by Saray Fitzhenry
This wasn’t the sensual unfurling ribbons of smoke that had poured from her luscious crimson lips hours before. The sensation of thousands of cigarettes burning through her lungs was piercing and immediate. Every ember glistened bright before it burrow it’s way into her chest. This wasn’t the right time or place, she had to look further back. She tried to focus past the pain, inhaling deeply and regretting it instantly. She gagged unable to stop her body from retching, despite her dizzy head, she picked herself up off the floor. Where was she? Kendra wondered.
Whatever drugs were coursing through her had destroyed reality, from black out tunnel vision, to the muffled echoing of undefined voices somewhere close. Sunlight seemed to be fading, she was still able to make out the toilet and unfortunately the vomit that hadn’t made it home. In the recesses of her own mind, Kendra felt a strange sadness, being here with Kimberley, it probably wouldn’t be the last. She didn’t want to rush but Kimberley was in control, a sense of urgency and fear driving her to escape before he came back. Who was He? Kendra had to play along no matter where or what happened next, she would see this to the end, she had to.
In the mirror, even with the lights off she could see herself clearly and she began to cry. Her make-up was smeared halfway across her face distorting the rainbow of pain swelling on her cheek bone and eye; there was vomit in her hair and she knew the yelling she heard was because of her. It was always because of her wasn’t it, there was such a sense of pain and remorse. It didn’t matter, not anymore at least, she had to leave. No one was going to call her a liar ever again. Yes, she was a complete and utter mess, she knew that, the whole damn world knew that, but she wasn’t a liar. Quickly, she tried to pry open the only window in the bathroom. Years of paint and neglect made for amazing fortification. It wouldn’t budge, in the light of early dusk she tried to look for something heavy enough to smash the window. Through the haze of her drug induced panic she could hear one distinct voice approaching and it raised the goosebumps on her skin. She doubled her efforts until the bathroom door flew open, a yelp of fear escaped her as she turned trying to keep distance between them. “No,” she thought,” not again. Please no.” She braced herself knowing all too well –
“You stupid bitch,” he whispered under his breath. He lunged forward and dragged her down to the ground by a fist full of her hair. She fell forward, a cry of fear escaped her lips only because she was making every effort not to scream, she was going to be sick again.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” He spewed the words out at her yanking her back up to her feet. Kendra watched as she stumbled backwards, trying to pry herself away but only managing not to lose half her scalp. “Didn’t I tell you never to come back here? Didn’t I make myself clear?”
“Please” she choked out, struggling to get the words past the lump of pain and tears. They struggled as he dragged her along but in her current state she was no match, a child could have over powered her. She hadn’t noticed the rooms they passed or the changing light, she had one mantra, get away. In the overwhelming darkness of the garage, Kendra knew this had to end soon, she needed to see his face, needed to confirm what she had suspected all along. They knew each other, but did she know him? Her body ached, she felt the skin of her knuckles tear as he dragged her and she struggled to stay on her feet, he closed the door to the garage.
“Please don’t”, she sobbed. This time he gathered a firm grip of the very scalp she was desperately trying to keep intact, he pulled her up close shaking her in frustration.
“You don’t make the rules here. I make the fucking rules. Got it?!” He drove his point home by slamming her face down on the hood of what Kendra now realized was an all too familiar car. The shock of panic tightened it’s grip, her fight or flight instincts were going into overdrive and she began struggling like a wild animal. It was all too much, Kendra was sobbing, as always she could only bear witness. She knew and feared what lay ahead, at that moment she could’ve stopped. She didn’t have to stay, but then he began to laugh as he draped the full size of his body over her. She didn’t stop struggling, which only seemed to encourage him as he began petting her like some precious thing that was for his entertainment alone.
“Shhh, shhh, shhhh, now now, you know better,” he said as he slammed her head on the car again.”I always get what I want. You already had your time, you chose.” He emphasized his message by jabbing his unwelcome erection against her back as she struggled to pull away.
“I’m s-s-sorry,” she was stuttering now, Kendra was just a baby when her sister had taken speech therapy. “Just pleas-s-s-se, d-d-d-dddon’t.”
“It’s a little late for that now.” He released her but it made no difference now, the strain of it all was too much, she just let her body slide to the floor. Kendra knew what he was looking for, then she heard her mother calling her back. Calling her name, mumbling something but it didn’t matter, not while she stared into the face of evil. The memory began to slip away, she was no longer with Kimberley, not anymore, and not when she had needed her most.
Kendra’s sobs shook through her in waves, it was the only link she had to her own body. Slowly, she became aware of the soft hum from the fluorescent lights overhead, the sound of air being pumped into her sister’s body, all of it lulling her into present time leaving her raw and exposed. The memory, Kimberley’s memories faded away, the smell of gasoline, the taste of her blood mixed with damp earth was replaced by antiseptic and the ever present aroma of charred flesh. Kendra sat there staring at her older sister, so that was why Kimberley had left. Kendra had always blamed herself, no one wants a stepfather and definitely not a half sister.
The police officer on duty reached out to comfort Kendra but hesitated, he was vaguely aware of Kendra’s psychic abilities. The only people who knew fully, were her mother and the chief of police, all others were kept on a need to know basis. From a tender age, Kendra felt her gift as a psychic empath was meant to help save and protect others. It was impossible to look at Kendra and not feel an overwhelming need to protect her, she was the poster child for adolescent innocence. She looked fragile, sitting in the oversized hospital chair, holding the hand of the burn victim, Kimberley. The victim had been found on a park bench early that morning, barely still alive when the police found her. It was Kendra that was able to verify and then offer proof of identification, a serial number off of an internal surgical plate.
“Are you okay?” Kendra sat there staring at her sister, jaw set and eyes glistening. Their mother had stepped out of the room, she mentioned her ex-husband would be visiting soon.
“I’m as good as I’ll ever be.” She hesitated, “Who do I speak to when I’m ready?”
Kendra prepared herself to follow the officer out, then she heard the voice. It was the voice from the bathroom, the voice from the garage and most disturbing of all, it was the voice of Kendra’s father.
Her mother caught the look in Kendra’s eyes just in time to stand between Kendra and her ex husband.
“No Kendra! Don’t touch him.”
“Wait, what?” Kendra’s eyes turning from fire to ice in the instant they changed focus. “You knew?” She shrieked at her mother. Kendra’s heart charged forward ready to attack. “Mom, just let me touch one scar.” She insisted, trying her best to fight for her sister.” I’ll know all of it, I want to know all of it.” Everyone was silent as they watched mother and daughter stand off, appearing more a reflection of past versus present.
“Baby, no. I can’t let you do that.” Her face was set and stern, in her eyes she couldn’t hide away the exhaustion, pain, and scars from the past. “I chose him over my girls once and I’ll never make that mistake again. Let me do the right thing.”