Page 1

 Tara Brown

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Chapter One: A promise is a promise
She looked at her surroundings confused, her body trembled as if she was cold but her skin burned. Her breath felt as if it left her face only to rebound on something. The darkness around her should have comforted her. She had always felt safer in the dark it was easier to hide in, instead she felt lost in space. Something was moving her. She put an aching hand out to find how far the wall was from her but her hand was stopped within inches. The wall was a carpet of sorts. She felt a rumbling beneath her and looked up, she was in the trunk of a moving car.
As with most people who do not enjoy small places, the diminutive space shrunk around her as she panicked. Suddenly it was as if she were Alice and had eaten the cake to make her grow instantly, filling up the trunk. She felt her bitter shivers increase as she panicked and blood left her extremities. She closed her eyes and decided to focus on the other obvious problem she was being faced with instead of falling victim to a panic attack.
She moved her hands over her aching body feeling her clothes torn, shredded almost. She could feel the tattered ends of her shirt hanging open. She flexed her muscles that felt tender but not wounded. She closed her eyes trying to recall the last thing she could but her thoughts seemed stuck, as if the gears in her mind required oiling. Everything was hazy except her heartbeat, which pounded fierce enough that she could feel it in her socks. Scratch that, tattered socks. Her toes dangled from the ends of them.
“I’ve been raped.”
The statement rolled off her lips as a subtle whisper but it felt as if it weighed a ton once it hung in the air around her. Abruptly, as if sent on a twisted path beyond her control, her mind thought about the recent summer still fresh and warm on her skin. She thought about how she’d dated Jimmy Stratton, who had waited eight months for them to lose their virginity together. It had happened on a hot August afternoon, lazily by a river near his parent's house. She remembered how it felt, not great considering the effort that went into making it a perfect experience, but also how violated she had felt afterward.
That feeling of violation was suddenly fresh in her mind. She felt the tears slipping silently down her cheeks, how had this happened? Where had she been? She pushed her mind flexing it as she had with her muscles, desperate to recall something. Her memories were going back days not hours.
It didn’t matter what she could remember, she knew that girls who woke up in trunks sore and exhausted with clothes ripped to shit had been kidnapped and raped. There was also a real possibility of torture. She thought about the pain involved in torture and decided instantly, cringing with disgust, she would be a good girl. She would do whatever her cruel attacker wanted, she wanted to live. She planned it out in her mind as the car rumbled along the road, she would live through this.
Then she would recover from her PTSD by becoming a nun or a monk. She puzzled over whether girls could be monks, swearing she had seen something about female monks.
Her thoughts slowed along with the tires of the car, stopping altogether as it did. She felt panicked and decided fake sleeping might buy her a little time. It would at least get her a few answers as most were less guarded around sleeping people.
She felt her body relax as she pretended to be unconscious but her muscles refused to play along, they twitched wanting to come to life and fight for her freedom. She knew she would never get back the memories and with the state of her clothing she didn’t truly care if she ever got them back. What terrified her was the possibility of making any new memories with her attacker.
She heard the car go into park.
She heard the parking brake.
The keys pulled from the starter.
Driver door opened.
Feet crunch down on the gravel, soft gravel.
Door closed.
Feet crunching closer to the trunk.
Feet stopped outside the trunk.
Breath of the stranger.
Keys sliding into the lock.
Cold night air rushed into the trunk as the latch opened. She fought with her eyes forcing them to remain closed. Desperately they struggled against her to see him, who was he? She thought about the possibilities, janitors or construction workers, fellow grads, teachers. Realistically it could be anyone.
“I see you're holding your breath, I know you’re not sleeping and honestly I don’t want to carry you anymore.” The voice was old, she could tell. Old and English. Continuing to hold her breath she thought long and hard but came up blank. She didn’t know anyone matching that description.
He didn’t touch her or bend down to her. He wasn’t threatening her. He just stood there. She waited ten more seconds and opened one eye very slowly.
He was incredibly old, she paused for a moment focusing on him, “You? You raped me?” The words crept from her mouth.
He jumped back startled, “My word, I most definitely did nothing of the sort.” His cheeks flushed as he stammered, “I-I only rescued y-you.”
He looked truly offended. Hanna looked down at her ripped clothing looking confused, “You found me like this?”
He nodded holding a hand out to her.
Before taking his hand she stopped and thought for a moment, “You found me like this and decided to put me in your trunk instead of taking me to a hospital. I need a rape kit done. You’re going to have to answer to the authorities.”
He frowned looking confused, “Miss Hanna, no one has harmed you.” He tilted his head off to the side, “You did this to yourself. I put you in the trunk to protect myself.”
Her eyes widened as did her mouth wanting to speak but instead her jaw remained open in confusion.
She shook her head, “I don’t understand.”
He pulled a dark green fleecy blanket from the trunk near her feet. He reached in very slowly and held it up for her, “Please come inside and your father will explain everything.”
She looked at the warm blanket and the very old man holding it. She looked, realizing she had been to the courtyard surrounding her. She knew where she was.
“I hurt myself?” Still hazy she asked softly.
He nodded raising his eyebrows, “Your answers are inside.”
She looked to her right at the large manor house her father had recently brought her to. She had loved it, making small fantasies in her mind about growing up there. She imagined a childhood in the old Tudor home with a tire swing out back. She imagined her father hugging her and letting her into his life. It could have been their home if he had let it. She closed herself off from the imaginations of a hopeful lost little girl. Instead she welcomed back the snarky comments of a bitter and twisted young woman. She climbed from the trunk on shaky legs taking his weathered soft hand and allowed him to cover her mostly naked body in the warm fleecy blanket. She wrapped herself completely and winced. Walking on the gravel hurt her feet. She stepped gingerly, trying to find the path of least resistance.
“Who are you?” She asked not looking back at him, still nervous enough to not want a silence surrounding them.
“I am your family's man.”
She played with the words in her mind. The word 'man' struck her as odd. She had questions but decided they should wait for her father.
The front of the huge home was a magnificent wooden double door with carvings of an old forest scene. The handles were golden colored, although she wouldn’t be surprised if they truly were gold. Her father was odd in a way only rich people were allowed to be. Gold door handles would be one of the lesser weird moments for her.
The older man opened the door standing rigidly waiting for her to enter. She walked through the threshold slowly, still worried about how she had landed in a trunk with nearly nothing on.
She followed beside him, silently along the hard stone floors. Her father had a thing for granite. She followed him to a back room she had not seen before. Inside was a four-poster bed with extravagances all around it. The furniture was dark cherry wood, suiting the Tudor home perfectly.
She looked at the figure on the huge bed, squinting to see his face in the muted lighting.
A weak looking discolored individual she had never seen before lay on the huge bed. Suddenly she realized it was her father. The sickly looking version of him had replaced the robust handsome man.
He turned his eyes to her, looking further disheartened, “Hanna, oh thank god you found her Roland.” He spoke breathlessly. It was as if he struggled to breath.
“I did Sir and I will leave you two now unless you need something further?”
Her father waved a sickly looking thin hand, “No please go and rest old man.”
Roland chuckled bitterly, “Old am I? Then you Sir are ancient.” He bowed and left the room silently.
Hanna walked to her father and sat in the huge wooden rocking chair at his bedside. She felt concern cross her face and struggled to look as if she didn’t care.
His dark eyes glossed over, “I-I-I am s-s-so s-s-sorry Hanna.” His wrinkled face trembled. She noticed how much he had aged in the few short months since her last visit.
He smiled weakly, looking humble and cleared his throat. He seemed to be fighting himself to gain his composure.
“I have betrayed you in every way.”
She frowned not speaking, terrified to ruin a moment she had waited her whole life for.
“I don’t even have enough time now to explain the entirety of the situation to you.” His voice grew grainy. He cleared his throat again.
"How are you this sick?" She couldn’t believe how old and haggard he looked.
“I am a monster, there is no denying it. You were an accident, as was your mother. Both accidents along the highway of my life and instead of stopping to help, I left you there stranded. I never knew how to fix any of it. I've tried to find a cure Hanna, I really have.” His eyes watered, Hanna watched as he began to cry. She felt distraught, not only for being called an accident but that he had waited until his last moments to reach out to her. She couldn’t believe he hadn’t told her was ill.
“I left you with them as your mother asked me to. She thought she knew them, we both thought we knew them. Now I see, I see what they are. Of course now it is too late.” He coughed as if the liquid making his voice grainy were drowning him inside, “You’ll need this, it's your only hope.” He passed her a sheet of paper with markings across it. It looked like math and diagrams. She frowned wondering if he had seen her final grades, or how bad she had done.