To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
Faith. She’d managed to keep her namesake while in captivity, but now that she was free? The daunting task of rejoining society was in front of her and it seemed that Marlin had too keep it for her.
Marlin can’t help how he feels about Faith, she was remarkably easy to like. The only thing he could do for her was be there, and keep his damn hands to himself, which was the real challenge. Neither one of them knew if she would make it out of the darkness in tact; only time would tell about that.
During trying times, all you can do is hold on and have a little faith…
I watched her sleep. It was so late at night it was early, and she was passed out. Dead to the world. The lines and grooves that sorrow had etched upon her face smoothed out when she was like this. She’s fucking beautiful when she sleeps, when she feels safe, and she dreams… I wonder for a fragment of a moment if she dreams of me.
I reach out a tentative fingertip and trace some of her long, fair hair out of her eyes, letting my fingertip linger guiltily against her smooth skin. She’s soft, and despite having been so violated, still so pure.
It amazes me, her resiliency. Her willingness to trust me after so many men, hell, and women too, had given her plenty of reasons to never trust another soul ever again. Her brow furrowed, and she moaned a little. I silently sighed and backed away to see if she’ll find an even keel again or if this was going to morph into one of the big ones. Rarely does a night go by where she doesn’t have some kind of nightmare or terror. Of course, she’s only been about three weeks out of hell, so it’s kind of to be expected.
She writhes and another moan creeps from her, cascading into a whining whimper that’s become familiar. It’s a bad one this time. They’re almost all bad in the end, but this one is particularly rough. She doesn’t always talk about them, but when she does… the shit is fucking awful, man. Her legs jerk, her knees making a rush for her chest and she cries out and I have a sinking feeling I know what this one is about. I switch on the bedside lamp flooding the room with golden artificial light in an attempt to chase back the shadows. It usually does the trick, chasing back the invisible ones inside her head too. The light goes on and those aquamarine eyes pop open and slay me all over again.
Not this time though. This time requires a little extra effort on my part.
“Faith!” I call out and I put my hands on my knees. I want to touch her. To gently shake her awake, but I know what a bad idea that is. You’re not supposed to touch victims. It’s a rule somewhere or something. Especially folks that have been victimized like her. She twists and sobs in her sleep and it breaks my fuckin’ heart every fuckin’ time.
“Faith! C’mon Baby Girl, you gotta wake up for me. C’mon Sweet Thing. Wake up!” I keep talking and finally it happens. She sucks in a breath like I tossed a bucket of ice water on her and those eyes of hers lock on mine. She half crab walks back on hands her feet sliding along the slick cotton sheets trying to find purchase and my heart sinks in my chest.
“You’re alright. You’re safe. You’re okay now, Baby.” I let my hands slide off my denim clad knees and straighten into a standing position as the tears well in her eyes, turning them jewel bright and beautiful. So wide, her face slack with realization of where she is, that it’s the here and now.
“I’m sorry!” She blurts.
“Hey, no. None of that, now. You hear?” I shake my head and swallow hard as she hugs her knees. Sliding the soles of her feet against the bottom sheet.
“Bad one?” I asked, already knowing the answer. They were all bad. She didn’t have good dreams, and when she did, they never stayed that way.
She nodded and I sat carefully on the edge of the bed, a fair distance from her. Giving her space. She looked at me, a little wild eyed, reminding me of these feral cats out at the marina… hungry little things. Half-starved bags of bones that’d look at me, hoping for fish scraps. I always gave them if I had them, but I wasn’t sure what Faith was hungry for and I didn’t feel right in askin’.
“Want to talk about it?” I asked softly.
“I have,” she said, averting her gaze, “Talking about it hasn’t helped, at least not yet.”
“Always willing to listen, you know that Baby Girl.”
“I know,” she says and smooths her long beach waved locks behind her ears. Most girls spend hours and hours in front of a mirror putting all kinds of crap in their hair to get it to do those soft waves. Not Faith, though. Far as I could tell, her soft wavy curl was all natural.
I didn’t miss how much her hands shook as she smoothed back her long hair. Or how she pulled the ends until her ears bent. She let go and wound her arms around her shins and hugged herself into this little ball.
“I tried to run,” she said by simple explanation and bile rose, hot and fierce to tease the back of my throat. I nodded solemnly. She scrunched up her toes, curling them under and I tried very hard not to stare at her feet. They’d burned the soles with cigars and cigarettes to teach her a lesson on that one. She’d told me when I’d asked what the shiny pink pock marks were. Then she’d told me she’d never tried to run again after some more gory details.
I figured that if Faith had had to live it, then the least I could fuckin’ do was be a fuckin’ man and listen to it. She needed a box to keep her horrors in. A safe place to hold her nightmares so she didn’t have to hold them inside all the time. Until we could get her to that shrink her sister had the hook up for, I could be that fuckin’ box and I would be stone about it as she passed it off.
Text Copyright © 2016 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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