TW/ AUTHOR NOTE: This story is purely a work of fiction which stemmed from a writing prompt that I had done in 2017. It mentions rape, abuse, neglect, attempt of murder, kidnapping, and self harm. If these topics are offensive to you or triggering for you, please do not continue to read further. I have much happier stories that you can choose to read. As stated before that this is a writing prompt that I had continued past the prompt and wrote a story to. The writing prompt was "A day in the life of something kept." My mind instantly went to Little Bird's story, and it was born from here. Everything is purely fictional including the therapies practiced here. You have been warned.
Sweat clung to my upper brow and matted my hair against the back of my neck, the sheets around me held my legs in a vice from tossing and turning; I really was a terrible sleeper. I folded in half, sucking in deep breaths as I slowly tried coming to my senses as I released my legs from my own-made prison. This brought me back. I shuddered and clenched my sheets tightly in my hands. I can feel the cotton sheets, I can hear my fan whirring, I can breathe, it smells like lavender and fabric softener, my tag in my pajamas is scraping my skin near the waistband, I'm overheated from a nightmare. Take the clothes off. Once I was able to get my breathing under control I yanked the heavier of my clothes off my body. Last night I had gone to bed feeling insecure, so I had worn pants and a sweatshirt. Once the sweatshirt was off, my muscles began to relax a little bit. The tightened feeling in my chest lessened. I rolled onto my stomach and kicked the rest of the sheets away from me and hugged my pillow to my chest, I always have nightmares the night before I go see Dr. Stevens. She said it was because I was anticipating what we were going to talk about, or what I wasn't ready to talk about, and she thought that if I just let her know, let her in, that I would be able to actually get sleep before our mandatory psych sessions.
Finally after the pain in my chest completely left, I knew I wasn't going to go back to sleep, I looked over at the clock and sighed heavily. Right on schedule. 3:36 am. It was like I was never going to sleep in past 6am for the rest of my life, and for some reason, on days when I had to go into the office, I always woke up before four. Dr. Stevens thinks it is because of my per-programmed response to be awake before he was, because if I was caught sleeping bad things would happen to me, but if I was awake when he came downstairs, there was less he could do to me. He had a festering obsession with taking control away, but I found that when I guessed ahead of what he was planning, if I thought like him, he wouldn't hurt me as bad because he never wanted to do what was expected. I think that was what caused me to live as long as I did...I had learned to adapt to that environment. And, just as I had then, I would learn how to do it again now that I wasn't.
I got to my feet and used the rest room, running a brush through my hair before going and making a pot of coffee. A luxury that I forced myself to do every time I went to see Dr. Stevens. She suggested, as therapy, to make two cups of coffee. And dump out one cup. At the beginning of our sessions, It would take me ten minutes of trying, in order to dump out one of the cups. I would feel panic. How dare you be so wasteful. LICK IT UP. And I would flinch and crouch down towards the sink, my fingers scratching at the hot liquid in the basin, bringing up my wet fingers to my mouth before I would realize, I didn't have to do that. It is still a process, but it didn't take me as long.
I poured the coffee first into the cup that I had designated the 'bad' cup, and then I poured the coffee into mine. I had to purposefully make it like he liked it. A splash of milk, three cubes sugar. He liked it mostly bitter. He felt like having extra sugar or extra milk was wasteful, gluttonous. I liked mine with much more milk and extra sweet. Once his cup was made I took the time to carry both cups of coffee to the breakfast nook. I forced my feet to move from next to the space I set his coffee. I stood with the backs of my legs against the chair and forced the knees to bend, pressing my bottom hard into the oak chair. My breaths were coming in a little too quickly, I could feel it. So I returned into the process I had just done in my bed, breathing and centering myself by telling myself all feedback that I had coming to my senses. That was a grounding technique most therapies use for PTSD survivors, and sometimes it worked for me, other days it did not.
My hands tightened at my thighs and I waited. The point was not to wait. That was the part I still struggled with. Before, I would have to wait until he finished his meals or drinks before I dared consume mine, if he decided to give me anything. I made his drink first still as a hobby, but the point was to drink mine first, to take my time drinking mine, and then to dump the spare in the sink on my own time. I grabbed the cup handle and brought it too quickly towards me, spilling some down the rim and onto my hand. It startled me, the sudden burn on my thumb, but I pressed my lips to the cup and licked the excess on the outside of the cup. I did this fast before I heard his voice again in my head about being wasteful or a slob, but when it didn't come, I quickly took a sip and then set the cup down. I was feeling extra enthused by that progression, not hearing him scolding me when I made a mistake.
A mistake would have costed me, and even now, it would sometimes trigger a case of anger or anxiety...depending on what the mistake was. But because I felt encouraged, because I was feeling brave, I reached across the table and grabbed his cup dragging it towards me and taking a big swallow of his coffee. The coffee I was supposed to waste. The coffee that I specifically put in a fucking cup that I could never drink anything out of because in my head it was HIS cup. I drank from it.
Tears flowed down my face and I slammed a hand over my mouth, my cheeks puffed out filled with the bitter coffee. The voice came screaming back but I kept my hand clenched over my mouth to keep me from spitting it out. When I swallowed, it became another success. I didn't give myself a second to hesitate, I took his cup and swallowed another mouthful before putting the cup back in its spot, before resuming my own coffee. I still had to waste the rest of the bad cup because it would make the waste more prominent.
But when it came time to dump his cup, I found the sun had already rose, and it was nearing 8 in the morning. My routine did eat up a bunch of the early hours in the morning. So I forced myself up from the breakfast nook and walked away, leaving the cups at the table. I had to get ready because Dr. Stevens wanted me to be at her office by quarter of ten. I had a person who came to pick me up and escorted me to and from her appointments, because leaving my house was a constant state of anxiety inducing moments, plus we never knew when I would have a flash back, and I tended to wander or get lost when I was in those states, so I did not have my own car and someone else was responsible for getting me home.
It was a point of embarrassment for me. I was struggling to maintain a regular life, and dealing with what haunted me. Dr. Stevens told me that most of my unhappiness stemmed from comparing my life to someone else's, but that they didn't have to overcome half of what I did. She meant it as comforting words, but really, it just held up a mirror towards how unusual, and how broken my life really was. My behaviors were so engrained in me, I had been lying to myself thinking I lived an average life...but when I had been given a court appointed psychiatrist, it became abundantly clear. I was strange, and my life was sad. I had taken a swan dive into the quarry on one of my dissociative states, in the buff apparently, and was arrested for both trespassing and also for indecent exposure or lewd activity. I was so out of it when they brought me in, apparently I had been screaming and they thought I was on something so they brought me to the hospital to detox, but once they realized it was a mental illness-related event they sedated me and waited out the storm. I woke up in my own head, and was panicked to find myself strapped to a hospital gurney. After some evaluation they had the arresting officers bring me back to my home, and a court date was given to me in regards to the offenses that they were still processing through. My lawyer decided to cut a deal on my behalf that I would agree to go to counseling and maintain being on a anti-psychotic until I was cleared by medical personnel. And that was when I started seeing Dr. Stevens.
I finished getting ready and was sitting on my couch flipping through my purse making sure that I had everything I needed, twice. I heard the knock on my door and I got to my feet to greet Laura, my driver. She was friendly enough, older in age and made me feel more comfortable. Although I am fine with men being around me, I was grateful that they thought of that in means for finding transportation for me. Men themselves as a whole do not scare me. Just Him. And I knew that not all people were like him, so I didn't dissociate just because of someone's gender. Tone of voice may trigger me, or situational...like if someone grabbed me fast, I might get triggered, but overall, I thought I was coming far from where I used to be. I used to be scared of my own shadow without him being around.
"Good Morning Laura." I greeted, as I opened the door, grabbing my dog tags from the shelf next to the door right next to my house keys. They had contact information and a medical alert that let people know that I had PTSD and whom to contact if I dissociated. It was part of the mandate from the judge that I had some way to inform others when I needed help. Laura smiled and waved, her coffee steaming in her hands.
"Ready to go see Dr. Stevens? Got everything you need?" She asked curiously.
"Oh, I actually have one thing left to do. Hang on." I remembered the cups, and forced myself to grab both of them and dump the remnants down the sink. I could have left them for when I got back, but I knew it was going to stress me out for the whole of my appointment knowing that there was potential curdled drinks on my table top.
After I did that I went back to Laura, finding her walking around my living room slowly, looking at the artwork that I had hung up around the place.
"These are beautiful." She said, gesturing to the ones directly over the love seat. I smiled at them, they were beautiful. They held a small pain to them as well, but I chose to celebrate them today.
"They were actually made by one of the other survivors. I wasn't the only one who was rescued, but she had this way of making beautiful things despite all the pain she went through. She was with him much longer then I was, and she endured much more. I am envious of her for having been able to create something so beautiful. She was an amazing person."
Laura looked over at me sadly.
"There were other survivors? What happened to her, you speak of her in past tense?" She whispered quietly.
"Cassidy had similar issues to me. The dissociation and wandering, the severe PTSD… She said it was too much for her sometimes and that she would 'wake up' in places that she had no idea how she got there. She and I shared that similarity. Whereas the police got me out of a quarry, that I was fortunate to have jumped into water, instead of the stone, she wasn't so fortunate. She walked in front of a train about six months ago. I am not sure if she was dissociating or if she stepped in front on purpose...I guess the people who found me saved my life, because that could have easily been me if they hadn't pulled me out of the water or stopped me from going somewhere else." I shrugged one shoulder in an attempt to curve the pain that was clenching my stomach.
"Cassidy probably dissociated, if you said about her is true. Because I can't imagine waiting to be rescued from a psychopath only to come home and kill yourself. She seemed much stronger of a character then that, just like you are." Laura said, her tone strong. "I hope that doesn't sound accusatory, but I think you are much stronger then that, and I am sure Cassidy was too." I smiled at her, thankful that she said something like that. Because in my head, and heart, I wanted to believe that Cassidy was stronger then that. I know I have had moments of weakness where I thought it would be so much easier to just end it all then to deal with the fear of him coming back for me or the fear of ending up somewhere I didn't know where I was...the fear of the unknown greatly weighed on me sometimes and I thought about the other way out far more then I am proud enough to admit.
"Alright, we need to get going if we want to make it to the office on time." Laura said after clearing her throat. I placed the dog tags around my neck, the purse strap across my chest, and followed her out the door, jiggling the door handle to double check that I had locked the apartment behind me.