Written for my writing class. Inspired by "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo, which I do NOT own.

It was too dark. The silence was blaring, assaulting her ears like a death metal concert. Silence hurt her. The darkness bore down on her with a weight not possible for something that wasn't tangible. There was nothing for miles around her, she could feel it, smell it, sense it.

It was dark and loud and her ears were ringing warning bells and the air was so thick and it was so dark and she couldn't breathe or think of move or breathe!—


Open your mouth, inhale. Exhale through the nostrils now, good girl…Calm down, deep breaths, that's it. Very good girl! Now open your eyes and…

A fist collides with your face.

Jolt awake. It's just a dream. Breathe, it's just an illusion. Remember, it's just a figment of my imagination. It's just another silly nightmare. Just another image my mind creates to—

the moon shines through the window and illuminates the dark mark splashed across her cheek and eye—

—scare me. It's simply, merely a stress or problem in my life playing itself out in a metaphorical way to provide me with a solution—

the make-up lays scattered across the vanity, application wedges stained with cover-up from far too many uses, should be thrown away and replaced with a new one soon

—that will one day make sense and click in my head—

bashed against the wall, struck with a closed hand repeatedly until she can't even move and the tears don't even come anymore, just the pain that never seems to go away, an eerie, demented precision that he can fit his fist over the exact same spot time after time

—and then it will all be over.

She doesn't see the man who watches her form the bedroom window with tears in his eyes. He is a memory collector. He will never be seen by a human so long as his powers to collect the memories of others remain his. His duty is to never interfere with a human's life, but to save those worth saving by stealing their negative memories and documenting the process.

For the past two years he has been assigned to her, writing reports late into the night, filing papers with the correct labels, and falling more and more in love with her with each passing night he takes away another memory of her boyfriend striking her, beating her into submission.

She never fully gives in, and the pathetic excuse for a man sees that and hits her harder, more viciously, in more places, more often. A man has to teach his woman a lesson until she learns her place, after all.

Two years he's been with her. One day he receives a notification from the Council of Collections.

His assignment has been terminated.

She isn't worth saving any longer.

Gazes at mirrors averted, money blown on make-up, long-sleeved shirts in ninety degree weather, picture frames shattered on the first level, bloody tissues stuffed in the trash bin, stained towels tossed in the Laundromat washing machine.

Skin heals, but the intent never goes away.

I'm driving in my car, getting away, finally. My body aches like never before. Blood is trying to gush from my side where the blade pierced it. The street is blurring—

she swallowed down the last of the pills, a dozen or so working their way further into her esophagus, into her stomach, three at a time, single file now

—from the blood loss, but it's okay now. I'm going to the meadow, to the crossing tree that lays fallen over the trickling creek. So many good memories of this place, where daddy built me that swing from the willow tree and carved out my name with an artist's precision—

his hands wrapped around her throat with the intent to kill, so she took that knife and put it right between his legs, so he'd never create another monster to walk the earth like he did

—because he always had such steady hands capable of completing anything with the best intentions. The way the leaves on the thin, wiry willow branches swayed like a dancer in the wind. The way the roots erupted from the dirt, swirled and twisted their gritty, hard arms into the perfect seat to hold and protect me—

the car began to drift into the next lane, but no one was there, and she was so close to the meadow, within walking distance now if she would just stop the car and let her memories take over

—the same way daddy protected me until the cancer took him away from me. Everybody I love leaves me. Now it's my turn to leave.

He can't let her die. He'd sacrifice his powers and interfere with her life, just to see her smile the way she used to and love life the way her father taught her to. He'd give anything to hear the tinkle of her laughter and smell the sweetness of her skin.

He prepared to give up his powers.

He ran.

He ran until he reached the meadow where the car she drove had crashed into a willow where the fine letters of her precious name were carved with the beauty only an artist could create. Her body lay sprawled beneath the tickling branches, the tips of which were coated in a dark, thick substance that seemed to spread everywhere around her.

He brushed his fingers across her cheek. Colder than it should have been. His knee was wet with the blood from where he knelt. He looked at the smile that curved her lips and somehow managed to reach her eyes. Brown eyes that shifted rapidly form side to side, as if watching a movie play in the air above her. Eyes that didn't see him.

Her final memory, the one he didn't take away. He knows it, like he knows the features of his own face, from all the nights he made her dream about it, the day her father first brought her to the meadow and granted her entry into a world of dreams, where everything that she imagined was possible, truly.

That very first day where she climbs the branches of the willow tree, the thin little leaves tickling her skin with kisses. How she watches her daddy take his Swiss Army knife and carefully cut away the bits of bark until the letters of her name form in gentle arches. When she runs from pretend monsters and her daddy fights them off with a sword he's made from wood, but they both know it's magic. Where she lays in her daddy's lap, sipping iced tea from the cooler he brought with them, exhausted from hours of dancing on his feet in the light of the setting sun. Where she learns what it feels like to have love in her life.

"Daddy," she whispers, and her darkening eyes fill with tears.

He crushes her to him and weeps. His powers are now gone, and so is she.