"I am terrified of this dark thing
That sleeps in me
All day I feel its soft feathery turnings, its malignity"
My feet are blue. The glacial bathroom tiles environ it in a layer of invisible frost, making them seem almost purple to me. But do I care?
I don't know how I got here. I can't remember anything after I ran away and that horrible voice still hisses in my ears, as if it never left. You'll pay for that.
I shudder at memory of his touch. I can almost still feel the rough fingers creeping up my leg. Involuntarily, I break into a series of spastic shudders. My whole body seems to have a mind of its own, because I have never been so afraid in my life. I have been attacked by a boy who could have done anything to me and that frightens me.
I don't know how I will be able to go outside of the dorms again alone or even continue to live with him here for one more year. What if I get matched to him? I don't even stray towards that possibility, because it will never happen.
My cheeks are drenched in tears and salt. I had been crying silently and emptily. My soul feels hollow like all those tears were squeezed out and let loose. My eyes are blurry and no doubt red. My hair sticks out in different directions and my dress is half torn.
The cold seeps into every speck of bare flesh it can find, but I am immune to it. The cold is now merely a sidekick to the real enemy; fear.
My heart is cremated with the little hell flames of the night and the ashes scatter in the empty air, fluttering away like blossoms. They were the flowers of my soul; the memories, the light, the dauntlessness. Now I am possessed by my own bad dreams.
I let out another animalistic sob, as the memory of him crushing me resurges. He did it with such simplicity. I am so weak, my body is useless compared to his strength. How will I ever be able to protect Poppy or myself?
The blood from my nose is dried on the upper lip and I have not even made an attempt to clean myself up. My body simply refuses to move or I have lost all the energy in me.
Suddenly, I hear feet shuffling into the dorms and when I blink, I notice that I am sitting in complete darkness. The moon sends silver shadows scattering across the tiles and the lights from the dormitory creep under the door.
Girls begin to talk and moan from exhaustion. Some gossip and laugh, others give out. What would I give to be one of them. I wonder if they know.
Before I can gather my courage up and hide in a cubicle, the door swings open and three girls walk in. They don't see me at first, because they talk to each other carelessly. Their voices echo off the walls and buzz in my ears, but I can't make out a word.
When they see me, they stop talking and silently move about to do their business. I look to the ground, staring at the white tiles. I notice that blood from my hands is smeared across it and my knuckles are raw. I bite on my lip, to keep it from trembling.
The light bulb is so bright, it makes whites spots appear in my vision. I feel so dizzy and nauseous. I place my head in between my knees and groan.
"Looks like someone has been a bad girl," a leering voice comes out of nowhere, as if the dark is speaking, but I know too well. I look up and see Willow standing inches away from me. Her hands are on her hips and she has an evil smirk on her face. I remain silent. I am past the point of fighting, "Aw," she croons and kneels beside me.
Her hand caresses my cheek and then all of the sudden it clenches my jaw so hard, that I let out a shriek. Her eyes glare into mine and she brings her face closer.
"I hope you die tomorrow," she hisses ever so quietly. She sees the surprise in my face and grins, "Oh, I know, Kit-Kat. I know what a little whore you are. Now that everyone knows too, there's no need to hide it," she thrusts her hand aside, making my head turn roughly.
I supress the tears rising in me and look at the other girls in the bathroom. The all stare at me in disgust and hatred. This is getting even better. Now the whole school knows the lies that Marcus has fed them. I wonder what was my role in it. Did I seduce him? Threaten him?
I cover my face with my hands and turn into the cold corner, sobbing quietly and shaking from fear and agony.
"Leave her alone," I suddenly hear a strong voice. At first I think it's Poppy, but the voice is older and more determined.
"Well, if it isn't little Nutmeg," Willow croons and I hear Meg shuffle over to me, "Come to save your little friend?"
Meg doesn't reply, but I can almost sense her tensing up. I have a feeling that she's one of those people who does not go down without a fight. Meg ignores Willow and when I look up, her face is full of pity and compassion. She takes my trembling hands into hers and wipes away the tears off my cheeks. I give try to give a weak smile, but instead more tears come streaming down.
"Shhh," she whispers and embraces me, "Come on. We need to get you cleaned up,"
"That's against the rules," Willow snaps and Meg's head turns to her direction.
"She wasn't punished. She was attacked," Meg answers plainly and guides me over to the sink.
"She will be," Willow says in a low voice and everyone stops to listen, "Tomorrow. You'll see," and she leaves the bathroom with a few other girls.
I don't really worry about being beaten tomorrow, because I am used to it. As long as I don't have to see Marcus again or be near him, I am oblivious to everything else.
It takes a while for Meg to calm me down and she makes me dinks some cool water. She washes off the blood from my hands and I don't even flinch when she uses antiseptic. I guess I have lost my senses as well.
She brushes my hair to keep it from tangling and brings me her dress. Meg smiles and hands the grey clothing to me.
"Here," she says, "You can have mine," she squeezes my palm and pulls me up. I can't even manage to thank her. I feel like someone has sealed my mouth shut with glue. I wonder if I will ever be able to talk. What if I'm like Poppy now?
Meg walks me back to the dorms and I do my best to stare at the floor so I won't have to meet their glaring eyes. I can hear the voices whispering and hissing, but my head throbs and I can't make sense of what they say.
Somehow Meg puts me to bed and when I blink the lights are off and everyone is sleeping in their own beds. I stare emptily at the ceiling and let a few silent tears drop.
I will never let any man do that to me ever again. I will be ready next time and I will be strong, because that is my goal. It's my whole existence.
Suddenly, I feel something pull the bed covers up and a small body crawls in. Poppy. Her cold little feet curl up beside me and her arms embrace me. I sigh heavily and bite on my lip so she won't see my weakness. Her soft breathing is warm against my neck and her little thumping heart is quietly beating against mine.
I wonder if she knows what happened exactly. I hope not, because it's not something I want her to have in her mind.
"Don't worry, Kathy," she whispers in the quietness, "I'll protect you,"