Flashes of Hell
Alyssa locked the bathroom door behind her with haste. She drew in a ragged breath staring at the foreigner looking back at her in the mirror. Who was that person? The one with the blackened cheek, marred forehead, redden wrist, empty eyes, and plateau mouth. She grasped the alabaster granite countertop. Pain tingled from her wounded hand. The pain meds were wearing off. Maybe that was a good thing. Feeling the pain. Knowing she was still alive. She clenched her eyes closed exhaling the breath through puckered lips.
The opioid cloud that shrouded her mind faded away like fog in the summertime. Alyssa’s consciousness went from fifty-two percent to ninety-five. Last night’s images flitted through her mind like an old family home movie displayed on the projector. A tornado of emotions swelled in the pit of her belly, churning and twisting her intestines. She wanted to open her eyes, rip apart the seams that sewn them shut. Run away from the horror that hijacked her hippocampus. But she couldn’t. She watched the reel, remembering what happened. She let her mind go over the things she couldn’t tell Sylvan, Harmony, Safiya, or Lela. The things she couldn’t tell her parents. Instead, she told the people that bore her that she was mugged leaving work that night. She couldn’t tell them the truth, couldn’t live through the horror of seeing the anguish on their faces and vulnerability tainted in their voices. That no matter how close they kept her as a child, they didn’t keep her safe from all evil.
Light taps struck the bathroom door. “Lyssa, are you alright?” Lela asked pressing her ear gently against the door only to hear faint breathing.
Alyssa didn’t hear the knocks, trapped in the prison of her mind, watching the movie it played.
Lost. That’s what he said he was. Standing in the doorway of her lab dragging his heavy hand through his ruffled chestnut hair. She knew he was a liar as he chipped away at the distance between them like a shovel scooping up snow in a driveway. She knew he knew that hospital like the back of his veiny hand. She knew he knew it because she knew him. She didn’t tell Sylvan that. She didn’t even tell Detective Jensen that, even though he vowed to bring her justice. She felt a little guilty for withholding his name, her rapist’s name, but she couldn’t.
Alyssa couldn’t tell anyone who he was, not after he blasted his fist into her cheek. Or twisted his hand around her hair as he fingers found their way into her pants and passed her periwinkle lace panties. She couldn’t let his name fly out her mouth like he pulled down the fly of both their pants. She couldn’t let his name rip from her voice box like he ripped off her white tee and undid her Victoria Secret’s underwire bra. His name wanted to be torn out of her mouth like he tore off her panties. But Alyssa couldn’t let his name slip through her lips like he slipped between her legs. The liquid sorrow rushed down her face like it did when he plowed into her; her naked back on the cold tile floor, her eyes trained on the sterile ceiling above.
Why couldn’t she tell his name? Because he told her she couldn’t. After he moaned out his pleasure in her ear, kissed her bruised cheek, he whispered it to her. Tell no one and you know why? Those were the seven words he emphasized to Alyssa before pulling his sticky, stalwart body off her. Leaving her naked, cold, and limp on the floor he took his condom with him closing all avenues of his of his misdeeds; holding firm to his All-American, Good Ole Boy, Southern Gentleman charm.
Truth is he didn’t have to tell her. Alyssa already knew she couldn’t tell a soul. Even though she fought him with all her might, she knew she held no power. Her future lay in his father’s hands: the Dean of Students. Albeit he plummeted into her core and shattered her being she could not return the act. She could not evoke justice. He won. She lost…. too much to count.
Lela rattled the doorknob, “You okay?
Alyssa swiped the towel down her face removed the trail of tears marked all over her face. She gulped in two quick breaths and plastered on a painted smile then opened the door. Lela, who was leaning on the door stumbled toward Alyssa jutting her arms out to the doorframe to regain her balance, while Safiya stood behind Lela embracing her stomach with a firm hand.
“I’m fine.” Alyssa shuffled pass Lela out of the bathroom.
“I’m not!” Safiya pushed her way passed them into the bathroom. “That eggroll’s not sitting.” She slammed the door behind her.
Alyssa’s smile came to life staring at the bathroom door, “She’s really pregnant.”
“Um.” Lela grimaced looking at Alyssa’s cheek but quickly contoured her face as Alyssa shifted her eyes onto her. “Are you really okay?”
Alyssa nodded flickered her eyes between Lela and the wall behind her.
Lela gripped Alyssa’s shoulders, holding her focus, “I love you Alyssa. You’re my first roommate…my first friend on campus…. I love you like a sister.” Her eyes started to swell and Alyssa let her tears fall. “Everyone thinks you’re a bitch…. sometimes I do too…. but I know you. You’re fragile…underneath it all.” Lela rubbed the tears away from Alyssa discolored cheek. “You can tell me anything…you can tell me everything. I’ll listen. I’m here for you.”
Alyssa smoothed away the tears that Lela didn’t even know were rolling from her eyes. “ I—” Alyssa shook her head. “I can’t.” She nodded with a solemn smile. “Safiya’s pregnant. Let’s focus on the good and not the bad.” Alyssa tore away from Lela and slipped into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She sunk to her feet like a wilted tulip. She dug her hand in her pocket retrieving the citron plastic bottle. Alyssa opened the childproof top with ease, slipping the blue oval pill in her hand and tossing it back in her mouth. “Alyssa zero. Xanax one.”