I woke up again, my body shivering, but a layer of sweat covered my body nonetheless. Pictures flashed in my head of my mother dying, blood covering my bed sheets as I stared at her murderer.
I shot up into a sitting position, strips of sunlight slipping into the dingy room. I’ve never told anyone about these dreams. I’ve never trusted anyone enough to do so. I remember my mother telling me to always speak to someone if I needed help and support. But I had no one.
I rubbed my hands over my face roughly, digging the heels of my hands into my eyes. I shivered all over, but beads of sweat lingered on my forehead as usual. I screamed into my hands, feeling fed up and tired of all of this. I hated the man that did this to me, that made me into this…thing. I was deep in thought, remembering back to when it happened, when he did this, when there was a loud knock on my door.
I kept my head in my hands, holding my breath as the knocks grew louder. I would’ve preferred it to be my neighbour to beat me up again. I’d rather have the shit beaten out of me than lie to Harry’s face again.
“Rosalie,” Harry called through the door, banging harder against the feeble wood. “Rosalie, let me explain about the other night. I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have been that forward with you when we barely even know each other.”
I laid back down on the mattress, turning my back to the door. I squeezed my eyes shut, blocking his voice out. But it didn’t work.
“Get to know me better and we can start over. Please, Rosalie.”
“Go away!” I yelled back, rolling onto my other side.
I stared at the front door, knowing that’s the only thing stopping me from gazing into those eyes, from taking in those curly locks, his dimples indented in either cheek. And I was grateful for that as I knew I would melt into those eyes, finally give into him, let him into my flat.
“Just leave me alone!” I continued, tears swelling in my eyes as I forced the words out.
“No. I want to see you, Rosalie.”
I could hear the pleading in his tone, but it didn’t change my mind about wanting him here. I jumped off of the mattress and marched over to the door. I jerked the door open, not looking Harry in the eye as he stood there, tight jeans hugging his slim legs as he wore a plain grey t-shirt and a blue checked shirt casually open over it. I finally tore my eyes from his body and glared up at him.
“Stay away from me!” I hissed through gritted teeth.
“I won’t leave you, not when we’re like this,” Harry said, reaching out to comfort me.
I stepped back before he could touch me, blinking the tears away.
“Why are you doing this, Rosalie? I can see that you need help. Just speak to me.”
He stepped towards me, offering me his hand.
“I’m here for you.”
I stared down at his hand, feeling a tear roll slowly down my face. But I quickly stepped back before he could touch me, blinking the tears away. I’ll hurt him if I’m with him. I could feel my bottom lip quivering, my body shaking. ‘No, don’t love him’ I told myself. I’ll do it again. I couldn’t bear to lose Harry. But whichever I chose, to love him or to push him away, I would lose him.
“I’ll call the police,” I replied sharply, narrowing my eyes at him. But inside I felt vulnerable. If Harry touched me now I would fall for him, I would want him. I took another step back, Harry just outside the door.
“This is harassment. I don’t want you here. Don’t you get it?”
My body tensed up as Harry’s face fell, his shoulders sagging. I could see tears forming in his eyes, but he quickly rubbed them, taking a deep breath.
“There is no way I’m letting you go,” Harry growled.
I opened my mouth to shout back, to lie again, but he turned on his heels and marched away, leaving me alone. Even though anger pulsed through my veins, I stared at him in admiration. He really didn’t give up. But as much as I wanted him to give in, to leave me be, I knew deep down that that was a lie. Did I really want him to give up? Did I really never want to see him again? I slowly shut the front door again, knowing that that was my only option.
The next few days, at exactly 8am, Harry would knock at my door, pleading for me to open it, to let him in. He threatened to knock the door down, to stand there all day until I opened it. And I let him. I curled up in a corner of the room, the strong smell of damp making me gag, but I didn’t care. I needed to keep the distance between us.
One morning, I could hear him arguing with someone outside the door. I held my legs with constricting tightness, pressing them harder to my chest as the neighbour yelled at Harry, his voice slurring. I knew exactly who that was: Zed, the neighbour I owed money to.
“Shut up, you prick,” Zed slurred. “Some of us are tryin’ to fucking sleep.”
My blood ran cold as I heard glass smash before loud yelling echoed from outside the flat. I rocked myself in the corner of the room, wanting this to stop. It brought back too many memories of that night, the glass smashing, the shouting and screaming piercing into my ears.
A horrendous thump echoed into the room, the sound of ribs cracking sending daggers down my spine.
“No,” I muttered into my knees. “Stop, please. Mummy, make them stop.”
I pressed my palms against my ears, mumbling to myself. Their voices grew muffled as I muttering my favourite nursery rhyme as a child.
Round and round the garden
Like a teddy bear
Tickle you under there
My breaths calmed as I sang it over and over again. It was always my favourite with my mum, a tradition we had before I went to sleep. She’d run her fingertip around my palm until finally tickling me under the arm. Just like Harry did. Then his voice interrupted my singing.
“Rosalie! Open the door. I need to see you!” he called through the door, each knock he did feeling like it was against my skull.
“I won’t tell you again, pretty boy!” Zed shouted. “Get the fuck off my property!”
“No!” Harry shouted back before slamming his fist into the door, calling my name loudly. I buried my head back into my knees, mumbling the nursery rhyme faster and faster.
Suddenly the knocking stopped, Zed slurring abusive words out. Then a thump. I heard a grunt, someone screaming out in pain.
But it didn’t stop. A groan cut through the door before another thump. Tears picked my eyes as I heard Harry yelling back at Zed, a lower, deeper groan coming next this time.
It never seemed to end, the yelling, the thumping. It was too much, bringing back memories I’ve tried forgetting for years now. Pictures, noises crashed into my head all at once. I pressed my hands harder against my ears, forcing the noises to stop. My muttering soon grew louder, breaking into a scream. Harry’s voice cut through the door, but it was muffled as I shouted the nursery rhyme, my palms tight against my ears.
“Rosie, what’s happening in there? What’s wrong?”
The anxiety in Harry’s voice made me wince. He continued calling my name until a painful thud stopped him. I recognised Harry’s grunt, full of pain and agony. Tears swelled in my eyes. I buried my face into my knees, rocking myself fast. I carried on saying out the nursery rhyme, trying to calm my breathing.
It felt like hours before the noises and the yelling finally ended. I lifted my head from my knees and took my hands away from my ears, straining to hear anything. It was silent. They had stopped. I let out a shaky breath, my body trembling with fright still. I struggled up to my feet and shuffled over to the door, holding my breath. The silence worried me. I pressed my ear to the door, silence screaming back at me. Suddenly the noise of Zed shouting angrily next door took me by surprise. I jumped, my skin growing cold, shivery. He was yelling about Harry to someone, calling him names he didn’t deserve.
I pulled myself away from the door, struggling back over to my mattress. I collapsed onto my knees on it, the springs groaning under my body. I laid down slowly, staring up at my ceiling. What had happened out there? Was Harry okay? Tears sprung in my eyes, quickly falling as I pictured Harry hurt. This was all my fault. Again. But maybe this would stop him from coming back again. I didn’t want to cause him anymore suffering.