A few months after Mabel's 16th birthday, her parents died in a tragic accident and now a blind Mabel was a ward of Aunty Kay. In her absence, Mabel would fall prey to her cousins' incessant bullying and tricks. One day, they had put peanut butter in Mabel's favourite sneakers. A fuming Mabel rushed into Troy's room and delivered a stinging slap with the one sneaker in hand to his face. I told you she was a blind psychopath Troy shouted. Sensing Mabel's distress, the guy introduced himself as Leo but an embarrassed Mabel scurried away. For the next few months, whenever Troy had his friends over, Leo and Mabel would secretly meet in the kitchen. He was 18, fascinated with cars and her first crush. Reality rudely intruded on their secret meeting spot by Troy whose shouts brought his sisters rushing in. An angry Adele, who was liked Leo viciously slapped Mabel d as she let loose angry words and barbs at Mabel's ploys. Mabel, immensely hurt rushed to the safety of her small room. After what seemed like hours, the door creaked open and Leo called out. Mabel flung her pillow at him and told him to go. Leo persisted and pressed a soft kiss to her lips telling her that she was a breath of fresh air in this hell-hole. He continued to caress her neck and shoulders. Kisses turned heated, caresses became more frantic and clothes discarded as Mabel's heart and innocence were offered up and consumed in the lusty atmosphere. In the dawn, after kissing a clinging Mabel, Leo left. Mabel blurted out her love when her cousins barged into her room unannounced. Troy and Adele laughed as they boasted of the bet Leo was a part of or else he would never look at a blind nerd. In the coming weeks, Leo was MIA! One Saturday after dinner, Mabel overheard Aunty Kay on the phone talking about the Johns moving to another state. This hurt Mabel to the quick who vouched to never fall for such a ploy! In the 5 years since that fateful day, Mabel blossomed into an intelligent, caring and capable young woman. Despite her disability, she successfully pursued her passion of cooking with the upcoming release of her first cookbook. That heart wrenching summer with Leo was pivotal for Mabel. Lost in her happy thoughts, she nearly missed her beeping phone signalling that her publicist and best friend, Maria had arrived to give her a lift to the venue but then encountered a slowly deflating tire. Luckily, the service guy Zack, was nearby to pick up the call. With both ladies safely ensconced in the truck, and their vehicle in tow, they made their way to the garage. Mabel smiled as she overheard Maria flirting with Zack. Before long, they arrived at the garage. The door creaked open signalling someone's entrance. After a shuffling of papers, a masculine voice called out Maria's name. Mabel froze in disbelief as her friend went about her business. She could never forget that husky baritone. It was LEO! As Maria concluded her paperwork and payments she hollered to Mabel which grabbed Leo's eagle gaze. The air was tight with tension as Leo stumbled over Mabel's name. As Mabel hurriedly nudged her friend to go ahead, a strong, calloused hand grabbed Mabel's wrist. Mabel was having not of that and delivered a stinging slap to an unshaven but hewn jaw. She was overwhelmed by repressed hurt. Maria tried to calm the situation down with the ladies hurriedly escaping after a few attempts. Zack met a stunned Leo standing in the same position, weary lines on his face. After some consideration, he held up a business card with a naughty smirk. Mabel refused to talk on her way back to the hotel but lying in bed that night, her memories came to the forefront. After a sleepless night she called Maria to confirm her schedule. A barrage of questions of Mabel's well-being were fired by Maria, which Mabel answered quietly. Seven o' clock sharp, the doorbell rang with a sombre trip to the restaurant. When the meals arrived, a frizzle of awareness ran up Mabel's spine. A voice which haunted her dreams announced Leo's presence. Crossing her hands across her chest, Mabel sat back without a word. As soon as Leo broached the topic of the first time they had made love, Mabel lost it and flung her plate of spaghetti at him. He made light of the attack and pleaded that he was threatened by Adele the morning after their sweet night. She had maliciously filmed them entwined asleep and would share a copy with the entire school. He had stayed away to protect Mabel's reputation. Troy had lied to the Coach which got him kicked off the team. His dad had gotten a job transfer out of state which was a clean break. Leo continuously professed his love whilst raining kisses along Mabel's face, hands and wrists. She softly returned her love enveloped in those strong arms that were imprinted in her memory forever and a day.
Three days. THREE DAYS. Of silence. C'mon, guys. I've been writing your story for six months, know you all like childhood best friends, and now you won't talk to me. I thought we had something, but no, now it's all “writer's block” this and “writer's block” that. Ugh, the things I do for love. I'm tired of all this quiet. I hate it. Why won't anyone tell me what's going on? That's your job, isn't it? To give answers when needed? Well, I need answers, and I need them as soon as they can be supplied. Writing is my sustenance, my SOUL, don't you see? To leave me so empty like this… you might as well starve me. And still your voices are silent, silent as a closed book. So I just have to wait. And wait again. And probably again. Yep. You are all so indifferent to my necessities, so uncaring! Or are you simply oblivious, truly and honestly oblivious? Wouldn't that be ironic? All the effort I put into making you who you are, and you can't even give me a straight answer. I thought you were supposed to be strong, well-developed! My writer's group says you are, and so do my roommates—but then, what do we really know? None of us have published anything yet. I'm sorry; I'm deviating again. If you'd just give me something to work with, though, we wouldn't have this problem. What's that line… “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die”? Yeah, that's you. Come on, just a little idea? A change of scenery, a snippet of dialogue? Maybe one of you is willing to be the sacrifice for the greater good? I promise your capture will be heroic, tragic, leaving all the readers with broken hearts. Well, unless it's you, Zulen. Sorry, man… OH COME ON! DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I'VE BEEN STUCK ON THIS ONE FREAKING SCENE? IT'S EMBARRASSING! Sorry, I'm sorry, really—I had to get that out. I just feel so useless right now, y'know? And I guess these three days haven't been all bad; it's been kind of like a vacation side quest with you guys. But I DO need to write to pay rent, so… back to business. Let me make myself clear. I am the Author. You are the Characters. Your scene is at a standstill. I. Am. Not. Happy. Comprende? Good. Now, any ideas? (Except yours, Hayden; yours suck. And no, I am still not going to consider your hairspray-chainsaw proposal.) It needs to have some pizazz, something spicy to really get the story moving, you know? Preferably something that will lead smoothly into Idora's death scene so—NO, IT IS ABSOLUTELY STAYING, YOU UNGRATEFUL BLOB OF INK. NOBODY REALLY LIKED YOU ANYWAY. You know what, guys? I'm done with this chicanery. (Whoa, that's a cool word: chicanery. Haven't used that in a while.) You're really messing with my stuff. I think it's time to write a haiku or something, clear my head a bit with a different style. Sun goes slowly down Characters will not help me Getting very ticked Well, that was just depressing. I was GOING to focus on the sunset, the velvet hues, the molten light filtering through my water-stained kitchen window… Gosh, I really need to clean that…. What was I saying? I wonder if there's a god of writing, like Poseidon is the god of water. Some robed figure with ink-black eyes and parchment-colored clothes, her train filled with the ever-changing words of her humble scribe followers. Ooh, or instead of a train (cuz that's weird), they're tattoos on her skin—scribbles and ink blots and half-finished notes that appear and disappear as time goes by. And maybe she just has a thing against mortals, so she imposes blocks on our minds whenever we get too close to perfection. Yeah, that's totally it. That makes me feel much better. You may worship me now, Hayden. What? No, I don't have inky eyes, I just… You know what, forget it. I'm not gonna explain myself to a four-thousand-year-old toddler. ‘K, but dude. DUDE. I have an idea, cuz that description was lowkey epic. Buckle up, Idora—you're about to get stabbed with a godly quill pen. And it's gonna be AWESOME. Vacay over, people. Pack up the beach towels, and somebody get me a snack. We've got work to do. And you know what? Maybe this break was kinda good for me.
She was abruptly awakened from a rare sleep by what sounded like a crash under her bed. She hid under the covers, which provided a warm, protected feeling, as she froze in fear. She was still curious as to what caused such a bang despite the intense fear coursing through her. It didn't help that she'd been having terrible nightmares lately about monsters under her bed. Childish, she realised. She felt a bolt of courage strike through her like a flurry of lightning, and she nudged her covers—her safety—away and set her feet on the chilly wooden floor. Her double bed was spacious enough for people to sleep underneath it; a large monster could easily do the same. She quickly ducked and peered under the bed after taking a deep breath. She backed away, breathing deeply, sliding under her duvet covers. She shook and shivered under the sheets. Meredith whimpered as her mother flicked the light switch; darkness consuming the room. Meredith turned her head to see a shadow when a large hand grabbed her mouth. No one will hear you scream, and nobody can help you right now, a muffled cry rang out throughout the spotless space. It resembled a hospital ward the most. Her knees were hit in the back by a chair. Under the large hand, she barricaded her teeth in an effort to free herself from their hold. When Meredith unintentionally fell into it, it laughed menacingly. She made no attempt to stand because she knew she would lose this battle. She was thrown to the ground, her eyes welling up with tears. Finally, with fists raised, the shadow moved to step into the light. Meredith woke up with a yelp and a jump. The worst part was probably that. To her mother, Meredith exclaimed. "The dream always comes to an abrupt end!" Meredith became irritated with her mother's lack of interest and stormed back to her bedroom as she simply nodded and busied herself around the office. She sighed as she sat on the bed. The monster's laughter. She is positive that she just heard it next to her. She clenched her hair in agony and cried, "I'm not crazy, am I? She mumbled. It responded, "certainly not," as a giggle broke out. Meredith spun around in surprise to find nothing there. Even as months passed, Meredith's "insanity" only grew worse. She even missed weeks of school because it was so frustrating. Her mother expressed surprise and even concern. Meredith murmured to herself as she held her dry lips in front of her coffee mug. She sighed as the mug became empty. Her head shook and her eyes fluttered shut, disrupting her sleep. The TV's glowing light illuminated the tiny space as she fumbled with her fingers and nibbled at the couch. Meredith slipped into a deep sleep and a nightmare in less than a minute. Meredith was bound to a chair by a rope around her back and her legs were fastened to the chair's feet. The thing said with amusement, "You're back." Meredith's lips quivered with a sob. “don't …. I beg you not to hurt me. Meredith pushed herself further into the back of the seat as the monster began to claw her. Her abdomen was freed when the monster's claws tore the ropes holding her body together. In the light next to her, a knife shone. She picked up the blade after covertly lowering her hand. The monster was preoccupied looking in the opposite direction, muttering quietly to themselves. She slowly pushed the knife against the monsters back, the tip slightly grazing their clothing. A whimper escaped the monster's mouth, “don't please don't.. Hurt me” it sounded like herself, she thought. Meredith had had enough with this madness and insanity. Although she has never considered herself to be a murderer, this situation could influence anyone. The monster's knees were thrown to the ground when she kicked the backs of them. She turned the monster over so that, but for the darkness of the space, she could see the monster's face. Meredith inserted the knife into their chest because it was too dark for her to see anything other than the outline of the body. The monster's muscles tightened around the blade, making it difficult for her to pull the knife out again. She kept slicing and stabbing the body. The stomach, legs, face, chest, and throat were completely dismembered. As she stood over the lifeless body below her, Meredith trembled in terror. The shaky breathing had stopped, and the squelching of the blade being pressed through her skin had also stopped. She gasped and woke up only to witness the end of her own life. She lay motionless, nearly dead, with a knife next to her and identical cuts and gashes all over her body. Her surroundings were covered in blood, and the metallic smell made her feel even queasy. She tried moving and screaming. She had no chance. All this time, she was the monster. She knew she would lose the battle.
A couple of weeks ago, I went on a holiday to France. Apart from doing some writing there, I wanted to visit the breathtaking and miraculous Lourdes. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I went alone and so, not only was it an overwhelming experience, but it also grew into a learning expedition. I stayed there for 13 days. Life is never predictable I can tell you. Even with all the careful planning, there will be a surprise or two in store for you. So, I guess we must always be ready to face all kinds of consequences and situations, take it within our stride and pray that in the end, all goes well, just as it did for me. I am putting together a series of videos about my visit to iconic France and I hope you will join me by subscribing to my channel to be updated on my journey there. Here's the link to my latest video: St.Bernadette and Me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezh3zoPKm-0 Christmas is coming around really fast too. It is always a beautiful, magical month and somehow there is always the light of advent to take you through the season with smiles and extra love. Wishing you a great month of advent. Shobana
On March 17, sooner than I expected, my paperback is also on Amazon. Three days before my eBook launch day on March 20, when you can download it and read it! Here are the links of English-speaking marketplaces where you can order Postcards From Beyond Reality: The Selected Poems of Michael Daniels and/or leave your honest review. Please don't forget that, because your reviews not only help Postcards to find its way to new readers but also help other readers to get value from your reading experience and honest thoughts and decide if my poetry book is the right book for them. Amazon.com paperback and eBook Amazon Australia paperback and eBook Amazon Canada paperback and eBook Amazon UK paperback and eBook Goodreads paperback and eBook BookBub eBook Jessica Bell designed an eBook and a paperback cover for my YA poetry book I wrote in character as the hero from my novel Cruel Summer, Michael Daniels. They look spectacular and reflect Michael's inner mind, which was teeming with the stark contrast of darkness and light. I will enroll Postcards From Beyond Reality: The Selected Poems of Michael Daniels eBook in KDP Select where you can read it for free, so don't miss that opportunity. Thank you all who helped me bring Michael's poetry book to life. I cannot mention all of you here, but you have my gratitude and sincere thanks in the Acknowledgements section in the book. If you are a representative of the media, please click here for the press release. Postcards From Beyond Reality: The Selected Poems of Michael Daniels and I are available for reviews, book tours, interviews. BJ Subscribe to my mailing list. Follow me on Twitter. Original post at https://www.bernardjan.com/post/postcards-from-beyond-reality-paperback-and-launch-days
Our lives are profoundly impacted by the Latin word "COMMUNICATION" (meaning "to share"). We are separate from all other species of ecosystems because of this process of "Sender-Medium-Receiver;" through graphical or verbal communication. Does that really sum it up? Or are we just a speaking and hearing entity? That's absurd! EMOTIONS & THEIR ROLE Despite being invisible, emotions play a critical role in communication. Many people don't realize that communication is more than just their ability to exchange thoughts. Globally, people are more attached to a range of feelings that are a result of reactions instead of formal, non-responsive dialogue. Even the chat screen on your smartphone includes emoticons that can help you deepen your descriptions at that particular point, or, better yet, to involve your companion in your world of thoughts altogether. Communication ought to be strong when people are on the same page. This is attainable only with equal involvement. Just visualize a person saying “I won!" with an uptight expression. That's not very logical. For listeners to experience the winning feeling, the words "I WON" should be delivered with genuine enthusiasm. The listener must feel that our expressions are revealed vaguely. This pragmatic communication can occur only if we rivet our feelings. The indifference of not-just-being a speaking entity starts with us. EMPHASIS ON FEELINGS Sharing our true feelings is important for a healthy relation. Communication always comes with an aim. The speaker is well aware of the topic but sometimes, when the speaker isn't well pioneered to express their thoughts, a void stays between the speaker and the listener. This void might be unhealthy for any relation, may it be professional or personal. Efforts should not be made for conveying; they should be made for explaining. More communication leads to a better understanding of the tactics of communication. Gradually, we become familiar with various reactions of the listeners, we become amicable with the possibilities of the mindsets of the listeners. The only secret to avoid any confusion is to describe the complete idea in our mind with rationality. Verbalizing just to empty our hearts can't be fruitful without maintaining the decency to take the loved one throughout our mind journey. Our intentions, whether to make one listen or whether to make one understand, hold into account. OUTCOME & LISTENING There's a long string of thoughts when we convey our story; the replies, the reactions and the latter's emotions are taken into account too! This creates a path that doesn't involve only one topic, instead, we walk together discussing many other points of view different from the aim of communication. Aggressive reactions are expected but interestingly, people can have opinions we haven't even considered! A brimming glass of thoughts squeezed into juice can taste sweeter if everyone's on the same page and equally reactive, regardless of a heated communication. We the best communication comes an involved Listening. Each eye has its sight different from everyone, so is our thought process. People wander away in the forest of words amidst talking. To stay in line, listening is crucial since our time and energy deserves to be channelized into productive communication. This is not just limited to communication. This leads to greater discovery, the listener himself! His reaction defines his feelings and indirectly defines his vision and his mindset. Words, however bold they are, they are never a struggle. If everyone takes the whole discussion empathically, the day ends fine. Expressing with details, without fearing the reactions in return, would never create a negative environment. The more you are free, the more you grow! Let your voice reach their heart, not just ears. May you be heard without saying. Please feel free to write your point of view in comments below.
It was good in 2019! The day when the first glimpse of this terrible news came, no one had judged, that how dangerous this was going to be till today. This story, is my story, about what was pandemic for me and what I had to go through. It was November 2019, I was working at my job. They spoke about the news that whether it could spread or not. I had just joined the gym, so even my gym trainer told me about this new disease named, “Corona.” I always wanted to make something huge in my life, and my job wouldn't let me do it. Because I had some issues at my job, I had given a resignation letter in March. A few days later, the cases in the whole of India started touching the peak of the sick crowd; due to the outburst, Prime Minister ordered for the complete lockdown in the whole country after two days of the peak. With country lockdown and Corona disease, I felt fallen into a pit from where I lost all the hopes of coming out. I found it difficult to ask my boss to ignore my notice period and grant my resignation because the company were losing their clients due to inefficiency in the pandemic. Out of humanity, I thought to support the company. There was a curfew in the whole country. A city like Mumbai was silent for the first time in ages. Streets that were barking with traffic and horns were now desolated. Unfortunately, the company wasn't able to pay us our desired salary. We got paid even lower than half of our salaries. I sat with a fraught face, wondering what to do next. I motivated myself with pragmatism. Finally, I took a firm decision. “Sir! As per my resignation notice period, please allow me to leave this job. I cannot work with low salary.” Finally, became jobless with a brave mind to fight another battle again. I started laying down the pointers which prominently make us an ideal progressor. Our persona becomes the first impression that headways our career. I worked to improvise my personality, communication and gesturing attitude. It took a while, but that was my big leap after which I saw myself as completely novel. When the mirror spoke for me, I re-joined the baby footsteps who loved writing. I recollected a loft story abandoned many years ago from my laptop. After few months, I started my own business and wrote more. Soon, I published my first novel. It took uncountable efforts to work in the lockdown period. Along with work pressure, came the scary news that said one thing, "the city is in danger." Live images of dying people, misery in the hospitals and the daily count of new COVID cases captured the minds. But belief was the only word that kept me growing, and aplomb was the only key to perform far better from my job in my business. I started hiring people, but I never quit being a learner. Someone said it true, "We never know what we are capable of, unless we are forced in a critical condition with no option, but to fight." Gradually, I became the author of three novels. My family felt noble. Pandemic is tough! But all we need to do is survive. We need to decide, whether we want to survive by bringing the solution to problems or we want to survive by crying over the problems. Think the best, and leave the rest!
Lockdown. Here's a word that we used to associate with dictatorship, war, or, in my case, George Orwell's 1984. For a young adult, it seemed unimaginable that I would ever experience times of fear, isolation, and a skyrocketing death rate. It was even more unthinkable that we could get something out of it. Back in March, 2020, staying at home was a chance to recover from life's crazy speed. That is, for most people. Me? I had already been working at home for almost four months as an English teacher for online students in Brazil. There was little change in my routine – I was mostly sorry I couldn't go to the gym, cause I'm an endorphin junky. Of course, we all thought quarantine wasn't going to last. It then became clear we had better get used to Zoom meetings, face-masks, or, in my case, keeping a distance from my family (who wasn't following all the guidelines as strictly as I was – still am). Like all newly bakers, DIYers, yogis, I too put my energy into one task: starting my writing career. With a zillion unfinished stories on my computer and a zillion more in my head, I didn't know where to begin. After all, I was exhausted from all the jobs I had taken thinking they would lead me somewhere, when in fact they were dragging me further from my writing goals. Luckily, I received an email announcing a writing contest for eBooks. And I thought “this is it!” (in reality, I was probably thinking, “why not?”). I only had a couple of months to do what most writers take years to accomplish: finish a story and publish it. After selecting one short-story that wasn't so bad and kind of had an ending, I rewrote it, revised it, then turned it into a great eBook (with the help of my uncle to design the cover). Basically, I was the writer, agent, editor, launch team of my first book. When I sent a message to my mom, with a link for purchasing her daughter's first published book, she had to call me to make sure she got it right: “What is that link you sent me? Is that a book? Your book? How did you do it?” And I was thrilled to have finally done it! After all, I had been dreaming of this feat ever since I drew/wrote a book about a mermaid when I was seven. As a perfectionist, though, I wanted to go further. My self-published, barely revised book couldn't be my only one. That's when I decided to really pursue my career as an author (at last, I can call myself that). So I quit one of my jobs (the one as an English teacher) and started writing a new novel in 2021 – its first draft is already complete, and I'm currently working on editing it (this time, to send to a literary agent). Also, I knew that, as amazing as that eBook was (a true accomplishment for the little time that I had), I needed lots of help on how to write mesmerizing stories, pitch them for agents, build my online platform (which I'm still working on, btw), promote my future books… So, I took some free classes (remember, I quit my job) and sent my draft to a friend who reads the same kind of genre to get some feedback. What I've learned so far from this process? That it only takes a crazy pandemic to make people rethink their life choices and pursue their dreams. Kidding. Sort of. I did learn that there are many master classes, webinars, blog posts, and guides that really are helpful to writers who want to focus on this part of their lives without spending any (or little) money. So let's take those Covid-19 lemons and make some lemonade!
“Mother, I know you can't hear me, but I must talk to you. “I need to talk to someone. Anyone. About things I would never say if you were alive. About things I didn't want you to know because they would hurt you. This way I will say them, and you won't hear them. This way it will be much easier for me to pour my heart out to you . . .” My cross-genre YA novel Cruel Summer is for the first time in a Kindle discount promo week! Sunday, May 9, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT through Sunday, May 16, 2021, 12:00 AM PDT This gripping, unexpected, strong, and emotional story about an abused teenage boy who only wants to skate and the loyalty of friendship that stands as the shield between those who have other plans for him and his freedom will be only $0.99 for a whole week on Amazon or free with Kindle Unlimited. Do you like books that cross genres and mix them in a surprising read you cannot put down? Cruel Summer has all that and more for you: family and social issues, extreme sports, conspiracy, murder, mystery, teen romance as a subplot, and sci-fi and dystopia as a touch of alternative history with a powerful message of friendship. Sounds impossible? But it's not! “Crossing genres is always difficult, and thankfully, this one works well. It offers many angles for every type of reader. Even for those who aren't fans of dystopia / sci-fi or who've never been on a skateboard in their lives . . . you'll be pulled in for all the other reasons.”—James J. Cudney, author of Watching Glass Shatter, Hiding Cracked Glass, Father Figure, Braxton Campus Mysteries series and Weathering Old Souls Don't wait any longer! Please spread the word and download your eBook at a 67% discounted price. Thank you! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X6JZKRM BJ Original post: https://www.bernardjan.com/post/from-skateboarding-to-dystopia-for-only-0-99
TW: The following piece documents true events of sexual assault. Please refrain from reading if personally triggering. Disclaimer: The following events have been disclosed with adults and mental health professionals, and the author is not a danger to herself currently. The record does not need to be reported to a guidance counselor, and no concern for the author is necessary. Thank you. :) I washed my sheets by myself for the first time that night. My blood and his cum splattered the center in horrific modern art. Mama never taught me how to get that out of fabric. It was two weeks after my 15th birthday. I'd say I lost my innocence that afternoon, but the bruises had stained my body for months. Every week he wanted more. And the day I'd been dreading had arrived. His ribs pressed against mine. Our sticky skin stuck together. His hands on me. In me. The right on my mouth. The left clutching my throat. He took my muffled screams as moans. Signs to go faster, signs to go harder. As my thighs stained red, he smiled. I used to love his smile. My cries awoke the city that night until his message lit up my phone. “I'm sorry about today. I love you.” followed by a heart a brighter red than the lines grasping my wrists. I weakly smiled. He loves me. He said he was sorry the first time he choked me too. Sorry the first time he recorded my body. Sorry the first time he kissed another girl. Words of forgiveness had tumbled out of my mouth a million times until they were all I knew. I thought monsters were invisible strangers that sneak into your house when you least expect it. He was my best friend. And, as he often reminded me, it had been almost 3 years since the day he asked me to the movies during 7th grade recess. At the very least, I owed him my body. Besides, he was sorry. Right? It took months of purple legs and ringing ears to break me. Sleepless nights and empty bottles holding the bear he bought me for valentines day when we were 12. I've always wondered why I can't scream in my nightmares. Why my voice slips away when the darkness falls. I finally understood that day as the word “no” danced out of my mouth as gently as the tears on my cheeks. I've showered a thousand times since, but I can't seem to get clean. He touched me in the shower too. Touched me in the kitchen. Touched me in our childhood park. On the roof of our high school. But nothing beat the day he touched me in my bed. He left me for his blonde best friend 26 days later. Said I cried too much. It was the day before our 3 year anniversary, and my room was littered with gifts for him. The next day my broken body lay on the cold bathroom tile. My hands turned white, clutching my orange bottles of antidepressants and sleep medication. As 42 pills slid down my throat, I closed my eyes and, for the first time in weeks, his smile didn't appear in the darkness. I awoke in the cold hospital bed to the IV's piercing my veins. By the time I escaped the psych ward another month later, I was more broken than before. I whispered the story for the first time one night. Mama sat silent for a moment before asking what I was wearing. Said she warned me this was gonna happen if my shoulders saw the world. Dad said maybe if I had paid more attention to Jesus and less to boys, I wouldn't be blubbering. I told my friend that weekend. By the arrival of Monday, the whole school knew. Whispers paved my paths down the halls. One boy claimed he heard I had hit my head and had amnesia. Said that's why I was making up crazy stories. Another girl said I lied for attention. “She probably liked it.” Even those who believed me could never understand. Until I met the curly haired girl who whispered “he touched me too” in the bathroom. I always thought monsters hunted from under the bed. Not on it.