I ran. Not knowing, not caring where my feet would bring me, only knowing I had to be away. Trapped in the pounding of my heart, in the fear that gripped throat, in the voices that screamed in my mind and memories of that fateful day that flashed before my eyes. I couldn't breathe, suffocating in the emptiness that gripped my soul, in the dark void lingering at the edges of my vision as I fought to at least stay conscious. I was lost in the storm that filled and surrounded me, drowning me while I gasped for air. I was blind, yet I knew where my feet had brought me. The stairs. I fell after a few steps and stared at the door at the bottom. I shouldn't have gone down there, should have known it was locked, that I couldn't escape - that I am trapped. I can't keep it out anymore. As if from far away, I hear a scream.

I am alone, yet watched. Surrounding me, foreign faces regard me with faint disapproval and disinterest at my ragged clothes as countless legs keep walking by while I break down on the cold, hard pavement. If they've followed me I don't know if I can run much further. Touching my swollen eye, I wonder how long until my parents stop buying my excuses. It's almost disappointing when they accept my "clumsiness" so easily. A cold breeze raises the hairs on my arms, and the gray sky preparing for storm soothes my eyes as I open them, only to find too-familiar faces smirking at me, and a stronger stride than the river of people flowing around me. I know these boys too well, and panic grips my throat. Only one thought crosses my mind as I watch the growling beast approach. Run. My body is paralyzed, every limb needing to be torn free of the ground. Finally I break through, and I don't look back, running through alleyways and jumping over debris, possessed with strength almost allowing me to forget my screaming lungs and pounding ears.

It's too late when I realize the door at the bottom of the covered stairwell I was going down is locked. I struggle with the door. When I look up, I can barely see the light through their broad shoulders. I might make it through if I run up fast. They kick me back down the steps, laughing, while I gasp for air, willing my panic away. "Slut!" They yell with glee, "you could make us pay if you returned the favor!" I'm pressed against the door, yanking and slamming into it - my last chance to flee. My fists bloody and my shoulder sore. I feel a hand on my jacket and for a second I'm still, the ice of his demeanor sending shivers down my spine. "Your sister breaks up with me: you pay." I break his hold and suddenly, I'm a caged animal: jumping, kicking, tearing, not wanting more than a small chance to flee. Anything to run back up the stairs towards one last chance at my innocence. One last chance to love my sister.

The darkness lingering at the edges of my vision takes over, and everything is cold.