Chapter 23: Kat- Part 1

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I remember back in fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Lemon assigned us a five paragraph essay on the topic of careers. She told us to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up and why.

I remember my hand scribbling down the words with a zealous energy pumping through to my fingertips. The excitement I felt over my bright future was difficult to contain.

I remember standing up in front of the classroom, in front of all of my classmates, and stating with pride that I would be a zoologist when I grew up and that I would live in a mansion filled on every floor with the animals I had helped and studied.

I remember the chorus of giggles and Mrs. Lemon laughing off my dreams, calling them absurd and fantastical and I remember agreeing with her because I didn't realize what she meant when she used the word 'Fantastical'. My dreams were fantastic.

I remember going back to my seat and smiling, unaffected by my classmates laughter or Mrs. Lemons scrutiny of my dream. They were my dreams and I had been told every year of my life that if I wanted something enough, I could have it. All it would take is hard work and a little bit of luck.

What I didn't remember was writing in a surprise twist ending to my essay. One that banished my dreams from existence, tarnished my picture perfect family, and landed me in a nightmare handpicked just for me and made up of my deepest fears.

This was not the ending I wrote. This was not the ending I dreamt of as a small child.

This was the ending I earned as a full-grown adult.

This was my finale, absurd and fantastical, without the slightest possibility of mistaking it for anything remotely close to fantastic.

"Turn around."

My body moved where it was told in mindless agreement; mindless in quite the literal sense as my mind had drifted off into another plane, another world, another galaxy- and smartly so- leaving my body in a puppet-like orbit.

My feet stood their ground where they were placed. My arms rose when lifted by the puppeteer. I danced as their obedient doll, lost in the beat of the music the poison in my veins provided, swelling inside of me as my legs spun me from partner to partner, weightless in each of their holds.

There was a grab here, a grope there, the brisk sting of a smack felt before impact.

Their hands rolled down my body like teardrops drenched in unimaginable anguish, running down my flesh faster than I had time to catch them. One after another leered without consent with eyes that were plucked from the devil himself, nightmarish and boiling in blood that trapped me beneath the surface. The longer their eyes drank me in, the further I sunk under until I was drowning in their bloody stares, my lungs searing and screaming out a deafening plea for release from the hold they had on me.

Sadistic melodies of laughter scrapped down the walls around me in clumps of barbaric voices and their noise was so loud. My ears cried with their sound, joyful in my misery, and I clawed at my own skin, desperate to rip my ears from my body if only to stop their mocking for a second.

Their laughter circled my head, dancing around and around my mindless body like thieves in the night, preparing to make their move in on the baron house lying in wait to be ransacked.

"Move her this way."

My feet pressed against the ground as I was walked away and away. Heel, toe. Heel, toe. Breathe in, breathe out. In, out. In, out until there's no air left to breathe.

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