“FUCK ME!” he roared.
“No” Isabella sobbed.
“You little cunt, I’m too good for you.”
He slapped her; Isabella just cried even harder, he slapped her again.
“Noo-hic-oooo” she let out a low moan.
“Fine.” He growled. Marched to the other side of the room, and sat down, slouching against the wall.
Minutes or hours passed, time was anonymous, foreign, and nobody cared. Why would they, why should they. Time is always moving too fast or too slow never doing what it’s told, the unpopular kid at the party, the law breaking youth. So when the gun shot rang out and the girl screamed, no-one even noticed.
He fled the room slamming the door and Isabella was left gasping as one hand clutched at her bleeding stomach and the other held her semi upright against the bed. She screamed for help, for anybody… even him.
She scrambled to the door, she struggled with the handle turning and twisting it. It just wouldn’t budge she feared that it was locked and that this room would become her coffin, but just then the door opened and she fell through into the corridor between rooms. Her blood was dripping off her fingers and seeping into the pure white carpet beneath her feet. She screamed running miles and miles down this wide impossibly long corridor. She turned sharply left tumbling down 4 flights of stairs. Screaming in pain and fear the whole way down. When She got to the ground floor the receptionist who normally looked bored and tired was in a panic. She silently refused to move from her safe spot behind the check in check out desk. It seemed like she feared that Isabella would pull out a knife or gun and attack the pathetic receptionist with it.
So she called the ambulance as Isabella collapsed onto that stunningly white carpet still in conscious, torturous pain.
The paramedics convinced her to release her body from the tight ball she had squeezed herself into. So she laid ridged on the stretcher shaking uncontrollably just watching the blood from her wound plummet off her ghostly fingertips. As they quickly yet gently peeled off her blood soaked tee shirt and wrapped bandages around her abdomen. As soon as the bleeding had been stemed, the paramedics fixed an IV line of what looked like water to her arm.
“this is just saline” a paramedic who’s face was blurred explained in a faraway voice. Another paramedic was wiping her hands with a cloth, the blood was hard to wash of her hands, she watched as the paramedic scrubbed and scrubbed, It felt like it would not come off, that it would never come off. Blood clots, coagulates, dries; seeps into her skin like a ghostly ink. Trapped under her fingernails and caught in her cuticles. It made her scream with anger and fear; he had truly cursed her, never to be rid of him.
The next thing Isabella remembered was the police waiting for her in the emergency department,
“What’s your name?”
“19 Tarring crt, Ivanhoe”
“I was shot”
“We can’t find your file”
A nurse hurried over
“We can’t find your file, did you mean to say Jessica Warner of 43 earl st, Ivanhoe”
“Yeah” she mumbled, drowsy
“Stay awake, now Jessica, we need you to stay awake”
“No” said and Isabella let sleep overcome her
When she woke up a doctor was standing over her. She was wearing Nice neat ordinary clothes with a stethoscope around her neck.
“How are you?” the doctor asked Isabella kindly
“We almost lost you in the surgery to take out the bullet” The doctor squeezed her shoulder, and Isabella said nothing.
And the doctor left
All the other doctors kept asking her, do you want painkillers, sedatives and a whole manner of drugs that numb the senses and just help you to forget what happened and why it happened. Isabella declined every time wallowing in the anguish she knew she deserved, the stupid slut.
She was in hospital for two days, they were echoing and empty no one visited her, no one cared about her.
When she left, the pain in her gut was no better.
She walked the kilometer home.
When Isabella unlocked the front door to her house, there were no shouts of anger or relief at her return. All she could hear were her parents arguing, Isabella didn’t know what kept them together, money she supposed because it was definitely not love.
Isabella kept out of the way of the row, because she knew it would end in violence, and she was in enough pain.
But the shouting just went on and on, about nothing.
The Isabella heard her name,
“Isa-bell-a” he called gently in a sing song voice… there was a pause then he shouted “Isabella”
He didn’t sound angry, but she knew he was going to hurt her, for no reason. She couldn’t avoid it. If she stayed put he would come for her and it would be worse. Where could she run, she had no friends, no money, no nothing.
So she steeled herself, and walked into the lounge room…
“What took you so long” his voice was icy as he slapped her.
She said nothing, in an attempt not to antagonize him. But it didn’t work.
“You little bitch” his voice was still soft, yet it cut her like razorblades.
“You little fucking bitch, talk to me” Isabella shut her eyes
“Sorry” she whispered
“Little fuckwit, sorry” he mocked her, but what could she say.
He slapped her a few times, Then her grabbed her arm, she felt like it was in a vice, and that in seconds it would break. Just then her let her go, she was relived. Then he hooked her and grabbed her in a choke hold against the wall, she didn’t struggle, she didn’t want to. She was not fearful of the dark, as her oxygen starved mind had almost lost the ability to reason. She had an epiphany, That this is what she wanted.
Then he let her go, Isabella just wanted to keep holding her breath but she couldn’t. She involuntarily drew breath, harsh raged breaths that hurt more than his hold. He paused just watching Isabella suffer enjoying the effects of her injuries. He waited until she stood limply, still breathing hard, the kicked out with the heel of his shoe, it connected sharply with Isabella’s kneecap and she fell screaming onto her knees, In a position of ghastly prayer in front of him. Isabella’s mother watched silently, with no care empathy in her eyes.
He kicked out again his heel connecting with her throat, pushing her head back into the floor, dazing her. The force he used was enough to stun her and make her nose bleed freely but not enough to snap her neck. Just as she started to move her head upwards, he kicked her in the stomach, right over her stitches, she screamed in agony. After 3 strikes her world faded to white.
Isabella had regained consciousness. She wished that she hadn’t because every thing hurt, she was still on the lounge room floor. She was completely disorinatated, She just lay of the floor for what seemed like forever, Her parents weren’t in sight and she could not hear there movements. She allowed the blackness to consume her again.
When she woke up the next time she felt a bit better. She looked at the clock on the lounge room wall; it was an old digital one like you see at banks and swimming pools, where plastic numbers “flip” at the correct moment. It helpfully supplied that it was 6:00am.
Isabella raised her body to a kneeling position. But her head started spinning at a swift pace. She managed to avoid flopping back to her previous position and waited patently. When she felt better she rose to a standing position and then her whole world started spinning. She Fell against the wall and steadied herself when the world slowed it’s spin she stumbled into the kitchen to look at the calendar.
It stated that the month was March, she shook her head slightly, that couldn’t be true. She turned on the radio: “6:00am on Tuesday the 18th of august” crackled a male voice half way through the classic “I know you don’t want to be up but I am going to try and help you enjoy it” speech.
Isabella decided that she had to escape the house, in the only way she knew how. School.
The day moved past faster than light, she didn’t pay attention to her teachers; they all hated her anyway because she was dumb and never did any work.
So it just felt right when she climbed onto the roof and stood on the edge. The students crawling below her like ants, they have always been far away from her, even though the space between her and the rest was so far . Ready to fall into nothing. She didn’t say anything she didn’t have to, not like in the movies or TV, where every one notices and shouts out what the character should or should no do.
She only noticed the presence next to her when he said
“Come, run away with me”
And she didn’t fall over, she fell into him.
When she woke she was in her familiar strangers arms, his radiant heat warming her body and her soul she was always so cold. She could feel his pulse as her hand rested on his neck. She pulled her aching body up so her head was over his heart. Thuu-thump, Thuu-thump, Thuu-thump, the slow rhythm calming her, slowing her erratic heart and her always ragged breathing. It became regular; being here was so very regular. Isabella just had this sense of home; she looked around the room that he chose for her. It was plain and sterile with a cold linoleum floor, varnished wood boards covered the wall and ceiling. Isabella noticed an old rusty metal chair with yellow stained synthetic padding she only realized she was crying when he wiped the tears from her face.
“How? Why?” Isabella whisperered
“I saw you” He whispered back conspiratorially
“What the hell is that meant to mean” she yelled crawling away from him across the smooth linoleum floor.
She dragged herself over to the chair and tried to pull herself to a standing position. She screamed in agony as the motion ripped her apart.
“Stop it, oh God Isabella. Stop it!” He screamed rising to his feet, looking like he was in as much pain as she was, but she just kept trying, shrieking.
“Isabella, please, no, STOP!”
But she just wouldn’t.
“Isabella” He sobbed
“Don’t call me that” She screeched in her agony
“I will call you anything, just to make you stop” He screamed, falling to his knees.
“I am nobody” and only unconsciousness stopped her scream.
When she woke again he was holding her tight.
“No, this is wrong, DON’T TOUCH ME” Isabella tried to pull away
“No, you will never do that again, no, no, no” Her familiar stranger moaned, tears running down his face
“Oh I have watched and waited so long” he held her tighter
“Who are you?” She looked at him suspiciously.
“Just someone who saw you” he smiled ruefully “not as a monster or a loner but as you”
“And who am I? What am I to you?” She shivered,
“You are so many things” He looked into her eyes with complete honesty
“So list them” she snarled
“To the world you are bitter and popular. A poor girl with the latest fashions. Dumb. Insenstive” he shut his eyes for a moment “But how do you get the money for your seemingly rich lifestyle, theft” he just paused and looked at her “but you are so much more than that, you are dazzling, intelligent. Even living in a world of injustice and fear, you have never spoken a foul word about anyone. Even if you group was bullying a student you would let the others speak, you have never sworn. You are truly blessed with everything, even beauty” he smiled
“Yeah, intelligent. Ask my teacher if that’s true.” She stated blandly
“You are, if you weren’t you would have been unpopular and truly poor… and by now you would be dead” Isabella shook her head disbelievingly at him “But anyway, that’s not the point. You are wonderful surviving the impossible. A shadow on a cloudy day.” He looked up at the ceiling “And I hope you are my shadow.”
“No” She lied bluntly “I am not yours, why do you even hold me. Just go. Leave me be.”
“I hold you because you screamed for me in your sleep. Even my name” He was expressionless
“I don’t even know your name” she snapped
“You must, My name is Daniel” he paused
“Well I didn’t and yes I am a shadow, the shadow of existence, an example” She smiled sardonically
“You are a shadow, only you can define who you are, but I hope you will glimpse what I found in you” he was still expressionless “You aren’t modest even, you honestly cannot see”
“I am blind and I will never see the light” she again smiled sardonically.
Isabella knew she was too weak to escape him so she just counted his breaths, before the count of 10 she was asleep. She spent a fortnight in the room waking briefly to allow Daniel to feed her. He called her shadow, and she liked it more than Isabella. The word summed up her identity.
The room she was staying in was in an abandoned building no that far from parliament house in Melbourne’s CBD.
The shadow will always end up alone so as soon as she could walk properly she left, With 2 gifts from Daniel, His wish for her safety and a cheap prepaid phone with his number in the contacts. And off Shadow went to find meaning in random events.
Lying, she always lied now; to her boss, to Daniel, to the people she shared a house with and to whoever else she met.
She told her housemates she was Sabella from a rich family that disowned her because she went out with a boy with “no-self respect” then the boy left her and she had nothing. That lie made the rent a few dollars less and her housemate’s think they understood her silence.
To her boss she was Jane Doe a school socialite who wanted to try something new, and ridiculous as it sounded he believed her every word. That got her the pathetically paid job bartending at a nightclub.
To Daniel, Shadow never called him but he frequently called her. She explained away he unwillingness to she him because she was always busy with work, sleep, washing her hair, cleaning the house, visiting friends, eating and whatever else she could imagine. He knew she was lying and she didn’t care as long as she never saw him again. It was bad enough hearing his voice, it made her scars itch and her heart swell. Shadow thought she was not and never would be ready for Daniel or pure enough for him. Though she knew that Daniel would never accept that as an excuse.
She never forgot her old life but it just felt like a dream, something that happened to somebody else. A piece of a badly written soap opera that Isabella’s mother loved to watch.
Shadow continued lying in bed thinking about her bitter unworthy life until Sasha; a mocha coloured, American-born uni student asked her if she wanted anything from the corner shop, as she was going to walk down there anyway because we were out of milk. Shadow said there was nothing she wanted. Sasha said nothing shadow only heard the door slam a few moments later. It was no big secret that Sasha though that Sabella’s silence was because she was stuck-up and had a “Major League” superiority complex. She only spoke to Sabella because she knew that Ashley, who they all nicknamed “The boss”, had a soft spot for Sabella. Even before Sabella’s arrival, Ashley had a grudge against Sasha, and Sasha was keenly aware of that.