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Ms. Bates writes immensely moving and compelling short stories and poetry. She is also a survivor of abuse.
by Marcia Bates
Something woke me! What did I hear?
I sat up in bed and quietly listened, holding my breath.
All I can hear is my heart, pounding in my ears.
The light,shining under the door is mingled with shadows, moving back and forth.
Oh God, someone is in my house! What should I do?
There’s no one here to help me.
The phone is in the kitchen.
Should I scream for help? He’ll hear me.
Maybe he doesn’t know I’m here. Maybe if I lie very still, he’ll go away. So, I lie very still, buried under the covers, breathing fast and shallow. I’m so terrified, I can’t swallow. If I open my mouth to take a deep breath I know my screams will betray me.
I lie, curled up on my side, for what seems like hours.
The pacing shadow never ceases.
The urgency in his stride only intensifies.
He’s trying to open the door now.
I hear the doorknob turning.
I sense his anger, as he presses against the door with all his weight. Such catastrophic rage, determined to break through my door.
I jump out of bed and slam my body against the door, against the rage. With every ounce of strength I possess, I fight to keep the door closed, to keep him out.
I whisper a plea, “Please, go away.”
I hear his breathing, fast and angry.I know it is useless to fight.
He is here.
The doorknob slowly turns.
The door quietly opens.
He walks in, strutting, proud of his victory. He knows he has all the power and I have all the fear.
I am consumed with a fear that leaves me weak.
I want to scream,
“NO! LEAVE THIS ROOM NOW”!!
I open my mouth to scream.
I hear a whimper, a cry, from deep inside me, like the final cry a baby makes, when it admits defeat, and lies quietly, waiting to see what life will offer next.
The light entering the door shines on my intruder, reflecting in his eyes. He stalks me around the room.
I feel the cool wall pressed against my back, as I slowly
slide across the room, begging for mercy as I move.
I see no mercy in his eyes, I see only power and determination and desire.
He desires to have me for breakfast.
My intruder is a LION!
Finally, he has me cornered. There’s no where to run.
I reach out my hand to him.
His coat is soft.
Maybe I can be friends with him.
I stroke his fur, hoping I can make him feel good, make him happy. Maybe if he is happy, he won’t eat me.
Maybe, he will turn and go away.
But, this lion doesn’t know how to be happy.
He knows only rage.
To know happy, he must feel power.
I cover my ears, to block out his breathing, his roars.
The roaring echoes in my head.
His hand paws at my body, his nails piercing my tender skin.
I’m bleeding, as he purrs with contentment.
He mauls me, as lions often do.
But, I don’t die.
He’s saving me for another day.
He slowly turns and prances away, proud of his conquest.
I know he’ll return, to repeat his torture.
I should feel anger!
I should feel pain!
I should scream to the world, “Kill this lion, he is mad!”
But, I say nothing. I feel gratitude. Gratitude for my life.
So, I get up, straighten the room, wash away the blood and hide the scars, with Band-Aids and silence.
I should tell everyone about the lion, but I can’t, because I’m
grateful — he let me live.
I close the door and walk away from the room and tell myself —
it was just a dream.
One day I tried to tell someone about the lion.
They turned away.
You see, only someone that has lived in a jungle, really understands about lions.
All rights reserved
by Marcia Bates
Once upon a time, a very little girl had a very big job. She had the job of taking care of a broken heart. It was a lonely job, because her heart would not trust anyone but her to care for it. Her heart had decided a long time ago that the world is just not a safe place. No one knew what was inside her heart but her. No one knew her heart was broken. She had promised her heart that no one would hurt it anymore. She covered the wounds in her heart with Band-Aids, ashamed someone would see the huge, gaping hole. The Band-Aids held her heart together. On the outside, her heart looked happy. No one would ever guess that under the Band-Aids, her heart was broken almost in two. One day, she heard of a place for broken hearts. This place offered special, magical gifts, guaranteed to heal broken hearts. She wished to see this place, to see the magic that could do what no one else could do. But, she was afraid. The journey would be long and difficult. Her heart was so sad, so weak, so broken, she was concerned about such a difficult journey. What if someone along the way caused more damage? To expose her broken heart to unknown magic could be the final injury. But, her heart compelled her to try. So, cautiously and against better judgment, the journey began.
The journey was indeed long and very difficult for her heart. One day, as she rested under a tree, concerned for her fading heart, a stranger approached. She immediately hid her heart away, to protect it from further pain and fear. But, this man knew all about broken hearts, and she couldn’t hide the pain from him. He offered to show her the way to the place for broken hearts. She was afraid to trust the man. Her heart was very fragile.
But deep inside, her heart knew the man was a friend. She also knew this was the last journey her heart could make.
The kind man walked slowly, always sensitive to the needs of the heart. The path they traveled together was almost more than her heart could bear. The man told her about the magical, wonderful gift her heart would receive at the end of their journey. She began to trust this gentle man. One day, she even took her broken heart out and showed it to him, and with him by her side, she found the courage to continue. Finally, the path lead them to a simple house with many rooms. The man lead her to a room and encouraged her to go inside. With the man at her side, she cautiously entered. She was instantly amazed! The room was full of broken hearts. One little broken heart sat in the corner, on the floor. This heart was so very broken, so very damaged. It made her cry. She had never seen such pain before in another heart. There were pieces of broken heart all over the floor. She had to do something. She had to help the little heart, to protect it from more damage. Where was the magic? Why were these hearts so broken? It made her angry. Where were the magic gifts she had heard about? Only another broken heart would understand what to do.
She gave her heart to the man and picked up the frightened little heart off the floor and held it to her chest. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to hold all of the shattered pieces and keep them safe. She began to rock the damaged little heart, singing a soothing lullaby. She stayed with the heart for a very long time, calming the pain that broken hearts feel.
Sometimes she did nothing but cry with the broken heart, always holding it to her chest, because she knew, crying together hurts less than crying alone.
Slowly, the broken heart she held to her chest began to heal, and as it healed, it grew stronger. The little girl didn’t understand how this could happen. There were no magic gifts in this room. She felt such joy for the beautiful heart. But, seeing this, reminded her of her own broken heart.
She turned to the man and gently clutched her heart to her chest. Something was different. She asked the man, “What did you do to my heart? It feels different!” She had never felt this in her heart before and the newness was a little frightening.
The man replied, “It’s your gift. It’s the gift of love. Only love can heal a broken heart. First, you had to love your heart enough to make the journey. Then, you had to trust enough to give your heart away. When you took the other broken heart to your chest, that is when you began to heal.”
That is the secret to healing broken hearts. The gift she had searched for was there all along. All she had to do, to receive her gift, was give it away.
all rights reserved
Susan Cavaciuti wrote the book “Someone Hurt Me” from her personal experience as a trauma survivor as well as from her professional experience as a consultant in Creative Arts for Health. She is a graduate of the Institute for Music and Life Enhancement, and College of Art and Design in Portsmouth, England. Susan is whole-heartedly dedicated to the use of the higher arts to enhance the quality of life. Her illustrations have been published in several books, including “My Whole Food ABC’s,” “Stevia Sweet Recipes: Sugar-Free – Naturally!” and “Taste Life! The Organic Choice.”
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