You'll never know what they did to me. ~The Parent Trap
Tomorrow will be okay. ~Outside, Staind
I was abducted on October 24th, 2013.
It wasn't like in the movies, with a white van and some guy offering me fun-sized Kit Kats. No, I was just sitting on the bench outside the library, engrossed in the copy of Gone Girl I'd just checked out.
And then there was a hand over my mouth and the scent of cherries in my nose--why cherries?--and the words danced and swam on the page until they faded and died.
I awaken alone in a small, dark room, my head aching. Pushing myself into a sitting position, I wait for my eyes to adjust to the dim light sneaking through a tiny window near the ceiling.
I'm situated on a narrow bed made up with soft, flannel sheets. On the nightstand nearby: a bottle of water and the stack of books, the ones I just checked out from the library. Gone Girl, Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth. Queasiness sets in when I realize my jeans and Alice in Chains t-shirt have been replaced with a delicate yellow nightgown.
Where are my clothes?
Where am I???
"Hello?" I call out.
Footsteps, somewhere above me. They move through space, and it sounds like someone is walking down stairs. And then a click and the door in the corner of the room opens, just a crack, not enough for me to see who is standing on the other side.
"I'm here," a deep voice says. "I left your books and some water for you."
I paused, not sure how to respond.
Finally: "Who are you? Why did you bring me here?"
He chuckles. "Who I am is not important. Names are just labels for souls, anyway. The important thing is not whether you know me, but the fact that I know you."
"What are you talking about?" I demand.
"Every Sunday," he replies. "At the library. You check out your books, eat your lunch on the bench outside, and then sit for a few hours and read. You always pick out the best books. I love that about you. And I love the way you lick your thumb before you turn each page. So cute. You're so cute. And funny. That's why I love you. You'll like it here. You'll like me. You'll see."
It's becoming hard for me to breathe. I'm unable to string any words together. Nothing he says makes sense. All I know is that I'm in a strange place with a strange man and I can't breathe I can't breathe
"I'm making dinner," he says. "I'll bring it down in a while. You just relax and read your books."
And then he's gone.
I scramble to my feet and cross the room in half a second, close both hands over the doorknob, twist it right and then left. But it's no use. He's locked it. Letting out a breath I didn't realize I was holding, I turn back around and survey the room. Besides the bed, the nightstand, and a bureau, there is nothing.
I wonder if I could move the bureau beneath the window and climb out. There aren't really any other options. Quickly, I position myself against the bureau and heave with all my might. A small vase with a dried, black rose topples to the floor and shatters.
No! He'll hear!
Sure enough, the footsteps descend again.
Thinking fast, I grab a shard of glass and stand behind the door, ready to strike.
Click. The door opens, and the man walks into the center of the room. He is tall and wiry, wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt with a snake on it and a black ski mask. I take note of these details, in case I need to describe him later.
God, I hope there will be a later.
"What happened?" he asks, panicked, before he notices me standing behind the door.
I lunge at him and jab the glass shard into his face. He shrieks and pulls off the ski mask. I gasp. Yes, he's bleeding from where I sliced him, but his entire face is covered with old scars, ones that have nothing to do with me. They crisscross his face, weaving in and out like railroad tracks on his skin. I cover my mouth with my hands.
"Don't look at me!" he screams, pressing his hands to his face.
I should run. I need to run, but curiosity gets the best of me. I have to know, I have to know before I go. "What... what happened to you?" I ask, voice shaking.
He doesn't say anything.
Run, stupid girl. RUN.
But I stand there stubbornly, waiting for an answer.
He turns away from me. "My... my mom..."
I'm not ready for the emotion that worms its way inside my heart. This man has kidnapped me, God knows why, what sick intentions he had, and yet... I can't help feeling... sad for him.
But then reality sets in, and I realize I need to get the hell out, now, and I race out of the room, into a dark hallway. I follow it blindly, feeling my way with my hands, and manage to find my way to the stairs. I trip once on my way up and skin my elbow, but then I push myself to my feet and start running again.
At the top of the stairs, another hallway greets me. I take a chance and turn right. There's a living room with a couch and a small television and the door!!! I twist open the deadbolt and yank the door open and launch myself into the sunlight.