Read Scars Online

Authors: Cheryl Rainfield

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Literature & Fiction, #Fiction, #Gay

Scars

SCARS

For Jean, always.

And for every abuse survivor and every person who’s ever hurt themselves to cope or felt so alone in their pain—and for those who love and support us. I hope you find safety, love, and happiness—and the delight of a good story.

Copyright © 2010 by Cheryl Rainfield.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner or form, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise whatsoever—without written permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews, or as provided by the United States of America copyright law.

Published by WestSide Books

60 Industrial Road

Lodi, NJ 07644

973-458-0485

Fax: 973-458-5289

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and events described are imaginary. Any resemblance to real people, places, and events is entirely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Rainfield, C. A. (Cheryl A.)

Scars / by Cheryl Rainfield. -- 1st ed.

p. cm.

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Kendra, a budding artist, has not felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially since she cannot remember her abuser's identity, and she copes with the pressure by cutting herself.

ISBN 978-1-934813-32-4

[1. Sexual abuse--Fiction. 2. Emotional problems--Fiction. 3. Cutting (Self-mutilation)--Fiction. 4. Self-mutilation--Fiction. 5. Artists--Fiction. 6. Lesbians--Fiction.7. Memory--Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.R1315Sc 2010

[Fic]--dc22

2009052076

International Standard Book Number: 978-1-934813-32-4

School ISBN: 978-1-934813-34-8

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-934813-57-7

Cover Photograph Copyright © by Stripped Media

Cover design by David Lemanowicz

Interior design by David Lemanowicz

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

First Edition

SCARS

1

“Someone is following me.” I gulp air, trying to breathe.

Carolyn leans forward, her face worried. “What makes you say that?” There’s a hesitation in her voice that stings me.

“You don’t believe me!” I spit the words out at her, then look away, twisting my hands together to keep them from trembling.

“I didn’t say that. I don’t know enough about this yet to know what to believe. Why don’t you tell me about it?”

So you can go tell my parents?

But she won’t; I know she won’t. Client-therapist confidentiality, and all that. And I trust Carolyn; I really do. But does she trust me?

I run my tongue over my dry lips. It almost doesn’t seem real, now that I’m sitting here in her air-conditioned office.
But I didn’t imagine it. I couldn’t have.

“I hear footsteps behind me when I’m out walking alone. Heavy footsteps that stop when I stop, and start when I start.”

Carolyn nods, her gaze never leaving mine, and I know she’s taking me seriously.

My breath is so shallow I’m almost dizzy. “I keep looking back, but I never see anyone watching me. But as soon as I start walking again, the footsteps are there.”

I know how that sounds. Like I’m paranoid. Crazy. I’m so afraid I’m imagining all of this, that it’s just an echo from the past. But that doesn’t make the watched feeling go away. It’s only gotten stronger.

I look out the window, away from Carolyn’s worried eyes, and stare at the buildings across from us, at the dirty red bricks, the storefront windows, the parking signs shaking in the wind. My arm throbs with pain beneath my long sleeve.

I usually feel so safe in Carolyn’s office, but nothing is working today—not the soft green ferns on her book-shelves, not the smell of peppermint tea and honey, not even the soothing sound of her voice. If I could draw her office right now, I’d use the dark, heavy lines of charcoal and the foggy greyness of an ink wash, not the bright, happy colors of gouache that I usually see here.

I shiver. “I heard the footsteps again this morning—but I was too scared to turn around.”

“That sounds terrifying.” Carolyn crosses her legs. “But have you thought of the possibility that someone was just going the same way as you?”

“It didn’t feel like that…” I’m shaking now, trembles coming from deep inside me, spreading outward. “Do you believe me?” I feel like a little kid looking for reassurance, not a fifteen-year-old who’s in the top ten of her class.

Carolyn looks at me with so much compassion that I want to bolt from the room. I want to accept her caring, to just gather it in, but I’m afraid to. I’m afraid of how much I need it—and how much it’ll hurt if she stops.

Carolyn touches my hand, her wedding ring as warm as her skin. “I believe you, Kendra.”

“You do?” My shaking stops.

“I do. You’ve never given me any reason to doubt you.”

But having no reason to doubt me is not the same as believing me. The shaking starts up again.

“Do you have any idea of who it might be?” Carolyn’s voice is soft, like she knows I want to run.

A door snapping shut. His hand on my wrist.

“It’s… .
him
.”

“The man who molested you?”

“Yes.” I wince and clench my trembling hands in my lap, digging my nails into my palms. But the trifling pain isn’t enough to distract me.

“It must be terrifying for you to think he’s out there somewhere.”

“It is,” I whisper.

“But Kendra, pedophiles don’t usually come after their victims, especially not years later. They like easy access and frightened, compliant children who they can manipulate—not active teen girls who might fight back.”

“I know. But—” I glance at my sleeve, make sure the white bandage isn’t poking through. “I just have this feeling—this gut sense—that it’s
him
.”

Carolyn looks at me steadily. “And your intuition is more finely tuned than most people’s. It had to be, for you to survive.”

I shrug, but I know she’s right.

A door snapping shut. His hand gripping my wrist
.
A handkerchief falling
. I squeeze my fist; the stiff skin beneath my bandage screeches, spreading pain through my whole body. I clench my jaw and breathe out slowly.
Can’t let the pain show
.

“What’re you thinking right now?” she asks.

“Nothing!” I squeeze harder, hoping the pain will clear my head.

“It looks to me like something’s going on.”

I don’t know how she knows when something’s wrong, but she always does. I’ve got to tell her something, anything just to keep her away from my arm.
His hand, gripping my wrist. His breath against my cheek
. “I’ve got to remember who he is.”

“That will come when you’re ready.”

But what if I’m never ready? What if he
gets
me first?

“Do you want to explore your memories? We have time.”

“I will kill you if you tell.”

“No!”

I snatch my backpack off the ground and rummage through it, looking for my sketches, my doodles, for anything I can use to distract her—to distract us both.

“I mean—I don’t think I’m ready.”
But I have to be. I have to figure out who he is. So why do I feel like I’m going to vomit when I think about it?

I yank things out of my backpack—a bruised apple, an English test, an overdue library book, but no sketchbook. I dump my backpack upside down; pens, pencils, my dirty
gym socks, a half-eaten granola bar all fall out. I shake my bag harder. Then a bright square of paper falls out.

It’s a deep magenta, almost red, folded into stiff squares. I’ve never seen it before. I pick it up by its shiny edges and open it. It makes a crackling sound.

There are only a few words typed on the page, but they cut through me like a blade:
“You have broken your promise
.”

My breath shudders in my throat.
His hand gripping my wrist. His lips against my ear
.

“What is it?” Carolyn asks, from far away.

I hand her the note with unsteady hands. “It’s from
him
.”

2

I get up and pace the length of the room, my vision blurring. I can’t believe this is happening. But in some corner of my heart, I’ve been waiting for him to hurt me, the way he said he would. All these years, I’ve been waiting for him to silence me.

I glance at the note, and I’m almost glad this is happening. It’s proof that I’m not making it all up—that someone really
is
following me.

Carolyn smooths out the note. “This is cryptic, maybe even menacing. But are you sure it isn’t from a classmate? Some student pulling a prank?”

I stop pacing and stare down at the rug, losing myself in the pattern. I want her to be right, for it to be just some jerk trying to crank me up. But my gut says it’s
him
.

My thoughts keep jaggedly circling back to the knowledge that he is after me. Even though I’ve been waiting for something bad to happen, now that it’s actually happening, I’m not ready for it. I don’t know what to do.

I force myself to look up. “I’m sure. Pretty sure, anway. It feels like something he’d say.”

“Well, if it really is your abuser, then he’s sending you a very clear message.” Carolyn sets the note down on the table, next to her date book. “Do you want me to contact the police?”

“I will kill you if you tell.”

“No!”

“Are you sure, Kendra?”

“I’m sure.”
He
put that paper in my backpack. He
knows
how to find me. I can’t give him a reason to come after me. “I don’t see what good it would do. Besides, I’ve almost got him.” I take a deep, shuddering breath. “He had access to my backpack. That means he must be a teacher at school or someone from art class, or …”

Or Sandy
. I feel sick. I had my backpack with me last night when I went over to visit him. I thought he was just being a mother hen when he looked at me with that worried frown he gets between his eyebrows and said I could talk to him about anything. But now I wonder if he was trying to get me to tell him what I remember—to betray myself.

I push my breath out. It
can’t
be Sandy. If it was him, would he really have pushed me to talk after he saw my drawing of rape? Would he really have called the police? Unless that was just a clever way to keep me from suspecting him…

No. Sandy’s too gentle to do anything like what I’ve remembered. It’s
not
him.

The sick feeling subsides.

Carolyn glances at the heap of stuff that came out of my backpack. “How often do you empty your knapsack like that?”

“I don’t know. Every few months, I guess.” My legs grow weak. I sink onto the couch. “You think the note’s been there that long?”

“It may have been. What do you think?”

“I think I’m no closer to finding out who he is.”

Carolyn tilts her head, the look in her eyes intense. “The answer is there, inside you.”

I sigh. I know she’s right. The memories are so strong, all I have to do is close my eyes and reach for them and they come. I’m the one who keeps trying to hold them back. I’m the one who wants to run screaming from my own head. “Okay, I’ll try to listen. But would you sit with me?”

“Of course.” Carolyn comes over and sits down beside me on the couch.

I take her hand. It’s solid, warm and reassuring.

“You can stop any time you want,” she says.

I close my eyes and sink into the darkness. Almost before I can take a breath, I feel
him
in front of me, his hands gripping my wrists, holding me still.

I want to cry out, to open my eyes and bring myself back, but I know I’ve got to stay here, my breath caught in my throat, until I can see his face. Until I know who
he
is.

“Where are you, Kendra? Tell me what you see.”

I force myself to look. “A hardwood floor. Black shoes. My underwear in a crumpled ball.” I’m shuddering now, great heaving shudders that shake my whole body.

“I’m right here with you, Kendra,” Carolyn says. She squeezes my hand, and I know that I can find my way back through the shadows if I need to.

I take a breath, then another. I raise my gaze higher. “I
see … his open belt. His big hands. His unbuttoned shirt and curly hair on his chest.”

I’m so close to seeing his face now. I clench my hands together—I’m really going to get there! I force my gaze up to the creases in his neck—and then everything stops: all sound, color, breathing—frozen like a still life. My chest aches with the breath caught inside me; I can’t feel my hand touching Carolyn’s, can’t feel the couch beneath me.

“I will kill you,” he hisses. “I will kill you if you tell.”

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