It was the morning after. She had locked herself in the hotel bathroom belonging to a man she didn’t know. Her heart thudded too fast in her chest; no relief from the adrenalin surging through her.
She gripped the white porcelain sink and looked up into the brightly lit mirror. The face looking back was unrecognizable. She turned away. The black eye would be a reminder of last night for weeks to come. Blood diffused in her eye ringed with swelling and discoloration ranging from green to red to purple to black. An impression from his ring was at the epicenter.
She turned on the faucet; splashing her face to scrub away the blood, hers and his. Water stung the cut in her mouth and a faint taste of coppery blood remained.
Another glance in the mirror. Who the hell are you? The shower behind her caught her eye. She turned and flipped it on. How much can you wash away? Not enough. What the hell happened? When? She wondered, when exactly are you referring to? What time frame?
Are you safe now? She looked at the locked door of the bathroom. He was asleep on the other side. He wasn’t going to hurt her. He had stopped Simon and… And what? What had he done?
She stepped in the shower and cradled her face in her hands. The light spray cascaded around her. Don’t think about it.
When did you lose yourself?
A long time ago now. I can’t even remember when it happened or how it happened.
You had a scholarship to the University of Virginia. You were studying computer sciences and…
And, so what? Shit happens.
Shit like Simon. Simon who rearranged your face on countless occasions. Do you remember the first time?
Of course. No one forgets their first time. I had made dinner in his apartment. A surprise. He came home from work in a bad mood. He wasn’t happy I’d let myself in. He wasn’t happy I’d cooked. He wasn’t hungry. He flipped a plateful of food against the wall, turned all in one motion, and backhanded me. I was stunned and I think part of him was too. He was so apologetic afterwards; took me out for dinner, bought a bottle of wine, put a flower in my hair. I remember the tears of remorse in his eyes.
So, last night?
I don’t want to think about it. She put her hands on the shower tiles to steady herself.
Last night when Simon was hurting you, again, after he’d done all this to you…
She turned her head to the bathroom door contemplating the person on the other side.
Why are you still here? Why don’t you run?
I don’t know how anymore.
So you’re just going to stay here and do whatever this guy tells you? I don’t know you anymore. What happened to the girl who had a smile on her face? Couldn’t wait to get out there in the world and make your mark?
He saved my life and said everything would be okay but we had to go because of the cops.
Because of the cops?
He hit Simon with a fireplace poker. Hard. The sound repeated in her head bringing bile in to her throat. She gagged and watched it wash down the drain.
And then you ran with this stranger who just brained your boyfriend? Ran away with another man of violence?
He saved my life. He said he was working for someone who had a business offer for me. They knew I was a hacker, a good one. But this problem of Simon needed to be dealt with. Tears mixed with the shower water and disappeared down the drain.
Ah, that sounds plausible. And where is the murder weapon?
She put a hand to her throat. The choke marks on her neck hurt when she cried. Murder weap..?
Yeah, that poker that split Simon’s skull open killed him.
The guy handed it to me. I dropped it on the fireplace. Her stomach rolled again.
He was wearing gloves so only your prints are on the murder weapon.
I’ve been set up. She quickly shut the water off and stepped out of the shower. She hurried in to her clothes and opened the door a crack then further to slip out silently.
That’s it. Let’s get out of here. You need to run and keep running then maybe you’ll find yourself. That girl you were before Simon.
The man on the bed stirred and she dropped in to the chair, defeated.
What are you doing? Get to the door before he wakes up. Go, run. This will end up being a redux if you stay.
I can’t. Not today. Not yet. She looked up and caught her reflection in the mirror on the dressing table. Not like this. That much I know.
Thanks for reading. This is part of a WIP I’m working on at the moment.