There’s A Little Bit Of Darkness In Us All
Have you felt it yet? That feeling you have in the pit of your stomach. That feeling that is constantly asking you, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” Unless you have that rare ability to push away your insecurities, than you have felt it. We’ve all felt it. The constant questioning; the constant walling in grief over what you feel your life could be and clearly is not.
Is there such a thing as a mid-mid-life crisis? Life is comparable to the little kid you fell in love with at age 5; cute, fun and witty. But wait, one day in high school, you’ll see that same kid wearing a blank expression of no direction. Our heads are imbedded with the constant fear of not making something out of life. But when you sit back and take a look at the big picture all your doing is following the rules set by society.
From the age of about 5 we are forced to attend school. Children’s only constant in life. The teachers constantly playing the same broken record of, “We are molding you for ‘insert next grade level here.’” Now your 16, expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. By the age of 18 you are expected to pick a school you will spend the next four years of your life. Once the big day comes; College Graduation, you are filled with a thought of full and utter completion. No more school, You can officially start the path to adulthood.
Until you look forward to the future. Every day becomes death row. The same daily tasks consist of boring, inexcusably, bland priority after priority. Until one day death sounds more exciting than waking up to another day.
My right eye opened. I was laying on my left side and switched to my right. The sun was shining on Braeden Persephone as he laid completely still next to me. I could barely tell if he was asleep. I repositioned myself so I was leaning on my right elbow. Still fast asleep his chest rose up and down. I slid a few pieces of hair off of his forward and kissed him. He steered in his sleep a little, stretched out his legs and rolled over to face away from me.
It’s normal, him pulling away. He doesn’t like being touched in his sleep. I got up, pulled open one out of the numerous plastic totes I had lined against his wall, grabbed an old shirt and a paid of shorts and then made my way to the bathroom.
Braeden and I had been together for 2 years. He was the only person willing to take me in after what happened with my grandparents. It helped that his father was never coherent. That was the biggest thing Braeden and I had in common. We both had one parent while growing up, and both of our single parents suffered from addiction. Braeden’s mother left his father when he was one. She told Braeden’s father that she needed to “find herself” and couldn’t do that with a husband and a child. When Braeden was five his father had his first alcohol poisoning. My father was killed in a drunk driving accident when I was four with my mother in the passenger seat She survived the accident with a broken arm and some back problems. When I was seven she had her first overdose. Braeden doesn’t like to talk about his father’s issue, as I don't like to discuss my mother’s issues. Or my mother for that matter. She is something I could never be.
I remember plopping myself in front of the TV one morning, not quite sure why we still had the damn thing. It wasn’t like we could afford cable. I pulled out my only coloring book and slowly flipped open the cover, when I heard the scratching of metal against the wooden table. Mother retracing the already worn path created so many years ago. I heard the lighter flick on and knew it would be better to hide in my room. The dining room, or as I officially named ‘Mother’s happy place’ was next to the living room. I picked up all the crayons, my book and proceeded to walk to my bedroom. I turned my head just in time, to see my mother place her syringe in the liquid of her spoon. This was not the first time I had watched her, she still possessed the same concentrated look on her face. I sighed and continued the few steps back into my bedroom. As soon as I placed my book on the ground I heard a loud bang.
I walked into the kitchen to see my mother laying on the floor. I ran to her side shaking her shoulders so hard the back of her head hit the floor. She wasn’t moving, her eyes weren’t opening, and most importantly her chest remained level. I ran over to the table, dragged a chair across the kitchen and climbed up to the phone to dial 911. That was the last time I saw my mother, as my mother. She was arrested making my legal guardians the only grandparents I had, my father’s parents. There were a few visits, until my grandparents decided it was in my best interest to stop seeing my mother, or the woman that looked liked my mother, in prison.
By the time I was ten years old my mother killed herself in prison. My grandparents told me she could not deal with the withdrawals as well as the confinement. But I knew better, She couldn’t handle the fact that she would have to live out her sentence sober. I was officially an orphan. Sure I had working electricity, meals and my own bathroom attached to my bedroom. Some might even say my mother's death was the best thing that ever happened to me. There was now no chance of her getting out of prison and regaining her custody rights, taking me out of this world I had grown accustomed to. But the family I had; even the small, fucked up family, was something I could handle. I refocused myself to the present by throwing water on my face.
After I rubbed my face dry, I stared in the mirror. I hardly ever had a chance to do so. I never had the money to buy makeup, and other than that I was usually in a rush to brush my teeth. But this was one rare moment I could examine the damage clearly. The bruise started under my eyebrow and worked its way down past my bottom lid. The swelling was finally down, my eye had been fully open all morning. A thought floated to the center of my brain. ‘If I can’t please Braeden, why does he stay with me?’ It was a constant thought I had in the back of my mind. What did I have that drew him in? What did I do that kept him with me?
That night came flashing back to me. The funny thing was I didn't even remember what the argument was about; he looked at someone else, I looked at someone else, no maybe someone looked at me. But nevertheless it was my fault, it was always my fault. But no matter how hard, or how often the hit he always apologized, in the end blaming the strike on his temper. I knew he didn't mean it. We all had our issues, I certainly was not someone to judge. We went to sleep together and woke up together. He was my one true love and I wasn’t going to let his temper get in the way.
I opened the bathroom door and saw that he was awake. My heart feel into my stomach while my stomach felt like a butterfly fight. It was almost comical. That reaction is the same reaction I get when I look at Braeden. My heart always skipped a beat, and then dropped to the pit of my stomach. I’ve heard the stories from other girls my age. The butterflies in their stomach, loosing their breath the moment they see him, and lastly their heart fluttering in their chest. This was just my version of feeling love for Braeden.
“How is it that you always manage to dressed and ready by the time I wake up?” Braeden questioned.
“I never know what you have planned for the day. I want to be ready for you.” I walked over to him as the words came out of my mouth. I climbed onto the bed, and sat next to Braeden.
“Well at the moment I don't have anything planned.” Braeden said with a grin.
“Which is exactly why I brushed my teeth before you woke up.” I blushed. Braeden’s hands fell on to my outer thighs. I leaned down and kissed his lips. He tasted sweet, like I was at my favorite candy store, eating my favorite candies all at once. He slid his hand higher up my thighs, and rubbed his pointer finger up under my shorts. That feeling was creeping up in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of helplessness, fear and worst of all enslavement.
“You know me so well, sitting on the side of the bed instead of on top of me. You know I hate when your on top.” He explained as he gripped my hips tighter, raised me up off of his side of the bed and threw me onto my side, and then proceeded to climb on top of me. He then continued to trace my jaw line with his lips, working his way down my neck, and then to the top of my breasts.
This was how it always started. Soon it would start undressing me. I knew there was no use in fighting him off. I could either attempt to fight him off and get hurt so he could finish, or I could just lay there and let him finish.
“You know just how to get me going, and for that I think you deserve a reward.” This was his tell tale sign. I never quite understood what he meant. Most of the time I was laying still waiting for him to get it over with. While the other times, I would become so frustrated that I would be fighting him off of me with little to no success. Right on time, his hands moved from my hips down to my shorts. Instead of working his way down my shorts like he usually would he just went for it and ripped my shorts off completely.
“Wow, your usually not this aggressive.” I whispered. My stomach was aching, he usually took his time, which was something I could deal with. But his aggression is something even he can’t control. He threw my shorts on the floor and pinned my arms above me. With him sitting on top of me, my arms pinned above me, and his knees squeezing my legs together, I couldn’t move. This was so unlike him.
“Braeden, I can’t move. Let go of my arms please.” I whimpered. He let go of my wrists, but not without slapping me across the face. My somewhat healed eye was now throbbing with every move I made. The sting felt like I had a ‘Cold and Hot’ pack on it. He grabbed my chin, while taking my hands again and pulling them to his waistband.
“Take them off!” He growled.
I did has he said, hoping he wouldn’t slap me again. I could usually tell the difference between him being angry and him being loving. At that moment I realized, a combination of both was going to happen, regardless of it I wanted it to or not. My breathing became shallow. I grew hot, and couldn’t ignore the fact that he was now naked on top of me.
He was still holding my hands at his waist. I felt like I was no longer in my body, I had no control over my hands or legs. There was no stopping him at this moment. He was determined to have it his way.
He threw my hands back up above my head.
“Babe, please just let go of my wrists.” I managed to stumble the sentence out of my mouth.
“Oh what, you can tease me with your short shorts but as soon as I take my pants off your not in the mood anymore.” His voice raised.
“Babe, please.” I stated as I tried to wiggle my arms out from under his grip.
“Oh just stop, you want this just as bad as I do. You just don’t know it yet.” As soon as he finished that thought his hands released my arms, leaving me with the false hope that he was done. But he ran his hands done the outside of my body until he reached my panties. He grabbed them and actually ripped them off. His aggression was getting stronger, I could feel it.
His head then found its way to my breasts, biting one as he forcefully made his way inside. Guiding my wrists above my head. I could feel him, inside me. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t move, and I definitely should not speak or I’d risk loosing him. I’d risk loosing the only shelter I had. So I laid there, feeling every thrust. About two minutes into it I started to hurt. I could feel everything down there, it was so raw I thought I was being stabbed with something.
“The roof, the food, the clothes I give you, are a few of the luxuries you receive here. You laying in my bed is my repayment.” He stated as he bit down on my right breast. This moment was a feeling like no other. I knew Braeden. I loved Braeden, and I thought I loved this activity with Braeden. But this wasn’t Braeden. This man, I didn’t know this man.
He grabbed my sides, and I thought he was about to finish. My excitement grew, until he flipped me over and started thrusting harder. Using his feet he opened my legs wider. At this point I had my hands and knees holding me up. His mouth came closer to my ear. All I could hear was his panting. The constant reminder of his pleasure mixed with my pain made me want to throw up.
After what felt like hours, and a few different positions later he flipped me over on my back again holding my hips as he continued to thrust. With my free hands I crossed my arms over my breasts not wanting to be exposed. I started to count. One. Two. Three. Four. On the Fifth pump he was finished. I felt him pull out of me. He got up grabbed his shorts, snd proceeded to walk to the bathroom butt naked.
I just laid there, my shirt rolled up to my chin. I looked around and saw my underwear not even wearable laying on the floor next to my shorts. I didn’t know what I wanted to do first. Did I want to cry, did I want to get dressed, or did I just want to lie here in pain. I weighed out my options, if I just laid there he could come back and start all over again. I didn’t have the time, nor the effort to cry. I learned a while back that the more I let my emotions in the more I lost myself. So I sat up, pulled my shirt down, grabbed a new pair of panties and put my pants back on. With the little energy I had left I glanced over to the door next to his bed. Braeden’s bedroom had a deck, until a tree branch feel and tore the deck down. With his father always being inebriated and Braeden to focused on drugs or sex no one had gotten around to fix the deck. I walked over to the door, unlocked it and sat on the floor. I was ready to run. I was ready to jump down over the wood pile left over from the deck and run as fast as I could through the woods. But, where would I go?
After about 15 minutes of imagining where I could run to, I stood up and turned around to get my hair brush. On Braeden’s bedside table I saw a white line of what looked like powder. I knew Braeden used drugs, but he had never taken drugs in front of me, he just sold them. So why would he have it out. He must have taken it when I was in the bathroom. Braeden had woken up, snorted a line of coke and then managed to pretend he was just waking up when I came out of the bathroom. I licked my finger, patted it on the powder and placed my finger on my tongue. The vinegar made me purse my lips and the salt made me clench my eyes. I was not big into drugs, but because of Braeden I had picked up a few things. Braeden had a few rules about drugs. He always made sure he knew who he was getting from so there was no chance of it being laced. Another rule of Braeden’s was to never use the drugs he sold. He thought it defeated the purpose of selling drugs in the first place. I read through my mind and tried to remember the last 2 years together. Braeden never sold Cocaine. I realigned the line of powder to make sure he didn’t think I took any.
I wiped my finger off on my shorts, brushed my hair and then made the bed, contemplating any other options I had. It didn't hit me until I threw the last pillow on the bed. I was alone in this world. Betting my continuation of life on the one man I thought I loved. A man that had just considered my body a form of payment, a man that hid his cocaine habit, and lastly a man that had just forced himself inside me.
I looked around Braeden’s room with a thought, “I had a choice to make”. I could either stay here, most likely becoming a drug addict. Or I could get out. I could run away. I could make something of myself. Maybe change my name, or change my hair color. Nevertheless, I had to make a decision and now. I paused, listened closely and heard the shower running. With that I decided, I am done here.
I knelt down and pulled out Braeden’s only duffle bag. I scrummaged around the room trying to grab all the clothes I could and ram them into my bag. When I was finished it dawned on me that no matter where I go or what I do I’ll need money. Braeden had a roll of hundreds hidden in his closet which had a hole in the back wall. According to Braeden, his father threw a punch at him and missed. So since then Braeden used it for his secret storage, as a means to keep his money from his father.
I opened the closet door, lifted the Guns and Roses poster and saw the plastic container full of money. The container was about seven inches wide and six inches tall with multiple stacks of hundreds. Braeden didn’t trust banks, but more importantly he didn’t want anyone becoming suspicious. I proceeded to take a few hundreds off the top of each stack. I figured Braeden wouldn’t notice if a stack was missing two or three bills, rather than an entire stack. I gathered a rough estimate of about thirty five hundred dollars. I had no idea if it would be enough, but I had to get going before Braeden came out of the shower.
With that thought, I stopped to listen. The shower was now shut off. I had no idea how much longer I had until he opened the door. As quiet as I could be I slowly opened the door that led out to the broken deck and jumped.
Thank goodness I packed a lot of clothes because I managed to land with my back on top of the bag. Braeden’s duffle bag was big enough that I could throw it on my back with the handles wrapped around each arm like a backpack. I managed to stand up, throw the bag on my back and run into the woods in a matter of seconds.
As I walked through the woods it dawned on me. Where should I go? And then it hit me. I not only wanted to, but I needed to visit my grandparents house one last time. Thankfully I meet Braeden at the school I started after my grandparents gained custody. Their house was across town and I could take the woods the entire way. For the time being, I had no worries. Braeden by now knew I had left, with no clue as to where I was heading. For the moment, I was in the clear.
The walk took about 20 minutes. Our town was a small town. One where everyone knew everyone’s business. Sometimes even before you were properly introduced to the town. My first day of high school everyone knew my story. I walked into my english class, with the principal closing the door behind me. He paused the class.
“Good Morning class, I have an announcement. We have a new student. He name is Jemma Hunter, and you will all treat her with the respect she deserves.” He barked.
The principal proceeded to leave the room, as I found a seat towards the back of the classroom. The time it took my to open my backpack, grab a notebook and place it on my desk, the surrounding students were gathered around me. I looked up and immediately turned red. What had I done now?
“You’re the girl whose mother killed herself prison, right?” A girl exclaimed.
“Uh, I mean technically yes. That is why I am here. I live with my grandparents now.” I muttered.
“Crystal, sit back down. We have we been discussing? You need to keep some questions to yourself.” The teacher was standing next to the desk in front of me bending towards the student I could only assume was Crystal.
Like I said, small town. I finally reached the clearing. I could not see the back of my grandparents house. Well what was my grandparents house. A young couple bought the house not to long after their passings. The renovations made the house appear as though I never lived in it at all. Before I approached the yard, I walked around the house via the woods and checked the drive way. No one was home. I walked to the back of the house and stood in front of the french patio doors. I attempted to open it, but with just my luck it was locked.
It dawned on me that in these friendly neighborhoods were rarely hit, and when they were the neighbors stood up and helped out. So I had one of two options. I could break through the windows on the french doors, or I could try the front for a hidden key and risk getting caught.
The last thing I needed was to be caught. The day after the funerals was approached by a realtor who instructed me that my grandparents had no will, and that the house was going to be put up for sale. In my search for a place to live, the high school informed me that I could not move out of town because I would no longer be in the district. My situation turned out to be a sad one. I could not afford to live on my own, in this town or any other town, so Braeden graciously let me move in. Since I was an adult, I was the only one who could decide where I lived. After the big move, Braeden recommended that I change my address with the DMV and the town, just in case someone would need to find me. I didn’t think of anything at the time, but after a few months of living with him, it dawned on me that all the police had to do was look at my license and I would be right back at Braeden’s place.
With that thought I found a rock I could barely wrap my hand around and threw it at the glass. The shatter was so loud I thought for sure the neighbors would call the cops so I ran into the house and up to my used to be bedroom.
I stepped inside and saw that my room was now a nursery. A girl’s nursery, with pink curtains, pink elephants and ballerinas everywhere. I almost gagged. Realizing there was little to no time until the cops where called if someone heard me, I rushed to the window seat.
This was my favorite spot in the entire world. I could sit here and nothing could touch me. It was a happier time of my life. I had everything I needed and everything I wanted. That seat was my seat and it would only make the most sense to hide it there.
“Jem, can you come down here for a minute please?” My father yelled from the bottom of the basement stairs.
“Coming, Daddy.” I yelled as I ran down the stairs.
The year was 2001, I was six years old. My father was still alive and madly in love with my mother. He could not leave the house without a kiss from my mother. They constantly expressed their love for one another as well as me. At the age of five I thought kissing anyone was gross, and my parents made a game of teasing me. He would kiss her forehead and grin at me. She would kiss him goodbye and hide the fact that she was sticking her tongue out at me. Their love was what I wanted. Their love is still what I want.
“What is it Daddy?” I asked jumping from excitement.
“I have something for you Jem.” He stated as he turned around to face me.
“What is it, what is it?” I yelled, barely holding my excitement in.
His arms found their way to the front of his body, holding a wooden box with a weird symbol on top of it. I looked up him puzzled.
“What is it?” I asked with disappointment.
“This Jem is a box that my family has had over generations. There is nothing inside it right now. It is tradition in our family to pass the box down to the eldest child. I have emptied what I had inside and wanted to give it to you.” He exclaimed.
“But, what do I do with it daddy?” I questioned.
“The main purpose of this box is to hold your most prized possessions.” He stated.
I remember looking at him, so happy and so excited to present me with a box. All I could think of at the time was ‘what a stupid box’. But instead I stood up straight, ran into his arms and said,
“Thank you daddy, I’ll keep it forever.” I gasped.
“Jem, I hope you have children one day and can experience the chance to pass this onto them, as I have done today.” He choked out.
A year later he died. A year later my mother started her battle with drugs. A year later my changed forever. Throughout the numerous homes mother dragged me to I had always managed to keep that box right beside me. I was able to fill it with a picture of my mother, father and myself. Throughout the years I added things. A picture of my grandparents, a bracelet my grandfather gave me the day I moved in and lastly my mother’s wedding ring. There was no way in hell I would be leaving this town without that box.
I looked out the window, while resting my head against the wall, with my feet propped up on the window seat. This was what I did every day after school. I cried, I laughed and I dreamed on this seat. If I could I would shrink this seat and place it in my box.
The box! Right, that’s why I was here. I got off the seat, bent down in front of it and pulled up the seat. Something was wrong, the seat was filled with baby clothes. Looking at the baby clothes, I lost it. Everything had come rushing back to me. My father’s death, My mother’s suicide, my grandparents murder and of course, my relationship with Braeden. I grabbed every single piece of clothing and threw it behind me. I was emptying the window seat with a glimpse of hope that it would be at the bottom, under all these pointless clothes.
The last onesies rocketed out of the window seat. I was now starring at an empty bench. All my anger rose within me and I just started kicking away at the window seat. I kicked so hard I could have sworn I broke a toe or two, until I heard something funny. I must have kicked so hard that I lost all feeling in my foot. I glanced down and saw there was now a hole on the outside of the window seat.
But how was that possible? I searched this room up and down when I was younger looking for all the hiding places I could find. I would have known if there was a door leading into the bottom of the window seat. I sat down and starred at the hole. Examining the hole, I pushed my hand inside. The temperature dropped a few degrees, the change scared me a little and I pulled my hand back. In doing so I hit the wall one more time, except on accident, and expanded the hole I kicked in moments before.
What I saw then confused me more. I was now looking into the window seat. There was a clear layer of wood, creating the illusion of a smaller cut out for the window seat. It hit me, this was a false bottom. I reached my hand in and tugged the layer of wood up. Just as I thought it lifted with little to no trouble. The plank of wood was now leaning on the wall next to the window seat. I stood up and found it. My box! It was there!
I grabbed the box and hugged it like it was my child. I opened the box, to see all my items still intact. I took a moment to reexamine all the items in my box like it was the first time all over again.
As I was placing my mother’s wedding ring in the box I heard a car door slam shut. Shit! Someone is here, I popped my head up and saw a pregnant woman waddle to the front door. Like lightening I jumped up, with box in hand, flew down the stairs, jumped out and over the broken glass from the french doors. I managed to grab my duffle bag, throw it over my head onto my back and run all the way to the bus stop.