and he didn’t realise it might scare her when you’d all only just started uni!’ She nodded; Andy was still one of her best friends, he too had realised something was up with her behaviour. That was the first night he had been her saviour, though she probably should have been thrown out of the halls of residence for it. She once again realised how lucky she was that he had decided to be a sub warden. She feel asleep in his arms, comfortable, but still the nightmares came, the darkness, the fear, not knowing were she was, those hands, she would strain her ears listening, listening so hard she could hear the doors squeak three rooms away. She had quickly learned the pattern of footsteps that belong to each of them. She had learned that anticipation of them being there was worse than when they were. She had learned that she couldn’t predict where they would touch her or how. She’d learned obedience, and had hated herself for it.

Why didn’t she scream every time they had come, why hadn’t she bitten them?

She flailed about in her sleep, reliving another moment and then another. She never slept properly. If she awoke in the dark she would be too scared to move. She knew this was all wrong. How could she ask for help? Everyone had thought she had coped, so brave, so brave they had whispered but she wasn’t, she was a frightened 13 year old every time the lights went out, and every time a large male walked near her on the streets.

She remembered that every time they had started trying to persuade her she had retreated, back behind her eyes, into her own head, away from them, a waking dream. She had to fight herself not to do the same now every time real problems arose. The landscapes of the waking dreams were brilliant; she could be anything there and she always killed the enemy, always was brave and strong. But in real life she had done what they told her to do; regardless of right and wrong, she had wanted to survive more.

She awoke late the next day. In a panic she rushed to the children’s room to sort out school, but they were all gone. A slight panic seized her, but the front door clicked and her champion appeared. Sasha rushed into his arms confused. He should be at work! He hugged her and kissed her. ‘Don’t be angry with me,’ he said; her heart dropped. He was going to leave her; she knew it, how could she blame him! But what about the children? She would never cope on her own but she needed to be near them. She began the hysterical crying that had marred her life for the last year or so.

‘Hey! Hey now come on I haven’t even told you what I’ve done yet!’ She backed away from him, ‘I’ve phoned the doctors and made you an appointment, we’re lucky it’s just after lunch.’ She was shaking her head, she couldn’t go to the doctor, how could she? It would be a waste of everybody’s time – “Excuse me Doc but I keep crying and having nightmares”… It was pathetic!

‘Sasha, please. I need you to do this for me? Please, I know you won’t do it for yourself, but I need you! And so do the children.’ It took him an hour of pleading, now she was sitting in the car, her hair a mess, she had tried to use it as an excuse by leaving the brushing till too late but he had snatched the brush from her and virtually in tears frog marched her to the car. She knew he wouldn’t forgive himself because she had forced him to act like the people who hurt her, forcing her into the car, but he was gentle and they were rough. He loved her and she loved him. He was the brave one. She was so scared, would the doctor make her say why she was kidnapped? Would they demand to know all that had happened? Well they could just read the police report! She couldn’t do this. He wanted her to go in by herself, too. How could she do that?

She was retreating into herself; the outside world was retreating from her. She studied her blunt bitten nails, picked at the scabs around the edge of the nail. They had been so long and pretty at her wedding. In a daze, he lead her to the reception. She couldn’t understand the words. She sat next to him; she heard his voice brimming with tears. She felt his pain keenly and snapped back to hug him, as he sobbed. Mo one else was in the waiting room, fortunately. It was her turn to hush him and comfort him. She was here, she realised; she had to do this. There was a calmness that overtook her. She had known for a long time know that she must be suffering from post traumatic stress but she just couldn’t believe it had all affected her in such a lasting way. She sat there very still, waiting, her saviour clutching her hand tightly like he was worried she would bolt. She smiled grimly; half an hour ago, she probably would have. Her name was called. He stood up with her, ‘Do you want me to come in with you?’ She looked into his eyes, ‘No I’ll be ok.’ She kissed him lightly on the cheek, and taking a deep breath, did the hardest thing she had ever done and headed to the doctor’s room to ask for help.

Posted: Friday, July 12th, 2013 @ 10:19 am
Categories: Short Stories.
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