The Silent Waters (Elements #3)(9)


by Brittainy C. Cherry

“Maggie, it’s fine. It’s just a squirrel. What freaked you out? What happened to you?” No words could leave me. My fingers grasped Brooks’ shirt, pulling him closer to me. He didn’t ask any questions, but he did hold me tight. “It’s okay, Maggie. You’re okay.”

I sobbed into his t-shirt, and he just held on tighter.

I blinked.

The lights were already bright, and the nurse kept shining her flashlight into my eyes. Into my nose. Into my ears. Into my mouth.

I blinked.

Daddy had tears in his eyes, but they weren’t falling. He leaned against the wall, his hand in a fist, his fist resting against his mouth, his mouth speaking no words.

Blink.

Mama cried when the nurse mentioned an SAK. I didn’t know what it was, but it made Mama sob.

Blink.

The nurse swabbed me all over. My lips, my cheeks, my thighs, my…

Blink.

She combed through my hair. Leaves fell out. She found blood. Daddy began to cry softly.

Blink.

She cut my dress and shook it out. There was dirt. My dress was dirty. I was dirty. Everywhere. My poppy was gone. Where had my poppy flower gone? She picked at my nails. My nail polish was ruined. My nails were ruined. I was ruined.

Blink.

They carried me to the car. I crawled into a ball. The streetlights flashed reds and greens. The yellows blurred. I saw his face in my mind.

Blink.

Calvin and Cheryl were on the porch when I got home. They didn’t speak. I didn’t either.

Blink.

Mama and Daddy took me to their bedroom, and I cried into their sheets, shaking, feeling dirty, broken, used. Scared. So scared.

Shh…

Shh…

Did the nurse get it? Did she get his taste on my lips? Did she get his skin on my skin? Did she…?

Blink.

I shut my eyes. I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to blink anymore. I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to see, but, I still saw. I saw him. I felt him. I tasted him.

Everything grew darker.

Everything became shadows.

Everything went black.

Mama kept pacing around her and Daddy’s bedroom, twisting her hands. I sat on the edge of their mattress, listening to her high heels tap against the hardwood floor. The bed felt like sitting on a pile of a million feathers, and it was almost impossible to not melt into the softness. I felt tired, too, so it was a bad combination. My eyes fought to stay open, though lately dreams seemed better than staying awake. The only problem with dreams was that sometimes they became nightmares, and nightmares were what I’d been drowning in lately.

“You haven’t spoken in days, Maggie May,” Mama scolded. “Not one single word. Your father and I are terrified.” Her butterscotch-colored hair hung past her shoulders, and she kept combing it behind her ears. When she wasn’t moving her hair, her manicured nails danced against her forearms, digging into her skin. Worry attacked her spirit as she kept a quick pace. I wished Daddy were home and not off at work. He was normally able to keep Mama from having her panics.

“What happened out there, Maggie?” she asked. “What were you doing out in those woods? Your father and I told you… We asked you not to wander off.”

My fingers dug into the side of the mattress and my head stayed lowered.

“It was past your curfew,” she whispered, a tremble in her voice. “And I begged you to be home when the streetlights came on, didn’t I?” She began to stutter, which was weird because Mama was always so composed and well-spoken. “I to-told you yo-you shouldn’t be out at night, Maggie May.”

My lips parted to speak again, but no words came out. Mama turned my way and bit her bottom lip. Her arms crossed and she tucked her hands beneath her underarms before walking in my direction. I broke my stare away from her. “Look at me, Maggie,” she ordered.

I shook my head.

A few tears fell down my cheeks and my body shook.

“Maggie May, when I tell you to look at me, you must listen!” Her voice was laced with panic, almost as if she was fearful that her little girl was gone and would never come back.

Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’d fallen so deep into the back of my mind that I’d never have to remember what it was like to feel, to hurt, to break, to breathe. My eyes hurt from being awake for so long, but that hurt was nowhere near the ache in my chest. In my ears, I could still hear the screams of the person being attacked. In my head, I could still see her fighting for her life, and in my heart, I could still feel the monster against my soul.

A few tears fell down my cheeks and my body shook.

“Oh, honey,” Mama cried. Her fingers slipped beneath my chin and she tilted my head up. “Word by word, tell me what happened. What happened to you in those woods?”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Calvin and Brooks in the hallway, listening in on the conversation between Mama and me. They were leaning against the wall, staring at us. Brooks’ eyes looked sadder than I thought eyes could’ve ever looked. Calvin’s fingers were folded tightly into fists, which he tapped repeatedly against the wall behind him. Mama followed my stare, and when she saw the boys, they hurried away. I was certain they hadn’t gone far, though. Those two boys hadn’t left my side for the past few days.

Cheryl was the opposite, though. She seemed afraid to come near me. She acted as if I had some kind of disease and she’d catch it if she looked my way. I had heard her crying the other night because she had to miss her dance recital. It was my fault, because our parents didn’t want to leave my side.

“Maggie May,” Mama whispered.

I turned my head away from her, and she sighed once more.

“Please, Maggie. Speak. I don’t know how to help you if you won’t tell me what happened.” She kept begging and begging me to say something to her, but I couldn’t. My throat was dry. I needed ice water, maybe. I needed something to loosen me up, something to make words fly from between my lips, but I couldn’t move. “I don’t understand! I don’t understand why you won’t speak to me. You need to tell me, baby, because my mind is thinking the worst things. Did someone hurt you? Did someone…” She couldn’t say the words, but I knew what she was asking me. “You just tell me what happened, even if someone hurt you, honey. I won’t judge you, I swear. Mama just wants to know if someone hurt you.” She swallowed hard. “You can nod your head if someone hurt you, honey. You can tell me,” she whispered. “Remember when we spoke about being safe? And how people weren’t allowed to touch you, and if they did, you’d have to tell your father and me? Did that happen? I mean, I know the doctors checked, but those tests…they take time. Did somebody…” Her words faltered once more.