The prologue is a little heavy, I won't lie. But this story isn't, please just give it a chance :D I'll post the first chapter tomorrow, maybe. Anyway. Enjoy :)
Picture on the side is Naomi :)
When I was seven, my mother told me she had cancer.
When I was ten, she told me it was starting to get worse.
The next year, she was admitted to the hospital and I went to visit her everyday. It hurt me to see her like that, frail and weak, but I had to see her.
She was so beautiful.
I remember the first time it started happening. I was sitting by her bed on my usual chair, watching her sleep. She looked like an angel – a tired one, at that. Her red hair was splayed on the pillows, like a fiery halo, protecting her. It was so long and soft and pretty. I’d always loved it – right from when I was a baby. She always said that my hair was just like hers, but mine just seemed to pale in comparison.
I pulled my chair closer to the bed and pushed the hair off her cold forehead, running my fingers gently through the strands. When I pulled my hand away, I sucked in a sharp breath. My small palm was covered in my mother’s hair, broken from her scalp. Suddenly I noticed it. There were strands of red everywhere – on the floor, on her sheets, strewn everywhere. When my mother woke up, I noticed that her pillows were covered in them too.
A week later, it was all gone. I cried when I saw my mother like that – without her shiny red hair framing her face heavily, moving in friendly waves when she laughed or cried. She looked exposed, vulnerable, and I hated it. She held me closely to her and stroked my own red hair as I sobbed. She kissed my forehead and made me promise her that I would take care of it just like how she took care of hers. For the last few weeks of her life, I sat up with her at night, while she told me secrets and stories, running a brush softly through my waist length locks. My father sat with us, his arms wrapped around my mother as he stared at me, his eyes gleaming with unshed tears.
One night, the brush stopped as the story drew to a close. My mother whispered her goodbyes to us. My father gave her the last kiss he would ever give to anyone. She lay back on her bed and closed her eyes for the last time, our grip tight on her hands. We didn’t let go for a long time.
I was twelve then.
Five years passed. Life without Mom was hard, but I loved Dad so much and we were doing fine. It was a bit sad sometimes, but what made me happy was that I was keeping my promise to her. People would ever so often stop and gawk at my hair, and ask to touch it. They would ooh at its softness and aah at its vivid colour and I would feel proud that I didn’t let my beautiful mother down. My hair was the only link I had to her.
All that changed on my seventeenth birthday. That’s when Benjamin Wood happened to me.
He told me once, on one of the many nights I spent sobbing in one corner of his foul house, trying to rid myself of the pain, that the only reason he chose me that night, the only reason he singled me out for this torture, was because of my hair.
I remembered it all so clearly. I’d left it loose that night, letting it fall proudly into its perfect waves. He said he’d watched as I’d danced with my friends. Said I stood out, the lone flame in a sea of blondes and brunettes. I remember everything about that night – the exhilarating rush of the music – the laughter of my friends – the sickening crunch of fist on flesh – the acrid smell of chloroform…
And later, there was the pain. The pain that was inflicted on me by Benjamin Wood’s sick hands. I knew later, when it was all over, that my life would never be the same again. I knew when I was rescued but I couldn’t tell the difference. I knew when even walking was painful. I knew when I screamed if anyone got too close, even my father. I knew when I felt like I belonged in a padded cell – or wherever my mother was, because I needed her to tell me it was going to be okay. I knew when I was scared to be alone in a dark room. I knew when I threw up at the sight of my own bed – or any bed, for that matter.