Title: Broken Pieces (05/??)
Author name: E.D. Fiorentino
Category: Angst
Sub Category: Drama
Keywords: Abuse, song lyrics, friendship
Rating: M
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Andrea Whalor never pretended that life was perfect, yet she was brought almost brutally to the realization of how lucky she had been after one of her best friends is found dead when a dominant/submissive relationship goes bad.
Rated M for use of language and adult content (mostly later chapters).
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on actual occurrences, although the names and places have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Memories and Tears was written by Heather Perry and corresponding music by The Crimson Rain, and is being used with their permission.
Author notes: While "Broken Pieces" is based on a true story, it is not focused entirely on one person. As you come to know Andrea, Ian, and Ashlynn, you may see in them yourself, a friend, or a boyfriend who once was, or still is, in the same position.
After witnessing a friend of mine go through Andrea's POV, and then having to go through her position myself, primarily inspired the writing of this story. I know how heart-wrenching it is to watch someone you love be abused, whether it be mentally or physically, for the soul reason that they continue to lay down their trust on the very person who is hurting them. While both of my friend's stories turned out okay, "Broken Pieces" is just a reminder that not all relationships like that can have a happy ending.
A special thanks goes out to Aurelione, who, without meaning to, encouraged me to keep writing this. It is a beautifully written story, and I wish to continue, regardless of how much pain I went through with Heather. Thank you very much.

Broken Pieces
Part Two: Why Won't it Come Off?
Chapter Five

I miss our nights of dinner and movies
I miss our mornings of breakfast in bed
I miss the security of your arms around me
I miss all the smiles, the good and the bad

Now I sit here alone, numb to all care
Crying these tears of loss and despair
My heart is a mess, what can I do?
I need someone to lean on, that someone is you

Why did you leave me that terrible day?
There were so many things I still needed to say
Honey, I love you, I miss you my dear
Now all I have are memories, and plenty of tears

I lay on my stomach on my daybed, watching the rain fall out of the window beside me. With my head propped on my arms, I consider the day. So much has happened recently…it pains me to think of the past, so I stop, and instead watch the rain again. I wonder, almost absently, if Ashlynn is looking down from the heavens at the same drops, regretting leaving this earth and those who loved her. If she were still alive, what would she say? What knowledge would she wish to bestow upon us tiny mortals?

"Andy?"

I turn my head and see Will standing in the doorway. His hair is soaked, as are his clothes, and I can barely discern the shivers that he is trying hard to contain.

"Did you bike over here?"

He nods. "Dad's got the car today."

Tight lipped, I get to my feet and pass him in the doorway. He seems confused, but his facial expression changes to a small, sad smile when I return with a towel.

"Thanks."

"You don't need to get sick because of me. I've told you that before, if you'll remember." I sit back down on the daybed and stare out the window again.

"Why don't you turn on the lights?" Will asks.

"I like the dark. It seems fitting, anyway."

"Fitting to what?"

"My mood. As usual."

With the towel still around him, he walks over and sits down behind me. I sigh and lean back into his embrace. The coldness is numbing, and the pain I feel seems to fade a little.

"Are you okay?" he asks suddenly, his voice quiet now that we are so close together.

I shrug. "Will I ever be?" The rain roars against the window in a sudden swell, a driving force so strong that it is suddenly impossible to see anything but blurs beyond the glass. I lean against it, my cheek pressing against the cold. Again, it seems to numb my pain. "He destroyed my life in one simple stroke. He killed me when he killed her."

He brushes his fingers--they are cold and clammy--against my jaw line. "Are you even sure it was him?"

"It had to be," I say defiantly. "It couldn't have been anyone else!"

"Why do you say that?"

I stop, and stare out the window again. The downpour has lessened a bit, but not much. "It had to be."

"Andy..."

"I can't tell you!" I explode.

Will wraps his arms around my body even tighter and holds me as I sob into him. "I can't tell anyone. She asked me not to!"

Very gently, he asks, "Tell anyone what, Honey?"

He knows that I'll do anything when he calls me honey. It's my one weakness, one that he exploits when I really need to talk. I bite my lower lip, and he smiles and laughs softly. "I don't know..." I whisper. "She begged me not to tell anyone..."

"Andrea, what is it?"

I look down at the fabric that covers the bench. "He...he..." I gulp down the fear that surfaces in my throat. I'm teetering the very abrupt edge of betrayal. She asked that I keep it a secret. She asked that I tell no one about the bruises he left on her shoulders, the belt marks on her thighs, the rope burns on her wrists and ankles. She pleaded that I never tell her parents that he hit her, that he had tied her up and fucked her while she lay there screaming...

I choke on my tears again, and Will just holds me and smoothes down my hair. The curls are damp, as I'd had to walk down the hill in the rain from the bus stop, and stay slicked back the way he forces them. Suddenly, as though a dam has burst in my chest, I pour out everything that happened, everything that she told me, every bruise, every scrape, every welt. As I draw to a close, Will's eyes are huge, and he pulls me closer.

"She told you that?"

I nod. "And at first, she showed me the bruises, and then told me they were nothing, that she'd deserved them."

"That she deserved them?"

My brow creases in a frown as I try to remember what she told me. "Something about...she disobeyed him?"

"What was she, his slave?"

I look down and away. "That's what it sounded like."

All of a sudden Will is furious. "You knew all that and you didn't tell anyone?"

"What was I supposed to do?!" I yell. "Tell something so horrific like that about my best friend? No one would believe me!"

He takes my face in his hands. I flinch back, fearing he will hurt me, but it is the look on his face that ends up hurting me. "I would have believed you. I would have tried to help."

Tears drip down my face. "You don't know that." I stand up and open the door, leaning against it, my face in my right hand. "Just go. I can't--I just--"

A silent interruption, he stands and does just that.

The front door slams in answer to my next statement: "I'm sorry."

I was not looking forward to facing Jan again at practice. The locker room was deadly silent as we changed. Everyone could feel the tension between us, and the ugly blue and yellow bruise on her cheek was a silent warning to anyone who wanted to ask me questions. Walking out onto the deck was worse: with the younger kids, who always seem to be happy, talking animatedly, I feel my mood darken in the worst way, and I was a bear as I slid into the water.

"Hi, Andy!"

I grunt, and practically fall into the water as I start off from the wall. Soon, my rush of anger is lost in the routine of stroking, kicking, and breathing. I push myself harder for the warm up than I usually do, but it feels so good to take my anger at Will, at Jan, and at the world out on the unsuspecting, unbreakable water.

The first hour flies by, with me pushing myself so hard that my coach begins to give me a strange look every time that I blast past her position against the wall. Eventually, she stops me.

"Andy--"

"What am I doing wrong?" I ask, confused. I didn't think that my stroke was dissipating. In fact, it felt really smooth, something that comes rarely to me.

"I'm not stopping you because something's wrong...quite the opposite. Had that been a race, you would have had a B time."

I blink, startled. I hadn't realized I was sprinting.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"What? Yeah." My blood hums in my head, urging me to return to my swimming.

"Have you been sick?"

"No."

"Have you changed your eating pattern?"

"I don't think so."

"Have you--"

"Can't I just swim?"

It's such a simple question that my coach just laughs at me. "Go on, then."

She doesn't know that I feel the need to swim, just to take my mind off of everything that is going on.

I started swimming at the beginning of my sophomore year in high school. Jan was one of the people who encouraged me. I remember first standing at the edge of the locker room, gazing out at the pool with my teammates. Some, like me, were new to the team that year. Others, like Jan, were veterans.

I was scared, I'll now admit. I hate not being good at things, and having to show that, so stepping into the pool (or, rather, falling, as I slipped as I was getting in!) was one of the hardest things I'd ever done.

But I did it. I finished that first lap, without swallowing any water. I did it without pulling any muscles.

I may not have been very good at first, but I worked hard to get better. And, I made friends. I talked to the girls in my lane, laughed at them, and they laughed at me. We got to know each other well.

And then I branched out. I met Ashlynn.

She was quiet and shy back then. Because she'd just moved to Frenchglen, she knew next to nobody, and had no friends. We were all merely acquaintances, people she would talk to maybe once, and perhaps never again.

We were both on the state 200 freestyle relay team. But, while I was just an alternate, she was actually competing. We shared a room over the four days we were there, and we got to know each other very well.

She was a day older than I.

We were born on opposite sides of the country.

We both had two half-siblings.

We both had a cat named Tatum, even though I'm allergic and have to take medication.

While she was tall and slight, I was short and more muscular, now from swimming, then from running.

Our lives ran parallel to each other, as though we were meant to be one person, with variances in personality and physical characteristics. At one point, we were mistaken for being sisters once, which made me laugh, until I was asked if I was thirteen or fourteen.

I collide hard with the wall, and take in a mouthful of water. Sputtering, I stand up and try to breathe in slowly. My lane mates giggle and snort around me, while the coaches look concerned and inquire as to my health.

This is the way we always are: we laugh when someone gets hurt, smile when someone does well, and cry when someone leaves us for good. It is a cycle, never ending in much the same way that life is. We will live for such a short time, and leave our mark on society. Did Ashlynn leave one? Will people in the future look into their history books and say, "Remember learning about that girl, Ashlynn?"

Practice ends, and we climb out of the pool. I watch Jan as she talks quietly with a few of her friends, and then glances in my direction. She is flushed, as they finished their sets of 200 fly, back, breast, and freestyle not too long ago. She tugs at the strap of her suit, pulls it out to its full length, and then releases it. Almost comically, I realize that her bruise is nearly the same color as her suit, a blue-purple color. She used to joke that it would intimidate the competition. I just said it looked ugly, and that was that.

Jan and I, we've had a strange friendship. From the very start, we were out to get each other, viciously attacking the other until one of us couldn't take it anymore. I would grin when new people would join our little group and watch us fight.

We eventually grew out of this pattern, and remained close friends.

Until now.

Home was my refuge, my release from the days stress and work. At home I could relax, I could sit and write on my computer, talk to my friends over the Internet, or just read. Homework, as common as it was, remained in my bag until the very last moment, from when I would pull it out and complete it as best I could.

I now avoid the computer entirely. I'm afraid of the words that would flow from my fingers, should I seat myself at the keyboard and begin to type.

So now I sit at the window, pondering: was Will right? Should I have told him, told someone what Ashlynn told me?

Would she still be alive?

These thoughts haunt me, so I turn my mind to other things. I step up to the kitchen, and grab an apple from the bowl.

"Andy, you got a letter in the mail." I look up, the chunk of fruit in my mouth still half attached to the apple. I pull it off with my teeth and take the letter that my mother is holding out. It is in a nondescript envelope, with clear, precise black pen on the front of it.

Andrea K. Whalor

1553 Northburn Lane

Frenchglen, OR 65223

There was no return address.

I went back into my room, plopped down on my bed, and took another bite of the apple. There was definitely a letter inside, along with what felt like a Polaroid picture, and a piece of material. I frowned, and rubbed it with the fingers of my non-appelized hand. No, it wasn't material…it was a lock of hair.

Dread filling my heart, I opened up the envelope and peered inside.

My apple dropped to the floor, and a scream tore from my throat.
I remember the day, the day that you died
I remember the phone call, when I started to cry
Now I sit here alone, numb to all care
Crying these tears of loss and despair

Where are you now, are you in a better place?
Are you smiling down at me from Heaven's grace?
Honey, I love you, I miss you my dear
Now all I have are memories, and plenty of tears

Why did you leave me that terrible day?
There were so many things I still needed to say
Honey, I love you, I miss you my dear
Now all I have are memories, and plenty of tears