Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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12. PLASTERS

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN - PLASTERS

EVA

When the woman passed out from the shocks or from her fear Eva was escorted back to the chapel and left there. Her hands were shaking and clenching, as if they had gotten used to the feeling of having the remote in between them.

She hated her hands. She hated them for what they did to that poor woman.

Eva tripped while going up the stairs. She didn’t mean to exactly but the dress got under her feet and her mind was too distracted to deal with it. Her feet lost purchase on the step and she went down a step, stopping herself from falling further by planting her hands on the first step she could reach, and her knees hit hard against the stairs.

She couldn’t find it in herself to get up, or to crawl up as it would be. She felt shaken, her whole body gasping for air in a world that was made up of carbon dioxide. That was what it felt like.

She hated it.

From the tops of her eyes she could see Kate make her way out to the star well, “Eva?” she questioned squinting her eyes to see more clearly. Eva was sure that when Kate saw her properly she started herself, checking herself as she jolted and it was only then that she made her way down the stairs to find the state that Eva was in. “How on Earth did you do this?” she asked.

“I tripped.” It was the only two words that Eva could come up with.

“Well yeah,” Kate tutted, “You alright?”

“I don’t know.”

Instead of questioning what her indifference meant Kate just picked her up and helped her up the rest of the stairs. Once they were in the room Eva noticed that the other wives were still absent and they had been since the bell had tolled for her. Kate pulled them both to the bed that was now Eva’s and sat her down on it. It was from this angle that Eva could see spots of blood on the fabric of the dress where her knees lay.

“You’re bleeding,” Kate whispered and disappeared into the bathroom for a few minutes. In the absence of company Eva’s heart was allowed to bleed, what was she going to do now?

She didn’t know what to do with herself. She even felt like she didn’t deserve to be on the bed having the comforts that she had. Kate came back with a dish full of water, a cloth and a roll of plasters placed under her arm. “Did he do this to you?” Kate asked automatically and then seemed to curse herself for it.

Even though Eva hated Victor she found herself shaking her head. Kate asked her whether it was alright if she could look at the wound, and this time Eva nodded her head. Again she didn’t see like she had much choice in the matter. She could either go around with a stained dress and bloodied knees or she could let Kate help.

Letting her help was the safer option, she didn’t need the dress to be dirtier than it already was.

Even with her nod Kate hesitated before lifting the skirt of the dress high enough, bunching it around her thighs so that she could see the cuts. Eva felt like she was sitting in a ring of white cloth: it didn’t deserve to be called a wedding dress. It didn’t deserve that by a long shot.

Kate sighed, dipped the cloth in the dish of water, wrung it out and applied the cloth to Eva’s knees. The water was warm. Eva’s knees were cut and bruised, rough circles of purple already beginning to emerge.

The pain was low compared to what she had felt before but it was still enough to make her cringe. Kate worked at wiping the blood away, wringing the cloth into the water so that small droplets of red ruined the clearness. She kept going until the blood had stopped and then she wiped it with a dry edge of the cloth, softly so that the course material didn’t cause her discomfort or more damage.

The cloth was dunked back in the water, where it stayed. This time Kate unpackaged the plaster and worked at securing the two tanned coloured squares to the other girl’s knees. “There,” Kate said more to Eva’s knees than her face, “All done.”

She retreated back to the bedroom where Eva could hear the sound of water being poured down the sink then the taps being turned on as the dish and cloth were washed.

By the time Kate came back into the bedroom, Eva was trying to force her way out of the dress with the half tied corset, wanting to be out of it and ignoring the feeling of having plastic knees because of the plasters.

“What are you doing?” Kate asked as she saw the state of the other girl.

“I need to be out of this thing,” Eva huffed, forcing the material over her hips and down her legs. She stepped out of it quickly not being bothered about standing in her underwear in front of the other girl.

She huffed like a child once she was out of the white monstrosity, “How do you deal with this?” There were the edge of tears lacing her voice and she didn’t like it. She was weak, how had this broke her quicker than her own fear?

Maybe it was this she feared more than her phobia? Wouldn’t that make her being a wife a fraud since she technically hadn’t survived her fear?

“This being…?”

“Everything… being a wife… being near Victor… being here. Everything?” The energy seeped out of Eva then and she had to sit back on the bed, not caring that she was cold from only wearing her underwear.

“I take every day as it comes, I pray to God that I survive each day and I do.”

“God? God doesn’t listen.” Eva retorted crossing her arms and becoming a toddler just for that action.

“Don’t say that in the vicinity of Victor otherwise you’ll be punished.” Kate hissed, noticing how the goose pumps erupted on the other girl’s skin.

“I already have,” Eva whispered, “I had to injure a woman tonight, I had to be the monster that she fears, I had—“ she couldn’t finish the sentence.

“But isn’t tonight the Christening night, usually the wives aren’t back until morning?” Kate’s words were based on her own experiences no doubt, something that she herself knew from having lived it.

“I didn’t sleep with him.”

“You didn’t sleep with him?” Kate repeated her words back to her because they were unheard of. This was a rarity. “Why not?”

“Why not?” Eva exploded, her lion’s mane reattaching itself around her neck and she was behaving like the person Victor loved but loathed, “Isn’t that an obvious question? He has done despicable things to me, to us even, why would I want to sleep with a monster who I have been forced to marry?”

“Because you live for it?” Kate answered looking down even when Eva stood up from the bed and paced the room in nothing but the white underwear she wore. “He punished you. Isn’t that reason enough?”

Maybe Eva should have slept with Victor and maybe then she wouldn’t have this hole in her chest. Or maybe she would have just had a different kind of hole, for another reason rather than for taking the place of a soul destroyer.

“I have my dignity at least?”

“That will soon disappear believe me,” Kate answered and looked straight into the other girl’s eyes when she sharply turned to face her, “Being a wife is to be alive but to not have our dignity, it is the whole point of being a wife.”

Eva didn’t answer. Instead she put on a camisole top to alleviate some of the chill and got onto the bed with the other woman.

“We have all slept with him, you won’t be an exception. He will have you one way or another.” This was a fact in Kate’s eyes, Eva could see it.

“How could you sleep with him?”

“I distracted myself, counted all the different ways in which the ceiling was textured. I moaned for effect, made him believe that I was properly his whore and got on with it. It was Hell, but everything is Hell.”

“How can you even like yourself after it?” Eva spat, throwing her arms around her midriff in fear that her guts would escape from the hole she felt was there.

“We don’t. That’s the point. We have our coping mechanisms but we don’t like ourselves not really.” Even though it was a harsh sentence, both girls knew that it was a harsh truth. Eva had seen it in the way that Melanie was unresponsive. Maybe it was why Kate was so religious or why she slept so much. Maybe it was why Naomi sat in bed all day and knitted as much as she could.

Their coping mechanisms were what they had found for themselves. “Melanie cooks and plays music. Naomi knits and crochets and needle points, anything she can make with her hands and throw around someone else. I read. It’s something we do to switch our minds to a world where we never got brought here.” Kate went on, “You just need to find your coping mechanism. You’ll find one eventually.”

But Eva didn’t want to do that, she wanted to be home where she didn’t have to worry about monsters that were now husbands.

“How did you end up here?” Eva asked, “How did you become this person?” she added knowing for a fact that the Kate that sat there in front of her was not the same as the one who would have been alive before she had come to the compound.

Melanie and Naomi made their way into the bedroom then, dressed in purple and black outfits which were nearly identical. They saw the dress on the floor, Eva and Kate on the bed, and Eva with patched up knees and they crowded around the bed.

Something told Eva that this was an image that they had saw before. Maybe Naomi had saw it with Melanie. Maybe Naomi and Melanie had saw it with Kate. Now they were seeing it with her.

They didn’t say a word as Kate looked at them all and began to tell Eva how this version of her came to be. “I was walking home from grocery shopping, I walked through the park and then it goes dark.” Kate looked away, not looking at any of the wives but looking at the white bed covers. Kate cleared her throat and carried on, “They tested me, like they did with the rest of us, first with the interviews then with the stimulus overdrive, then with the phobic stimulus. They tested me seven times before I was offered the chance to become a Wife.”

They all knew the procedure. Once a woman had been kidnapped and spent her first night in the cattle shed she would be brought to a room and interviewed by Victor and a guy that looked like a doctor. She would be asked questions about what she was afraid of. Then the next night they would be exposed to multiple things including the phobic stimulus to test if that was the only fear that they had. The night after that they were put in direct and complete exposure with the thing they feared most. If they were lucky they didn’t get the box, if they were unlucky they were shoved in a box small enough to be for a parcel rather than a woman and the stimulus would be pushed into the close quarters with them.

After that night it was pot luck when they would be taken to the box next. They had no experiences with the other women besides hearing their screams.

Melanie cleared her throat next, knowing that Kate was done sharing her story, “I was picking my son up from school and then it goes dark. I was tested nine times before I was offered the chance of becoming a wife.” As soon as the words were out she was off Eva’s bed and over to her own. It was as though being in close proximity with Eva didn’t agree with her.

“I was taken from my home, the home that I shared with Victor and placed here,” Naomi smiled dryly, “I have never been tested, lucky me.” The other wives knew why that was, because she was the first wife. It was cruel and unfair but they all knew that Victor wouldn’t dare test the woman that he was meant to love most.

Each wife then turned to her, expecting her to share her own story. The story clumped up in her throat, congealing in words and pauses. Eva had to swallow bile several times and cross her legs on the bed just to make herself comfortable enough.

“I was taken from my home, the home that I knew was my own but not my own for three whole weeks because someone was following me from work each night. I was tested thirteen times before being offered the chance to become a wife.”

And maybe it was because her test number was high. Maybe it was because she had survived each and every one, which most women didn’t. Maybe it was just for the sake of things that the women smiled as one. It was the only smile that they would share but it was something.

Something had to be enough.                                     

 

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