This story is by Janet Leigh Green and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Drip, drip, drip. Cold, freezing drops, each one penetrated my brain like a shard of broken glass, ripping through my forehead with each strike. I squinted one eye open, and turned my head slightly to the right; I winced when another cold drop hit my ear, “Ouch, Oh God,” I cried out. I needed to survey the room. Darkness overwhelmed me; I tried to scoot away from the frigid water torture.
“God won’t help you now sugar, you stay put,” he said, as he moved a heavy work boot against my side to stop my movements. The voice came from above me, I jerked away from him, and my shoulder wrenched as I tried to pull my arm across my body. “Oh, no, am I tied down? Why am I tied down?” I tried my other arm, I jerked hard, and received a slice of pain through my wrist for my efforts.
“You’ll get your answers soon enough little one, don’t fret.”
Shuffle, step, shuffle, step, softer as the work boots walked away, I felt panic rise in my chest at the thought of being alone in this dark, dank prison, “No, don’t leave me here. Why am I here? Where am I? Please, help me, no – “
“I said, you will get your answers soon enough. Stop whining, or you’ll get more than a little drip.”
Drip, drip, drip, I shifted my body to the left and got relief from the drops of ice water. I raised my head and looked for a sliver of light, but there was only darkness. I lay still and tried to assess my situation, both wrists and feet were bound; and the surface beneath me felt like cold hard concrete, “What the hell is happening to me?” I tried to think back, I got up, went to the doctor, “Oh God, the baby. Oh God, I can’t even comfort you, my baby. Mommy’s right here with you, stay strong ok?” My heart beat like a bass drum in my ears, then sped to a roll. It vibrated through my chest, as I thought of my unborn child, “Oh thank God,” the baby’s heartbeat mingled with the vibrations that traveled through my core, the baby was ok, but feeding off my stress.
“Ok, Frankie, you need to calm down and think, damn you.” I chastised myself often; it settled my nerves. I took a deep breath, and let my mind wander to the last thing I remembered. I sat in the doctor’s office for a long time. “The nurse brought me some water…did the water have something in it? Why can’t I remember anything else?”
A chair scraped across the cement floor a few feet away, “Hello?” I waited, “Hello? Is there someone else here?”
“So, you’re going to have a baby?” I could barely hear the words; the voice was soft and timid.
“Yes, yes. Who are you? Where am I? What is this place? Are we prisoners?”
“I have to go.”
“No, no. Please, stay with me. So, you can leave?”
“Yes, I live here,” it was a little girl’s voice, such a sweet voice, but her words ended with a quiver.
“Do you know who is keeping me here?”
The chair scraped the floor again, and I heard the light pitter patter of small feet slap on the concrete as she ran away.
“No, no…” I felt tears slide down my cheek and pool in the hollow of my ear.
A change in light behind my closed lids interrupted my rare self-pity, and a sliver of relief filled my chest when my eyes slid open to dim light which illuminated the hovel where I lay. I raised my head, the chair occupied by the little girl only moments before sat against a wall. Beyond the chair, the light beckoned. I stiffened and waited. No one came through the doorway; I looked at my arms and feet. The spikes were two feet long and jutted straight up out of the cement floor, and a cord tethered my feet and hands to the spikes. Thankfully, the cold water had ceased dripping, so I looked up at the ceiling. A bucket hung from the roof, directly over my head, a funnel fixed to the bottom allowed water to drip. No other furniture was in the cavernous space, save the chair.
“What is this place?” The light went out, “What? Oh, damn.”
Goosebumps traveled over my bare arms and legs. The cold drips had stopped, but my hair was still wet and clinging in cold ringlets to my neck and shoulders. My nose and eyes started to itch, “Oh crap.” I tried to rub my face with my shoulder, no use. I closed my eyes and tried to think of a happy place. That’s what my mom used to say to me when I had a bad day; I would worry and worry about a mean kid at school, or a bad grade. Mom would say to me, “Now Frankie child, do you think that mean kid is worried about you right now?”
Of course, she was right; they weren’t worried about me, so she would tell me to go to my happy place until I fell asleep. It worked so well when I was little…
“What the – Oh my God,” I sputtered, and spat cold water from my mouth.
“I told you God’s not going to help you girl. It’s time you had a little talk with Jed; he can answer some of those questions you have.”
“Untie her.” A new voice said, “And get some damn light in here, what the hell are you doing Amos?”
“I thought you wanted her locked away until you got here.”
“No, idiot, I said put her away in a room somewhere, I meant for you to make her comfortable. She’s pregnant. You better hope she hasn’t lost that baby.”
The cold on my skin was nothing compared to the ice water that swam in my veins as I listened to them talk, “How do you know I’m pregnant? Who are you, people? Where am I? That man said that you would answer my questions? Why are you ignoring me? Why are you so concerned about my baby?”
The new man, Jed knelt beside her, “Do you want me to untie you and answer your questions, Frankie?”
My heart slammed against my ribs, and I nodded, “How do you know my name?” I could barely choke out the words.
He untied the binds, and gently rubbed my wrists and ankles, “Can you stand up?”
“Yes,” grateful to have my hands and feet free. My hands immediately went to my stomach, I rubbed my belly, and tried to send warmth and comfort through to my child.
“Come with me,” Jed placed a hand on the small of my back. Revulsion pulsed through my blood, but I let him lead me out of what I had begun to think of like the torture chamber.
He took me to a spacious room with comfortable couches and chairs; there was a fire lit in a fireplace. He gestured to a chair beside the fire and asked me to sit.
“Do you need water or something warm to drink?”
I wanted to refuse, but my throat screamed for liquid, and the baby needed nourishment, “Yes, please, but could I have some tea instead of water?” I could still feel the cold drops of water on my forehead.
He nodded to my captor, Amos, and the burly man left the room, “Now, I will answer the questions you’ve already asked, then you can ask more if you need to. Ok?” I nodded.
“Good, I had you brought here. This is my home, but it isn’t just my home Frankie, it is your home as well.”
“What? I’ve never seen this place before in my life.” My head ached, as flashes of this room tumbled through my memory.
“If it is my home, why would I be taken captive, and why would I be tortured? That was awful in that room.” More memories, his face flashed in my mind, smiling at me, raising a glass of orange juice to his mouth, leaning down to kiss me goodbye, a little girl’s face flashed in my mind, blonde hair glowing in the sun, laughter in her bright blue eyes.
“Frankie? Are you alright?” He was kneeling at my side, my hand in his.
“Yes, is there a little girl? I think a little girl came to see me when I was tied down.”
“Yes, that’s Cecilia, she’s our daughter. Tied down? Frankie, what are you talking about sweetheart?”
“Yes, that man Amos…”
“Frankie, Amos would never hurt you, he’s your father.”
Fear speared my heart; I wrapped my arms around my unborn child. My fractured mind splintered. I am a prisoner, either of my mind or this man. Two lives hinged on my choice, and I had a split second to decide.