Everyone else was still asleep, in semi-toxic slumbers after our night of parties. Our third day of our road trip, and more than half of us were already hung over. Only excluding me, Celia, and Maeghan... mostly. Celia would be, but she had to drive for us last night. Still, the nightlife in Memphis, Tennessee was exciting, and, before you knew it, the time was late and you were exhausted.
I would have been among the sleeping, had I not woken from a haunting dream. Maeghan lay beside me, still sleeping, in her own semi-toxic slumber. I did not want to wake her for several reasons. If she did not get enough sleep, she would be upset- that is to say, bitchy- probably most of the day. Also, I wanted her to sleep off last night's alcohol or she'd just chase the hangover with too much tonight. Finally, and undeniably, she simply looks beautiful and peaceful when she's sleeping.
I sat up in our bed, hugging my knees to my chest. I looked out our window, out at the little children's park behind the parking places. The morning was still quite young, and the sun had yet to rise. Though I did not check our little digital clock, I knew it must be around five in the morning. The sky had not yet taken on the fiery hue of an impending sunrise, but I knew that soon it would come.
The little stream-like cut in the ground separating the road and the park area seemed darker and more mysterious in this early light, and the small wooden bridge looked as if it could lead to Terabithia itself. The grass was a dark, nighttime hue, though the morning had come. The gentle sway of the wind moved the grasses in a way that said that they did not accept the morning until the sun had risen in the now indigo sky.
I saw the contentedly swaying tree leaves, the peaceful grasses, and the little alcove that could provide a hiding place for two young, reckless teenagers. I turned my face away, thinking how Maeghan would worry if she saw my pain twisting the features she so adored. My shoulders and hands tensed as I reminded myself not to harm myself. My forearms remained un-bruised by my clenched fists, and my palms remained un-punctured by my razor-like fingernails. With a deep breath, I relaxed my body, now biting my lip to refrain from spilling tears. The lip bite was not a way of harming myself, but simply a habit that I've had since before I can remember. In spite of my efforts, the memories rushed like a spear into my soul.
Filthy knees pinning my weak arms to a dirt ground. Straining my neck to turn my face away to spare at least that from desecration. The sound of flesh hitting flesh and my head jerking the other way from the large, dirty hand. The final addition of insult to injury, all over me, as he is above me and getting what he wants before taking me back to my own home to eat my own food and relax on my own couch to use up the resources of MY own family. Again, and again, and again, taking the abuse. Again and again and again the arguing, the crying, the hating.
And finally, the tears overflowed my burning cheeks. I felt the stinging heat of tears and the memory of a slap. My arms ached with the memory of near-breaking pressure. Nearly everywhere on my body throbbed with the memory of some abuse from him. The last man I was ever with. The first man I was ever with. I tried to keep my body steady and let the tears rain down, but I couldn't help shaking. Soon, I felt movement next to me.
"Anna? Oh my God, Anna Rose? What's wrong?" Maeghan's frantic voice broke my barrier and I let out a small, pathetic sound of pain. She spoke to me, but I barely heard her as she wrapped her arms around me. She told me everything was all right as I collapsed into her arms, and I felt weak. I felt helpless.
I buried my face in her chest, trying to hide, from everything, from the memories, even from her. I felt her soft hands stroking my hair and caressing my face, so different from the twisted affection from my past abuser.
All the sadistic kisses. All the false tender strokes to my face. Never again could I find comfort in the affections from a man, and I hated that. I could never be normal. Though I told myself that I wasn't running away from the affections of a man, sometimes I wondered if that is why I threw caution to the wind to let myself love Maeghan instead of trying to heal myself. There was no doubt that I loved her, but was I with her because I was brave enough to take on the prejudice of the world, or because I was too afraid to face the chance of more abuse? I used the former as a façade to seem strong and independent, and I used the latter as another reason to hate myself.
Constant turmoil raged in my tired mind, but finally, Maeghan calmed me down. As the tears waned and my breath evened, the first light of day began to stream through the window. I looked up from my hiding, and saw her looking lovingly down at me. Despite the tired look to her face, I felt comforted by her. As the golden sun began to light our room, I looked out the window to watch the sunrise.
It was another new day.