Sometimes silence is the only way to hold back your emotions.
Via was of the philosophy that when something bad happened, the only real solace to be found was inside herself. When everything was altered, she was the only person she had left. The only person who could fight for her, or what was left of her.
There wasn’t much left.
It seemed like a stupid thought, but she was really just grateful to have her pants back on. She leaned against the rear tire of her car and tried to take in a breath. What now, what was next? Get up, she told herself. Just get up. She couldn’t move.
What if he came back?
Grabbing the top of the tire, she pulled herself to her knees and then slid all the way up the car. Her knees knocked against each other as if it were thirty below zero out, but it was really in the fifties. She got all the way to standing before her legs gave out, and she fell in a heap to the pavement. Her breathing wasn’t working like it was supposed to, she wasn’t getting enough air. Pulling her knees to her chest hurt, but she was able to put her head down for a moment. Her vision was black and spotty. She wasn’t going anywhere. She wondered if there was someone she could call. There wasn’t. She had to go it alone, as always.
Did it matter if she stopped breathing? Would that be okay? It wouldn’t matter then if he came back, because she’d be gone…and maybe that was better. There were too many questions that Via couldn’t answer. Via couldn’t answer anything. Not anymore.
Via folded over so that her cheek was touching the pavement. The cold seeped into her skin, made her feel more alive despite being numb. Cold, like the knife. The knife. God.
He’d had it in his right hand. He’d come from behind, pressed it against the soft skin of her throat. She stopped breathing then; she wasn’t really sure she’d ever started back up again. She froze like a deer, easy prey. He twisted her wrist until she dropped her car keys, the slid across the pavement in front of her and went under the car.
Via reached out, her cheek still pressed to the ground, for the keys. She needed those, if she was going to go. Had he taken them? No. Her fingers closed around the cool metal, and she dug them into her palm as hard as she could.
When he shoved her into the backseat, he left the keys under the car. The seatbelt dug into the small of her back as his weight drove her down into the seat. As a child, Via used to pretend she was a superhero. She imagined then that she had superhero claws, that she could use them to lash out, to hurt him. But in reality, her fingernails were pathetically short. Dragging them across his face did nothing but get her struck across the side of the head.
It had been the same side she now pressed against the ground. Via squeezed the keys so hard that blood leaked out between her fingers. More blood. Her face was covered in a wetness, in tears, blood. She willed herself to stop crying, just like she had then, but she couldn’t. Just like then.
He had licked her tears. He had used his tongue to trace her tears, up her cheeks, back to eyes, deft swoops of his tongue. Certain. Confident. She couldn’t look at him. She turned her face away and focused on a stain on the fabric of the seat. She was broken; she couldn’t say anything at all.
Via closed her eyes. Should she call someone? Who? She needed help, but who do you ask for something like? Who do you tell? How do you live with yourself; how do you look someone in the eye and admit that this happened?
He had looked her in the eye, as he started. His breath stank like garlic; it made her think of vampires, of everything, anything, but where she was. She lost count of the number of licks, and everything around her turned into a blur. He was a blur as he undid her pants. His face pressed against the side of her head; he blew into her ear. Via was completely frozen; she couldn’t move and she made no effort at escape. She didn’t see the point. She would never get away.
Via cracked her eyes open. It was pitch black, except for the street light that bathed a small area on the other side of the car in light. She knew that she had to get up; that wasn’t a question. But she didn’t know how. She didn’t know how to move on. She didn’t know if she could.
There had a been a light from the road, when he was doing it. A car that had driven by. It went too quickly for the driver to have seen anything. Via wished that she could go with them; she wished that she could die. It would be better, dying. It would be better than living with this. He finished and draped on top of her, crushing her even further into the seat. He whispered in her ear that he loved her. Via realized that it was good that she dying, it was good that she didn’t need to breathe anymore, because she couldn’t. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t move; she couldn’t do anything. She was broken. He pushed himself up, still clutching the knife, but then leaned back down to nibble on her ear.
When he finally disappeared, Via had waited for a count of 500 before she left the backseat. As she hit the pavement, the blackness threatened to take over everything. And then she folded inside herself.
How would she come back from this?
The sobs came, gasping for air, hysterical sobs, shattering the silence.
A mixture of tears, snot, blood, of pain, of everything. Get up.
Via’s cheek pressed against the pavement. She wasn’t getting up. She couldn’t. Ever.
The sobbing stopped.