Chapter 20 - Confusing Realities

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The week had been too good to be true.

I know, it seems a little strange coming from the girl who earnt the new nickname 'trouble', but looking back, only positive things came from my mistakes. The little trip after school with Jess, which landed me an extra twenty-four hours phone confiscation, completely transformed my relationship with Blake, at least in my opinion. It opened up a chasm of new emotions; euphoric grief for the lost moments and milestones growing up but a carefully kindled hope that not all was lost.

I had also received a surprisingly understanding and tolerant reactions from my brothers after the slap and found comfort in the most unexpected of places, a wave of Deja Vu at the stroke of a hand from Xander.

So what happened that evening was shocking, terrifying, unexpected. Never once had I sleepwalked through a flashback.

I honestly, and perhaps a little naively, thought I had recovered from my nightmares after a flashback-free week. I thought I was one of the lucky ones, but nobody who suffers from PTSD is lucky. An invisible enemy that attacks when you're least expecting, firing shots and bullets that graze the heart and reignite the pain bottled away for another day.

The worst part is that when I wake I am barely conscious. Still believing I am in Dominic's grasp with his filthy hands like claws of death clutching around my neck while I gasp for a breath of release. A breath of escape. Unable to separate past from present, I suffocate in a state of half-consciousness that grips my heart like an iron fist.

I woke. My breaths hard and fast. My heart trapped in a cage, like a rowdy tiger in a zoo, hammering hard in sporadic bursts against my chest. A bead of sweat travelled down my forehead. My dry throat begged for water. The crisp sheets vibrated against my trembling, clammy palms. My eyes darted desperately around the room longing for safety but it wasn't there. In my semi-conscious state, I couldn't find safety, anywhere.

My gaze attached to the first material object like a leech. It was a technique Luke taught me. Grounding, he said. If only I realised that my gaze would cling to the very person that caused me the need to ground myself in the first place.

Dominic.

I froze in paralysis as I looked into his stormy orbs. The paternal smile he wore while handing me sweet candyfloss twisted before my eyes into a sickening smirk. He might as well have handed me rat poison. A promise of the torture in years to come. My arm moved on its own accord, smashing Dominic's heart, sending the photo frame flying across the room into my wardrobe. An instinctive yelp escaped my lips as a glass shard lodged deep into my palm, piercing my pale skin with crimson droplets.

I felt no pain. I felt nothing.

Dominic found ways to torture me from beyond the grave.

Dazed, I pushed myself out of bed without a thought. On shaky feet, I stumbled downstairs to obey my body's only demand for water. I tripped on the final step but in my semi-conscious disposition, my brain only had the capacity for one thought. Water. It felt like a thick white cloud of fog enveloping my mind, a barrier for any rationality to rid me of this dream-like state. Was I even awake?

Heightened voices sounded in the distance and like a hypnotised child to the pied piper's tune, I followed obediently. I flinched at the identifiable sound of an argument and aimlessly walked past the source of it.

"Maddie?"

"What the fuck are you doing out of bed?"

I paid no mind to the two similar muffled voices as I found myself wandering further into a different room down a corridor. It felt like a distant tune but far from the melodic notes of a piper's song.

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