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Survivor's Story

A Memory That Replays Every Time She Closes Her Eyes

A Memory That Replays Every Time She Closes Her Eyes

97%. What’s the first thing that came to your mind? Hang onto that thought.

You always hear those horror stories; the horror stories that get tossed around small towns that then pour into the next. Horror stories that people talk about so freely because “it won’t happen to me”. “Teenage girl gets followed, kidnapped, and raped.” reads every occasional newspaper, subtitle to politics, of course, that is, if it gets reported. Subtitled, belittled, and forgotten a week after the occurrence. Those horror stories that no one thinks too hard about, just some event that happened that’s now in the past. These are the types of horror stories that do the most damage. She winces every time she closes her eyes, hoping that maybe if she closes her eyes hard enough, it would all go away.

November 8, 2021. She is surrounded by familiar faces, those who she thought would never hurt her. She began to feel it, a sense of release and comfort, but not enough to disrupt her awareness. She loved nights like these, ones where she could let loose with those that told her they loved her, a place of tranquillity and laughter. “Another one come onnn…”, she hears as her knees begin to collapse. It burns now, remembering when it used to glide down her throat and smelt of apples and oranges from a paper box small enough to fill her hands. She’s not who she used to be, but not necessarily in a bad way. She is older now, but sometimes being old enough is taken for granted. She’s naive, in a daze that seems to be utopic, a daze that she insisted could never be broken. Little did she know; little was she aware of the abrupt endeavour her identity will soon battle subconsciously.

She feels familiar muscular arms firmly around her ribs and beneath her legs as her weight seems to increase. Similar to how her dad used to carry her out of the car, fake sleeping, after a long drive home. This time it was different, it didn’t have the same feeling; not the same love. All she wanted was to be still. There are faint voices echoing; she’s awake enough to sense its urgency and concern, but unable to make out what was said. Their voices get louder and louder until his voice echoes once more in his chest against her ear and everything goes quiet. In and out every few minutes as her head dangles, weighing in at what seemed to be more than 5 tons. “You’re okay”, she kept repeating to herself in her low-functioning mind. At once, she slips through his fingertips and crashes against the sheets. She waits for the familiar back rub as her dad tucks her hair behind her ears with a gentle kiss goodnight. It just never came. She’s okay, she can finally rest, right? “I’m safe”, her subconscious mind repeats nonstop, trying to calm herself down. She just wanted to be still. It’s not like she didn’t know him, best friends is a better way to put it. Does that justify it? The pressure of hands cut off the circulation in her wrists as she catches a glimpse of a silhouette towering over her. Why were they his hands? Her inability to stay conscious only gets worse and worse and soon she winces and her vision disappears. “I’m so tired, bed, no.”, were the only words that were able to slip out. She remembers this part, the only part her body and mind could allow her to remember. Little did she know how important this was. Her subconscious self knows she is in trouble, with no power, no strength, no defence, just dead weight. Helpless and unaware.

There’s so much pain, excruciating pain pulsing between her hips. She waits to open her eyes despite her full consciousness after the remaining few hours of the night. Her flesh rubs together, she’s never been so cold. Trying so hard to process each clue, there’s just so much pain. Her bare body, the body that doesn’t feel her own anymore, throbs as her eyes race around the room, jumping from object to object. She lays still, her eyes wandering with an occasional wince in pain. Her back aches as she finally turns over to the guest room nightstand and – her heartbeat plummets to her stomach, she’s empty. She feels SO empty, as if half her soul was sucked out with a single hard breath. It’s used. She’s seen those before, but never in person, so close to her. She knows, but there are no words. She wants to scream, but nothing comes out. She’s so alone and falls deep within denial. Her eyes well up and a tear, withholding her identity, her love, her hope, her happiness; her trust trickles down her face from the edge of her eye to the base of her collarbone. She never knew she could lose so much in just a matter of minutes. How can this happen? She slowly rolls back over, staring blankly at one spot on the ceiling, begging and pleading for answers, yet no one is there to give her the answer she deserves. Her heart began to beat through her chest, pulsing in and out of her ears and behind her eyes. It happened to her. Searching for her clothes, strewn all over the floor and buried underneath the sheets that sat on the floor at the foot of the mattress, she scrambles for them. The pain just grows stronger; doubled over as she crawls to the bathroom door. Bruises coat her legs and silence and desperation fills the air. Did he even realize the damage? Did she say, “no”, loud enough? Was it her fault she couldn’t verbalize her “no” clearly enough? He knew; there’s no way he didn’t know.

Sometimes, it takes a few days. A few days, a few weeks; a few months to fully grasp what happened, to trust herself, to trust him. Living in and out of her own body, not knowing when it’s truly her or what is now left of her. Every once in a while her ears go out, ringing as she stares into thin air, dissociating and remembering each and every detail without speaking a word. Sometimes it only takes a smell, a name, a piece of clothing, a sound to take you back to these moments. It doesn’t take much to remind the brain of the agony. It’s hard. She fades throughout each day, each night, as each aspect of the memory replays every time she takes a second to think. The really difficult part is the fact that she knew him, someone that knew so much about her and promised to be there for her whenever she needed. Someone who made her laugh, someone who always put her first, someone she was comfortable with. Maybe people change, but maybe people show their true colours in ways most can’t comprehend. Now that is the scary part. She really thought she knew him. She mentally collapses at the sight of him, the idea of him. He tried. He tried for months to get her attention back, but how was she supposed to know his intentions, his real intentions? To her, having any form of connection with this person was unimaginable. How was she supposed to trust him? He’s a different person in the eyes of this girl. Once a bubbly, outgoing, confident girl, quickly and abruptly became a stranger to her own mind, her own body; her own life. She doesn’t want this to last forever.

It’s crazy to think that people dismiss these stories, no matter the severity. 97%. 97% of the female population have experienced something of this nature. These horror stories haunt the public for a little while until something else intrigues their hungry minds.

Haunt is really a generous word. What else can they talk about? What else can they fake sympathy for in an attempt to prove some sort of concern? And just like that, word spread, judgment, and disbelief. “There’s no way”, trust me, that’s what she thought too. Sometimes the truth is too much for people; they would rather take the easy way out and not be “associated” rather than taking the time to truly understand her concern. His deceptive reputation was enough to get him by and enough for people to dismiss her so easily. She’s now learning, healing and one year later and she still can’t get through a full 24 hours without thinking about November 8, 2021. Hopefully, one day she can. Hopefully one day her younger self can recover and grieve the temporary abrupt loss of her identity. She now looks for those who will tuck her hair behind her ear, pick her up when she’s tired, rub her back and kiss her goodnight no matter the relationship. Friend or partner, she doesn’t want this ache anymore.

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