Categories > Original > Drama

Out of the Shadows

by Wonder70X7 0 reviews

Danielle lives the teenage dream. But while baby sitting her worst nightmare comes true.

Category: Drama - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [R] - Published: 2017-12-06 - 16813 words - Complete

"Out of The Shadows"
Note: song lyrics from Amy Grant's "Ask Me" (noted with "*")
October 1991
It had been a very long day for both Nichole Patterson and her daughter Danielle. First work and school then volunteering for a special church service lasting almost three hours had left them both tired out. Shortly after getting in the door and a small dinner, it was straight on to bed.
Within an hour, the fifteen year old was soon sound asleep, in her white, four post canopy bed, snuggled under a large purple bedspread with red flowers. Those were her two favorite colors, sported across the room. Silk roses were in a glass vase on the dresser. The small room was lightly scented in lavender, which was said to help with sleep. Over the last couple of months, they had been doing some experimenting with smells.
Nichole stands in the doorway, watching her daughter lay there. She reflects on how the teenage girl had grown in the last four and a half years. A once a timid, scared girl, she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman before her eyes. From the start, she felt this was meant to be, the two of them together. She recalls that day the social worker called her about a girl needing to be placed.
"She's going to be a handful." the social worker had told her, and boy, was she right. It was in the parking lot of a fast food place that they had first met, in early April about three weeks before her eleventh birthday. They got along pretty good and soon Danielle was under her care.
A handful was an understatement. More like trying to tame an wild animal at times. The girl was in some aspects, almost feral (for lack of a better word) both socially and emotionally considering her background. It took some time for the girl to open up, but eventually she learned to trust her.
Things became harder when she had to be put in a psychiatric ward almost right away due to issues with her lashing out in anger. It was obviously clear she wasn't well adapted to being around normal kids. Then it was the challenge of seventh grade, that was when she had to be mainstreamed. That what it is called when someone with special needs (in this case, autism) would be intergrated into regular classes, part or all day.
My, how she has grown in more ways than one, she thinks standing there at the door, through the good times and bad, we've been through it all. I am so proud of her. It had to have been the adoption that did it. She's much more healthier physically and emotionally and I couldn't have it any better. The moonlight that shone through the window behind the bed gave a sense of her glowing like an angel. The adoption had been finalized just over a year earlier. Now Danielle was well adjusted, getting ready to start driving in fact. The thought made the forty three year old woman a little bit nervous, the idea of her behind the wheel. She then closes the door and goes to her own room on the other side of the trailer that faced the street. Within a half an hour, she was into a slumber of her own.
But Nichole had concerns. In the last few months, she noticed something was happening. Danielle was starting to have nightmares again. She wasn't screaming, but more often, she was murmuring in her sleep about being left alone, not wanting to be touched. She would be swatting the air at something unseen, telling who or whatever to stop. But when she wakes up, her daughter would have no memory of it.
Quite a few times she had gotten hit from the girl's flailing. And she had bruises to show for it. She recalled those first few weeks she was with her. Dani had really bad nightmares, screaming and flailing. The memory of them made her shudder. What does she dream of that's so unsettling to cause her to lash out like this?
Karen was Dani's therapist and was well aware of the situation and had tried to help her in dealing with them, with some success. "I think she may be having memories starting to come up she isn't able to deal with yet by what you tell me." She had recently told Nichole after coming to this conclusion.
Saturday was pretty uneventful for the fifteen year old, just all the usual weekend chores and hanging out with friends. For the first time in her young life, she actually had 'normal' friends who didn't care if she was autistic. There was even a boy she had a big crush on, Bryan McPherson, who was in her math class. It scared her a bit little having romantic feelings like that.
But when she thinks about Bryan, other things happen. Memories of her old life come up, from before when she met Nichole. About her stepfather, a foul mouthed drunk who cheated on her biological mother every chance he got. In fact, Danielle could still imagine the scent of beer and cigarettes that was always around him and it made her sick.
Then the feelings of shame and guilt come crashing through her. It was his sorry brother who had left the mark on her back that made her teacher at the time call Social Services. That would of course, change her life. Often she had wondered what would have happened if hadn't been for Nichole. The only thing Danielle could think of is that she would be dead or in an institution.
She had already been in a psychiatric ward once and reasons to why she was there in the first place. Answers were elusive when it came to that topic. Danielle just swallowed whatever the adults had fed her and that had always bothered her. Being the curious type, that was constantly in the back of her mind. But the real question was that would she want to know the truth.
Never again do I want to be in a place like that.The vault like door that made you feel like you were a prisoner in a bank. Kids screaming because of problems beyond their control and echoing down the long hall from the isolation rooms. She had always been curious about the real reason why she was put there.
It was also where she had first met Susan Leighton, her closest adult friend and confidante, the sister she never had. She had been up on that ward to see her therapist and happen to find the girl sitting in a doorway. Danielle could still remember what she wore: tennis shoes, jeans and a red sweatshirt. But it was the warmth in her eyes that made the biggest impression on the girl.
They had talked for a few minutes before she went was called into her therapy appointment. It was later she learned that her and Nichole were casual friends at church before she came into the picture and she would always be very thankful for that meeting. How strange things always seem to come together for me. The thought always brought a smile to her face.
Nichole and my therapist always told me to leave it all behind, this was my new life now. I still can see my real mom and siblings, under certain circumstances. Like my stepfather wasn't to be around when I visit. He had to be out of the house when I showed up. She always had to remind herself of that.
Sometimes she would come after school and babysit her younger sisters when their mom was out of the house working. It was a way of developing a small work ethic. In this way also, Danielle could keep contact with her blood family and earn a little bit of pocket money on the side too.
The one person she despised though was her stepfather. Her family was just fine until he came along and tore it apart. Whenever those thoughts came, Danielle had a simmering anger that she had a difficult time controlling. He would bring on her worst nightmares, and most painful memories, hurting her heart and body at times. In fact, she was thankful she decided to stay with Nichole.
The number of times I wanted to say something. To Mom, Susan, anyone just to get it out. Just to stop the torture, but I chicken out everytime. Why can't I flat out do it and get it over with? But then, nobody would believe me anyway. Despite all that the therapy does to help, some parts she couldn't wrap her head around. Or just could not bring herself to admit.
On Monday, Bryan had finally gotten the courage to finally talk to her, to ask her out. He had been interested romantically since the start of the year, but known her since middle school. "Hey, Dani," he asks her after class, "how about after school we go get a shake or something? If it's okay with your mom that is. I'll drive you home afterwards." He had to blurt it out. Also, he had just gotten his driver's license too.
After a moment, she says yes. "I'll ask her today, but I can't really guarantee anything." Then she heads on to her next class, a big smile on her face. This is the first time a boy has asked me on a 'date'. I hope Mom lets me go. Danielle thinks as she enters her class.
Luckily, that evening when she brought it up, Nichole did let her take up the offer. "I know who he is. His dad works with me at the hospital, he's always talking about his boy. He's a really good kid. But it has to be after school the day after tomorrow because of your session with Karen." Karen Young had been Danielle's therapist the last two years. Not many knew Danielle was in therapy and prefered it that way.
The next day she manages to catch Bryan before class. "I talked to my mom and she says it's okay we can go after school tomorrow. Just a milkshake and then I have to be back in time for dinner. She works with your dad at the hospital."
He was happy that she could take up his offer. "Okay, it's tomorrow then. I know a place at Westbrook that makes killer shakes." He was so excited, his voice even cracked a little. It was the first time he had asked a girl out.
At the session later that day, Danielle talked about the unofficial date. "It's just a milkshake at the mall then home after school." Still she was nervous, those old feelings were coming up, making it worse. "Mom says he's a good kid, I doubt anything will happen."
The next day after school they went over to the mall. Bryan had washed his small red car, making it look almost new. The shakes at the new place were to die for like he said. Handmade and mixed with any toppings they had that the customers wanted. Danielle had a large chocolate one with whipped cream and nuts with a cherry on top. They talked for a few minutes while going back to the car. He wanted to make a first good impression by getting her home on time.
"I need to get some gas, you don't mind? The tank is almost empty." He asks taking a look at the gauge. She agrees and they go to one just a half a mile away. It was the one her stepfather worked at. As much as she loathed it, they had no choice, otherwise they would be stranded.
Pulling in, Bryan had filled the tank and was inside paying when he came up. "Long time no see Danielle." Her stepfather asks peering inside the car to see the leather interior, "You look absolutely stunning. Maybe I should come over one day, but I know the rules won't let me." A grim smirk appears on his face, those eyes of his roaming over her lustfully. "Who's that boy? Looks to me like you got a boyfriend."
"He's a classmate of mine who took me for a shake at the mall, nothing more or less. Now please leave me alone." She tells him off as Bryan comes back. "I have a new life now." She uses a sharp tone that slaps the smirk right off his face. He turns around without saying another word, it was obviously clear he didn't appreciate her answer.
"Who was that?" Bryan asks getting back in the car from paying, "Looks like that man knew you." Danielle tells him he was a man most people in town knew. "Let's get you back home before your mom starts to worry." He starts the engine and they get on the road.
Once they get to her house, they find that her mom hadn't gotten back home from work yet, to her surprise. She wasn't comfortable letting him inside, so they just sat in his car for a few minutes. "Thanks for taking me out. I really enjoyed myself." Danielle says, bashful.
"My pleasure," Bryan tells her, "If it's okay, can I kiss you?" He was nervous, palms sweating. Surprisingly, she says yes and he leans in. A gentle peck on the lips, nothing more. Pulling back, Danielle hoped he couldn't see the red in her face, she gives a small smile. So, this is how it feels to be kissed, interesting.
"Um, I really need to get inside, I'll be okay." Danielle tells him and after watching him leave, unlocks the door and goes inside. Her and Nichole's two cats, Scruples and Crockett were laying on the couch, not really paying attention to her coming in. "Hey, how was your day?" She asks them, giving them a little love with rubs on the head and goes to her room so she could dump her bag and start on some math homework.
His kiss still lingered on her lips as she worked at the dining room table when Nichole comes in about an hour later. "How did it go? I want to know all the details, and hopefully you two behaved yourselves. Hope you don't mind, I picked up something for dinner." She places two big bags on the table beside her.
Nichole knew the time was coming to give Danielle "the talk". But for the moment, she just wanted to let her daughter experience the first blossoms of a romance. I'll deal with that when we get there. But for now I'll just set ground rules and monitor them. Little did she know how things would drasically change in a short time.
The next week Dani and Bryan became an item at school. They only held hands and little kisses in the hallways, acceptable forms of public displays of affection. She was happy a guy finally took interest in her. But she also had to be careful about how she could be manipulated and taken advantage of. Being in love was the closest she had ever felt to being "normal".
Outside the school on Wednesday, they exchanged a kiss after class let out. He was taking Danielle to her biological mom's house to baby sit Alana and Ellie, her two younger sisters. Their mom had to go back into work for an extra two hours and couldn't find anyone to watch them. Once there, he promises to get her back home after she was done.
It was fun as usual, she helps them with schoolwork and keeps them busy. But when she goes to the bathroom, Danielle felt something was wrong. When she finishes and goes to leave, the door was somehow locked. There were sounds from the other side, but they were muffled. No matter how much she tried, the door wouldn't open.
Then after a few minutes, she heard something slide away, the knob turns and the door opens. Ellie was standing there, clad in only her shirt and bleeding down her legs, her face tearstained. All she did was point towards the master bedroom.
Danielle barges in and sees her stepfather, forcing himself on Alana, who was crying out in pain. She steps forward to pull him off, only to have a gun pointed at her face. Fear crashes in on her, staring down the barrel.
"You're next," he says, gun aimed at her. "I just need to...." he lets out a grunt before letting the eight year old slip out from under him. Then he grabs Danielle by the arm. "I saw you with that boy at school. How far have you gone with him?" She could smell the odor of whiskey on his breath.
"It's not what you think! And why is it any of your concern?" Danielle tries to tell him, but he wouldn't have any of it. Instead, it makes him angrier. "You little slut, remember when I tried to teach you a thing or two, and this is all the thanks I get?" He pins her to the wall and begins to reach down into her pants, his grease stained fingers forced inside her. Pulling them out after a few moments, he smells them, almost like he was enjoying it.
"You like this, don't you? Well, you're going to love what I have in mind next. Take off your clothes NOW!" He kept the gun at her head while the two girls were in a corner scared. "Now or they get it!"
Slowly, Danielle had no choice but to do it. She kept her arms covered over her chest and head down. He caresses her face, pulling her arms away so he could take a look at her body. "My, my you are lovely. And all mine." an evil smile crosses his face, he was going to enjoy this.
Throwing her down on the bed, he was ready for another go. Positioning himself between her legs, he forces her to look into her eyes. "You belong to me, why have a boy when you could have a man?" With that, he plants a rough kiss on her lips.
"I don't want this," Danielle says, "you can't do this to me again. Get off me!" She tries to do everything she could to hurt him. Bite, scratch, kick, scream, something. It didn't work as he somehow kept the gun between her eyes. Though she did manage to scratch him, it was only an encouragement. Like it turned him on. "I like it when my prey fights, makes it more fun."
With that, he enters her. When he feels the resistance, he was surprised. Seems like I didn't get it the first time around. That can be dealt with real quickly. He looks at the teen square in the eye and tells her she was his always and forever before breaking though with one thrust, causing Danielle great pain.
Again and again he did it. For thirty minutes he wouldn't stop, her pleas to stop fall on deaf ears, but to her it seemed like an eternity. He forces her to tell him she was enjoying it. In every way he knew how, he raped her, not caring about what may happen. It was all about him, nobody else.
Each time she screams, he slaps her, it was like a turn on for him. The sight of tears streaming down her face made him go wild. She could feel ever bit of the tearing and streching of her insides, eventually blacking out briefly, trying not to feel anything.
Finally he releases inside of her and fondles her body before telling the young girls that this is how a man treats a woman. They were terrified at what they had seen. Pulling out of her, he tells Danielle she did a good job and to make sure the girls are showered up before their mom gets home.
Her stepfather watches as she puts her clothes back on and smiles. "Maybe we should do this more often, maybe next week? Say one word and I will find out where you live. Now we wouldn't want that to happen?" He smiles and pats her behind while she was left broken and shuddering.
"Listen," Danielle tells the scared girls, "I'm sorry I failed you." The guilt was too much. Their excuse of a father made sure they showered before leaving. Once their mom was home, she left, telling her she wasn't well.
Her body was sore all over, inside and out. She couldn't sit very well on her bottom because of all the pain and the taste of him was still strong in her mouth, making her want to vomit. All the mouthwash in the world couldn't get it out. And his scent was still on her, like he was an animal marking his prey.
Bryan had brought her home, he sees she was unusually quiet on the way back. She tells him she wasn't feeling well, possibly food poisoning from lunch. That the tuna casserole the cafeteria served earlier didn't taste quite right to her.
Danielle comes through the front door, smelling Susan's cooking. "Hey, it's going to be a few minutes before this is done. Get settled in and washed up." she says then notices the girl was walking funny. "You all right?" she asks, a little worried. Danielle tells her she had pulled a muscle in Dance class earlier and all she needed was a heating pad. As part of the ruse, she goes and gets one out of the closet.
Nichole had been out of town visiting friends and would be back the next day. Danielle couldn't really eat anything, even though the food was really good. But she did it anyway, hoping to get the nasty taste out of her mouth. Homework and straight to bed, telling Susan that she was a little bit under the weather. Then she goes to take a shower.
Once in the bathroom, Danielle gasped at the bruises already forming. She spent twenty minutes scrubbing herself with hot water, trying to get the filth of him off of her. But it just wouldn't come off, it was already a set in stain. Silently she stands in front of the mirror, thankful there were no bruises where they could be seen. They were mostly below the neck and between her thighs.
That night she had a nightmare of what had just happened. She had a documented history of night terrors and from time to time still had them. But this was the worst, it was like she was reliving the events of earlier. Danielle is then sitting up, rapidly breathing, screaming and staring blankly into space, and had no idea of what she was doing until someone would have to tell her after waking up.
Susan was asleep on the living room couch when she hears the screams from the back and comes running in. She had stayed over at night the last few days because Nichole was at out of town and asked her to do this because of the outbursts. She finds her upright in her bed, eyes wide open, arms flailing. It also looked like she was swatting at something unseen.
"Dani, wake up. You're having a nightmare." The only sound other than hers was of Danielle's rapid breathing and screaming. "No, I'll do whatever you want, just don't touch them!" She says in between breaths, pointing to a corner. Her voice was frantic, pleading. It was clear to see she wasn't even aware of what she was doing.
She sees the perspiration on Danielle's face in the dim light. Susan turns on the lamp and begins to embrace the struggling girl tightly so that she wouldn't be able to hurt herself. Soon the screams and shaking stop and she slowly snaps out of it. "What happened? Why am I all sweaty and out of breath?"
"Do you remember what you were having the nightmare about?" Susan gently asks, clearly worried. Danielle shakes her head, it was rare that she even remembers her dreams. This was one of those cases. How could she explain what just happened? Of course she knew what it was about. When Susan touches her arm, the girl flinches, like she was in pain.
Danielle knew exactly what it was about but was able to lie to her "sister" and pretend it was a terror, but deep down she knew it wouldn't fly. Eventually, the truth would come out. It hurt her to lie like that, but the threat was fresh in her mind. After a mug of warm milk, she went back to sleep. That always helped after a nightmare. She also knew that Susan was the only person who could even have any idea of what she went through.
The next day, Bryan tries to get her attention while at lunch. "How are you feeling?" he asks Danielle and she assures him it must have been something she ate. "I'm okay now. The last time I was that sick like that, it was from a bad taco I had one time for lunch back in seventh grade." She tries to make a joke there, but it was a true story.
It had not been a good day for obvious reasons. Her mood was not typical to those who knew her and she even lashed out at her best friend over something petty. She almost threw up at the mere thought of the previous day. The distress was so clear, even her English teacher got on her about being zoned out. That was something that had never happened to her before.
She thought about what Bryan would think if he found out. How would he see me? Used goods, or worse, announce it to the whole school? The thought made her almost faint. The humiliation of that happening would be enough for her to dig a hole and die in it. Every time she saw him, it tore her apart inside about how differently he would see her if he knew.
"Nichole," Susan had to tell her during over lunch, "Danielle had a really serious nightmare last night. It was like you said. It wasn't a terror, I could tell by the look in her eyes. Karen needs to know this now. Also, when I tried to touch her arm, she flinched like she was in pain. Something happened to her alright, she knows it and it may be too much for her to say it aloud."
"She didn't eat much and spent a good while in the bathroom, and I know she just loves my cooking. That and the fact she came in walking funny, like she had a rough day. All she would say was that she pulled a muscle in dance class and that for me raised some red flags, but she doesn't get hurt too bad in class. That somehow made me think something wasn't right."
Susan had to calm herself down before continuing. "There was something else too. During the nightmare, she kept saying something about doing whatever it took, just leave them alone. I wonder who she was talking about?" Nichole became worried right there, verifying her concerns.
She was going to sit in with Danielle for her next session. Her therapist had some concerns recently and wanted to meet with the two of them together to discuss those issues. "I know and tomorrow we'll bring them up at her office. Thanks for telling me." Nichole took a sip of tea. She had been really worried about her daughter for quite a while.
Then next day in Karen's office it was her and Danielle. Nichole would come in later. The girl was rocking back and forth on the couch, anxious, then she was getting up and pacing the floor, then repeating the pattern again and again. It was becoming too much for her to keep it all bottled inside. Danielle felt like she was going mad with all that was going on in her head.
Her heart was racing and her mind was all jumbled up, feeling conflicted. It felt like that any moment her mind would just shut down because of the chaos going on in there. To Danielle, it was like there was a war going on that nobody but her could see. But to her, it all too real.
The therapist tries getting her to talk, but that was getting nowhere. Karen was becoming nervous herself watching this. She also noticed Dani was trying to put something together to say. She couldn't quite tell what though.
What was it Susan once told me? Three things that won't keep hidden for long: the sun, the moon and the truth.That was it. It was then that Danielle made up her mind. It all had to come out and finally she gathers her courage. This had to be done before it becomes too much, has a breakdown and she shuts down.
Finally, after ten minutes of all this mental arguing with herself, she tells Karen to get her mom in there now. "I can't take it anymore! Just do it!" It had to come out before it was too late. "Please, I have to do this before I chicken out like I always do! So many times, I come so close, then I run away." Danielle throws her hands over her ears.
Nichole is called in and they sat on the green couch with the throws over it. "What is it honey? Say something please." Danielle bites her fingernails and then finally tells her mom and Karen what happened to her almost forty eight hours before in graphic detail, she spills it all out.
"He swore he would kill me and my sisters if I didn't do what he wanted. Now I may even be pregnant from it. Before I met you Mom, before I was taken out and placed with you, he did it to me back then too." Danielle then gets up, clearly distressed and ready to run.
"Now, I just put you all in danger just for saying something." It was clear she was struggling to say all this. She rolls up her sleeve, showing a large, hand shaped bruise on her left upper arm. "This was from where he grabbed my arm and pulled me down before he...." She stops before saying more.
"I have to get out of here. I'm sorry I've let you down." she says, barely able to keep herself under control, on the edge of hysterics. The two women were in shock at what they just heard. She then takes her jacket and heads for the door. Nichole tries to grab her hand in an attempt to keep Danielle from leaving the office, but was met with a cold gray stare.
"Leave me alone, I just need to get away. Clear my head or something. But then with me, that can be a very dangerous thing." Her timid voice had a strange tone, almost like it was a stern command, but her eyes said an entirely different thing altogether. Then, before anything could be done, she runs out of the office.
"No, let her go. I'll get campus security to look out for her, just to make sure she doesn't do anything to hurt herself." Karen tells Nichole, "We now know that our suspicions were true." She picks up the phone and dials up security. Nichole was trying to keep herself together, her mind trying to figure out what had just happened.
Danielle leaves through a side door and heads across the old unused train tracks, racing towards the parking deck. A nice dark place where I can try to get my head together and not draw much attention. Maybe if I raise my hood and keep quiet, security won't pay much attention. I know Karen will have them on my tail, that's for sure. I just have to get to where I need to go. But first, I have to be reminded of what my future will be now that it's all out. Get myself mentally prepared.
Quickly and without attracting much attention, she manages to get reach the part of the hospital where the adolescent psychiatric wards were. It was very difficult to avoid all the people in the halls, especially with security looking out for her. Finally, Danielle was back to where she first met Susan, the old Xavier unit that had now become a day clinic. Memories flooded back standing right there.
But the mental image of that big door was still fresh in her mind. The first time she saw it, it looked something one would find if they were visiting a bank. There was another ward not far from where she was now that she knew about, it would be there where Nichole would have her sent to. One of her worst fears that most likely would come to pass.
Might as well enjoy my last few moments of freedom while I can. I certainly don't deserve it and having only the memories would be all I have to hold dear. But then, all the medications they would force me to take would eventually would take those away from me too. She thinks, almost forgetting there was a group of what looked like med students coming her way.
Luckily, the elevator opens at that very moment and Danielle was thankful that it was empty. Taking advantage of the opportunity, she gets inside and once reaching the ground floor, heads off to her second destination. She knew all the little shortcuts of the hospital and the adjoining college campus grounds like the back of her hand.
At the office, Karen tries to keep a near hysterical Nichole from going out there to find her. It was obviously clear the woman was distressed with this new situation. "How, how could I have been blind to all this? And she was making so much progress. Now, I want to find and just kill that man with my bare hands for what he did to her. The social workers told me they had suspected that she was sexually abused, but they couldn't prove anything without her testimony."
Her hands curled into fists, itching to hit something. She couldn't help but feel angry. Karen had felt the same way and has her punch the couch, even going so far as to offering her a pillow. She was hoping Danielle would at least try and make an effort to contact them soon. Nothing else mattered at the moment.
Walking quickly across the campus from the hospital, Danielle looks up and it was then she notices the darkening sky. It looked like the dark clouds were about to break and thunder could be heard in the distance, so she broke into a run towards the big chapel up ahead. The bruises she had between her thighs were hurting, the chafing making her wince in pain. But she couldn't stop unless she wanted to get caught in the rain.
The sky matched her grey eyes and the state of her soul at the moment. It had started to downpour and lightning was flashing just as she gets within about twenty feet of the doors and quickly goes inside. The place was full of people who also wanted to get out of the rain. Maybe this would be a place of some comfort for her. It would most definitely be a welcome haven from the storm.
Danielle pauses once inside, pulling back her wet hair and taking a brief moment to actually breathe. Then she starts across the huge floor of the outer hall before entering the chapel itself, excusing herself when she bumped into someone. There has to be a bathroom nearby. I got to get myself dried a little, that cloudburst barely caught me. Soon enough, she finds one and finally gets herself under one of the touchless hand dryers. About ten minutes later, she was not sure of where to go.
Susan had just finished a session with her therapist and was waiting along with everyone else inside for the rain to stop. Sometimes the two of them would leave the office for a change of scenery just like today. Danielle had been on her mind all day when she sees somebody catching her eye. That long, straight, dark brown hair and the wire rimmed glasses. She had to be certain of who it was.
Danielle had just left the restroom and was headed towards the front to where the pulpit was when she caught a glimpse of Susan sitting down on a pew about fifteen feet away from her. One glance between them and she knew it was over. Fear overtakes her and she starts to run.
Is that-? It can't be her. She thinks moving in closer for a better look. Seeing that it was Danielle, but when she gets close enough to call out to her, a big crowd comes in between them. When it finally clears a few moments later, she was long gone, almost like she was a ghost.
I now know it was her, but why is she here and not at her therapy session? It was clear as day that she saw me, and then bolted. But then, she was always a real natural at pulling a disappearing act. That much I have learned in the four years I've known her. Susan starts looking, anywhere she may be hiding that the public has access to. I caught something in her eyes that scared me, I have to find her before something happens. I have a bad feeling about this.
Secrets and shadows were Danielle's oldest and dearest companions. They became her two closest confidants. But at the same time, were also the constant unwanted guests. In turn for her acceptance, they cloak her in some kind of protection that gave her a form of sanity and security, keeping her from going over the edge. More times than she could count, they also gave her a hold on reality. Now she had to rely on them more than ever before.
Great, now my cover's blown, she thinks seeing her friend fly past by while hiding around a corner, frantically searching. Thankfully, that crowd of people was a great cover. Gave me time to escape from Susan. Didn't expect to see her here, maybe if I find a place to hide and stay still, maybe she won't find me. But knowing her, she won't give up.
Danielle was thinking about all she did for her. Susan never gives up on me, never has and never will. She was always determined, especially when it comes to someone like me. Why does her and Mom even put up with me and my antics in the first place?
She settled down in a small quiet place on the floor in the memorial chapel to the left of the pulpit. Her heartbeat calmed a little bit and Danielle could catch her breath at last. Curled up and out of sight, she could at least try to think. Too bad they had to close the elevator that went to the top, I would have most definitely went up there. Maybe even throw myself off of there so as to end this.
All her life, church was considered a safe place for Danielle. Even a place as big and extravagant like this. It would have a soothing, calming effect on her, but not this time. With her chances of escape dwindling, the only thing she could do was wait for the endgame, her checkmate. It was there also she could finally take a moment to try and think.
I messed up big time, said something I shouldn't have and now I'm in a corner. All I love is now in danger because of my big mouth. The stress of everything at that moment made Danielle's mind was racing like it was at light speed at this point. Her heartbeat shot straight back up, inducing a panic attack. She couldn't think, much less breathe. Her chest tightens up and her breathing became rapid.
What she had just done then hits her full on and it becomes too much for her to process mentally. She shudders and then blacks out, feeling like a switch had flipped in her head to shut down, causing her to collapse to the floor. It was a temporary, but a great relief from all going on in her life at that moment.
Susan had looked everywhere for her just about.Where haven't I looked? The elevator to the roof is closed off. Then it hits her. There was that little gated place up front, maybe she's in there, I know it is open. Running the stairs back up to ground level, she heads there and just in time too. Passing through them she heads to the back and her instinct is dead on.
She finds Danielle in the back, lying on the floor just out of sight, slowly stirring and muttering something. Susan had never seen her act like this before and it scared her. It was clear the girl was out of it. She takes her by the shoulders and helps the girl get set upright against the wall.
"Dani, it's me Susan. What's wrong?" she calmly asks, her voice filled with great concern. But all Danielle would say was, "Ask me how I know...." over and over again. "Where did He go in the middle of my shame?" was the next thing she says in a groggy tone. It sounded familiar to Susan, but she couldn't quite place it. It sounded almost like a mantra, she was trying to communicate something.
"What are you trying to say to me?" She was getting extremly worried, a friend of hers that worked campus security had mentioned something about being on the lookout for a teenage girl about thirty minutes earlier. Were they talking about Danielle? I have to get her to open up here before anything else.
Carefully, Susan lifts her chin so those grey eyes met hers, seeing all the pain in them breaking her heart. Brushing the wet hair from her face, suddenly then it hits the woman, those weren't random words, they were song lyrics. And they both knew the song and the story behind it. It was from that hot new album that came out just before her birthday earlier in the year.
Danielle had a special gift, she could speak two languages fluently: English and CCM. It was a type of secret communication between them. It became her way of expressing things she couldn't on her own. It was one of the few pleasures she had, an escape. This was one of those moments it spoke for her.
Danielle finally starts to fully come out of the mental crash. 'Ugh, my head hurts. Susan, what are you doing here?" She looks up to see her there. "Please, I just want to be left alone." She lowers her head like she had committed a great sin, then closing her eyes tightly. She then starts curling up and placing her hands over her ears. Like she wanted to block out everything around her.
Susan gently pulls her hands away. "I was going to ask you the same thing. And after the way I found you just now, you know I cannot do that. Also, I have to ask, aren't you supposed to be somewhere else at the moment? How about I take you back to Karen's office? But first, I have to know what exactly happened that drove you to come all the way out here. I'm not going to leave until you talk." She then sits beside Danielle and waits a moment. She knew this girl almost like the back of her hand.
Finally, she says something. "Okay, but I want to leave here first. Enjoy my last few moments of freedom." Danielle would only say in a faint, barely heard whisper. Those cryptic last words left her confused. What does she mean by that? This girl was always a bit cryptic sometimes when it came to choosing her words. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle by the time they got to her car.
Danielle had a throbbing headache from when she had blacked out. "Do you have any aspirin?" she asks, "I feel like a train just hit me. Would have been better too." Susan had asked her security friend call off the search and said that she would take the distraught girl back to the therapist's office.
The short ride back was silent. Danielle just stared out the window, like she was pondering her fate. Susan tries to gently coax her into talking, but it seemed she had lost her ability to say a word. The girl had just shut down. She's locked the door and hid the key. She's been quiet, but never have I seen her like this before. What happened for this to occur? When she's this quiet, that is never a good sign at all.
"They found her, safe and sound. She's on her way back with someone the two of you know." Karen had just gotten off the phone with security, relieved she could at least bring some good news to the distraught Nichole, who was drinking some water and now just starting to calm down. The news brought great comfort to her, knowing she was found safe and coming back. That to her, was worth way more precious than all the gold and jewels in the world. The news also brought great relief to the therapist, now they can help the poor girl.
"Now we have other matters to discuss. Danielle needs to be examined as soon as possible. Find out how much physical damage she has sustained. Since she's said the attack happened the day before yesterday, we still have a chance of getting something." The doctor hated to throw all this at once on the woman that was sitting across from her, but there was no two ways about it.
"I know. But how will my little girl be able to handle it all? How will I deal with this?" Nichole asks, still worried about all this coming hard and fast. "That man has to pay for this, and I do know how to use a scalpel. I just need the right opportunity." She wanted to start swearing, but wisely held her tongue, she was just relieved that her daughter was safe and coming back.
A few minutes later, there was a soft knock on the office door. Karen gets up and opens it. Susan was standing there, with Danielle at her side. The poor girl looked awful, miserable, wet from having been caught in the storm, her eyes cast down to the floor. They come in and sit on the couch, with Danielle sitting down in between her mom and best friend, drying herself off with a towel Susan had in the car.
The therapist was about to ask Susan to leave when Nichole speaks up. "It's okay for her to be here. She's a trusted friend of ours. I think it's for the best at the moment." Karen had recalled hearing about her from Danielle, but never met her until now. "Pleased to meet you at last. She always talked about you." They shake hands before continuing on. "We're so glad to see you back here safe and sound Danielle."
The girl struggled to meet the gaze at everyone in the room. The eyes are the windows to the soul, they say everything the tongue can't. She thinks trying to keep eye contact. It was never easy for her in that area in the first place. Maybe that was because it felt like if she did, the other person would read her like a book. All her secrets would be out for everyone to see.
The doctor continues, keeping a calm tone with her, assuring that she wasn't in any trouble. "You will need to be examined in the ER immediately. I've already called ahead and made them aware of the situation. We can get to all the other matters later. For now, this is top priority." Danielle hangs her head, barely hearing what was just said. The only thing she does is nod. Like she knew what was coming.
"Emergency room, examination? What is going on Nichole? What made her run off? She wouldn't tell me." Susan asks her looking confused. "I happened to see her and she bolted on me. She had never done that before." She had already knew deep down what it was. Nichole was about to say something when Danielle stops her and spills it all out herself.
For the second time in less than ninety minutes, she recalled what that man had done to her. She was apologizing profusely every other second, like she had committed a crime. At least this time she didn't run out of the room, Nichole thinks watching Danielle recounting it again, in a shortened form.
Susan had her worst fears confirmed hearing this. Her and Nichole had talked about this at length at times. About the signs she had exhibited pointing that direction. How the social workers had seen her reaction when asked certain questions. Everything came together then. This was why Danielle was in that ward when I first met her. That monster hurt her and she didn't know how to express that anger properly.
"Guess it's back to the psych ward for me." Danielle says in a defeated tone of voice, "Spending my days like a prisoner, no freedom or a chance at any kind of a life. Please don't send me back there." She begs her mother, even getting on her knees.
But she gets an unexpected surprise. Nichole gives her daughter a big hug, with Susan following her lead. The girl felt uncomfortable but still let them do it anyway despite not being able to feel anything. Now it was on to the emergency room.
A few minutes later, they were over there, where she was immediately ushered to the back and undergoing a pelvic exam with Nichole at her side. She recalls the first time this had been done on her. The doctor performing the rape kit thankfully explained each step along the way.
It was just days before her eleventh birthday and had just moved in with her future mother. It really didn't hurt then, just really uncomfortable. And Mom was right there at her side back then and now. But even that was of little comfort at the moment.
This time, when the doctor used a swab to collect evidence, she almost had kicked him in the head from all the pain. She really didn't mean to do it, but it felt like the rape was happening all over again. The doctor could clearly see that the wounds were still fresh. He was about to call for restraints and a sedative to calm her down. Nichole suggests a different approach.
"Look here, focus your eyes on me," Nichole kept saying to her, "it will be over soon enough." Danielle does and she was right, it didn't hurt as much. She didn't want to have her daughter sedated for the procedure. I always knew she's a fighter, but now I'm not sure if she can handle this.
When it was done, the girl apologized to the doctor. She was then allowed to be left alone in a paper gown for a few minutes, curled up on the examination table, quivering in pain. The only thing she asked was for some water to drink a few minutes before the nurse came in to draw blood. Now came the hardest part.
Danielle then had to strip down so pictures could be taken of her bruises. That was the most embarassing part for her. She sees Nichole's face as she gasped at seeing them. It brought feelings of great embarassment having to show herself like this. As far as she could remember, Nichole had never seen her fully naked. She cried the whole time this was going on. She had to turn away as that was going on.
"Ms. Patterson," the doctor had taken her aside after the rape kit was finally completed, "your daughter has been raped, in more ways than one physically and there clearly are signs of previous assaults. They are old, but healed up."
"The damage she sustained two days ago is not serious enough to require surgery, but I am going have also to run a pregnancy test and a blood panel for any possible diseases. I'm sorry, you know this has to be reported to the police as I am required by law to do." She nods, understanding the severe gravity of the situation.
Nichole and the doctor then sat down with Danielle and explained what they had found so far and having to hear what that man had done to her. The fifteen year old sat there, not having much to say. It was hard enough for her to sit there and hear all this, but to go into detail what happened in those thirty minutes was even harder. She was doing all can to keep herself sane through all this.
Tears fell from her face with every little detail, often pausing to compose herself. "He had me do...things to him too. In front of my sisters. Said he was 'educating' them for what was to come." Even describing those acts was almost impossible, using proper terms for the parts. Danielle started to gag from the mere thought of it. "He grabbed my butt and told me I did a good job. Said we should do it again sometime. Like next week."
"It was all because we stopped at the gas station he worked at to fill up just down the street from the mall after he took me out for milkshakes. Bryan was inside paying when that man came up and basically stopped short of saying I was sleeping with him. I told him to shove off and to leave me alone, that I had a new life. He didn't like that one bit." Nichole could tell that her daughter was becoming agitated.
Then Danielle became quiet, taking a long pause before asking when they could go home and that she was very hungry. "We will get out of here as soon as possible, I promise you and we'll stop for dinner. Okay honey? You're doing great here." Nichole assures her, trying to keep her spirits up. Danielle finally manages to get it out for the doctor's report to the police, and by that point, she had been all cried out, emotionally and physically drained.
By the time they got home, it was almost nine o'clock. Nichole managed to get her to eat something, but the girl was just too tired to have very much. Hardly a word was spoken between them on the way back. Susan would be coming over soon in the next few minutes.
She gets her daughter to sit down on the couch patting a space beside her. "Dani, you don't have to say anything, just listen." Nichole tries to find the words to say next, but they were extremely difficult to come by. "I want you to know first and foremost, I am NOT going to have you put back up in a psych ward if I can help it. In fact, that would be the last thing I would want to do. Second, what was done to you is not your fault by any means."
Danielle was curled up, just beyond Nichole's reach. Susan had just came in and moves in beside her, but she didn't want to be touched by either of them at the moment. After all that she had been through the last 48 hours, almost any form of physical contact was the last thing that she wanted. She looks up, her grey eyes showing she was at least listening, though she had heard all this talk before.
She didn't want anyone to see the demons that hid behind those eyes of hers. It would be too painful for her to let anyone peer into them. Almost like she didn't want them to suffer if they really knew the real her. This was the main reason why she kept her distance from people as much as possible. To try and spare herself and them any unneccessary pain. Her worst fear was what they really would think of her if they knew the truth.
Finally she says something. "If that's true, then why am I the one who has to pay, carry all the pain around?" Her voice barely containing her rage. "Where's the justice in that? I can tell you things that went on in that house growing up like I did that would make you sit here with mouths open in shock. You want to hear all about that?" Her hands then clench into fists. "Someone needs to-" But then something stops her mid sentence.
She begins to feel something churning in her stomach, and it starts to hurt. Then just as quickly, it was rapidly coming up into her chest, causing her to start retching. She knew it was all coming out. Danielle quickly covers her mouth and runs through the kitchen and into her bathroom. The only sounds were the loud slam of the door and vomiting that was clearly heard through it. "Let me try to help," Susan tells Nichole as she heads back, "maybe I can do something."
Danielle hadn't felt this sick in her short life. She had almost missed the toilet and begins to regurgitate what little she had just ate a split second after reaching it. Please God, please don't let me be pregnant with that monster's child. It would be too much for me to handle. That was the one thing racing through her head as heave after heave filled the toilet. They were still coming even after her stomach was emptied.
Susan had come up beside her and held her hair back while she hovered over the toilet, her mouth wide open.The poor girl had made herself sick from all this. I'm not surprised, it was worse for me. "Hey, are you about done? Just listen to me for a moment, believe it or not, I am right here for you one hundred percent." She reaches for a hair band lying on the sink and pulls it up into a pony tail.
She sees the girl's tear streaked face and her heart just breaks. "You know full well I've been where you are now. Look at me." Susan turns her head so their eyes meet, trying to maintain eye contact. That was the only thing she had going at that moment, if she could keep that, there was a good chance her message may get through.
"It will get better, I know it's hard to believe, but it will. You have to realize that. This man will answer for his crime, one way or another he will pay for this." She gently strokes Danielle's face for a few moments before another round of dry heaves take over. The sounds of retching eventually would slow down after a few minutes.
Nichole comes up to the door, with a glass of water in one hand, and two aspirin in the other. "Here, take this. It will help you feel better." She hands them to her and after drinking it slowly with the pills, Danielle's stomach finally had started to settle down. "Get to bed, It's late and no school in the morning. We have a lot to do."
Susan had to leave and would be by the next day. "Keep me up to date." she tells Nichole before heading out. "I always somehow knew that there was more to her story beyond what was already known. Does she know about Social Services investigating him?" She asks her.
"No, I don't think so. I kept her out of all the courtroom and investigation stuff unless it was absolutely needed." Nichole says, still in a state of shock and frustation after the events of the last few hours. Susan then leaves, promising to call. Now she turns her attention to her daughter.
Danielle was already changed into some electric blue pajamas with a rose pattern and settled into bed when Nichole comes in carrying a small lined trash can and putting it down within her reach, then she turns on the small flowered lamp on the nightstand. "Just in case. How are you holding up? Stomach still bothering you?" She shakes her head, shielding her eyes from the bright light. It was a moment before anything more was said between them.
"No Mom, It's easing off. At least I'm not heaving anymore." She sits up in her bed, eyes still down, "What if I'm pregnant, or have a disease? It wasn't like I wanted it. All I wanted was to save myself for marriage like you always taught me and now that's shot to pieces."
"I feel so dirty and empty inside. All I wanted to do after getting back from there was to be drown myself in the tub, but instead scrubbed myself with hot water. I'm sorry I didn't say anything before." Her voice was hoarse from all the throwing up. She still had the glass of water from earlier and took a sip of it.
She starts again. "It was that I just couldn't really remember what he did to me before I met you. I've only just started to remember last year." Danielle says in a low, guilty voice like she had done something wrong. It was like she had gotten into some kind of trouble and waiting to be lectured and punished.
Nichole assures her he will be caught and that he won't hurt anyone else ever again. "Your mind couldn't take it back then and blocked it out to help keep you from falling apart emotionally until you were strong enough to deal with it. What you did today at the office was a very brave thing." She could see Danielle wasn't really buying it, at least for the moment.
She leans in and with open arms, Nichole embraces her tightly. "It's going to be all right honey. We are going to get through this together." Danielle finally lets her mom hold her with no hesitation, mainly due to being flat out exhausted. Her embrace brought the girl a little bit of comfort.
"I have something. Look in the bottom of my underwear drawer." Danielle points to her dresser next to the closet. Nichole looks inside and finds a bag with two pairs of little girl's underwear inside. "I had to at least try and do something." She winces once again from a twinge of pain, a little reminder of the exam from earlier.
Nichole takes the bag and places it on the table. "This will help immensely with getting that man arrested. As for any diseases or pregnancy, I promise you we will deal with that together should it come up. For now, you need some rest. How about I sit right here until you fall asleep?"
It was like she was watching a little girl afraid of the dark, constantly needing assurance of safety. The thought took the woman back to those first days they were together. She sits down in a chair right next to the bed. Nichole reaches out and with her hand, starts to smooth out Danielle's long, dark brown hair spread across the pillows. She had always loved her hair, very fine and at times a hint of red could be seen.
"You'll stay right here until I'm sound asleep? Protect me from him if he comes after us?" Her voice sounded like a little child afraid of the dark. Nichole nods her head for reassurance. "Yes. I'll be right here." She takes her hand and rubs the back of it with her thumb. Deep down, she wishes she could take all that pain into herself so that her daughter wouldn't have to suffer.
It wasn't long before the girl begins to settle down, all the events of the day had really tired her out. Nichole watches as Danielle's eyes grow heavy and at last finally falls asleep, looking very much like a little child. Her breathing becomes slow and steady. She needs a place to escape all reality. To her, the last two days have been like hell on earth. God, let her have some rest, she's going to need it for what's to come.
Nichole couldn't sleep very well after all that had just happened. She was now very concerned for not just Dani's safety, but hers as well. The chances of that monster wanting retaliation were going to be higher once the police have the evidence and go to arrest him.
They went to the police the next morning. Along with the doctor's reports, they had more than enough evidence to arrest Danielle's stepfather, but he had run off before they got there after hearing of them coming on the police scanner. That gave him just enough time to pack up and run. Her younger sisters were removed from the home and placed with a foster family, leaving their mother all alone.
On Saturday, Nichole took the opportunity to search Danielle's room for anything that she could possibly use to try to hurt herself. Karen had suggested this considering the severity of the situation, Susan offered to take Danielle out so she could do it. She didn't tell her of course, but the girl had suspicions. She had always gave her daughter a degree of privacy, but sometimes situations happen where that goes out the window.
Susan took Danielle to get her hair and nails done, then some shopping at the mall, and finally lunch. During that time, she started to feel some cramping in her back and stomach, so she excuses herself to the ladies' room. After a few minutes, Susan began to worry and goes in to check on her.
"Hey, are you all right? It's been a few minutes since you came in here and I had to make sure you are okay." Susan asks through the stall door after finding her feet under the one of the stall doors. She then hears the inside latch slide and the door open slightly.
"I think we now have one less problem to worry about." Danielle tells her through the gap. Another cramp comes over her, making her wince. The pain wasn't too bad, but was a little more intense than what she usually was used to.
"What do you mean?" She was confused at first, then it dawns upon her. "Oh, I get it. Is it bad?" she asks, not wanting to say outright Danielle had gotten her period though they were the only ones in there. "No. Just some spotting but I will need a pad." In a way, she was relieved, now all she had to be worried about was diseases.
After cleaning herself up, they head back to her house. By then, she was starting to really feel them coming on, making her cringe in pain and she just had to lay down. That often helped her feel better, it was very rare she have to take medicine when it came to that time of the month. All she wanted to do was sleep, maybe there she could have some escape from the events going on in her real life.
"Whew," Nichole tells Susan after learning of Danielle finally getting it, "I am relieved that's resolved. She keeps really a good record of her cycles and they hadn't changed too much the last year or two. It must have been stress that made her late. She's been working hard at school with tests coming up."
She runs a hand through her permed hair. "Thanks for taking her out. I had found some things in her room and removed them." She pulls out a small gray plastic grocery bag. "It's mostly just safety pins and little things like that. But I found this under her mattress."
She then shows Susan a small paring knife. "This was what disturbed me the most. I wonder how long she's had it? But another question is why?" Nichole had the genuine look of a concerned mother. She had noticed it had went missing about a month or two ago, now she knew where it had gone.
"I feel like I failed her Susan. We both knew that man had done something to her back then, but the authorities couldn't prove it. There was more damage to her on levels we couldn't see than anyone even realized."
She then looks in the direction of Danielle's room, tears in her eyes about to break. "I love her like she was my own blood. That's what makes this so much harder. Seeing those bruises on her made it worse. It made me sick and angry enough to track down that monster and deal with him myself. I've never seen anything so disturbing."
"Listen, you are a wonderful mother to her," Susan tells her, "Look how far she's come. We know Danielle can get through this." She tries to reassure Nichole of that fact. "We have to make it clear to her she can. I have to confess that there have been times where I felt she wanted to say something, but would pull back at the last second."
Because of what had happened, Danielle and Bryan ended up splitting but still remained friends after she told him what had been done to her. He wasn't able to deal with her situation, but would still be there to support her as a friend. The split was devestating for the two of them. Bryan had almost got into a fight when some boy decided to spread a rumor about her.
Danielle had begun to write in a journal, trying to get her head organized. Again, I have another reason to blame that man. He broke up my relationship with a boy. I ended up having to tell him what had happened after he had heard some ugly rumors about me and he couldn't handle it. At least he came to me to get the truth and after I told him, promised not to say anything. Maybe it was for the better, I don't deserve him. I don't deserve any kind of true happiness.
Just before the break up, Danielle began to finally open up to Karen about what had happened before meeting Nichole. "He couldn't keep his filthy mouth shut or his hands to himself. The only way you could keep them from roaming was to nail them to the arms of the chair. There were things that I saw growing up that no kid should ever have to see." She recalls details that were clear as day to her.
Danielle and Nichole were closer than ever. All they knew was that her (soon to be former) stepfather was still on the run, so the authorities were on the lookout. There had been reports that he had been seen around the area where a few of his grown up children from his first marriage lived in a nearby county. One of them even called the cops after he had showed up on their doorstep.
Her school and neighborhood had increased patrols. They felt that the police wasn't doing enough and Danielle went so far as to call for his death by a long and slow torture. But she only told Karen in graphic detail how it should be done. She would draw pictures to show how it should be done, even visiting the library and doing research on medieval tortures in the school library to get it accurate. That was when everyone got worried, this whole revenge thing was becoming obsessive.
Despite those closest to her trying to reach out and the new anti depressant that was perscribed to help her, Danielle still had the urge to end her life. That was one of the few things that nobody knew, her death obsession. She would do everything possible to hide it from everyone. At least three times before the rape happened she had already tried. All her life she was naturally attracted to flirting with death. As a kid, she would run across the street as fast as she could in front of moving cars.
But something always had to disrupt her attempts. Like her mom coming in right before or some noise that caught her attention, so she had to keep them deep under the radar. For that reason, she withdrew even further outside of the therapy. She kept up a front for everyone to see, the troubled girl that seemed to be slowly recovering. But inside, she was dying.
There wasn't much she could do, everything that was sharp or poisonous and all medications were kept locked up. Whenever she took her medications, Nichole would be standing right there, making sure she didn't hide any in her cheeks. She felt like she was almost like being on the psych ward again, under constant surveillance. This went against her lone wolf nature inherited from the father she had never met.
One Sunday just before Thanksgiving, at church during youth group, she slips away to the top floor of the building where the offices were and stood at the rail, looking straight down. Feeling empty, mind blank, just staring straight down to the bottom floor, calculating how long it would take for her to fall and break her neck. Would she even be able to do it?
Death would be better than this, I'm already three quarters dead anyway and it's all that man's fault. Him and his brother came in and tore my blood family apart once and now he's done it again. It was because of him I was locked up in a psych ward at eleven. He's broken me, he's won this. She tries to swing a leg over the rail, but couldn't bring herself to do so. It was like her feet were stuck to the ground with glue. Instead, she stands there, lost in her own thoughts.
Susan gotten worried about where Danielle had gone and went to find her when the bathroom was just nearby. Her concerns were fresh in her mind as she looked. It had been two weeks after her breakup with Bryan and most of the signs of depression were obviously clear. Finally, after some searching, she finds her upstairs, just standing at the rail, oblivious to all around her.
"Hey, I've been looking for you. What's on your mind?" Those words were her way of getting Danielle to open up. Especially in light of recent events, it was more important than ever. She leans on the rail beside her, trying to keep the girl talking.
Susan would try everything possible she could think of to keep Danielle's thoughts off of hurting herself, even getting her to do the simplest tasks to keep her hands busy, like arts and crafts or writing. But trying to get her to talk was becoming much more difficult.
She knew exactly what Danielle was thinking. Her body was stiff as a wood board, and her hands gripping the rail for dear life, the knuckles white from the intensity. It was like she was trying to will herself to do something. Then after a moment, she says something in a faint whisper.
"I want to die Susan. I feel so empty and dirty, unloved and unworthy of any kind of happiness. I lost Bryan because of all this. To be honest, the feeling was always with me, even before all this crap happened. It's like an unwanted companion." Danielle just had to say it, the last two weeks had taken its toll on her emotionally. She had a tone of defeat to her voice.
"He's won, game over. The only thing I'm good for is fertilizer, but then, everything within five feet of where I lay would die along with me." She knew that it would come out sooner or later. "I'm tired of being treated like some kind of mentally invalid freak."
"Don't ever think like that, it scares me and your mom." She tells Danielle, keeping one hand on her back as a sign of support. Also, it was to grab her shirt if need be should the young woman tries to climb over the rail. "The police are on the lookout for him. He will be caught soon enough. Plus, we both know he can't escape God's wrath."
"You are worth something much more than you even realize. That man had no right to do what he did to you, no matter what he says. One thing I have learned is that it's how you react to this situation that either gives or denies him control over you." Susan tries to explain it to her, but could tell Danielle wasn't really buying it. She hoped in time it would sink in. Eventually they do go back downstairs to join the rest of the group.
At home, Nichole felt it was time for her to be open to her daughter about a few things. A file was spread across the table in front of her. It was the one Social Services gave her when she adopted Danielle. Thank God for small favors. All the times I've read through this, trying to think of how to explain it to her. Now, she has to know the truth. Maybe she will forgive me for holding this back. She's a smart girl, I think she will understand a lot of this.
The sound of the front door opening snaps her out back to reality. Susan and Danielle come in from the storm. It was raining really hard and was cold. Shaking off the umbrella, Danielle sees the file spread out on the table. "What is that Mom?" she asks, taking a closer look. "It's all about me. Where did you get this?"
"Sit down. We need to talk." Nichole pats the space beside her on the couch, "It's time you found out some things." She then proceeds to tell her some of what was in the file. The truth of why she was locked up in the psych ward, the social worker's suspicions of sexual abuse and how often she really had the terrors at night. Danielle was so angry, she wanted to slap her mother for not telling her this before.
"They were only trying to help, it wasn't intentional. They did what they thought was best. You were already fragile enough mentally as it is, you couldn't handle it then. I wanted to wait until you were older and could deal with it better. Forgive me please." Nichole felt so guilty throwing all this on her. "There was so much going on you had no idea about."
Danielle was livid, wanting to hit something. "What do you mean by the word 'fragile'? Like I'm some kind of defective person who mentally can't handle the truth?" Nichole tries to correct her mistake. "Fragile was the word they used, not me. I agree it wasn't the best word choice for them to describe your state of mind at the time."
Without a word, Danielle got up and went to her room. Too bad I can't even lock the door, otherwise I would shut myself up and die. First I get raped, because of that I lose my boyfriend, and just now found out almost all I've been told all this time by the social workers and doctors was a lie. All because they call me 'fragile'.
She starts to throw almost anything soft within her arms reach. Pillows, stuffed animals, something to get the frustration out. But all that did was make her more angry and tire her out. Then she starts pounding the bed, screaming into a pillow.
All she wanted to do was wake up from this nightmare. Danielle felt like a pariah. No matter how much she prayed, it would not stop. All the therapy (now twice a week) couldn't stop all her thoughts of ending it all and resolve the inner turmoil. Now with this new information, this only confirmed what she innately knew.
She always felt out of place everywhere all her life. The only 'safe area' was inside her head, keeping everything locked up there. It was where she was most comfortable, even with the darkness and all. But now she wasn't even sure of that. Are there really any safe places anymore? Even inside my own mind feels like it's been compromised and I now have nowhere to go.
"Nichole, I found her at the railing on the top floor of the adminstrative building. I think she was comtemplating suicide. In fact, I know she was." Susan tells her in a low tone, "She told me about being unworthy of love. She's in real danger, on the edge of life and death. She didn't have to say anything, it was all in her eyes. I know that look all too well."
Before she leaves, Susan tries to talk to Danielle, who had already changed into pajamas. She was obviously still angry with Nichole about learning what was in the file. If Danielle wouldn't listen to Nichole, she would listen to her, most of the time at least. "None of this is any of your fault." She moves towards her, but Danielle stops her with a motion of her hand. Susan then sees the mess on the floor.
"I am sick and tired of all the excuses. It always seemed that things were held back from me. Did they ever ask how I feel or what I think? Now that I know the truth, I can't even trust those who say they love me. Did you know Susan, about what was in the file?" Danielle waited a few moments. She already knew the answer by her body language.
"Some of it by what she told me. Nichole had your best intrests in mind, everyone at DSS did. Yes, I agree with her that they did make mistakes, but it wasn't to hurt you anymore than you already were." Susan then pauses and assures her how much she is truly loved. "Don't be angry at your mom, she's doing the best she can with the situation."
Nichole stands just out of sight listening this exchange. Sometimes I wonder if Susan would have been a better parent to Danielle. It seems she listens to her when I can't get her to do so for me. She watches them and eventually after a few minutes, Susan had to leave. Thank God for her. She's helped me understand my girl greatly.
"I'm sorry for going off on you like that Mom," Danielle tells her, "I always had the feeling you were holding back something. Maybe it was for the best." She had to think for a bit to find the words. "People think I'm dumb as a log, but they don't think I know things. At least I have a sense of what's going on."
Nichole and Danielle were kept in the loop with the investigation, worried about the man not being caught. The mere mention of her former stepfather's name would bring out a near violent reaction from her. The girl still has a lot of pent up anger, naturally. I would be the same way if it was me of course. She just has to let it out in a healthy manner.
Danielle hated the man who ruined her. He was the one who landed her in that psych ward at eleven. He was the source of all her anger and if she had the chance, kill or at least beat him within an inch of his pathetic life. Maybe take something precious of his right off his body.
Anger would sometimes come up from a deep place inside of her that she wasn't even aware existed, often making her start to tremble. No amount of exertion could make it fully emerge and all this she realized on her own. For how long, she didn't know, just that she knew it was there.
Memories she never could remember before came to her. That one time when he was raping her and her sisters came in the open door of the bedroom. Her stepfather had looked over at them, smiles and kept on like it was nothing. She reaches out a hand to them, hoping they would do something, but they didn't. They just stood there. The memories of the filth he spoke and his hands all over were messing with her head.
Though it was just after December started, Danielle felt like eternal winter was settling in on her soul. The sunshine and happiness she had with Nichole was gone. These days it was all about survival. Going to school, trying to function as normal as she could (if there was such a thing), plus the man who raped her was still out there on the loose didn't make things any better.
Paranoia had started to set in too. It felt like he was everywhere, his eyes were ever watching, waiting for the right moment to strike. Danielle had enough of it, she was going to finally give up. I cannot go on with this. Death is better than the paranoia and constant fear. Now I have to find a way to end it. He's left a stain that I never can get rid of.
Danielle decides one afternoon while doing homework, she had to go for it. And she had only a small window of time to do it in. Nichole was beginning to allow her to be alone for longer periods of time. She had fooled everyone into thinking she was starting to come out of the depression. Her physical wounds had healed. Thankfully, no diseases or pregnancy as originally feared. But it was the unseen emotional and spiritual ones she had not many really looked at.
She then gets an idea. Going to the trash can, it was last night that she had dropped a glass by accident, she really didn't intend to break it. Maybe the pieces are still there. It's just best to get it done and over with.
Danielle rustles through it and found them. Taking the largest one, she washes it off in the sink and sits there with it at the dining room table. Just do it now and quickly before anyone walks in. I really should get an Oscar for pulling this off. He won, I lost. Might as well pay the price. Time to meet my maker.
Taking one deep breath, she then runs the glass over her wrist, over the trash can so as not to make a mess. A small dribble of blood then began to flow from the fresh cut, a small smile came on her face. She had been so focused on her task, she didn't hear the front door being unlocked. And there in the kitchen doorway, stood her mom, her face in utter shock. "Danielle, what are you doing?"
Nichole dropped what bags she carried and runs the ten feet or so over. She tries to resist, but couldn't, her mom's embrace was too strong. Instead, she stares blankly at her, the cut wrist barely dripping. "I'm tired of the fight. Tired of all the anger and pain and fear. It has to stop sometime right? Isn't that what they say?" was her only answer.
"I hate the man! Is that what you want to hear? I want to cut off his hands and tounge. Then pour gasoline on his male parts before setting him on fire and relish in hearing him scream for mercy, then pouring on more gasoline. Even an lobotomy with a a sharp icepick would do."
She ranted for about ten minutes before her voice became hoarse, and all the struggling finally stopped. She really had thought this through, but then she's a thinker by nature. Nichole thinks hearing all this. Makes me wonder if she broke the glass last night on purpose.
Nichole eventually convinces Danielle to let her clean the wound and wrap it up because it was a shallow cut. But it would have to be checked out by a doctor soon. She knew now this was a matter of serious concern, Danielle took that step and thankfully she came in when she did.
Danielle was emotionally exhausted after all that had happened to her. She just merely wanted it all to stop. That was simply all she wanted. Her wrist was throbbing from the cut, but it wasn't anything compared to her inner pain. The tears ran down her face at the realization of her failure.
"Tell me, what wanted you to do this?" Nichole asks her when she finally calmed down. After calling Karen and informing her of what had just happened, Danielle hadn't been out of her sight since. "I love you too much to see you hurt yourself like this."
Danielle just stares at the flowered wallpaper pattern and then finally says something. "It's about time you know, it was only a matter of time before it came out. I always had these urges, but never could really follow through until now. Guess I hid it pretty well didn't I?" She pauses to look at her mom's reaction.
"Remember when I wrote that fake suicide note in seventh grade? Wrote it with my right hand and signed another girl's name to it. Then passed it onto another student? I was crying out for help back then, but nobody really knew or even realized it." She goes quiet, her eyes cast down as always. "Maybe I do need a lifetime residence in a psych ward. I've seen things that make me want to take a bleach soak to my brain. I can't kill myself in peace or even do it right!"
Then Danielle begins to tremble, pounding the kitchen table with her fist, grunts of frustration coming from her lips. "I can't even be trusted to be alone, even for a few hours. As long as he's out there, I know that I can never be safe. The feelings will keep coming and coming and I won't know what to do with them."
Nichole stops her before any more injuries were inflicted. "Let me help you. This is why we need to keep talking to each other, before it builds up to this level again. Me, Karen, Susan, any adult, just let it all out. We can take it. I say you and Susan are so much alike. Sometimes I wonder if she would have been a better parent for you." She holds Danielle in a tight embrace. "But you are my daughter and I don't want to lose you."
Danielle tenses up, the emotions building up inside like a pressure cooker. Then from her chest, something forms. It builds to where it's moving up. Before she knew it, all she hears were her own sobs. Her eyes streaming and it quickly tired her out as it felt like all that poison was being purged. How long this lasted, she didn't know or care, just that it seemed like forever.
"I just want this to go away Mom. Why did you have to come in when you did and stop me?" She says, her voice like a scared child, the fear was obvious in her eyes. It was clear the mask she had so carefully crafted had been shattered, the many pieces of it scattered to the four winds.
"I'm sorry Mom," Danielle whispers in a hoarse voice, "I'm sorry for letting you and everyone else down." Nichole, in that moment, saw her daughter as a broken shell. All the feelings oozing out of her, pooling onto the floor. "No, you didn't. You have made me proud by finally letting it out. How about we get this cleaned up and just have dinner? Karen wants to see you tomorrow over this." That was the moment that changed everything for them.
It was just before Christmas break when her dance class had been asked to perform at a school on the other side of town. All the local high schools would come together for a charity show and all profits would go to help the homeless shelter. Danielle was nervous enough as it is and with this, took her mind off all the legal things going on at the moment. Her cut healed up nicely and mentally she was still fragile, but was starting to get stronger.
There was one man who wasn't on the list of volunteers to help with the show. He had been biding his time over the last two months. Having to hide from everyone, lying about everything so he could stay free. By what he's gathered, this was where the girl would be.
The darkness would be the perfect cover to pull off the plan, after I'm done, I can go underground. She won't be testifying against me or my daughters after I'm through with them. He thinks, keeping his head low in the darkness. He wipes his brow, he had been sweating had been coming all day despite the cold weather.
Danielle did a solo that got a standing ovation for the finale. After the cast took their bows, they came off stage. This was the man's chance to snatch her. He does, a knife to her throat as she's dragged off. "Come with me," his voice gravelly and with an underlying anger, "I'm going to show you what happens when you disobey me." He pulls her hair towards the back door.
Nichole and Susan waited for her to come out. Then they hear a scream, it was Danielle's. Catching a glimpse of her and the man, they had to get security. But by the time they came, it was too late. She was gone. All they could say the two left in a beat up green car.
"Stop all that squirming back there!" He tells Danielle in a profanity laden tirade. "I got some big plans for you. The police have been after me and I ended up hiding in a run down barn the next county over. Then when I show up expecting my own grown kids to help, they act like I killed someone and call the cops." She was bound in duct tape at her wrists and ankles. Frantically, she prays for God to get her out of this. The man tells her to shut up, that God didn't care about a little slut like her.
Danielle then had to stop and pause so she could clear her head a little. Just enough to form a plan. She remembers what Susan had said to her about how he is obsessed with control. How she handles the situation that gives or denies him that. Then she sees what looks like a knife in the floorboard. What an idiot, probably doesn't even know it's back here.
When he stops at a light, it slides to within reach of her foot, finding it was a folding knife, the same one he used held at her throat. Grabbing it with her toes (she was still barefoot from the show), she was able to get it to where she had it in her hands. From there, she began to discreetly cut away at the tape.
By the time they had reached a lighted place, Danielle had managed to cut off the tape at her ankles. Now it was the wrists that needed freeing. The man driving was badly singing to the music on the radio, old school country, taking a swig of whiskey from a big bottle. He was oblivious of what she was doing. Until it was too late.
Danielle, holding the knife with her feet and pokes a hole through the tape on her wrists without cutting herself and manages to tear it. When the battered car reached another lighted place with plenty of other cars, she saw this as her moment to strike.
She grabs the headrest nearest her, pulls it out and starts banging the blunt metal ends against the window, hoping it would break. She had learned that they were made to be easily removable for the purpose of emergencies like this in the class portion of her Driver's Ed class. If need be, Danielle would imbed the ends into his head with enough force.
Her stepfather sees the commotion and tries reaching back to slap her. But with all the traffic around them made that impossible. Danielle finally manages to break the window with a few hard whacks. Just as she starts to climb out of the still moving car, she notices that something was happening with him.
The crazed man started to feel strange, like his brain was short circuting. He goes into a full grand mal seizure, while clutching his chest. The last thing he sees in this life before the car went over the bridge was Danielle climbing out the back window of the moving vehicle. The last thing he feels outside the physical pain was the sense of failure. His victim had once again slipped out of his grip.
She was able to roll onto the street with all the traffic swerving to avoid hitting her. Even without her glasses, she could see the fuzzy outline of the car she just got out of going over the edge of the bridge, the sound of metal hitting the ground below making a loud noise. She smells smoke almost immediately.
An older couple stops their car and helps her to safety onto the side of the street. They offer something to calm her nerves and asking if she was all right. All she just wanted to go home, but they go ahead and take Danielle straight to the hospital and have her checked out.
The police were called of course and before she knew it, Nichole was back right at her side. She had only scrapes and bruises, the most serious from her hitting the pavement and cuts from the broken glass. It was a miracle she didn't get hit by any of the other cars on the street.
"All I remember was seeing him without my glasses it looked like he was having some kind of a seizure," she tells the police, "he was making a kind of strange gurgling noise, like he was having a hard time breathing and jerking around. Just before I climbed out the broken window. The next thing I know, there were people stopping and yelling that a car went over the rail." She told the police while nursing her injuries.
An autopsy found her stepfather did have a seizure due to him having a massive amount of drugs and alcohol in his system, causing his nervous system to short circut. It seemed also he had these for sometime, but never got treatment for them. There had also been evidence of damage consistient with that. It had also triggered a heart attack.
Nobody from his family would claim his remains, especially his wife. "Do what you want with them, dump them in the landfill for all I care." she says, "He raped all my children and tore us apart. May he rot in Hell for it." They gave her the ashes after he was cremated and she ended up scattering them into a landfill.
On a cold Christmas Day, her and Nichole get some last minute visitors. It was Bryan and his dad bearing gifts. He had wanted to see how Danielle was doing since that night and also to ask her something. "I was a jerk leaving you like that and would like for us to get back together if you don't have a problem with it." She says yes and finally a litte sunshine begins to break through.
As for Danielle, she was finally freed from that man's clutches. Not just her, but the other victims he had as well as they too came forward. She manages to rebuild her life. With the love of those around her, she recovers mentally and emotionally. It took time and a lot of work, she makes it through.
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