Passive

I wanted to call it a thriller/horror but also with some romance. Couldn't find that category so other will have to do. I have high hopes for this story but please read and include as much critism as your heart desires. I promise not to be upset by it as long as you promise to be fair. I do not want any homophobic comments, if you don't like the subjects mentioned here, then don't read.

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15. Love's never simple

I walked exhausted across the playground, squinting against the winter sun as it burned my sore eyes. My eyes ached from crying, my back hurt from the weight of my bag, my face stung from the scars which still remained fresh and unchanging and my arms screamed from the hidden burns which scarred me. I just wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep but I knew that Mother would be waiting for me. She was always just visible on the horizon, her small frame hiding the monster that lurked inside her. I realised I was late to take Bobby home but nothing could make me move any faster. Mr Harrison’s words were still soothing my mind but it didn’t matter how I felt anymore because I had pushed her away. Even the heart of Wednesday could only take so much. I hated that I had hurt her. I needed to see her but would have to wait for tomorrow now. The playground was empty, my scuffling shoes the only sound that could be heard. A faint echo seemed to bounce around the open space, its repeated noise making the sound of a second pair of shoes almost possible. Except these are faster and heavier, and seemed to be coming from behind me.

A hand shoved me hard but I somehow managed to keep my balance. I didn’t have to turn around because the person moved in front of me, cutting me off. I wasn’t ready for another beating; I couldn’t deal with anyone right now, let alone-

“I hope you’re pleased with yourself,” Rebecca gestured to a large purple bruise from where her head had made contact with the floor after I’d dropped her.

I tried to hold her stare and stand upright but I involuntarily slumped down to the floor, all energy suddenly leaving me. I held my legs tightly in my burnt arms but no tears came. I had cried too much tears.

“Isabella?” Despite herself, her tone was kind and she knelt down beside me, trying to make eye contact but I just stared at the ground, wishing to place my throbbing head against its cold, icy surface.

“Is it your Mother?” If I wasn’t so broken, I would have smiled at how well Rebecca knew me. I gave her a little nod and held out my arm as if to indicate where the damage was.

She cautiously undid my blouse sleeve to see my bandages. I allowed her to peel one back to see the raw burn marks and tried to keep my breathing steady.

“Oh,” she frowned and rolled my sleeve back up, looking around nervously in case anyone had seen. But we were alone.

“I don’t know what to do! Tell me what to do!” I raised my gaze to see her hold her head in her hands, trying to cut off the world. I wanted to tell her this wouldn’t work, having tried it all too often but didn’t want to disturb her quiet thinking.

“How did you think I feel?” I broke the silence, letting the sadness I felt inside, out in a small exhale of breath, my heart still hurt from Wednesday walking out but I needed to focus on Rebecca now. I couldn’t let myself fall into the deep, black pit of despair as I so wanted to.

“You know what she’d do to you if she found out.”

I nodded, not having to reach that far into my imagination to know the pain that Mother could so easily inflict. Rebecca stared at me, her eyes blank and face composed, no matter how she might be feeling on the inside.

“And you know how I feel about it,” I nodded again but kept looking at her for any change in her face. She seemed almost at ease though, as if she knew something that I didn’t.

“Honestly?” I allowed myself time to build myself up to say it and her friend gripped my shaky hand in hers, a small smile spreading on her face, like the first beams of sunlight after rain.

“I don’t care what people think. I love her.”

Rebecca moved towards me and wrapped me in a tight hug, ignoring my small moans of pain. I gripped her back, trying to hold us together, enough for the both of us.

“I just don’t want you to get hurt!” Her voice was thick with tears and she drew back embarrassed. I stilled her and wiped her tears from her cheeks, seeing for the first time the simple innocence that most abused children lose over time. It reminded me of Bobby and I smoothed her hair just like I did with my baby brother and gently kissed her forehead. She tensed as if unsure of my intentions but relaxed as I pulled her into another bone crushing hug.

“I’m already hurt. But Wednesday is making me better.” Rebecca nodded into my shoulder and sniffed.

Unwillingly I drew away and pulled us both to our feet. We parted awkwardly, neither us of knowing what to say.

“Can we still be friends?” This was a question that I genuinely didn’t know the answer too. I badly wanted her to say yes but knew that this was something that had been burned into her as wrong, as it had me and wouldn’t just change instantly. It might take some time.

“Of course,” she moved to nudge my arm before remembering my burns and smiling at me instead.

The moment was spoiled by two figures crossing the playground, one large striding, bulky woman and a small boy running to keep up with the other.

“Where the hell do you think you’ve been?!” Rebecca’s Mother was fierce usually but now she seemed to be in a full on rage. Her face was beetroot red and her hands curled into menacing fists. I saw my friend flinch beside me and her arms instantly reach for her stomach, which I was sure had now started to ache in anticipation of the beating she knew would come. Bobby bit his lip nervously when he saw us and I could tell from his eyes that he had been crying. He’d probably been stood scared and alone waiting for me, crying as it started to get darker and darker. I felt so guilty and wanted to whisper soft apologises into his curls until my throat was sore from it. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the large tornado of a woman who had now started running towards us.

She stopped an inch from Rebecca, grabbing her by the collar and yanking her back the way she had come. Rebecca gave a small whimper but other than that did as her Mother wanted. I felt a sudden moment of anger at the image I saw before me and before I could stop myself, I was opening my mouth and running after them.

“Please, listen! It was my fault we’re late. I’m really sorry!” I could hear the sounds of Bobby running after me but he couldn’t keep up. I felt ashamed that I was ignoring him but the images of Rebecca being beaten black and blue, burned into my mind. I stopped in front of them both and for a moment didn’t believe that they would stop walking, would instead plough over me. But Rebecca was brought to a holt by a sharp yank from her Mother’s arm.

“Look here, Isabella! Get out of my way or I’ll-” She stopped, staring intensely at my face. I suddenly remembered the cuts which decorated my pale skin and realised how gruesome I must look.

“What happened to your face?” She spoke quietly, frowning. When I didn’t answer, she turned to her daughter, expecting an answer from her. That’s what she spotted the darkening bruise on Rebecca’s forehead, the one I had caused, and her large mouth opened wide.

“Have you been attacked?” She asked shocked. I looked at Rebecca who gave me a meaningful look and we both nodded, Rebecca surprising me by adding a sniff for good measure.

Rebecca’s Mother let go of her daughter and replaced her previously grasping fists with small touches as she stroked the dark blemish on her daughter’s head. Rebecca gave a little gasp and her Mother pulled away.

“Oh, my poor darling!”

Another thing I envied Rebecca for. Her Mother actually wasn’t as menacing as she might look. Whilst the bruises which tainted my friend’s skin might say otherwise, it was almost as if she had an off switch and you just had to know which buttons to press. Rebecca was crushed into a hug so that I could no longer see her friend beyond the large bulk that held her. I looked at Bobby sideways and saw he was deliberately looking away, unsure about this new kind of affection. Though he wasn’t to be blamed, the only love he had ever received had been from me and Mother; though our Mother’s love seemed questionable in my eyes.

“Run home now, children,” I was surprised to realise that she was talking to us. Rebecca’s Mother was now more kindly hustling my friend towards their car and casting a glance back over her shoulder.

“I’m sure your Mother will want to know what’s happened,” she gestured towards my face before turning to unlock her car. I didn’t try and respond to her. Rebecca waved at me before getting into the front seat. Her problems for the evening looked like they were over and I felt a twitch of jealousy but ignored it and turned back to Bobby. He looked sad but his little eyes were full of love as he looked at the deep scar on my neck.

“Did you really get beaten up?” I nodded at him, giving him a sad smile. He wrapped his little arms around me and let me bury myself in his curls.

“I’m sorry that I cried,” he sniffed, “It was a baby thing to do!”

I hugged him harder.

“It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have left you alone!”

“But-“ I hushed him and gripped his hand before turning home, ignoring the sudden tiredness which had once again consumed me. I didn’t think the excuse of being beaten up would stop Mother so tried to make the most of my short time with Bobby, letting him talk about his day and laughing and smiling in exactly the right places. But the indigo eyes stayed unblinking and beautiful at the front of my mind.  

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