Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blackbird Song (18)

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
--Trent Reznor--



While Jared's sitting at Jenna's bedside, keeping a constant vigil, he waits. While he waits, Jenna dreams.

In her dreams, it's the first time she tried to escape. Always that failed first time, when she screamed until she thought her throat would rip open from the force of her rage.

The first time she escapes, she gets an idea of just how desperate her situation is.

When she makes it outside, it's snowing. She's barefoot, it's cold, it's snowing, but that doesn't stop her.

She plunges into the snow, running, her heart racing, her feet aching from the cold, but she's outside, she's running and she's outside, and she's going to run all the way back to the life he stole from her.

For the first time in days, she lets her mind think of Jared, she lets herself take a deep, sobbing breath, and she feels that hollowed out part of her chest where she hasn't even let herself think of Jared.

As she's running, she imagines that she's running to Jared. She knows how warm his arms will be.

She doesn't even realize it when she starts crying, and the tears make cold tracks down her cheeks.

She runs, but he ends up catching her anyway.

----

When she fights against him, she can hear him laughing softly.

The sound of his laughter, that he is amused makes her rage come boiling over the top. She hits him, struggles with him, fights against him.

She feels him draw back, and when the needle punches into her arm, she leans forward and bites him

She tastes his blood in her mouth, and even as she's relishing this, her muscles start to sag, and her legs spill her to the ground.

----

Whatever he's given her makes her unable to move, but she's awake and aware.
He picks up her body, carries her back, and when they're inside, he starts to take her clothes off.

She's tried to brace herself for the fact that this might happen. She's told herself that just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't happen.
She can't feel the tear that slips down her cheek, but she does feel terror.
She's so certain that he's going to rape her, she doesn't know what to do when he doesn't.

Instead, he's dressing her, putting a coat on her, shoes, and then he's carrying her out to his car.

----

He settles her body into the passenger seat, adjusts it so that she's reclining, and he puts a pair of very dark sunglasses on her.

He buckles her in, covers her with a blanket, and then they're driving.
She can hear the radio, low and unobtrusive. She tries to talk, and finds that she can't. She can't say a word, and the sense of claustrophobia grows.
She can't move, she can't feel, she can't speak.
She can only think.

Worse, that first time, that first time she tried escaping, as her captor packed her up (pretty) to take her to another location, even as they're driving, Jared passes them in his search for Jenna. Mercifully, neither of them ever realize this.

----

While she's reliving her escape, Jared watches the calm set of her face, and he waits.
He waits for her to open her eyes, he waits for her to look at him, he waits for her to see that she's safe. He wants her to know it, to know that she's safe. He wants her to know that it's not just a word, but something tangible. He wants to make it real for her.

He waits to tell her that he loves her, that he is going to live up to the promise of that one word. Forever.

He waits.

----

While he's waiting, he wets her lips with the corner of a washcloth. He wipes her face, he makes her as comfortable as possible, while being careful of her ribs, her back, the scratches on her hands.

As Jared's sitting at her bedside, intent on the rise and fall of her chest, he hears a man clear his throat.

Jared looks over, and it's a cop. It's the cop who found Jenna. Jared can never remember his name, so he just thinks of him as 'the cop.'

He's standing in the doorway, twisting his cell phone in his hands. He looks at Jared and asks, "How is she?" Jared looks down at his hands, fidgets, and with a deep sigh, his eyes on the floor, says, "The same."

Deputy Cole Alston is his name, and he's checked in on Jenna every single day. The deputy has even sat with Jenna while Jared has gone to get a sandwich, or coffee.

After standing in the doorway for a few minutes, Cole finally turns and walks away.

The next day, when Cole walks in, he brings coffee for Jared.
They both sit, watching the steady rise and fall of Jenna's chest.

Jared is starving, so he asks Cole to sit with Jenna while he grabs a sandwich from the cafeteria.

While Cole's looking at Jenna, he wonders yet again how this woman managed to escape. How she managed to live through the hurt enough to keep fighting. He marvels at her strength of spirit, her ability to survive.

He's never heard her speak, but he already admires her.

As he's sitting there, lost in his thoughts, a nurse comes in with a washcloth.
Usually, it's Jared who carefully sponges off her face, talking to her the whole time.

Since Jared isn't there, the nurse gently wipes Jenna's face, her cheeks, her neck. She talks to her as she's caressing that luminous skin. "You're such a pretty girl, Jenna," the nurse says softly, "Will you open your eyes for me?"
"Come on pretty girl, open your eyes," the nurse says.

Deep in her head, Jenna hears that word. The dangerous word, the one she tried so hard to escape. She remembers running barefoot in the snow to escape that word. She remembers locking that word in her cage, along with her captor. She was so sure she escaped that word, that to hear it now is too much.

As the nurse is talking, cajoling, asking Jenna to open her eyes, a single tear tracks down her cheek. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.

Jenna rises to consciousness, rises to the pain in her body and she can hear someone screaming. She's too disoriented to realize that she's the one who's screaming.

The nurse yells for the doctor, as Jenna is tearing the i.v. out of her arm, as she's flailing and screaming and trying to get away.

As her bare feet touch the cold floor, her legs buckle. Cole manages to catch her, and he can feel her heartbeat jackhammering in her chest. Even as the nurse is sedating her, Cole holds Jenna, and for the second time, she faints into his arms.

Jared enters the room, sandwich in one hand, and his mouth is a shocked o of surprise. He drops his sandwich, and runs over to help Cole hold Jenna up.

Even as she's sagging into their arms, tears streaming down her face, the shot slowly taking effect, she meets Jared's eyes.

She says to him, "I was in the dark --I couldn't find you. I was lost--I followed your voice. I--" and with that, she sobs weakly, her chin resting on her chest.

She takes one deep, hitching breath, and her breathing evens out. She's mercifully unconscious, even as a few tears slide down her cheeks.

Jared picks her up, puts her back in bed. The nurse hooks her back up to the i.v., and they try to put her room back to rights.

----

The next day, in a room full of women dressed in scrubs, Jenna wakes. She looks at a woman in Strawberry Shortcake scrubs and closes her eyes again. The scrubs prove it's a dream.

She doesn't want to look, doesn't want to see. If this is a dream, she'd rather be sleeping.

But she can hear them talking. About her.

She tries opening her eyes again. She feels dizzy, the room is so bright it hurts. Jenna moans and tries to lift her arms.

There's an ache in her side, in her arm and she's breathing hard with the effort. She feels tears wetting her cheeks, and she sighs softly, so that ache in her ribs won't bite her again.

Even as she's drifting off, she hears Jared. With a supreme amount of will, Jenna opens her eyes, finds Jared, and even as she's drifting, her eyes feel like they have weights attached to them, she manages to smile at him.

She hears Jared tell her that he loves her, that she's safe. He tells her that he's here. With remarkable effort, from the world of the unconscious, she tells him that she loves him too. As sleep claims her, there's a small, satisfied smile on her lips.

She dreams again of that room. The one with holes in the ceiling, the holes that let the sunshine pour through.

She dreams of the man who brought her here, and instead of trying to get him to talk to her, Jenna simply sits in the sunshine and enjoys the way it skates down her forehead, kisses the tip of her nose with warmth, and blooms a smile on her mouth.

Even as she's enjoying this little vacation in her dreams, black clouds roll across the sun, taking away the sunshine and her joy.

She looks up, looks into the blackness, which could be compared to the face of her captor. Entirely without sunshine, entirely without light, oh God, he's in that room, he's in that room where she left him -- it's been days, and he's in that room--

Jenna wakes with a gasp, and she starts yelling, yelling at Jared, running her words together. Even as she's gesturing, yelling, setting off the machines that are attached to her body, the nurse on call rushes in, and puts something in her i.v. that makes her unable to talk, unable to move, and she falls back against her bed.

Even as she's drifting off, she tries to hold onto that one thought, her captor in that room, for days with no food, no water. The room he left her in, the room where he whipped her back bloody, where he did unspeakable things to her. Even knowing all that, she tries fighting one last time, tries making herself heard.

No matter what he's done to her, he doesn't deserve to die in that room. In that room, there are no chances, there are no ways out. In that room, he's left with his insanity.

In that room, he's the pretty.



----


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7 comments:

Travis said...

*taps fingers impatiently*

No.

Seriously.

The Mad Hatter said...

Jenna is much more forgiving than I could ever be. I would be praying for the demise of my captor.

otherworldlyone said...

This is awesome.

Baglady said...

I love the change at the end.

Anonymous said...

Hmm that's very interessting but honestly i have a hard time understanding it... wonder how others think about this..

Maryx said...

I'm with Travis on this one...

STILL Gripping!

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