"What happened?" Jack had set Anah up on the couch with sheets, pillows, blankets, a glass of water, a burnt grilled cheese since Anah refused to eat anything her mother had touched, and a bag of ice wrapped in a hand towel. Jack had only assumed there was a bruise on her face since Anah refused to move her hand, or tell him what had happened.
She took a bite of the grilled cheese that Jack had scraped at with a knife to get some of the blacked bread off. The final result wasn't terrible.
Jack sighed. "Fine, you don't have to tell me, but at least let me see it. I can't help you if you won't let me."
Anah shook her head. She didn't want more pity from him, and she didn't want him contacting authorities. "Thank you for letting me stay here."
"You're always welcome here. Use that ice." He moved into the kitchen where he continued sorting through a box of old papers.
"You locked all the doors?" Anah asked him, finishing the last of her sandwich.
"Yes." He looked back at her. "Do you want me to turn off this light? I can move upstairs."
"No, I'm alright." She clicked off the lamp, surprised at how dark it was even with the kitchen light on. In the dark, she had no fear of Jack seeing the dark bruise that was surely forming on her face. She moved her hand aside to place the ice against her cheek. It hurt to touch the bruise with the rough towel, but the ice was cool against the burning.
She curled up under the blankets, listening to Jack shuffle papers around, reliving what had happened with that woman over and over again. Her face throbbed painfully, not allowing her to get comfortable enough to fall asleep.
Anah watched Jack working. His hair, for once, was a little messy without him obsessively combing it. She liked it better messy. He'd given her some pajamas to wear so they were almost matching in a soft t-shirt and plaid pants. Clean clothes felt great, but she still craved a hot shower. Jack's head was bent low, studying each individual paper that he pulled from the box, organizing them into different piles. Every once in a while he'd look towards her even though he couldn't see her.
Maybe the protection of the darkness gave her courage, or she was just feeling grateful for what he'd done for her. She took a deep breath. "She was screaming at me, and calling me names because I was late." Anah told him. Jack stopped moving at the table to listen to her. "She didn't give me a chance to explain. I was angry at her, and I showed her the picture and yelled at her. She hit me. Harder than she ever has before. I snuck out after that. I doubt they'll notice."
"So she has hit you before?"
"I don't want to go into the foster system, Jack. She doesn't do it often."
"I'm not going to tell anyone." He assured her. There was a pause where they both thought about what had been said. "Can I see?" He asked.
Anah slid out from under the blankets and moved to the lit kitchen. She sat down next to him before she moved the ice pack from her face. Not having seen the damage herself, she wasn't sure what to expect from Jack's reaction. He winced. "Ouch." He tilted her chin up so he could see better in the light. "God, Anah."
"It looks that bad?"
He tried to touch the bruise as carefully as he could, but it still made her hiss in pain. "Sorry." She was just becoming aware of how close their faces were together when Jack stood up. Anah told her heart to hush. He was just her friend.
Jack rejoined her with some first aid supplies and a mirror. "Here" He put the mirror in her hand finger's brushing hers with a painful jolt. Anah jerked her hand back and would've dropped the mirror if he hadn't still been holding it.
YOU ARE READING
Dream and NightmareFantasy
After a storm years ago took the lives of two families near Anah’s family beach house, her fear of the ocean has only grown stronger. When her new neighbor, Jack, introduces her to a world she never knew existed filled with the magic and adventure A...