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8218: Memory (an extract from a NaNovel, 2005)

Author's note: this was written as part of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Writing a novel in a month's time is hard, but when you're dealing with a subject like child abuse it is even moreso. The following extract contains disturbing themes... what's more disturbing, though, is that for some children, this isn't just a story. this is reality.

PART I: DESCENT

Prologue:
Last Night

October 1995

No. Not again. Please, not againÖ

The first thoughts to come to me as I awaken are those of dťjŗ vu; I have been here before, it is nothing new. When I open my eyes I am not in my bed, but on the floor, and my body is hurting horribly. How long I have been lying here, I have no idea; I do not think I even want to know. I can barely move as it is. The house is quiet; I guess Dad has already left, or else he is sleeping off the events of last night elsewhere in the house.

I find that I do not care.

Last night, Dad came to my room again for one of hisÖ visits. Heís been doing that more often now, coming into my room when Iím sleeping. Most of the time heíll just come and sit on the bed, waiting for me to move; I try and pretend Iím asleep. Iím pretty good at pretending. Sometimes Iím lucky and heíll get tired of waiting; I hear him walking out, saying funny things.

And sometimes, Iím not so lucky. Like last night.

Last night wasÖ fuzzy. I canít remember all of it. I do remember Dad dragging me out of bed and throwing me on the floor. That hurt, because I landed on my side. He was drunk last night, and when heís drunk, there is nothing I can do to stop him. I can still smell the alcohol, hanging over my clothes, and thereís a horrid taste in my mouth. He made me drink too. He pinched my nose so I couldnít breathe and then he tipped the bottle over so that I had to drink. I suppose thatís where the splashes on my clothes come from. Itís hard to breathe and drink at the same time.

Slowly, I try to pull myself up, using the cupboard for support; something explodes within me at this sudden movement. Oh God, it hurts so much! I have to reach out, curl my hands into fists to try and block out the pain; I blink away the sudden black patches that cross my eyes and take two deep breaths to steady myself. It is not enough though, to dispel it; it is not nearly enough.

I look down at my arms. Even though the sleeves of my ill-fitting night clothes cover them, I can feel every bruise. I gingerly pull at the cloth, rolling the sleeves back, and look at my skin. It is mapped with scratches and bruises, always in groups; they always appear in neat little bunches, the marks of his fingers against my body. He likes holding me down, and sometimes his fingernails cut my skin; other times, the pressure leaves my arms purpled and sore for days. It is not hard to find the bruises that he put there last night, though; they hurt the most, angry patches that flare up from the rest of the faded ones.

But itís not my arms that are bothering me so much this time. When I move, I feel as if Iím on fire inside; my back and my legs are terribly grazed andÖ

I let out a breath, closing my eyes against the prickling of tears. My voice is ragged as I let out a small cry of pain.

He did it again. He did it again.

What scares me is that, even though I know what he did, I donít remember it. I canít. I think I must have blacked out at some point because the last thing I do recall is him turning me over, and his voice, so loudÖ and the painÖ

That always happens, though. I canít stand so much pain. I try to run away from it, so I wonít remember, and I am always thankful for the point when it becomes too muchÖ at least when Iím unconscious I do not have to feel.

My pajama bottoms are stuck to my skin; when I try to reach back, pain shoots through my arm but I ignore it and instead touch the material softly, feeling how it has stiffened. I must have bled last night after he left me. Itís always worse if I bleed, always harder to recover, harder to hide it.

I think about going to the bathroom. Iíve got to clean myself up now, before anyone can find me like this. I find that it is almost impossible to stand, but if I half-crawl, I can move without hurting myself too much. I try not to move my legs because that causes more pain, and instead, I rely on my hands to slowly push myself across the floor.

Practice and patience have taught me that this is the only thing I can do. Clean up first; think of other things later. Once I get to the bathroom, Iíll be fine. Once I manage to get the blood off meÖ

I feel something warm and damp running down my legs. For a minute, I think Iíve peed in my pants. Thatís the worst thing that could happen, because Iíve got to clean it up then, before Dad gets home. But I canít smell peeÖ I turn around, twisting as much as I can before it gets too painful to try and look.

Shit. More blood. I must have scraped myself, or else aggravated the injury. I think itís the second option because the blood seems to be coming from there. It trails down the leg of my pants and leaves a path on the floor. Against the wood, it looks bad, but when I manage to get into the bathroom, itís worse. Against the white tiles it looks so disgusting that I actually retch, but my stomach is empty now; I must have already thrown up some time last night. Another thing I canít remember. By now, I feel so winded and tired and hurt that I have to lie down, my chest against the floor, the cool white tiles against my feverish cheek.

The sensation of cold calms me; I could sleep here, on the cold bathroom floor. I want to stay here, even though I know Iíve got to clean myself up, but I canít bring myself to move at all.

I have no more strength to move. I can feel the blood, disgusting and damp, as it sticks my already stained PJs to my skin, but I do not care. I can feel him, still inside me. In my head, I can see flashes of last night, those missing pieces of what happened coming to meÖ I try to block them out but they still come, forcing their way upÖ

Ö he laughs as I choke on the drink. He throws the bottle aside and brings his face closer to mine, so close that the smell is overpowering. He says something but I can barely hear over the buzzing in my brain. I feel myself getting dizzyÖ

Ö he is on top of me, pinning me to the floor. His body is so heavy itís like having the life squashed out of me, but that is not the worst of it. His breath is hot against the back of my neck and he says things that make me cringe. I can feel his hands fumbling with the waistband on my trousers. I think Iím going to be sickÖ

Ö he turns me over. My eyes are shut tight and oh God, it burns when he lays me down on the carpet. I feel so dirty. I feel like Iím nothing. Why canít he just go away, why canít he stop, why?

Why? Why me?

Last night was only one night in the series. Heís been doing this for so long, for years already. I donít understand why he does it. Sometimes, afterwards, he says he loves me, but I donít get it. I donít want that kind of love. There has got to be something wrong with me if this is happening, there has got to beÖ

It is a minute before I realize that I am crying. But I donít know what else to do. It hurts too much. I am disgusted, both with myself and himÖ I can never stop him. I didnít fight him last night, I didnít even try. I think I was afraid what he might do to me if I did. I am disgusted with myself. I am pathetic. I cannot do anything. My own father is fucking me over, literally, and I let him.

I curl myself up, ignoring the pain. If I close up, he cannot get to me. A spasm of pain rocks my body and I try not to scream, stuffing my knuckles in my mouth. No one must hear me.

But it hurts so much... Iím losing my hold on where I am, who I am. I cry harder, so hard that my head feels like itís going to explode. But I canít help it. The tears just come by themselves. I canít control my sobbing. Each shaky cry brings on fresh pain, more guilt, more shame, but I canít do anything.

I canít let anyone catch me like this. Dad always tells me Iím a big boy; big boys donít cry. That thought only makes it worse, though. Am I really that pathetic?

All I want to do is shout out, to scream as loud as I can, until I have no breath left.

All I want to do is die.

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