This is a one-shot. I hope you enjoy it.


The water rushes icily over my skin, already gone cold from the two hours I have spent under its assault.

I can't breathe.

I can't see.

I cannot even think.

But no. . . .that last part is a lie. For I can think. I think about it all the time. It always seems to be playing inside my mind – a plague of my memory that I cannot escape or cure. It consumes my skin, making my nails scrape across the skin as I try to scratch and wash away the evidence of the hands that always seem to be choking me.

Sinking down to the floor of the shower, I hang my head, my hands gripping my hair tightly as I pull savagely. I have already pulled a few handfuls of hair from my head, unable to help myself. My clothing sticks to my skin because I refuse to undress. I lean back against the cold porcelain of the tub and jump in terror, imagining icy hands gripping my body, holding me down. A choked scream rips through my throat as I curl into a ball.

Vision after vision tortures me. I see the dark night sky above me, the beautiful stars twinkling above, winking gloriously down at me. But it seems to be all wrong. I shouldn't feel this cold, this empty. But then I realize for the millionth time that of course the reason I am cold is because I am stripped nearly naked, lying on the ground. The scratchy bush sits beside me, hiding me from the street's view. I cannot remember how long I have lain here. Minutes? Hours? Days? Time seems to have no meaning in the wake of the darkness that clouds my mind.

At first I cannot remember what happened – it seems so blurry and distorted. But then I remember the pain and harsh words, the feel of his rough clothing against my naked skin, his bruising hands holding me down.

And the memories shriek through my mind again, and I scream in the wet bathtub, heart racing and fingers tearing at my skin and clothing.

If only I could wash away the filthiness that clings to my body. If only I could just be rid of the guilt and shame. . . .but that will never happen. I will never be free from the horror, from the nightmares. I can never escape the hell that my life has become.

The door to the bathroom bursts open and my mother, Renee, rushes in, sinking down to the ground beside the tub. The strange screaming coming from my mouth continues and I shrink away from her. The only thing I see is two hands trying to contain me and I can think of nothing else.

"Shhh," she cooes soothingly, stroking my wet hair and holding me close to her body. "It's alright, Bella, I'm here. Nothing can hurt you now. I'm here.."

But she's wrong.

Oh, how wrong my mother is. . . .

If only she knew the extent of what happened.

I have sheltered my mother from the brutal reality of everything, knowing that she could not possibly handle it without breaking down and the last thing I want is to hurt her more. I have already failed her and I couldn't bear knowing that I am the reason for her tears. I only told her the barest of details – how something hit me in the head and everything went black, being dragged behind that bush that saw all my shame, and sobbing as he took off my clothing and hurt me. The doctor told her that I had been raped, all the evidence in the exam was there. But what she didn't know was that it happened over. . . .and over. . . .and over.

"It'll be alright now, darling," she cooes.

But of course it wouldn't.

I wasn't ever sure anything would be alright ever again.

That night I struggle to fall into sleep, into that terrible oblivion that was only brought on by a slight overdose of sleeping pills. Sometimes I don't take enough and I dream terrible things, terrible memories. Everywhere I go I see those horrible eyes and wet mouth.

How could there be so many ways?

So many ways to penetrate.

Even now there is so much pain. The emotional weight that holds me is suffocating me, it is crushing me slowly and I can't crawl away. The physical pain has all but faded but the memory of it still remains.

Now I sleep with the lights on – I can no longer endure the night without thinking of it. I wear layers upon layers of clothing. I do not eat, hoping to simply wither away into nothingness so that no one will ever think I am attractive again. I have never counted myself as physically appealing, not in comparison to some of the girls I have known, but now I hear his voice in my head over and over. Telling me that I have a sexy little body and his deep groans echo forever. I have cut my hair, remembering how he was able to manipulate me by pulling it, and I have shed over fifteen pounds.

And now, as I look in the mirror, I see a ghost.

I am no longer who I once was.

That laughing, ecstatic girl has been lost and all I see is the haunted, trapped eyes of the person I have become. For my mother's sake, I have tried to pick myself up and continue with my life. But it has been hard, so incredibly hard, and I don't know if I can continue.

My rosary beads hang beside my bathroom mirror because it is the one place where I never lose them. Staring at the small beads and the crucifix that hangs at the bottom, I stand for an hour remembering all the bible lessons I have received. I don't know how God can help me now. How could He ever love me again after the filth that I have become? No one can ever love me now. Not after that.

Have you ever felt so unclean that nothing could ever cleanse you? Not a thousand showers, not a thousand gallons of soap. Have you ever felt as if you are being pulled down a dark hole by the hands that you once held? My flesh crawls constantly now and I have stared at this razor, thinking about how it would feel to draw my own blood.

I glance back into the mirror, into those dead, lifeless eyes . . . . and I know.

I am condemned.

I am damned.


-Ori