I find the letter on the hall bench. It is addressed to me, from the university. My heart leaps, then stills, as I realize something is wrong. A strange bulge is apparent at the letters base, and the flap has been re-taped.I drag my nail along the tape line, then flip it open. The contents are a shredded ball of paper. I pull them out, and several drift to the floor. My acceptance. He'd read my acceptance and destroyed it.I drop the letter, my heart quickening,and rush up the stairs to my room.

The door has been left ajar. I push it open, and step inside. Both windows are open, and a cold wind blows past me. My sheets have been torn, and my mattress split open. Its iron springs gape like teeth between the shredded padding which litters the floor. The desk beside it is overturned, and the chair lies splintered and legless at its side. There are papers everywhere, on my shelves, fluttering across the windowsill, lying in piles beside the carpet.

Dirty footprints mark many of them, leading in a trail to a glint of gold beside my night table. I step closer, and see my soccer medal. It has been crushed to pieces.

My chest, which has felt strangely clenched, loosens. I grab at the bookcase, throwing my entire weight against its side. It topples with a crash, and I step backwards, my heart pounding as a surge shudders through me. My stomach is heaving and my vision has blurred. I turn and vomit onto the floor.

Suddenly I am afraid.

I have lost my will. The feet which now move, carrying my forcefully down the stairs and into the kitchen, are no longer my own. I watch my hands claw at the drawers beside the stove, and my chest clenches again. I feel a coil ensnare me, its rage tightly wound about the wild heat which now flares at its center. My hand has paused, its fingers hovering over the lighter buried beneath the contents of the drawer. Then I grab at it, my thumb pushing sharply into its side.

A flame bursts upwards, and I hold it against the edge of the curtains which trail over the sink. I watch the blue-green fabric crumple, blackening, and a perverse satisfaction engulfs me. I trail the light swiftly along the length of the curtain's hem. The flames lick upwards slowly, then faster and faster until a wave of heat pushes me backwards.

I turn, and run into the living room. I press into the lighter again with my thumb, watching the flare jump up. I brush it against the couch, the arm chair, the tapestries, then hold it against the curtains. Within seconds the room is ablaze.

I stumble backwards, my hands going slack. The lighter falls onto the carpet. There is a popping sound, and a wall of flame bursts up before me. A pain sears my hand and I scream. My feet pull me toward the door, my hand closing feebly about the handle as the smoke presses into my lungs. I wrench it open, and cold air rushes in.

In the distance, I hear a siren. I press my hand into my shirt, and scramble toward the backyard. I run to the furthest part of the lawn, then fall to my knees. I crawl into the bushes which line the length of our fence, curling myself into a ball within the prickly confines of the branches. I press my head into my arms, squeezing my eyes shut as I rock back and forth, back and forth, on the soles of my feet.

He will never hurt me again, I whisper to myself.

Never, ever, again.