Traipsing through the thick undergrowth of a tropical jungle, my arms intertwined with hanging vines to help me keep my balance. I yanked my feet from the clutches of snarling roots and deadened flora as I walked. Flies half the size of my fist flew straight for the moisture of my eyes, my cracked lips, relentlessly. The humid air had me drawing ragged breaths, scorching my throat like flames, blistering my lungs.
The dry wind whipped across my face like knives, drawing blood to the skin of my cheeks, and fusing ice to my face. The cold was like fire against my hands, my feet, my face, as I trekked through the snow with determination. I could see nothing but the white sheet of ice and snow that bombarded the long stretch of deserted land. The wind whistled in my ears and was the only sound – even my pained breaths were muted by the –
The noise tore me from the page, and I lowered my pen in irritation. I'd been drawn from my world of fiction to that of reality again.
"Are you listening to me?" the voice demanded. I recognised it well enough, the way it was peppered with impatience and brute anger. The way it thought it could tell me what to do, how to think.
I raised myself to a sitting position on the bed, closed my notebook, and readied myself for the onslaught I was about to endure. A moment of silence did not ease my anxiety.
And sure enough, the door burst open seconds later as if an explosion had pulled it off its hinges. It swung back and hit my bedroom wall – an all too familiar practice that had it and my door suffer, and a growing pile of paint chips on the floor witness.
He stormed in with power, barely two strides bringing him across the room to me, and had me by the top of my arms, near my shoulder blades – a standard action that disallowed my bruises to heal. I felt the pressure on them now, his fingers against the sorest of my muscles.
My back slammed against the south wall of my bedroom, and I was pinned against it. I kept my eyes closed tightly, not caring to see the sight I'd seen a thousand times before.
After a brief pause to make sure I wasn't about to try anything stupid, his left hand released my arm, and with lightning speed, re-adjusted its position at my throat. His right hand remained in place.
"I asked you a question," the voice hissed – cold fury replacing his prior violent rage. His face was closer to mine, now, confident that he was in control. His breath stank of stale alcohol and a smoke that I could not identify, but knew well all the same.
The pressure at my throat made it hard to summon my voice, but knowing it would only worsen if I were not to reply, I strived to speak.
"Yes," I choked, affirming I was listening. His breathing slowed a little, pleased I wasn't defying his self-declared authority. He was a narcissist – it would have seemed to him a ridiculous prospect for me to try such a thing.
"Good," he snarled, loosening his grip slightly; I drew in a gasping breath.
And then it was worse than ever – his hands pressing against my throat and shoulder, heavier than concrete, unrelenting. I twisted my left arm up and grasped his right wrist, trying to break its hold frantically. My right flew to the one at my throat.
I could feel the lack of oxygen dizzy me, throat burning and lungs constricting. I tried to scream, but my voice wasn't present. I kept my eyes closed. No doubt he would have the same look of fierce triumph, the same winning sneer.
I couldn't bear it much longer. I needed air. My head spun; I forgot where I was, and what was happening…
But then my breaths – though raw and desperate – were hurrying in and out of my throat again. I clutched at my neck, ignoring the soreness that made me want to scream.
When I opened my eyes, he was gone. The door was closed, and I was on the floor beside my bed. I stood, my shoulder aching as I flexed my arms.
No broken bones. That was a plus. But there hadn't been a reason for his outbreak this time – he'd just been exercising his power. It was becoming all too frequent; he'd lose his temper for the smallest things, if for one at all… like he enjoyed hurting me.
In fact, I didn't doubt that. He loved the power it commanded, the fact that it meant he controlled another being, could harm them if he wanted – and he did.
It revolted me that my own father could be such a callous monster.