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Breakdown Recovery

This is a fairly old story that I wrote at a low point in my life, and I've recently dug it out of the drawer. It has quite a dark theme, and some people have told me it's a little disturbing. Despite the depths my unnamed character has fallen to, though, there's still hope at the end.

*** Warnings for abuse, violence, rape and other unpleasantness ***

He yells insults at me. It is a game he likes to play. He likes to degrade his women, it makes him feel good. "Stupid, pathetic, worthless..."


"... little shit!" my mother shrieks. "I should have aborted you, you useless cunt!" She slaps me, knocks me to the floor. I try not to cry as I get back up. I know if I stay on the floor she will drag me up by the hair.

She screams more curses at me. Throws her ashtray at my face. I turn my head to save my nose, but it hits me anyway. My jaw snaps out of place. Some of my teeth are so damaged they have to be removed two weeks later. I tell the dentist I fell in the playground.


All this because I dared ask her to turn her music down at 3am.


I am back with him. I know I have tuned out again. He is angry. He hits me, again, again, again. I hardly feel it. I do nothing, say nothing. I cannot react, though I know he wants me to. He growls in fury. Rips off my shirt and pants. Bends me over the table. Now he rapes me, harshly, roughly. I hardly feel this either.

He finishes, hits me once more. I do not move. He leaves, I sleep.


Some time later, I wake. I am cold, damp, sore. I am still resting on the table where he left me. Slowly I stand. Some distant part of me registers the beginning of new bruises on my thighs. I do not care.


I wrap myself in a blanket, wander the house for a while. He has gone out. I do not know where. I eat, drink, wash. I cannot find clothes that are clean. I stay in the blanket. It is warm and soft. I sleep again.


She visits my dreams. She sneers, taunts. She knows I am too pathetic to defend myself. She knows I cannot speak up, tell him this is not what I want. She tells me that I deserve this. She tells me I should be punished. Everything is my fault. I always get things wrong. She tells me I should not have lived. She tells me it would be better if I died.


I wake. I am still alone. It is dark, silent. I visit the bathroom. I stare at my reflection. The girl in the mirror stares back blankly. She is like a mannequin. Her eyes are dead. Her face is wooden. How did she become this? I do not know. Can she become something else? I do not think so.

He has an old straight razor in the cabinet. I take it out. I want to see if the girl in the mirror will react. I place the edge on my cheek, gently pull it down. A thin line of red appears on her cheek. The blood trickles down, drips from her jaw. She does not blink. I wipe the razor blade, return it to its place.

A bottle of pain killers sits beside the razor. It has called to me before. It sings its siren song. I listen. It says it means no more confusion. I will not be a burden on others. I will not have to try anymore. I will not have to fail anymore.

I take the bottle. I write a note for him. I cannot be what he wants. I cannot give him what he needs. I do not blame him. This is my fault. It has always been my fault.

I fold the note. I swallow the pills. I sleep.


I wake. This is wrong. There are voices, machines, bright lights. This was not meant to happen. There is pain. My stomach has been ripped apart. I cannot help it. I whimper, cry. A soft, warm hand runs over my hair. I do not know who this person is. I am too weak to hide my tears.

Time passes in a blur. I do not remember much. I know he came, weeping and pleading. He apologised repeatedly. He promised things would be better when I came home.


I remember nurses, doctors. They said they had pumped the drugs from my stomach. They were concerned about my mind. I have to see a psychiatrist before I can leave.


I do not speak. I do not respond.


I have recovered, physically. I am moved to another ward. Once a week I am taken to a room. A woman speaks to me, asks me questions. Sometimes I answer. Sometimes I do not. She writes things in her notebook. I do not care.

One day I am taken to the woman. She does not ask questions. We sit in silence for minutes. I do not mind. She opens the file on her desk, removes a picture. She shows it to me.

I know the girl in the photo. She is me, younger, carefree, smiling. She is holding a black and white kitten. The kitten looks happy. Her name is Sally. She is purring loudly in my ear. I remember this moment.

"She's a lovely cat," says the woman. "Beautiful markings."

I say nothing. I focus on Sally. I remember how her whiskers tickled when she nuzzled me like that.

"You look happy together. You must have loved her."

I shrug. "She's dead now. It was my fault." I refuse to cry.

"Why do you say that?"

"It just is." I am still looking at Sally. I had forgotten how green her eyes were.

"Was there an accident?"


I shake my head slightly. A drop of water appears on the photo. "She was ill. Her kidneys. The vet couldn't help." I wipe the drop away.

The woman sounds puzzled. "Why do you think that was your fault?"


I do not know how to answer. I stay silent.

"You couldn't have done anything. You're not to blame," she tells me softly. "I can see you loved her. You wouldn't have done anything to hurt her. It wasn't your fault."

"Then whose fault was it?" I cannot restrain myself much longer. She has found a way in. I do not know how to shut her out again. I look up, expecting her to smirk, gloat, laugh at my tears.

She looks sad. "Sometimes things like that just happen. People, or cats, get sick and there's nothing we can do. It's very sad, but it's nobody's fault."

Nobody's fault. I do not understand this idea. I am always to blame, somehow. Nobody has ever told me otherwise. I sit in confusion. She does not speak again. Neither do I. I just look at Sally. I remember I loved her.


Time has passed again. He is allowed to visit. He tells me the police have spoken to him. They asked about my bruises. He said that we enjoyed rough play. He told them he did not know anything about my mental issues. They did not have enough to charge him with abuse.

He said he could not go on waiting. I will always have a place in his heart. He has found another. I think he expects a reaction. Jealousy, sadness, anger. I look at him. I say nothing. He leaves. He does not look back.


I think about Sally. It is not my fault.


I am back with the woman. She has given me a toy cat. It is black and white with long whiskers. I have named it Susie, but I have not told her yet. I hold it every night when I sleep. She says the nurse told her I smile in my sleep.

She still asks questions. She has learnt I will not talk about my mother. I answer everything else now. She asks about my school, my friends. I tell her what she wants to know. She writes in her notebook.

We talk about cats. I like these visits. I tell her all about Sally. She tells me about her cats, Patch and Shadow. They stole next door's dinner once. Brought the whole chicken in through the back door. I laughed. She smiled.

She asks about him. Am I sad that he left? I say no. I did not love him. She asks if I hate him. I say no. I barely think of him. She asks if I could hate someone, if they had done me harm. I do not answer. She writes in her notebook.


She apologises today. She says we have to talk about my mother. She knows I do not want to, but she wants to help. Sometimes the only way to stop it hurting is to let the words out.

I do not speak. I nod. I know she will not hurt me. I think I can trust her. I hug Susie tightly. I imagine I hear her mew in protest, and relax a little.

"Tell me about her."

Very open. I talk. I describe my mother. I say things I have never said before. I bring back things I buried inside me long ago. I do not know how much she understands. I cry. I scream. I curl into myself and weep. I punch cushions. I throw them. I release everything I have locked away.

She watches, concern in her eyes. "You've been holding onto that for years." It is a statement, not a question. I nod. I cannot speak. My voice has broken. "How do you feel?"

I am exhausted. I manage a smile. "Better." I pick up Susie. I was careful to put her on the chair before I threw things. I did not hurt my cat.



I look out at the sunshine. There are people in a garden below. The flowers are pretty. I have not been outside for a long time. I ask a nurse if I can go to the garden. He is surprised. It is the first time I have spoken outside the woman's room.

Someone takes me down to the garden. I sit on a bench. There are daisies. I make a chain of them and weave it into my hair. I have not done this since I was small.

Someone comes. She sits by me. She does not look at me, but at the daisies in my hair. She looks happy. I smile. She smiles back. We are happy.


The woman is pleased. She heard about my visit to the garden. She is glad I am happier now. She asks if I would like to go there more often. I say yes.


I ask if she has a spare notebook. I tell her I like to make up stories sometimes. I would like to write some down in the garden.

She gives me a notebook, one like hers. There is a stubby pencil on a long string hanging from it. She says she would like to read some of my stories some time. I say I will write one specially for her.


I spend every afternoon in the garden. I write in the notebook. I write until it is full. There are stories about all sorts of things. Some are true. Some are made up. Some are a little of both.

There is one about Sally that I share with the woman. She likes it. She says it is very funny and sweet. I like hearing that. I am glad I made something that someone likes.


She hands me a box. It is a present. I open it carefully. There is a pretty book and pen inside. Both have flowers on them. The book is thick, the pages inside are pale pink and lined. She says it is for me to write in.


I do not know how to respond. I am smiling and crying at the same time. She seems to understand.


I am not well enough to leave yet, but they say I am almost there. I do not know where I will go. The woman says she will get me a place at a halfway house, with other girls like me. I trust her to find a nice place.


She says they will let me have a cat if I want. I would like a cat again some time. I think I should concentrate on looking after me for a while first though. She says this is a good idea. I have Susie in the mean time.

I have written more stories in my flower book. She has read some and says I am very good. Maybe I can show other people my stories some day. Maybe I will be okay.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to leave a review to let me know what you thought, the story is available on my Scriggler profile.

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