Survive him, Thrive with him.

Claire Mathews had a particulary normal life; good friends, nice education. The only things thatmade her different was her paranoid friends, and complicated family life.
She never really experienced more than her little secluded box of life and comfort.
In an eventful short period of time, that little box is stretched far and wide, opening up past what her mind can comprehend and bringing her 'normal' life to a screeching halt. She wasn't Claire Mathews anymore, and she wasn't the same girl who did all her homework and kissed her mother goodnight over the telephone.
What happened? A certain man of myth decided to knock on her door.
A certain man with surprising news and a shocking, if not believable, story to tell.
A certain man with no face.

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10. Chapter ten

The loud banging at my door rudely wakes me up. I was still tired, tired of being kidnapped and randomly set down in the middle of the forest.

 

I groan and look up as the sound of my door opening alerts me, several pairs of feet walking around. Getting to my feet, I notice how I was wearing pajamas instead of my casual clothes from last night, suspecting Slenderman as I grab a robe and slip it on.

 

The guys were frantically putting my easel up, squirting paint on paper plates and getting brushes out. Several of my canvases were strewn on the floor, waiting to be used.

 

"What are you doing?" I ask them as they suddenly stop and look at me, continuing after a beat is missed.

 

"I know this is weird for you, but what happened last night?" Jacob asks, putting a hand on my shoulder and stepping me away from the rest, done with their work and waiting anxiously.

 

"You dumbos tazered me, kidnapped me, and left me in the woods. So I found my way out and came home, you jerks." I hiss.

 

"No, there was more. You went into a truck." Derek pipes in.

 

"And how did you know what I was doing? Spying on me?" I ask, hands on my hips.

 

"We saw more than you think." Will states, holding up the small camera that was on my shirt.

 

"He was....holding you." Bryan whispers.

 

"I don't recall anything 'holding' me." I argue, but the paper plate is shoved towards me and a few brushes. Jacobs runs over to the computer and brings up YouTube, typing away for a song play list, letting it bring music to the air, a familiar track.

 

"I know you, Claire. You don't keep secrets. This is your art music, let your mind wander. Paint what it wants to paint, your forgotten memories." He says, pushing me towards the canvas.

 

"Art doesn't work by force, you have to let it flow out slowly and over time." I remind him, but Will only turns the music up louder. I growl, but look over my paints, tempted to do something. I could just start making a random picture, and nobody would be any wiser.

 

I dip my brush in red, but stop. It didn't feel right. I wasn't going to waste a canvas and some paint because I was trying not to show anything. I might not even paint what they want me to.

 

The music sets into my soul, a slow nature themed track with Thai instruments, setting the scene to calm. My mind focuses on calm, and my mood relaxes without warning.

 

What made me calm?

 

I don't even look as my brush dips in the paint and starts to curve on the canvas, returning for a darker shade and going over the edges. I switch colors and paint downwards, switching colors again to keep going.

 

I'm painting the lavender rose.

 

Bryan immediately looks over at it and inspects it further, probably wondering why it was so fresh.

 

Derek swaps the canvases as soon as I step back to look over the finished product, setting the masterpiece down on the table. I narrow my eyes at him and he avoids eye contact, letting me turn back to the painting. The song changes, the tempo smooth and mysterious.

 

What was mysterious in my life?

 

No. I can't paint that.

 

But I can't help it.

 

My brush spins, and I come upon the verge of running out of color to use as shapes take form, Derek replacing canvas after canvas as I paint, the pictures vague enough to pass my judgment.

 

Soon, we're surrounded by pictures of dark forest, random flashes of parchment representing the pages I refused to paint directly. The one I was currently finishing was the one they were mostly interested in, a pale white hand holding my lavender rose out, straight from my memory.

 

What I would give for my dad to come home and see these, hatred burning like the fire he would use to destroy them.

 

He will come, just not yet.

 

"Who is this?" Jacob asks, voice soft.

 

"The man who first showed me the flower at the store. I think he was Norse decent, he was very pale." I lie.

 

"Look at these every night. I'm tired of the lies your mind made up instead of the truth. You need to set yourself free." Will demands. The guys silently grab their shoes and leave the house without another word, faces straight and expressionless. I stay standing in place, giving the door a bizarre face, as if they would walk back in.

 

I shake my head and look over the picture, still wet.

 

The door slams open and I jump, trying to grab my paintings but dad has already stormed up the stairs with his shoes on, eyes flaming.

 

"What's all this!?" He asks, shouting.

 

"I'm sorry, I-"

 

"No! You're not sorry, or you wouldn't have done this!" He yells, throwing his bag down and stacking the paintings, smearing the fresh paint on each other. I cower from him as he storms outside, no doubt going to burn them right away.

 

My confidence is crushed, but he comes back in and searches the drawers angrily, turning to me with rage on his face.

 

"Where are they?" He asks.

 

"I don't-"

 

"Where are the matches?!" He clarifies.

 

"They're not-"

 

"Never mind!" He exclaims, looking again and finding the box. Before he leaves the kitchen, his eyes meet the rose, fresh and beautiful still. His face twists more as he snatches the entire thing, crushing it in his hands and going back outside.

 

"No!" I yell after him, getting the courage to run out with him. I see the paintings in the fire pit, sticks under them and dad kneeling down, setting them ablaze with the rose on top.

 

"Stop it!" I yell, grabbing the hose and trying to turn it on. Dad walks over and takes it from me, slapping me across the face and sending me off the side, on my knees.

 

He's never...

 

I feel a tear roll down my stinging cheek, surprise consuming my confidence. He's never hit me before, never. Despite all the cruel things he has done to me before, physical abuse was not something he did.

 

I'm just having the best week, aren't I?

 

I turn to face him and he stares at me with his own surprise, like he didn't know what came over him.

 

"Claire-"

 

"No." I breathe. Venom was taking place of my blood, I could feel it boiling through my body. I only tolerated him because he never did anything like that, but now...

 

I was ready to take my mom's offer.

 

"I didn't mean to." He tries to defend, but I get to my feet and stare him in the eye.

 

"Shut up." I hiss, looking at the burning paintings, the rose gone in the flames. My hard work was in ashes now, gone.

 

"Claire, you know I-"

 

"I don't know what you are anymore, but you are not my father. I tried to live with you, I really did, but it's not considered living when you're in constant fear of your father." I seethe.

 

"You wouldn't have to be in fear if you stopped messing up." Dad replies.

 

"So being myself counts as 'messing up?'" I ask, my tone getting louder. I've never yelled back before, but today was a new thing for everyone.

 

"You're not being yourself, you're being your mother." He snaps.

 

"The only reason you got custody over me was because of mom, because you couldn't bare the thought of her having something that you couldn't have. You took me from her to rub it in her face, you're the one messing up!" I accuse. He takes a step back in surprise.

 

"I'm done tolerating you. I'm done living here. I've been old enough to leave for a long time, but you didn't allow me to get a job, or get a car because you were too afraid of losing control over your only pawn. Well guess what? I'm leaving and you can't stop me." I shout as loud as I can, pushing past him to run to the house.

 

"No you're not! Where would you go?" He yells back.

 

"To mom!" I scream, bursting through the front door and running into my room.

 

"Go then! Run to mommy!" He taunts. I don't fall for the bait and take a suitcase from under my bed, stuffing things into it as fast as I can.

 

I was leaving. I was leaving my dad, Jacob, the woods, and everything I've ever known.

 

I was leaving Slenderman too. Why I was concerned about that was a mystery to me, but I don't let it bother me as I pack as much as I can, not like I had much to pack. I set my paintings down next to the bag and think of my missing ones, burned over the years. I bite back tears until dad opens my door, still angry. He grabs my arm and drags me outside, where the sun was setting quickly and the temperature cooling. He does what he used go do all the time, leaving me and locking the door behind him, letting me survive the night outside. I bang on the storm door, but I know it's useless.

 

I contemplate going over to Jacob's house, but his friends would probably be there, and they would probably throw me into the woods again.

 

I was alone, like before.

 

Running around the house, I try to open the windows, but dad was smart enough to lock them. I fear that he was destroying my possessions and almost break the windows down, but when I go for a rock I can't find any big enough to break the glass.

 

In the end, I'm sobbing with my back pressed on the wall, hiding in the bushes like I was a kid. My tears were not because of the dark, but because everything I've ever know is about to go away, or maybe not. Maybe dad will chain me in my room and force me to stay there, just for his greedy obsession with power and money from my mom.

 

I hear footsteps and look up from my fetal position, Slenderman towering above me.
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