I wrote this story in college in my fiction writing class. I am not proud of it, as it is pretty convoluted and difficult to read. In the way of fiction, it’s not good at all. However, it was cathartic for me. As can be seen, it was one way that I dealt with the abuse from my mom’s boyfriend and the guilt I felt over my little sister also being abused. The beginning is disjointed and hard to read because that’s how I feel a lot of the time. Untethered, out of focus, unable to understand myself or my feelings.
I titled it My Hail Mary, because not only is there this religious component to my story–which I haven’t really talked about yet, because I honestly don’t know how it all ties in or even my own feelings towards my religion–but also this feeling that I have one last save I can make. One last long shot that will either help me win in a last desperate attempt, or lose everything. I don’t know just yet which way the ball will fall.
My Hail Mary
Pain. Something so complete that I lose myself completely. I forget where I am, what I’m doing. Who am I? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I’m falling apart. Slivers of my skin peel off and float down to rest peacefully at my feet. My eyes watch as a new one joins the others. When did my feet start bleeding? It doesn’t matter. Red obscures my vision, my feet, and I mechanically brush it away. But my fingers crumple. They don’t respond. Nothing responds. My brain is on automatic, and it’s destroying me. Someone hit the self-destruct button. Who did? Me? I did. My teeth chatter, bringing my attention back to my physical state. Nothing’s wrong. It’s in my head. What is? Nothing. Another portion of my nail breaks with a sharp sound. My ears hurt. Ringing, ringing everywhere, but coming from nowhere. Where am I? It doesn’t matter. My heart tries to keep up with the demands of my body, but I feel it weakening. Feel myself slowing down. I can’t walk anymore. My feet crunch on dry leaves. When did my feet start bleeding? It doesn’t matter. I fall to my knees, but they can’t support my weight. I sag to the ground. I’m doubled up, trying to mute the pain. My arms leave my middle red. Dripping. I shiver. Something wet slides down my back. It’s cold. What is? Nothing. It’s gone. What is? Nothing. It never was there. But I thought it was. It wasn’t. I cough, but it sounds weak. What’s wrong with me? It doesn’t matter. I’m half. My arm won’t work. The other pokes it. Never prod a sleeping bear. I read that once. It doesn’t matter. What? Nothing. I see with only one eye. One ear has gone deaf. My right side? Yes, that’s right. Right? No, not anymore. I’m wrong. I’m nothing. It’s gone. What is? My half. That’s what matters.
“Hey, Kass! Look out!” I open my eyes just in time to see the basketball before it breaks my nose. Red gushes everywhere, and I know that Christopher was going to kill me for getting more blood on my clothes. At least this time I can tell him what happened. He didn’t believe me when I told him I couldn’t remember where I had gotten the other blood stains. Joey runs over to me, spouting all kinds of profanities.
“God, I’m so sorry! I thought you were looking at me! Holy shit, you’re bleeding everywhere! Hang on, lemme call my mom. Oh, she’s gonna be so pissed. Next time…” He keeps right on talking even as he holds his phone to his ear. I can’t edge a single word in. Not that I could anyway with blood streaming down my chin. My sleeve’s already soaked; I use the other one. Joey, even with trying to help me, makes sure to keep away from any droplets of blood coming off me. I look around, trying to find a comfortable place to sit and wait for someone to come reset my nose back to its original position. I can’t see a bench, but I do spot the basketball. I totter over, reposition myself, and kick it with everything I have. I watch it soar through the air…and hit Joey right in the balls. He collapses and convulses on the ground. I choke out a laugh despite the blood flowing into my mouth. But then it goes down my windpipe, and I can’t breathe. I lay on the ground, waiting to pass out. My eyes close. Good.
I awaken on the dirt ground, crouching over my middle. It hurts. Tears stream from my closed eyes because even in sleep I can’t escape. My breath comes in huffs that look like I’m smoking. I would never smoke; it’s disgusting. A light sprinkle of frosty dew begins to cover me as I face my nightmares. It distorts my body until it looks like I’m made of diamonds. I’m not. I’m more like gold. Malleable, moldable. Dull. The light doesn’t reflect off of me, but instead I catch it. I steal it. My legs twitch as I try to run away, always running away, but then they lie still. I know it’s useless.
“Kass?” A voice whispers over my hunched body. I remain hunched over and shut my eyes.
“I’m here…” A voice fades away to be replaced by another.
My ears ring with the joyful sounds of the ice cream truck. With a couple bucks in my pocket from cleaning the dishes, I run with all my might towards the sounds, past the gate that separated our property from the public. But just as I reach the truck, I hear Christopher’s voice bellow out my name. My heart leaps to my throat, and my stomach drops. I’m in serious trouble. Without a word, I pivot and run back towards the gate that I’m not supposed to open. The ice cream truck guy is belting out flavors and different kinds of cookies, but only Christopher’s angry voice fills my ears. I put on an extra burst of speed, but it proves to be too much for me to handle. My legs start to wobble and the ground feels like it’s moving out from under me. I have only a second’s warning before I plummet to the asphalt, sliding a good five feet on my knees, my forearms, my forehead. I don’t even feel the pain at first, I’m so hyped up on adrenaline. It’s only after Christopher’s cussing me out and I see the red spots dotting the ground at my feet that I even notice I’m hurt. Then, the pain rushes at me like an Olympian rushing for the finish line. Christopher smacks me for not listening to him. It’s the final blow. My eyes close as the darkness overwhelms my trembling body. Good.
“Kass?” I wake up in the arms of a stranger. He has a beard nearly down to his breast, all twigs and grass. A cap shrouds his face in shadows. My eyes roll up to look back inside my mind.
Tears stream down my face as I look down upon the body of my first and only dog Jamie. Blood and matted fur cover the tires of the truck that had sped down the driveway as if outrunning a fire. Christopher’s truck. He hadn’t even slowed down. He hadn’t shown a sliver of remorse. He is sitting at his usual spot in his armchair in front of the TV with a beer in hand. My hands ball into fists as I heft the shovel I’m holding. I begin to dig a shallow grave, attacking the ground with such ferocity that I fling dirt everywhere, until some gets into my eyes. I close them to stop the burning and wait for the grime to escape with my tears. Good.
“Kass, you need to get up.” Again, I wake up. This time, a beautiful girl with dark hair impedes my vision of the woods. She is dressed in all white. Innocent. Am I innocent? I can’t remember. She takes my hand. She smiles. “Come on, I’ll bring you back home.” Home is a word that floods my head with warmth and love. But, what is love? I can’t quite recall. Something to do with a wink, a tiny gesture, almost unnoticeable in its smallness. A hand, a word. Separate, they seem unimportant. Together, I know, they mean something. Something amazing. But I can’t remember. She leads me through the trees to a cabin. It makes me think of those two kids, and the witch. And… candy? My stomach rumbles. The girl turns around and I catch sight of her dimple. Do I have one? My hand reaches to my face, but I can’t smile. I have forgotten. Smile? That doesn’t matter. I’m happy. Aren’t I? Something tugs at my memory, but I shy away from it.
Inside the cabin, it’s warm. I don’t realize how cold I am until I’m sitting next to the fire. The girl went to get more wood. I want to help, but I can’t move. A blanket traps me. I can’t remember how to free myself. That’s fine with me. I snuggle into the blanket and watch the blue fire simmer into red.
I stand stock still as I watch the scene unfold before me. My baby sister Annie, only six years old, stands her ground against a raging Christopher. I’m jolted into motion as I see his hand descend upon her beautifully white cheek. With a cry, I shoulder him away and we both fall tumbling into the kitchen counter. Annie is crying and there’s red everywhere. I can hear Christopher growling indistinctly, but my head is exploding in pain. I can’t concentrate on any one thing. My eyes drift shut of their own accord. Good.
A door bangs and a man walks in as I stare into the flames that dance like Indians before a hunt. It seems like I recognize him, but I can’t remember. He has a long sandy-colored beard that contrasts with his dark hair like a raven. He sets down a cap next to my feet. He won’t look directly in my eyes, but instead focuses on my ears. That’s fine with me. His eyes are red. I don’t like that color.
“So, Kass. Are you feeling better now?” His voice is like a million bumble bees trapped in a single hive. But compassion slathers his tone with honey. I want to nod, but I can’t remember how. I turn back to my Indians. “Good.” That single word penetrates every corner in my brain, every shaded recess even I have forgotten about. I jerk at the onslaught. I whip my head back to him, but he has already left. I want to return to the comfort of the dance, but the orange of the blaze has died down to a dull glowing red. I shut my eyes.
My mom, hanging from the attic rafters. The breeze from the open window brushes against her paling skin and ruffles her stunning red dress. I peek around the door as John stands, gazing into her tortured face. He smiles slightly and whispers, “Good“.
I awake to the inside of a cabin; there’s dead animals hanging everywhere. My eyes drift along the contours of the rough wood, searching for something familiar. I reach to touch the wall, to feel the rough wood underneath my fingertips, but that’s when I realize I’m restrained. An orange blanket encases my body, and no matter how much I squirm and wriggle, I can’t escape. A small whimper leaves my chapped lips. Hardening my mind, I still my useless movements and study my surroundings more closely. I have a clear line of sight to the door. Moving my head, I can just barely see the edges of a stone fireplace. I’m laying on a hard cot pushed up against the back wall of the cabin and wedged between that fireplace and a big oaken table. It looks hand-carved. So do the two massive chairs, with wooden vines creeping up the backs and encircling the arms. The only other thing in the cabin, besides the carcasses decorating the walls, is a colossal bed, flannel blankets all twisted and piled high atop it. I move my eyes back to the door, content with scrutinizing its features for now.
After a while, the whorls in the wood begin to look like a Hail Mary holding out her hand to a little alien. It bows its head with honor. The Hail Mary bends closer to the alien’s bulbous head, moving almost indiscernibly, but my eyes are sharp. I can see. She leans ever closer, a malicious smile beginning to play at the corner of her wooden lips. The alien doesn’t notice; he keeps his head bowed in respect. Finally, eventually, the Hail Mary purses her lips as if to place a kiss upon the alien’s head, but then she opens her mouth wide, and I can see rows upon rows of fangs dripping with anticipation.
“Nooooo!” I scream at the alien trying to warn him, even though I know it will do no good. I frantically writhe under the blanket, struggling against my bonds to go help the alien. Suddenly, the door bangs open, hiding the terrible image. In the doorway stands the mammoth of a man that I can just vaguely remember. For some unknown reason, he calms me. I quit thrashing, but I can’t stop the tears that roll down my face. Strangely, they burn. The man stomps over to me, and lays his gentle hands on either side of my face, turning my head to look up into his eyes. I cringe, remembering red, but then I see that they are not in fact red, but a deep, deep blue. I relax against his comforting touch.
“Kass,” he rumbles. “How’re you doing?” He waits, as if expecting some response. “You’re safe now. There’s nothing here that will harm you, understand?” I continue to look up at him. “Do you know who I am?” Strangely, I find that I do.
“Uncle Dan,” I whisper. The beloved brother of my mom. The brother John had told me was dead.
He smiles and murmurs, “Yes, darling. That’s right. And I am going to help you, okay?” I nod, and he releases my head. He walks over to the open door and shuts it. On the back, I can see that my warning actually helped; the Hail Mary again stands in her rigid position over the little alien, not so much as a single tooth mark marring his head. I smile and sink back into my pillow.
Uncle Dan fusses with something on his table, then comes over to me with a bowl and towel in his hand.
“Alright, now I am going to take that blanket off of you so I can clean your wound, okay?” I stare blankly at him. Wound?
He nods to himself, and begins unraveling the blanket from my body. On the bottom layer I can see red seeping through, blotting out the orange. I convulse and scrunch my eyes shut.
“Easy, easy,” he hums. I can feel him finally free my body of the blanket, and then he starts pulling on my skin. Cracking my eyes, I curiously look down at my belly. Instead of the smooth skin mottled with bruises that I was expecting, an oozing red bandage covers the right half. I lunge to the side of the cot and upchuck everything in my stomach. With an oath, Uncle Dan skips out of the way and rushes to find a bucket. I finish before he gets back to me. As I lay back, I attempt to brush the hair out of my face, and I see that my right arm is also covered in a bandage. Luckily, this bandage is a pristine white. For some reason, it makes me think of a bear. Uncle Dan kneels by my bed, studiously trying to ignore the vomit, and asks, “Are you okay now?” I just look at him and try to find the courage to speak.
“What happened?” I croak out.
“You don’t remember?” He looks at me sadly as I shake my head.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it for now,” he says. I keep my silence, but fear begins to uncoil in the depths of my stomach.
He finishes cleaning my wound, while I examine the ceiling, and then cleans up my vomit. I feel a little bad about that, but I couldn’t help myself. At least his floor is wood and not carpet. As he spays disinfectant on the spot, I speak up.
“Uncle Dan, do you know where Annie is? I’m pretty sure I was looking for her before you took me here.” He pauses his spraying, but then picks it up again as he slowly responds.
“Don’t worry yourself about her, Kass. You just need to focus on yourself. Speaking of which, why don’t you take a nap, eh?”
I sigh, but do as I’m told. For now.
I awaken a couple hours later. I can tell it’s much later, because the cabin is washed with shadows. They play in the corners like children and give the Hail Mary’s face a demonic cast. The little alien is still unharmed. I silently will him to run away from her, before she can sink her teeth into him. Literally.
I pull back the loose cover from my body, and slowly creep my eyes down to my belly. I heave out a sigh as I see the clean, white bandage. I poke it. Strangely, it doesn’t hurt that much. I’ve had worse. I have? I furrow my brow in confusion. Now, why did that thought pop into my head?
My stomach growls, and I realize that I’m hungry; ravenous actually. Uncle Dan isn’t anywhere in the room, so I decide to find some myself. Incrementally, I sit up and rotate my body so that I’m sitting on the edge of the cot. On wobbly legs, I ease myself up. It’s not so bad.
Unexpectedly, I crash to the ground. I lay there, groaning and clutching the now aching hole in my middle, when I spot a box under my cot. Reaching, I drag it towards me. I wait a few minutes for the initial stabbing pain to subside, and then I push myself up to a sitting position, leaning back against my cot. I flip open the lid, and find the entirety of my being inside. Every single item that I own nestles inside the battered shoe box. I pick each up and inspect it, as if inspecting my past. I come to a picture of my baby sister, Annie. She was a beautiful girl, dark hair cascading down her back and a dimple to die for embedded in her right cheek. My heart stops. Was?
I remember seeing her stand up to John that one night so long ago. I remember seeing her in the woods, leading me home. The woods, in the woods. I remember seeing her in the woods, red everywhere. I couldn’t stand it, I couldn’t look away. I stumbled away, but I couldn’t escape. I tracked her blood in my footprints. I had the knife in my hand. I wanted to cut the rope on her wrists. Her wrists, her beautiful wrists. I didn’t cut it. I cut me. The pain, oh the pain. Why wouldn’t it stop? I had to make it stop.
Somewhere, deep in my subconscious, I sense Uncle Dan open the front door. I see him run towards me and take my shaking form in his hands. But I can’t be comforted this time. This time, I remember.
And that’s when I go crazy.
I am interested in making this story better, so any critique would be appreciated! I know that it’s a lot… But I am a writer at my heart, even before I am a survivor. Or at least I am both simultaneously.