Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scarry Night challenge

There are A LOT of stories floating around today courtesy of Patti Abbott's latest challenge. Below is my contribution. At 800 words each you can spare the time to read through all of them.

by Eric Beetner
As she spoke I knew I should have moved closer and held her but I couldn’t bring myself to. In bed, naked, still warm from making love and still freaked out by what I felt on her back, I listened.
The question must have come in my silence because she started spilling when I hadn’t asked a thing. The story she unfolded was horrific. Thirteen years old, a neighbor, kidnapped for four days, rapes over and over and the knife he took to her back to mark each time he had her. Not exactly pillow talk.
“I really don’t mind the scars,” she said.
Well, I did.
Maybe if she’d told me first. Anyway, I felt like a real shit laying there in the dark listening to her start to cry and not putting an arm around her to comfort or tell her it would be okay. What the hell was I supposed to do? What she went through needs a team of psychologists, not a third date that happened to end up in the sack.
The story kept going. She wasn’t the same girl, but her experience was so much like one on the news from when I was a teenager. It horrified me then and I didn’t have to feel the raised lines of the knife scars across her back.
She made me turn the lights off. I like to have at least a little light, usually, and this girl was hot. Tight little body, what I imagined were great breasts. You know how it is for guys, it’s all about the visual. But, I gave in just to make it happen. We could always turn the lights on later. 
My hands traced down her neck and pushed the straps of her bra off and I was not disappointed. All was well until I reached around and slid my hand down her back. I must have jerked my hand away like I had stuck it on a hot plate because she gripped me tighter as if to make sure I couldn’t run away. That’s when she went down on me, a more surefire way to keep a guy from running out on you.
I stuck with it and we made love, but my mind was on those scars. I tried not to be obvious as I snuck my fingertips over them like I was trying to sneak-read some braille. 
She started crying deep, heaving sobs. I wondered if it was because I wasn’t touching her or if she did this every night as a way of coping with her nightmare. Surely I couldn’t have been the first guy she slept with since then. She knew her stuff all too well. Damn, I wondered if anyone had the guts to go back for seconds.
She told me about the cell he made for her out of an old laundry room. It had a kids crib mattress in it and a single lightbulb and a dog bowl of water. A sudden shiver ran over me and I pulled the blankets up higher, but what I really wanted was to get dressed and get out of there. I figured that would be even more insulting than lying still and letting her leak tears all over my clean sheets. I could hear her nose running in each sniff and sob. Oh well, I should change them anyway after what we did.
I have some scars. But, like, fell off my bike scars. Ran into the goal post during a soccer game scars. These were . . . I don’t know what they were. 3-D, that’s for sure.
Funny thing was, the more I thought about them – I’d tuned out what she was saying by then – I had to touch them again.
She paused in her story somewhere around the hospital stay after she was rescued by the police. She tried to catch her breath and not hyperventilate. I reached out and touched her back. She jerked once like my hands were made of ice.
I let my hand hover close to her the way I would approach a wild animal. I let it settle again and brought my flat palm down between her shoulder blades, feeling the indent of each rib and bulge of each scar as I moved down to just above her (very nice) ass.
Her crying slowed. I turned my palm and let the back of my hand glide over her flesh before pivoting and moving back down again, trying to count the raised bubbles of skin.
I slid closer to her, let my naked chest cover her back, feeling each scar’s length on my skin.
“I really don’t mind the scars either,” I said.
I reached a hand over to the nightstand and clicked on the light. They were glorious. I stared, so focused on the scars I didn’t realize she had pushed her hips back into me. We made love again. I told her to start the story over from the top. 
Louder this time.


David Barber said...

Great job, Eric. Well done!

Alan Griffiths said...

Great writing, Eric and a super story.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Eric-so many good and real lines in this. Just perfect.

YA Sleuth said...

Impressive writing, nicely done.

Jerry House said...

Powerful. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this was good! Loved the ending :)

Glenn Gray said...

Enjoyed that. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Your flash pieces are always like car wrecks, man. I wanted to look away and stop reading, but I couldn't. Freaking chilling.

Cormac Brown said...

An excellent tale, and an even better extraction from the corner of a painted room.

Eric Beetner said...

Thanks all. Some great stories out there today. I love these challenges to see how people interpret a single idea in a million different ways.

M. C. Funk said...

Raw and lovely and deep, the way only the faintly perverse can manage.

R L Kelstrom said...

Strong visceral stuff. Not a wasted word.

Paul D Brazill said...

Splendid. Harsh. Full of great lines.

Kieran Shea said...

distilled and yet full-bodied.

Jack Bates said...

Sweet and twsited. Loved this line: 'like I was trying to sneak-read some braille.'

Congrats on the Derringer nomination.