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A Day in October
Author's note: My inspiration for this piece was from a previous relationship of mine. Although nothing to the extent of what happened to my character happened to me, but it got me thinking that there are girls out there who are treated this way and are the victims of screwed up individuals. I hope that girls in high school or even women in married relationships will gain hope, inspiration, and insight into this somewhat common problem.
The sign was daunting to say the least. Imprinted in bold black lettering on a shiny gold plate, the words rang loud and clear. What awaited me on the other side of that door would be frustrating, irritating, and downright boring.
I stood in the hallway debating whether to stay or make a break for it. I didn’t want to be here and my car was waiting in the parking lot. The keys in my back pocket taunted me.
I didn’t have long to consider my escape plan because the door suddenly opened. Standing there was a pretty looking woman. She was not much taller than my five foot three frame. She wore a gray tweed suit that emphasized her legs and lanky form. Her short, bouncy blond hair outlined her face. Her eyes, framed by full black lashes, were a soft shade of chocolate. The smile presented was not a warm, welcoming smile, but one of business. She was here to do her job, which, unfortunately, put me in an uncomfortable position.
“I was wondering when you would arrive. Please come in.” She motioned me with one hand to enter, her fake smile never once faltering. Taking one last long glance down the hallway, I stepped into the room.
It was more pleasant than I would have thought. The walls were a fading yellow shade and the wide picture window let in sunlight, illuminating the already bright space further. In one corner sat a mahogany desk while on the opposite side of the small enclosure a large, comfortable-looking couch sat with pillows of all shapes and sizes strewn across it. Pictures and frames decorated the walls, and the rug was soft under my feet. The atmosphere alluded to one of comfort, but I found no comfort in its bogusly cheery walls.
“Please have a seat,” the woman said as she gestured to the already crowded couch. I shoved most of the pillows out of the way and tried to make myself somewhat comfortable. The woman sat across from me in another recliner chair. In her hands was a pad of paper, a pen, and the paperwork my parents filled out. She took a moment to look over everything and then looked up at me, the phony smile returning to her lips.
“Hello, Abby. My name is Dr. Moor. How are you today?” she asked. The sound of her forcefully cherry voice grated against my already irritated nerves. I was pissed at my parents for making me do this. It’d been a year already and Dr. Moor was the seventh person they have tried to get me to talk to.
I’ve never been the touchy-feely type. And for my parents to expect me to spill my guts to random strangers just because they have a degree in Psychology is like asking a dog to speak English. I have tried hard to suppress the thoughts and feelings of the past and to allow them free now would be ludicrous. But she was waiting for a response. I composed myself and formed a polite answer.
“I’m doing just great! That’s why I’m here isn’t it?” Well, almost polite.
Dr. Moor smirked but continued, “So, Abby, you are here because of an incident that occurred last October at school, am I correct?”
I opened my mouth to let out a disgusted sigh. She knew exactly why I was there and yet she felt the need to repeat what the both of us already knew, which enhanced my irritation.
When I didn’t answer she went on. “I want you to tell me what happened in your own words and how it affected you.”
So she is taking the direct approach. Two can play at this game.
“Well,” I said, sarcasm coloring my tone, “something bad happened. So I guess that should tell you something.” I crossed my arms over my chest, stubbornly.
The bogus expression on her face didn’t falter and her tone of voice stayed the same when she answered, “I know this must be difficult for you. But why don’t you tell me something good about it.”
I rolled my eyes. She was not going to give up. I guess I had to tell her something in order for her to let me leave with a seal of approval. I carefully chipped off a piece of the wall that blocked my memories and for a moment I let my mind wander.
I sat quietly in math class and listened to my teacher drone on about what he expected from us students throughout the school year. Being the first day at a new school I was not exactly pleased to be there. It was the end of my summer and the beginning of my suffering behind the closed doors of the academic world. Thankfully, this was the last class of the day and my mind was numb from the constant repetition of the rules, expectations, and standards. Glancing around the room, I scrutinized everything. The boring white walls were covered with multiple colorful posters on various math terms and tricks. Looking at the students, I could pick out the jocks from the geeks, the quiet from the annoyingly outgoing, and the fake girls who plaster their face in makeup and dye their hair to make up for what they lack in personality from the simple, clean beauties.
It was then that I spotted him. He was looking straight at me with no intention of hiding his stare. When he didn’t look away, I diverted my eyes to my books and messed with a bookmark. Blood flushed my cheeks and I arranged my hair so that it fell over my face.
I stayed that way for the rest of the class period. When the bell rang, I started from my position and I jumped up to leave, but he beat me to the door. Every other student had hastily exited the room, anxious to leave, but he stood, his shoulder pressed against the door frame, blocking my way.
He was tall, towering over me. He had broad shoulders and a defined muscular physique. He had the strangest, most intriguing shade of brown hair: chocolate brown with a hint of creamy coffee. His hair hung into his eyes, partly covering them, giving him a mysterious, enchanting look. One corner of his lips curled up into a crooked half smile. He met my gaze and held it, giving me no escape from his stare.
“Hey, Abby, right?” he said in a smooth, bass tone. I nodded, my voice suddenly gone. He smiled. “I’m Daren. Can I have your number and maybe we can hang out some time?” He smiled wider at me. His statement wasn’t really a question. I got the feeling he was the sort of guy that was not used to being turned down. And no way was I going to turn him down.
I nodded at him and pulled a sheet of paper from my notebook, quickly scrawling my number in the corner, ripping it off and handing it to him.
“See ya around, Abby,” he said as he turned to leave. I stood there for a moment and watched him walk to the end of the hallway, and then disappear around a corner.
There was no way I was going to tell her all that. So I skimmed it and gave her what she wanted to hear.
“I met him and gave him my number.”
“Okay. So after that what happened? When was it that you first started noticing he had bad tendencies?” she questioned. I smirked at her. Eventually she would end up like all the rest and give up on me.
“Can you hurry up? I want to make sure we have time to see that movie tonight,” Daren whined at my slow pace.
“Well, I’m sorry, Daren, that I’m so slow. If you could do it better and faster, why don’t you?” It was a rhetorical question and I said it in a joking tone but all of a sudden his face lit up.
“I can and I will!” he shouted at me. With his shoulder, he shoved me away from my locker and ripped my bag from my hands. The force of his huge frame shoving against mine sent me sprawling onto the floor. Stunned, I watched him rip the books from my locker and jam them into my bag with ferocity. Once he was finished, he slammed my locker door and turned with a hard expression, anger still filling his caramel eyes.
It was weeks after my first day that Daren asked me to be his girlfriend. He treated me like a princess, giving me small gifts he bought and leaving little trinkets in my locker in the morning before school. He walked me to every class and showered his adoration on me. I was feeling better than ever before. I was meeting new people, creating friends, and learning to fit in.
Then, a few months into the relationship, I started noticing little things: like the way he would lose his temper easily and raise his voice over trivial things. But every time he would smile crookedly at me my heart would melt. But not this time.
I leapt to my feet. “What the hell is wrong with you?” I screamed as I reached for my bag. I slung it over my shoulder and turned, walking away. “I’m leaving.” Suddenly, his fingers enclosed over my left wrist. Being so much larger and stronger than I was, he jerked me backwards. My wrist throbbed as he twisted my body to face his.
“Where the hell do you think you are going?” he yelled at me, rage screaming clear and wild in his honey eyes. My eyes widened and I couldn’t speak. He had gotten mad before but never quite like this.
When I didn’t answer he took hold of my shoulders and shook me, hard. My teeth rattled in my scull and my head snapped back and forth on my neck.
“Stop!” was all I was able to choke out while he continued to violently shake me. Suddenly, he froze and stared into my eyes with viciousness. Then without warning, he shoved me backwards into the lockers behind me. My head snapped back and hit the metal with a loud bang; I stood there dumbfounded and frightened while my head pulsated; he stared maliciously at me. Then, just like it had appeared, it was gone.
“Oh, Abby! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to do that. I promise I will never do anything like that again!” He took me into his arms and held me, repeating those phrases over and over again. My heart pounded behind my ears and my breath came in short gasps. But I forgave him.
Nothing to that extent ever happened again while we dated. But he would always scream at me for the littlest things, push me around, and try to control every aspect of my life. All these issues followed us into the summer. And one day I had finally had enough.
I shook my head. I had never remembered that incident with such detail before. But I didn’t let that faze me. “We fought and argued, like any relationship,” I said blandly.
“So you broke up with him?” she questioned.
“Okay, very good, Abby,” she said scribbling something in her notebook. “So what happened when school started up again in the fall? How did it all start?”
Daren didn’t take the break up sitting down. For weeks, he tried everything in his power to convince me that I had made a mistake. He called constantly, day and night, and always had a way of keeping tabs on me. He would show up at friends’ houses and try to talk to me. He would come, uninvited, to my house and beg me to take him back; I tried my best to fend off his pleas.
Eventually, he got the hint. He stopped calling and left me alone, or so I thought.
By the time school rolled around, I was ready for my senior year. Heading to class on the first day, I spotted him. He was leaning against a line of cream colored lockers, his gang of friends surrounding him. I wasn’t surprised to see him. But for a second, I did a double take and studied him more carefully.
His hair was still the same coffee and cream shade but it hung lower in his eyes. A newly pierced stud showed through his hair in the left side of his head. He was larger; I could see the new muscle definition through his tight black t-shirt. His arms, folded snug against his chest, looked like they were chiseled out of stone, and the serene look on his face gave him an intimidating aura.
I didn’t realize I was staring until he met my gaze. I quickly glanced down with unnecessary effort; he had already looked away. I passed by him and to my surprise he completely ignored me.
That’s how it was for the first week. He pretended I didn’t exist and we both went on with our daily lives. I didn’t want him back as a boyfriend but I wasn’t turned off by the idea of being friends.
As if he could read my mind, he met me at my locker the next Monday morning. I was surprised to see him there, leaning against it like he had always done.
“Hey,” was all he said when I reached him.
“Hi,” I said back. I was stunned to hear him actually speak to me. “What are you doing here?”
He said nothing and shrugged away from the locker allowing me access. As I gathered my books for the day, he continued to stand there in silence and I wondered why he was there. Frustrated, I closed my locker, turning away. His hand fell softly on my shoulder holding me back. Oh no. My heart stuttered as I turned to face him. His caramel eyes looked tortured.
“I…I’m sorry, Abby. Can you please forgive me so we can move on from this?” he said with fervor. There was an underlying tone in his voice but I didn’t pay any attention to it.
I thought for a moment. I would never date him again but what was stopping us from being just friends?
“Yes, I forgive you Daren,” I said. He gave me a wide smile and without warning he caught me up into a crushing hug. I choked out a cough; I couldn’t breathe. He chuckled, released some pressure, but still held me against his vast chest.
I knew I had to end the embrace before he did something. I also knew I was giving him the wrong idea. I tried to pull away but he held me in his vice grip with no intention of letting me go.
That scared me. If he didn’t let me go I didn’t know what would happen. I swallowed hard. “Daren, I kinda have to go to class,” I said against his chest.
“Oh,” he mumbled as he released his hold, removing all but one arm from me. He towered over me so it was no trouble for him to keep his arm slung around my shoulders as he walked with me through the halls.
At my classroom door, he pulled me up close. I felt something touch my hair; his lips? I didn’t know, but he released me and walked away without another word.
“So you two became friends?” Dr. Moor questioned.
“Sure,” I said in reply.
“And how did that work out?”
At this point I was becoming annoyed. Dr. Moor kept up the stale questions and commentary. I knew her type. She thinks all her questions are actually getting somewhere with me – the tortured soul. I can’t wait to see her face when she realizes she has failed.
“Fine,” I answered un-fazed.
That Friday after school, Daren walked me to choir practice. Without warning, he pulled me aside. He gripped my arm tightly and towed me into an empty classroom. He faced me and stared into my eyes for an immeasurable amount of time before saying anything.
“Tell me something, Abby. Do you still love me? Because I still love you. No matter what I am doing, all I can think about is you. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can barely live without you. Please, please take me back,” he pled.
I sighed. I didn’t want this to happen. After Monday, I was careful not to hug him too long or make any unnecessary physical contact. I didn’t love him anymore. How could I love someone who abused me? I needed him to realize that.
“Daren,” I began, “I care about you so much, but I won’t date you. We tried a relationship and it didn’t work out. I won’t take you back.”
His face fell, looking totally defeated for one second before it hit.
His head snapped up and a flash of fury crossed his face. Suddenly, with such incredible force, he seized me around the waist and pulled my body to his. His arm formed a cage around my body as his other hand grasped the back of my neck, his fingers tangling into my hair. Using all his weight, he shoved me back, pressing me against a wall. The power he exerted was crippling. I had no time, nor the strength to fight back.
His mouth found mine aggressively. Pushing and shoving with all the strength I had, I could not overpower him. I continued to struggle as my fear rose. What was going to happen to me? I thought back to all the times his temper flared. The memories left no question in my mind. If I didn’t get away, and fast, he would hurt me, or worse.
He removed his arm from around my waist, still forcing me against the wall, and started to slip his hand under my shirt. I tried to scream but he cut off any chance I had to do so when he wrenched his fist full of my hair backwards, forcing me to look straight up into his face as he towered over me. My breath caught in my throat. His eyes were hard, full of malice and undisputed rage. One glance and I knew exactly what he had planned for me. I started to shake.
“You will love me Abby, won’t you,” he whispered into my ear. It wasn’t a question. It was a threat – one he didn’t expect me to turn down. If I did, he might kill me.
I looked into his eyes. Their power hungry glare bore deep into my frightened ones. His grip in my hair tightened and he bent his head, pressing his lips to my exposed, vulnerable throat. I had to do something.
Without a word, I wound my arms up around him, digging my fingers and nails into his strong back, my other hand found its way into his hair. He lifted his head and ground his lips to mine. His fingers disentangled from my hair and slid down my shirt. I waited a moment more.
With all the strength I had, I grabbed a fist full of his chocolate locks and yanked, hard. Using my other arm, I shoved against his chest. Startled, he lost his balance and tripped backwards over a chair. He landed with a hard thud against the tile. Fury replaced my fear. I snatched up my book bag from the floor. When I looked back at Daren he had pushed up on his elbows, staring bewilderedly at me. His eyes were still dark with malice. I turned and ran for the doorway but turned back before entering the hallway.
“I don’t know what the hell you were thinking but there will never be an ‘us’ again, Daren! I don’t love you and I never will again! Now leave me alone and stay the hell away from me!” I screamed, angry tears pricking the corner of my eyes.
At my words, the look on his face was a mix of anger and heartbreak; neither overshadowing the other. With that, I quickly made my escape and ran to the safety of the choir room.
“So he assaulted you, and then you got away,” Dr. Moor summarized. “Yes,” I said curtly. “Did you tell anyone about it? A friend or a teacher?” I burst out laughing. “Yeah, right!” I said between the giggles, “I am not a snitch. I didn’t tell anyone.” She looked at me with a blank stare for a moment before she spoke again. “Alright, so after Friday how did things play out? Did he do anything? Say anything?” Daren wasn’t at school. In fact he seemed to have disappeared. I was beginning to think that he was never coming back. That thought didn’t bother me in the slightest. Then four days later, on Friday, he suddenly appeared again. He looked horrible. His face was sullen, his skin an ashen shade, and he had dark, purplish circles under his eyes. I could tell he had been drinking and obviously using some kind of drugs. But I didn’t care. I was done with him. I passed him in the hallway without a glance. After school, I was preparing my books for the weekend and going to head down to the choir room for practice. Students all around me were shuffling this way and that more than ready to leave. I joined the flow of people down the stairwell and caught a glimpse of Daren behind me, but he became lost in the crowd. I was one of the last to arrive at practice. I set my bag down on a chair and took a seat next to it. “Hey, Abby!” I looked up, hearing my name. It was Casey. She was one of my best friends. She took a seat beside me and leaned over for a hug. I liked Casey a lot. She had long blond hair that fell just below her waist line. She was thin, and had the most beautiful crystal blue eyes I had ever seen. She was always fun to talk to and have a good time with. She and I got caught up in a conversation about making plans to go to the mall after practice and other plans for the weekend. Our conversation paused and when she stopped to look at me, she put a hand on my knee. “What’s wrong?” she asked concern on her face. Casey was insightful. She didn’t miss much. I turned and smiled at her. She smiled back accepting my silence as an answer. A few other students arrived then, along with James, a classmate who has had a little crush on me since I started last year. Since then, we have become good friends. He was tall, taller than Daren, but not as built. He had a child’s face and a smile that could light up a room. His light brown hair was cropped short above his gentle bright green eyes. He took a seat next to me and placed his hand on my knee. I looked over at him. His eyes were concerned. I smiled at him and he gave me an encouraging grin in return. He winked playfully at me and I gently shoved his shoulder. All of the choir members had arrived and were gathering around in little groups chatting about the day and their plans for the weekend. No one was paying attention to who was coming and who was going from the room, engrossed in their conversations. So all heads turned when the thick door slammed shut with such force the sound proof wall shook. I gave a small, inaudible gasp of shock. Daren stood in front of the closed door with a strange expression. His hair was messy and disheveled; eyes hard and brooding. He was breathing heavily and his cheeks were flushed, as if he had just finished running. He was tense. His left hand hung at his side while his right hand rested in the front pocket of his black sweatshirt. His dark eyes darted from face to face, scrutinizing expressions. The room was silent, waiting for him to do or say something. Fear shot through me. My heart began to beat wildly out of control. I knew who he was looking for, but what could he possibly do with so many people around? Casey tensed beside me, her hand rising to her mouth. She saw the look on his face and knew immediately something was terribly wrong. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye; I mirrored her worried expression. James shifted in his seat to a protective stance, partially covering me from Daren’s view. Daren combed through the faces that continued to stare at him. His eyes came to a stop on mine. The hard expression immediately left his face; fury taking its place. Daren turned towards me and took a single step forward. My view was instantly cut off. James had risen from his seat, squarely planting his feet in place. I leaned slightly forward to see Daren from behind James. Casey reached over and grasped my hand. I laced my fingers through hers and held tight. All eyes in the room had settled on the two boys. While some students reached for their book bags and their cell phones, others stared in anticipation. Daren’s breathing picked up and he gave a grunt of rage. “Move out of my way,” Daren said, struggling to keep his voice calm. I had heard his voice strained like that before and it made my skin crawl and my heart pound behind my ears. His eyes were hardening, developing a strange cast to them. James folded his arms over his chest “No way,” he said defiantly. I watched and scrutinized Daren’s face. Suddenly, a new look came to it. It was hotter and more evil than I had ever seen. The expression was wild and out of control. He was about to explode. I darted my hand forward and pressed it against James’s waist. I wanted him to back down and leave Daren be, but my movement ignited the flames. Without warning Daren’s hand pulled from his pocket; in his hand, a gun. Screams sounded and everyone froze. James took a step backwards and Casey squeezed my hand hard. My heart leapt to my throat and I squelched a scream: he was looking straight at me. Daren lunged forward, gun shoved in James’s face. “Get the hell out of my way!” he screamed. James stood frozen with shock. Daren shoved past him, pushing James to the floor. “Everyone down on the ground! NOW!” Daren screamed. Immediately students dropped to their knees, sliding from their chairs onto the ground. “All the way down! Hands on your heads!” he roared. Everyone slid to their stomachs and placed their hands protectively over their necks and heads. Casey pulled me to the ground with her for I was immobile with terror. Daren walked quickly around the room, gun at arms length away from his body, pointing where he was looking. He emptied book bags and broke cell phones. I glanced around at the other students. The girls were crying and the boys looked forlorn, not sure what to do. Utter terror in all of their eyes. Daren finished his destruction of the room and returned to the front. Going over to the door, he quickly kicked the door knob, breaking it. There was no escape now. The room went dead silent. Daren began pacing and muttering to himself. He looked unsure and nervous now that his rage was spent. Casey still held my hand. She gave it a hard squeeze getting my attention. I looked over to her and saw that she was crying too. “What is going on?” she silently mouthed to me. I couldn’t say anything as I turned back to watch Daren pace. James had scooted forward towards me. He found my gaze and reached forward to wipe the tears off my cheeks. He let the tips of his fingers rest on my skin for a moment. His gesture of kindness calmed me some. His eyes bore into mine with concern and fear; fear for me. I moved my hand and pressed James’s palm to my face. I didn’t want to look away from his comforting face. Suddenly, Daren turned and stalked towards me. James stared helplessly as Daren halted in front of my vulnerable body. I let go of James’s hand and he withdrew it, eyes filled with pain. “Get up!” he demanded. When I didn’t move he reached down with one arm and with little effort, dragged me up like a rag doll. My arm throbbed as he shoved me back toward the front of the room. He threw me back against the wall; my head cracked against it and I slid down into a sitting position, placing my hands over my head, trying not to scream. Daren knelt beside me and shoved my head back, forcing me to look at him. He was menacing, crouching over me, pointing the gun in my direction. Silent tears slid down my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw James shift his weight. I prayed he wouldn’t try anything stupid. “So, Abby, you don’t love me,” Daren said in a smooth casual tone that didn’t match his wild eyes, “but you are supposed to love me. And there is only one way that you will realize it.” Superiority rang in his tone and it made me shrink back, wishing I could melt into the wall behind me. The threat in his words was sinister. “You will take me back, Abby,” he said too confidently. Terror was pulsing through my veins, my breath becoming heavy. My body shook and my heart raced. “You WILL take me back, Abby!” he shouted, making my ears ring. I whimpered. With his free hand, he gently pushed my hair back out of my wet eyes. With a softer voice he made a final comment, “You have five minutes to realize you should be mine,” he said rising to his feet, “or I will kill everyone in this room, one by one, until you agree. Starting with this one.” Everyone screamed as he lurched toward Casey. He pulled her to her feet by her hair, put her in a choke hold, and pressed the mouth of the gun to her temple. Students cringed and whimpered in fear. She screamed an ear splitting cry of pain and panic. Through her tears she spoke. “Don’t do it, Abby! Don’t do it! Don’t give in to him! Don’t!” Daren pressed the gun harder into her head and shook her “Shut up!” he screamed. Casey went silent, tears still streaming down her face. I knew she was my best friend and I knew she loved me with all her heart but I wasn’t about to let her get hurt, or killed because of me. Gathering what courage I had, I slowly stood. I took a cautious step forward feeling all eyes on me. Daren’s barbaric eyes followed my movements reverently. “Daren, what are you doing? Why would you want to hurt innocent people who have done nothing to you? Why did you have to involve them when it’s me you want? It’s me you want to destroy!” The words slipped out from my mouth before I could stop them. Daren froze. Shock appeared on his face. Suddenly, he removed the gun from Casey’s head and shoved her to the ground. She scrambled to the side and shook with fear, her eyes still trained on me. Without warning, Daren lunged forward. He came at me, and grabbing my hair at the base of my neck, yanked my head back, forcing me to look him in the eyes. Their caramel color was hard and malicious as he shouted “No! Why the hell would you think that? I would never hurt you!” He shook me violently. Releasing my body from his vice grip, I fell to my knees from the force. He knelt in front of me, shoving the gun in my face. “Please Daren,” I begged, “please put the gun away. Then we can talk.” Daren placed his palm against my face like James had done earlier. But it was not like James’s touch. It felt wrong. It was hard and full of venomous power. Daren was motionless for a time: thinking. I thought he was considering what I had said, but then his expression changed. His eyes became sinister; I withdrew from his hard touch. Angered, he lurched and stood. “Time’s up, Abby,” he said in a hauntingly calm voice. He turned back around toward Casey. He was going to kill her, so I acted. Lunging forward, I reached for the gun in Daren’s hand, but he saw me coming. He turned and his hand flashed out, catching me across the face. I spun backwards from the force, my face burning and my head throbbing. His hand shot forward again into my chest, sending me back, cracking my head against the wall. Miraculously, I still stood, but my vision blurred. A sickening click sounded before my face. I opened my eyes and saw the gun, cocked, pointed straight at me. “Stupid b***h,” Daren spat. Terrified, I closed my eyes, waiting for the impact that would lead to my death. Nothing. When I dared to open my eyes, I was horrified by what I saw. James had thrown his arms around Daren’s neck and tried to pull him over backwards, away from me. Daren kept his balance and turned to place a punch in James’s stomach. James staggered backwards but came back at Daren, taking a swing at his jaw. But Daren was faster. He shoved the heel of his hand, hard, into James’s chest, forcing him to back up a few steps to regain his balance. Suddenly, Daren’s hand struck out and a single crack rang through the room. Then, nothing but eerie silence. My ear splitting scream shattered the quiet and a chorus of others followed. James fell to the ground with a thud. He moaned a painful, pitiful sound then lay motionless. I couldn’t tell where he was shot but I saw blood spreading quickly on the carpet. I didn’t see him breathing. The room stilled. No one moved or breathed. Cautiously, some of the students closest to James inched forward to help; Daren noticed. “Nobody move!” he shouted. Ignoring his demand, I jumped towards James, but Daren caught me by my hair and dragged me backwards, pinning me up against the wall. Tears spilled down my cheeks as I helplessly looked at James’s badly broken body. Daren was going to kill me, just like he killed James. There was no shadow of doubt in my mind. “Look what you made me do!” Daren screamed in my face. “Daren,” I choked through the tears, “why? Why did you do this?” He laughed a horrible, venomous laugh. He placed his palm gently to my damp cheek. “Abby,” he said as if speaking to a child, “it was all because I love you.” Suddenly, there was pounding at the door. I could hear loud shouting voices on the other side. The words were muffled but I knew help had arrived. They were coming for Daren. He looked me straight in the eyes, and surprisingly his expression was defeated and heartbroken, all signs of blood thirst and fury gone. He knew his time was up. “Tell me you love me, Abby,” he whispered. I stared at him with unfathomable confusion. After everything he had done, how could he possibly think I would love him? “Tell me!” he screamed. I jumped, startled by his outburst. I opened my mouth to tell him to shove off when I looked back at his eyes. But I didn’t look at them, I looked in them. I didn’t see the eyes of a killer. They were the caramel, honey eyes I saw that looked at me on the first day of school last year. I saw the love and the devotion that I always knew was there somewhere. I saw the sheer desperation to hear those words spoken by the girl he loved, one last time. Fresh tears spilling from my eyes, I raised my hand to his face. It was rough under my soft touch. Stroking his cheek with my thumb I took a deep breath. “I…I love you, Daren,” I whispered softly to him. I hoped this would put him at ease and I was surprised to see a single tear form at the corner of his eye and escape, drawing a sorrow trail down to his chin. With so much crushing force, he drew me up into a hug, placing his lips to my ear. “I love you.” He sighed. Placing his mouth over mine, he kissed me fiercely but tenderly. Quickly, he let me go and took a step back. Before I could comprehend what he was doing, or try to stop him, he raised the barrel of the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
I stared at the palms of my hands, remembering. There was blood everywhere; all over the floor, the walls, and myself. I remembered looking at my hands and seeing nothing but red. Students were screaming and police burst down the door and swarmed the room.
Daren lay right in front of me, so close I could see a dull glaze consume his once beautiful, caramel eyes. I sat over Daren’s body, stunned by shock and sorrow, and sobbed. After a few moments, Casey came over and helped me to my feet.
James was being loaded onto a stretcher; to my extreme surprise he was alive, but barely. I reached out and grasped his hand while Casey and I held onto each other and walked beside the stretcher.
They loaded James into the ambulance. It sailed, screaming and wailing, down the street to save his life. Casey and I stood there on the sidewalk, silently, as we both cried; cried in fear for our friend’s life hanging in the balance, cried in relief that we couldn’t be hurt anymore, and cried in horror of the death before our eyes.
Police swarmed everywhere. I knew before long I would be questioned until I had nothing left to say. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw a gurney supporting a heavy, long black bag. I stepped forward. Casey hesitated but didn’t leave my side. The officer pushing the gurney stopped when I approached and a look of sympathy came to his eyes. Letting my final tears slip down my face, I placed my hand on the lifeless body where Daren’s heart used to beat.
“Goodbye, Daren,” I whispered. I stepped back and gave the professionals room to load the body into the truck. Casey and I embraced each other and didn’t let go for a long time. It was finally over.
“Abby, I believe that with counseling you will get past this and find your peace,” Dr. Moor said as she smiled her gagging fake smile.
My peace?! She wanted me to find my peace? Did no one pay any attention to me? Maybe if they did they would realize I am fine and this counseling is a waste of my time. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Dr. Moor,” I began, “I know you think you know what’s right for me, but you don’t. I am just fine and don’t need you with your bogus smiles and fake sympathy to try and tell me what to do. You know, so many people ask me why I don’t hate him for what he did to me and my friends. You know what I tell them?” I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself from ranting, but was unsuccessful.
“I tell them I can’t hate him. He was a tortured soul, lost and confused. He loved me and didn’t know how to handle it. You want me to make ‘my peace’? I already did. I made my peace the day he killed himself in front of my eyes. And I don’t need a shrink, who thinks she knows me, to tell me what I do and don’t need to do. So thanks, but no thanks for your time.”
I stood from the overly-comfy couch and stormed towards the door. I reached out for the door knob and stopped cold. I turned back to face her. Her expression had not changed. She was still complacent and emotionless. I was surprised. The last rant I gave to a shrink made her cry. Then it hit me.
“Wow,” I said, honestly shocked, “you actually did it.”
She wasn’t like any shrink I had ever seen. She didn’t pressure me to share my feelings or even press me to recount my story. She was smarter than that. She was more cunning and devious than I would ever have expected.
“Did what, Abby?” she asked innocently. Like she didn’t already know!
I laughed. “You actually got inside my head.” She made me think everything on my own, never once prodding me for a specific answer. Even though there was no reason for me to need counseling, which she knew from the start, she followed it through and proved she could get inside my brain without the need. Boy, she was good.
She laughed too, a genuine laugh and smile. She wrote something else down on her paper and glanced back up at me, nonchalantly.
“You may go, Abby. I will not require any more sessions with you. Have a good day,” she said returning to the ice queen.
I smirked reaching for the door knob, pulling the door open and shutting it behind me as I left.
With my keys already in my hand, I walked to my car. I was never going to forget; that much was certain.
My cell phone buzzed in my pocket
“I’m so bored!” the voice whined. I laughed.
“I’ll get the movie, you get the popcorn. I’ll be there soon.”
“Oh, Abby, you’re a life saver!” I sighed and smiled at the irony of the comment. I was not a life saver, but he was.
“Bye, James,” I said and hung up the phone.
I unlocked my car and sat down in the driver’s seat. Sticking my key into the ignition, my car purred to life. I sat and smiled to myself. Daren is gone, never coming back, my best friend and I are closer than ever, and a boy, who already proved he would give his life for mine, is waiting to see me.
I put the car into drive and headed forward, not looking back.