I Never Had Dreams

Johanna pulled her limbs in close to her body, freezing cold under the warm silk coverlet. A strange trembling sensation ran up and down her body, raising goosebumps across the magnolia-white skin. Her long blond hair fell in front of her face as she tried to banish the memory of the Beadle's hands, lingering too long on the curves of her body. Sobs shook the bed as she shuddered into sleep.

Dirty hands running over her body. Screams. Bruises when she protested. The stunning helplessness. The flimsy nightgown was no protection. Another scream ripped like fire through her throat...

The nightmare changed to something vague and fuzzy, something that tormented her every night. Confusion. Sobbing from somewhere above her. A voice.

"Benny! No!"

Tears dripped on her face, tears that weren't hers. She didn't understand what was happening, just waved her tiny hand vaguely in the air, wondering at the distress and turbulence around her...

Then anguished sobbing, the banging of doors, yelling... A thump as her mother fell to the floor... the tinkle of glass as a bottle spilled next to her...

The nightmare flowed smoothly into a clearer memory. An ugly man, snooty, with a cringing lackey next to him, taking her away from Miss Nellie when she was six years old. The way his eyes gazed at her undeveloped body, the way his hand snaked around Miss Nellie's waist and lingered on the bustle of her dress... More crying, more goodbyes...

The first time she'd felt the Beadle's hands, twelve years old...

And back to the present again.

Johanna woke up screaming.