I truly love these days. Gray and stormy, rain drizzling down, giving a light ping each time it hit the Plexiglas, making it slightly hard to see though the little rain rivers distorting the trees. Staring blankly outside seemed to be the only thing I can do alone nowadays, strapped into my squeaky wheelchair with my IV drip trailing me everywhere I go, I like to think of it as my misshapen metal dog attached to my arm. Today I’m lucky; I get to see outside these whitewashed walls and the burning antiseptic stench that lingers heavily in each room. I can finally be anywhere I want, unlimited travel, unlimited imagination.
I sigh as I hear a nurse approach me, they always come by when I finally forget where I am.
“Hey sweetie, how’re we doin’ today?” My eyes lingered outside before she turned me around, as her southern twang rang throughout the silent white room.
This was Nurse Polly, medium height and build with bouncing auburn curls. She was the nice one that didn’t try to force me to talk. I glance up, with a slight twitch at the edges of my mouth, the biggest smile I could muster. She continued to fuss over me checking my IV and heart rate, the usual. Polly always seemed to have a genuine personality; her eyes were soft and always smiling. Not like the cold discussed looks, or even worse, the pitying ones that just glance and whisper.
“It looks like we need to change your IV bag and refresh your gauze.” She concluded as her overall assessment finished. As we make it down the hall to my regular room with the occasional squeak of my wheelchair, I lose myself in thought. Remembering the horrors of my past of a small dark room… No, I flinched, I don’t want to remember this, it’s too painful.
I snap back to reality as I feel the twinge of pain piercing through my desensitized mind.
I glanced at Polly; she was frowning as she was trying to unwrap my wrists, without pulling off too much new skin.
“Sorry sweetie, it looks like this is going to be a bit more painful than it should be. Your gauze hasn’t been changed since I did it last week. This isn’t right, the other nurses should be taking better care of you,” she said in concern. I don’t mind the stinging pain, I’ve had worse, but I knew it was going to be a long afternoon. Gauze is wrapped around my forearms, neck, and rib cage, at least my legs are in itchy casts.
When she finally reached my gauze collar, I was whisked away into my dark memories, I couldn’t claw my way out of it this time.
The memory played clearly behind my eyes.
“You sent me to prison and thought you could get away with it!” my uncle drunkenly spat.
I didn’t know what happened, I just got out of school and my uncle was there waiting. That was the last thing that I remembered before I woke up to his angry ranting.
“I don’t know what you are talking about! Uncle, it’s me, your niece, Sarah! Please stop this!” I cried shakily.
“Lies!” He countered angrily, “I know it was you!” He was constantly pacing; I was frozen in fear. Then he suddenly stopped. “I will teach you a lesson that you will never forget and fix that mouth of yours so then you can only tell truth.”
My mind was screaming to my body to run but I couldn’t budge. He advanced towards me, pulling a dirty rag from his pants pocket and smothered my face in it. My erratic breathing didn’t help keep me conscious as I struggled against my uncle’s massive hand.
I woke up to searing pain in my mouth, forearms, and legs, I couldn’t think, let alone concentrate on seeing though my draining tears.
My uncle’s monstrous laugh was by my ear; I could feel his disgusting hot breath on my neck. “Ha-ha you thought you could get away with anything, now look at you,” he said with a twisted grin.
He held a cracked mirror in front of my face. I struggled to open my eyes and focus on the reflection. I saw a person who looked back at me with terror in her eyes, tear stained cheeks, and her mouth sloppily sewn shut. The realization that the image and I were one in the same was too much for my mind as I began to shake.
“Now you have learned your lesson for lying, but now you will see your curses for betraying family,” he snickered hatefully.
He stood behind the chair I was bound to and angled the mirror so I could see my neck; a dotted line laid way a path across my arteries for a quick death.
“This I will leave till later,” he snarled.” But here are your labels.” He raised my limp arms in front of my face, the rough action made me see spots. When I could finally see, I nearly passed out again. Carved into my skin was LOVELESS on my left arm and MONSTER on my right.
He then pushed my head down forcing me to see my misshapen legs.
“You know what I did to your scrawny discussing legs? I crushed them with a hammer till I felt there was nothing else crack,” he said in triumph, “It’s an improvement in my opinion!”
I felt my heart racing, adrenalin finally kicking in. His face was right over my shoulder, with all the strength I could gather, I swung my arm hoping beyond anything that I would hit him. My heart dropped as the crushing grip of my uncle tried to squeeze more blood out of me.
“You seem like you got hope for escape, such an ungrateful brat. You don’t even learn after I punished you.” He paused, “maybe you will learn when I take more drastic measures.”
Carelessly, he toasted the mirror on the ground and fished around in his back pocket. Moving in front of me he then cocked back his arm and punched with full force in my rib cage, a hidden rusty fishing knife sticking straight out of my chest.
“Here brat, you hold this while I go get another drink… and perhaps a saw to cut off what is left of your legs…” his voice was slowly fading away as I was concentrating on breathing.
I forced my trembling arms to reach the handle of the rusty knife and slowly pulled it out. Such pain almost made me faint, but in knowing that if I drop this opportunity, I will never have a chance to get my hands on a weapon again. Staying conscious was almost impossible when I saw the growing pool of blood at the foot of my chair. I must kill my uncle if it’s the last thing I do.
Sounds of heavy, unsteady footsteps were getting louder, echoing. Trying as hard as I could, I relaxed my body and let my chin rest on my chest. Hoping my hair wouldn’t show my eyes, steeling myself for what I had to do. Needed to do.
Stumbling towards me, taking a disgustingly long swig of his rank bottle of alcohol. My uncle set it down on a work bench and leaned in close and promptly burped a vomit scented stench in my face.
I knew this was my moment.
I struck the knife deep in his chest, cutting off his rough throaty laugh, using my other arm around his thick sweaty neck to pull myself closer. As he stumbled and fell on his back, I fall with him keeping my grip as searing pain throughout my body started to numb the edges of my brain.
On the ground, I yank the knife out and struck again, and again, not satisfied with the lifeless eyes frozen in shock. I only stopped when I felt the lack of resistance of grounded flesh.
Rolling away from his lifeless corpse, my ragged breathing ringing in my ears, my hand came upon a mirror shard. I brought it up to see an unrecognizable blood and tear stained face. Pain started radiating through my numb mind from wounds that could and could not be seen. The lovely dotted lines on my neck called for a sweet relief; one more cut to make the masterpiece complete. Shakily I finished my jagged line, finally relaxing into the warm embrace of the flowing liquid. Barely noticing the flashing red and blue lights of my saviors, just a little too late…
“Honey, can you hear me?”
Polly’s southern twang brought a sigh of relief to my lips, as my eyes refocused on her bright green eyes and bouncing curls. I frowned, her neatly kept hair was in slight disarray.
Having a Post-Traumatic Stress episode in the middle of bandage changing was never fun, for me or the nurse brave enough to hold me down. At the end of the episode I always noticed the blood everywhere, usually mine, but that just meant that something reopened and it was going to take longer for everything to heal. A body can only do so much.
“Sorry,” I gasped, knowing that I probably made things harder for her and probably scared the neighboring patients with my writhing and incoherent screams.
“It’s alright, dear,” Polly smiled. She untangled herself from me and looked me straight in the eyes, “I know what you must have been through is unimaginable and cruel. But you are strong, I see it in your eyes, and I believe you can make it through this.”
Thinking on her words as she continued to patch me up again, I knew she didn’t know I was the one who made the last line. That I wasn’t strong enough, that I wanted to die and end the pain.
As I see it now, though everything I have experienced, it’s harder to live than to die. But, if I continue to live, maybe I could help end someone else’s pain. Maybe, just maybe, I can help fill the hole in someone else’s heart; then together we can heal. That is why I continue my fight to live, to heal, to love.