She stood on the corner of the road, her hair a mess, mascara smudged her face, her lip stick was no more; she was scared, she was alone, and she didn’t know where she was.
She moved towards the road where only a single car had past her and she crossed it swiftly, the rain had begun to fall at her feet, splashing her bare bruised skin.
The air was warm, yet she shivered and shook whilst she ducked into a bus stop, hoping the transparent cover would hide her from this cruel, unkind world.
She dove into her bag, praying she had enough money to escape this place; a place which had caused her so much pain, what made her feel so ashamed.
She felt weak, and used, and she just wanted to go home.
She couldn’t find her purse, she must have left it there. She swore, hating the fact that now, she would have to cancel all her cards; but she didn’t have a choice, she would never enter that place again.
Fortunately, she still had her phone, and she was thankful it had enough battery, without thinking she went to call someone, anyone; but stopped.
Who would she call?
Where even was she?
She had no money!
What was she going to do?
She looked towards the road praying to see a sign, and when she did, she felt sick; She was so close to home, less than a five-minute walk, she swallowed rapidly trying to stop her mouth from watering.
She leant down and pulled at her trainers, making sure they were now on her feet correctly, before, she had to slip them on quickly, like they were a pair of old slippers, bending the heels at the back.
She squared her shoulders and ran her hands through her hair, trying to tame it, before she began the walk home.
The walk of shame….and regret, and mistakes, and pulling, and pushing…and pain.
She walked fast, making her feet move harsher than ever before, she was almost running, but not quite. The back of her legs and ankles started to hurt more than they already did.
When she finally saw her home, she felt a sense of relief.
She ran up to her front door and thanked the world that her keys were still in her bag. With shaken hands she unlocked the door, slamming it shut behind her and locking it immediately; she leant back against it and breathed in.
She was home.
She was safe.
She moved further into the house and put the heating on, hoping it would warm her bones, as she did so, she caught herself in the mirror and in that moment, everything came flooding back.
She moved to the bathroom quickly, finally throwing up the memories, as tears ran down her cheeks before she could stop them.
She sat on the bathroom floor for a moment, looking for a sense of composure, but she couldn’t find it.
She reached for the bath and turned the taps on, whilst she sat feeling numb.
She couldn’t bear to remove her clothes; she couldn’t feel exposed again.
She crawled into the tub before it had even filled up, wanting to wash away her fears sooner.
Her sobs echoed off the tiles as she scrubbed at her raw skin.
That night, she changed in the dark, scared to see herself again.
That night she wore her largest top, her longest trousers, her biggest hoodie, and for the first time in her life, she wore socks to bed.
That night she cried herself to sleep.
Where did you go last night?
What happened to you?
I saw you go home with him?
Oh, what was it like?
You needed to let loose! Good for you!
You needed a bit of fun!
Oh, look at you, you dirty stop out!
Are you seeing him again?
Did you know? He asked about you!
She nodded at her friends’ comments, she laughed at their jokes, she kept a smile on her face, she even lied, pretending it was what she wanted.
He had told her so…so she must have…right?
She had gone home with him, so you wanted it…right?
She did need to let her hair down…right?
She enjoyed it…didn’t she?
She was dirty…wasn’t she?
It had been over a month now and the pain in her body had stopped, but her heart and her mind were broken. Even though some of her laughs had become a little less fake, she didn’t know who to trust anymore,
She wasn’t the same anymore,
She wasn’t into the same things anymore,
She didn’t go out anymore,
She didn’t hang with half her friends anymore,
She was changed, whilst others only blamed her for her absence.
She moved to a new house, she needed to get away, so she found a place to feel safe, she achieved some roommates she could trust, she surrounded herself with the few and only remaining friends she had.
You don’t seem like yourself lately, a friend asked one day, you seem lost, she said.
They were watching a movie; a movie about love, love which she no longer believed existed.
She smiled, a fake smile she rarely gave this friend, and she pretended that she was okay, that she was just tired; this itself wasn’t a lie, she had barely slept most nights since anyway.
She shrugged her shoulders, indicating that the movie was still on.
Her friend granted her peace and they continued to watch the movie about lies.
She hated herself for not speaking the truth, but then again, she always hated herself.
The next day they sat on that same sofa and her friend asked her again, but she was still too scared to speak…so she didn’t.
The next day, she could see her friend wanting to ask yet again, but she never pushed, so this time she had the nerve to speak a simple word; Soon…
The next day, she doesn’t ask, but holds your hand, and you cry.
The next day she doesn’t ask, but she holds your hand again, and you cry.
The next day she brings a large blanket, and you both hide inside it, as you cry.
The next day, you don’t cry, but you still hold each other.
The next day, you finally speak, and she listens; she nods, and then she tells you that you are not broken, but you’re still not ready to believe her.
The next day, you realise you feel a little freer, and your friend reminds you again, that you’re not broken, but you are still not ready to believe her.
The next day you notice that you can breathe a little more, that you didn’t even realise that you were holding anything inside your lungs,
The next day you realise you’re not as scared as you were, because she is there with you, she tells you again that you are not broken, and you start to believe her, just a little bit.
The next day you feel less alone.
The next day, you realise you never were.
The next day you have the courage to ask her how she knew, but she just smiles; that same fake smile you have given to many before.
The next day, you want to ask, but like she did for you, you grant her peace.
The next day, she tells you her story and you listen.
The next day, you cry together again.
The next day, you both find the strength they took away from you, and you finally see the truth.
The next day you are no longer surrounded by one, or two, but you are surrounded by thousands.
Today, you realise it was time for change.