Gazing intently at the tear-shaped raindrops pelting the windowsills, she finally felt liberated. Indeed, she had experienced a tumultuous journey to get to where she was now. With a slight shudder, Clara recalled the series of incidents which would perpetually leave an indelible scar on her.
"Clara, hurry up! You are going to be late for your rendezvous." Clara's mother nagged for the umpteenth time. Rolling her eyes, she applied a fresh layer of mascara and bolted down the stairs. Waves of exhilaration swept over her as she thought of the wonderful night she would have.
Like any typical teenager, Clara thrived on visiting Internet chat rooms. Initially, she did not expect anything beneficial to result from it. However, her whole world transformed when she met a self-professed male teenager online whom she clicked with. They had so much in common and were, as Clara liked to think, cyber soul mates. Ever since their first chat, she found herself grinning goofily at the most bizarre instances and singing soppy love songs in the shower. Much persuasion had been required on her part till her reluctant parents caved in and gave their consent to the date.
"Hi, you must be Clara! It's my pleasure to meet you." Alex warmly shook her hand. Suddenly, her legs had turned to jelly as she mechanically grinned.
Although she would never admit it aloud, she was vaguely surprised at how different her date looked, compared to his display picture. In person, his nose was more aquiline and wrinkles lined the bridge of his slightly sunken forehead. Even his eyes appeared more melancholic grey than the electrifying blue ones she gawked at daily. Her mind was suddenly clouded with a million uncertainties. Maybe she should have trusted her anxious parents. Just as she was beginning to wonder if she'd made the right decision in coming, he grinned reassuringly at her.
"Follow me", he whispered. Now that she had given him her trust, she was a prisoner of his beguiling spell. Obediently, she curled her fingers around his and was led by him.
They approached a dark, narrow alley. Clara felt the familiar foreboding sensation she had just experienced diffuse through her mind. However, her fear was alleviated by the sturdy grasp of his hand. "What are we doing here?" Clara asked innocently. All of a sudden, the gentle gaze of his eyes morphed into a darker, dangerous glare that cut right through her. Before she could react, he pounced on her like a tiger seizing upon its prey.
Alex swiftly whipped out a bandanna which he used to muffle her shrieks. As he was much stronger than Clara, her valiant attempts at resisting him were fruitless. Leering at her, he tore her blouse apart, as if possessed by a carnal hunger. She was her own destroyer; her whole life crashing down by one wrong decision. Bit by bit, he tore her to pieces mercilessly with his claws, until there was only a hollow shell left.
"Honey, are you awake?" The distressed faces of her parents came into focus. As Clara took in her surroundings, the harsh reality of what had happened came spiraling back to her. The burning sensation she felt and her mother's tear stained face were enough to send her sobbing.
No amount of comforting from her parents or anyone else was going to make things right. The damage was irreversible, branded onto her forever. She knew deep down that nothing would be the same again. Never would she be able to trust again.
Nothing was the same anymore. At school, she avoided contact with any of her friends, hoping that they would take the initiative to speak to her. Unsurprisingly, they shunned her. She could not bring herself to blame them for not knowing how to behave around her anymore. At home, worried looks were etched on her parents' faces. They treaded around her as if she were a fragile ornament.
She felt as if she was just too filthy, and aggressively scrubbed at herself till her arms bled. Accustomed to the pain; she allowed herself the tiniest pleasure that she could still feel. Clara was a ghost, a wisp of the outgoing girl that she had once been. Wandering around aimlessly, she was not able keep track of her life anymore.
Only when she was alone, she would let go and cry so hard that it seemed as if her eye sockets would dry out. She would release the frustrations pent up in her heart. Nothing could repair her broken heart, not even if that monster was captured. Sure, it would give her a fleeting sense of satisfaction, but how long would that last? It was impossible to erase those inescapable moments of torture, the fear of not being able to have control over your own body.
However, just when she thought things could not get any worse, she stumbled upon a rape victim's journal. Her mouth hung agape as she absorbed the victim's road to recovery. She simply could not believe the cliché phrase that "time could heal all wounds" and was surprised that anyone who had to go through such a horrible crisis would be able to emerge unscathed. Her initial shock gradually turned to one of awe and admiration.
The revelation hit her out of the blue. All along, she had been delusional, blaming herself for what had happened, thinking that she was the weak one. As usual, she had blamed herself for everything, thinking irrationally. It was he who had ruined her, so why should she pay the price? If she continued wallowing in self-pity, wouldn't she be succumbing to her hopeless fate? Surely, she did not deserve the trauma and heartache that she imposed upon herself. Although she would be unable to trust a man for some time, maybe she would recover with time. She would get over it slowly, somehow and it would take the help of her closest friends and family, but she would ultimately make it. Although the pain would eternally linger with her, the scar would gradually wane away with time.
She felt the rain wash away her agony, till she could not discern whether it was rain or tears trickling down her face. Forever tainted… those words echoed in the distance.