Alone at last

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What the heck was that about? What happened to "I'm not leaving until I know you're safe."? One minute he's acting all determined and concerned, the next he's out the door and gone.

I locked the apartment door and fumed my way through a shower. Boys. Incomprehensible.

Irritation helped soften the sting of the hot water on all the small and not-so-small abrasions left over from earlier. The attack was already starting to feel distant and far away, like something that had happened in a half-forgotten dream. But the evidence that something had happened was clear in the water running murky, then bright, then nearly clear as I rinsed away the mud. I flicked at the embedded bits of gravel, starting fresh blood flowing as I did my best to reach and clear the worst of the cuts and scrapes. Nothing too deep, thankfully; my modest store of bandaids and polysporin ought to be able to keep up. 

Somewhere between clean and close enough, as the water temperature started shifting, I stepped out of the shower and moved on to trying to pat away enough moisture without further abrading the wounds. By the time I'd disinfected, smeared antibiotic cream over and covered the worst of it, the steam had cleared to chilly condensation, and I only stopped shivering long enough for enormous yawns to crack my jaw. I hobbled past the ruined mess of my clothes and headed for my bed. Which was also still a mess. Resentment boiled up, undoing the soporific good work of the last hour's tedious focus. Stupid day. Stupid work. Stupid nightmare. Stupid boy. Stupid bed. Stupid blood and mud all over everything. Stupid promises that mean nothing. Stupid boy.


I crawled to the couch, yanked the throw off the back of it and reached for sleep with everything I had.


The noise hauled me back to consciousness slowly, resonating like the earth-piercing thud of gigantic spider steps. I dumped myself off the couch before opening my eyes, scrabbling to get away, my voice caught high in the back of my throat and my lips clamped to keep them out.

The nightmare was calling my name this time, in between the sharp impact of its footsteps. The beats sped up as it approached, my heartbeat racing ahead. Then a sharp crack and intense pain in my head. I curled up around the pain and held my breath, waiting for the end.

The final blow never came. When I pried my gritty eyes open, I was huddled half-below the coffee table in my shadowy apartment. Someone was banging on the door and calling my name. Henry?

"Go away," It came out in a gasp, hoarse and far too low for him to hear. I took a couple breaths and coughed before trying again. The hammering stopped immediately.

"April? Are you ok? Can you open the door?"

Right, like that was going to happen.

"Go away," I said again, shifting my weight gingerly as the accumulated pain of bruises and scrapes clamoured for my attention.

"April, listen-"

"I'm busy."

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