July 24, 2014

Elizabeth's Story

by Jessica Knoll

I sometimes have this reccurring dream where I can't open my eyes, but I need to see to do something important—take a final or make my way out of a burning building. I push and fight, but my eyelids feel like two metal garage doors, strapped to the ground with an iron bolt. Stress dreams, a therapist determined, years later. "But I'm not stressed," I told her, then sighed into my lap. "I'm ambivalent. About everything. It's like he used up all my energy and I have nothing good left to give to anyone." "Heartbreak is a stressful event that can take a lot out of you," she'd pointed out, and I'd thought of him then, wondered what he was doing. If he was driving his kids to Little League practice, kissing his wife on the cheek to thank her for the beautiful dinner she had made them, not a single chink in his beaming, self-righteous armor.  Not Peter, who God knows I tried to love, maybe would have truly loved if I wasn't so consumed with a hatred for the man who had my heart and bruised it indelibly. The hatred burned in me, metastasizing, with a fierceness that only love can incite.

On that day, the day that everything changed, it required so much effort to open my eyes that until the room came into focus, I was sure I was experiencing a flash of lucidity in the middle of some muddy, half-baked dream. But I was suddenly aware of the ground—cold, damp concrete—and the heavy mildew smell that seemed to pin me against it. "What the.." I moaned, every muscle and bone in my body wailing as I attempted to sit up. My head was throbbing and I couldn't make my limbs obey me. My arm was stretched overhead, my hand useless and numb. It took me a second to realize that it was bound behind me. I rolled over onto my side, seeing that my wrist had been seized by a fuzzy, leopard print handcuff. Like a set you would buy in some skanky sex shop as a joke gift to a friend on her 21st birthday.

The other cuff was buckled around a metal pipe. I pulled, hard, wincing as the metal bracelet dug into my wrist bone. The pipe didn't so much as shimmy. I scooted up into a seated position, planning on pulling harder, but I froze when I realized that something else was off.

I bought my free hand to my head and gasped. My hair was gone, sheared to spiky blonde bristles. I traced my head again and again, becoming even more frenzied as I realized that in certain spots I was nearly bald. "Jesus Christ," I whispered, my teeth chattering furiously against each other. What the ever-living fuck was going on?

The adrenaline rush seemed to clear out a few caches in my brain, and I suddenly recalled the car ride, Bridget muttering, irritably, "Finally." Bridget. She had done this to me. Drugged me—it had to be a roofie. There was certainly a market for them on campus. The LAX house perhaps the local drug dealer's most loyal customer.

Had Bridget lost her goddamn mind? I would end her for this. My anger gave me strength, and I pulled on the cuffs again and again. I'd played with a pair of these before, only I hadn't been the one chained to the bedpost. If they were anything like the pair that had bound Matt Dennison to my bed junior year, then they were cheap, and if you tried hard enough, you could break them. The secret was to snap the chain—the cuffs themselves weren't going to give.

I let out an anguished grunt when the chain finally cracked in half. My wrist was a fevered red, pulsating angrily against the leopard restraint. I climbed to my feet, careful to take my time. Even so, the blood rushed to my head and I had to hold on to the wall to keep from fainting. I wondered how long I'd been...wherever I was. My mouth was dry and my stomach twisted impatiently. I was roofied freshman year and Biz had been the one to get me home and into bed. Had been the only one who cared, the other girls not wanting to ruin their night, waving their hands and saying, "Oh, she's fine. She just drank too much." In the end, it was Biz who I really loved, fully and without complication.

Biz kept a vigil over me the entire time I slept—which was for two days straight. Is that how long I'd been gone? Was anyone looking for me? People had to be looking for me.

My vision cleared and I made my way along the edge of the room, leaning on the wall for support. I was definitely in a basement, but it wasn't a basement I recognized from any of the houses on campus. One lone bulb shivered in the center of the room, threatening to go out. I would lose my mind if I was trapped down here in the dark. I had to get out before that happened.

I made my way up the stairs and tried the door. Locked. Of course. Bridget had been watching one too many bad Lifetime movies. Even though what she had done was completely psychotic, I had a feeling I knew why she had done it.

I slept with Bridget's boyfriend last year, when she was abroad in Rome.

And this guy—Henry—had developed a bit of an infatuation with me. He followed me around, showed up at my dorm room unannounced at odd hours of the night. I didn't want to make a big deal about our little thing. We'd had sex three, maybe four times tops, and then I pulled the whole, "I just don't feel right doing this to Bridget," when really the guy was just way too intense and...what's the word I'm looking for...sensual in bed. Gross. The last time we slept together I detected one glistening tear slip down his cheek and I was done. You know that line from A League of Their Own? There's no crying in baseball? Well, in my world, there is no crying in sex.

The school ended up having to get involved. They gave Henry a stern warning that he was to leave me alone or he would be expelled. Smithson would do anything to protect their favorite little money maker.

Word got around, spread all the way to Bridget in The Eternal City. I knew she was banging the doorman of The Drunken Ship, the cheesy American bar in Campo de Fiori—I had my sources. I don't think Bridget cared so much about Henry having a little fun on the side as she did the embarrassment that her boyfriend was acting like a creepy stalker freak. She came back for two weeks at the end of our junior spring semester, four months ago. We never spoke about it. I got the sense she was scared of me and would rather pretend like the whole thing never happened than confront me about it.

CLEARLY, I WAS WRONG.

I pulled harder on the door. It felt weak and wet, like it would sooner splinter down the middle than I could jimmy the lock. I descended the stairs again, looking for something to break it down. The best I could come up with was a rusty metal stool, abandoned in some dark, lonely corner.

I stabbed the leg of the stool into the door, carving out a hole just wide enough for me to wiggle my hand through and unlock the door from the outside. I felt like a prowler in one of those commercials for a home security system.

I released a heavy sigh of relief when the door finally opened. Freedom.  

Only I hadn't found freedom. Because at that very moment, Bridget came charging through the door. What happened next seemed to occur in some parallel universe. Plato's Allegory of the Cave, maybe, and it was like my shadow did it. Not me. I didn't really have it in me to do something like that. Did I?

Bridget came at me full force, shouting something nonsensical. I pivoted out of her way—only I didn't just pivot. I gave her a shove as she spun by me. I was angry. I wasn't thinking. I don't know. But this is the moment I always see in my mind's eye: Bridget hovered at the top of the basement stairs, arms outstretched, reaching, her fingers trying to dig into something that wasn't there. It all happened so fast, I always tell myself, whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and breathing hard. But the truth is it didn't. There was time for me to grab her, to change her fate. Which was Bridget tumbling down the stairs like a rag doll, arms and legs flopping as though she had no bones at all, until she landed at the foot of the stairs on that hard, cold concrete with a sickening crack.

I peered over the edge of the stairs. "Bridget?" I tried. Her head was twisted away from me at an unnatural angle, her fantastic black hair covering her face. Her chest wasn't moving.

I fled out the front door. I needed to call for help. I came onto the mighty lawn—so vast I couldn't even see a road—and stopped. There was probably a phone in the house, I realized. I turned around to take stock of where I was, where I had been kept. The house was a decrepit old Victorian. I could tell from its skeleton that it had been grand once. Smithson is situated on the Finger Lakes, in a town that used to be a popular vacation spot for wealthy Manhattanites in the 50s and 60s. Someone had lived there at one time, and lived well, but that had to have been many, many years ago.

I doubted there was a working phone inside, and even if there was, I couldn't stand the idea of going back into the house, so I kept running until I found a road. I ran and ran, sweat streaming down my face, until I came upon a gas station. It was dark and closed for the evening—God, what time was it?—but there was an outdoor pay phone around the side of the building.

I picked up the phone, my finger hovered over the 9. I froze when I saw the fuzzy handcuff, still clinging to my wrist. I imagined my mother, her hand over her exhausted heart, begging me not to cause any more trouble. "I won't make it much longer if you do," she'd warned.

And how would I explain what happened to the police? Sure, Bridget had drugged me and kidnapped me and hacked off all my hair (What else was she planning on doing?), and this could be construed as self-defense. But I knew the truth. I'd pushed her. Then I didn't help her when I could have. I'd watched enough Law & Order to know the police had ways of seeing beyond a crime scene, to what had really happened. The positioning of the body—weren't there experts who could trace the trajectory of her fall, who could tell that she hadn't gone down with momentum? She'd gone down with force.

I moved my finger so that it was positioned over the 1. Then I dialed Biz collect. I didn't know what else to do. I didn't think Biz would know either, but in that moment, she was the only person in the world who I could trust.


48 comments:

  1. AHHH! That's the end? SERIOUSLY?!

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    1. I didn't see this coming. I guess Bridget is dead or injured for life?

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    2. I dunno. She could be dead, but then again, Elizabeth didn't exactly get close enough to check for a pulse. I could totally see her reappearing to cause more trouble for Elizabeth later.

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  3. This is seriously just TOO good. I wish this was a book (which I guess is good, since your book is coming soon!)

    Cranberryvodka9.blogspot.com

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  4. WOW! This just gets better with every post! A week is suchhhh a long time to wait! The writing is simply captivating!

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  5. What the eff. My heart is pounding.

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  6. The story hints at Elizabeth and Biz being involved with each other in more than just close friendship (later, after this experience). E. could be bisexual, with Biz as her only "true love"; unless that's too literal - too early to tell. Hope E. wasn't raped; the kidnapping and all that was bad enough. Great story; a week seems like forever to wait for more. Take care.

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    1. I'm not diminishing the terribleness that is rape (at ALL), but I think being responsible for somebody's death (even if it was in self defense) has to be even more traumatizing. Just my opinion and again, not saying rape isn't a terrible, terrible thing.

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    2. Yeah, I get what you're saying about killing someone being the worst kind of psyche-scramble. But, I wasn't really making any kind of statement about *that* aspect; it's too complex and too soon to form any kind of rational opinion on that part of the story. I seriously didn't ever expect that development would be included in Elizabeth's ordeal. I *did* dread where the story was going as soon as E. showed up to meet with Bridget alone, and there was a pointed statement of her needing to go in another room, unobserved, to get E.'s drink. That screams drugging, which so often leads to rape and/or other kinds of physical violence. Of course it must be a nightmare to wind up taking someone else's life - under *any* circumstances. But, had E. not been still under the effects of heavy drugging and totally disoriented at the time, she probably would have realized that the ordeal (while horrible) wasn't her fault. The scene here with Bridget running at E. in fury once she comes home to discover her escape makes it clear that she (E.) was acting in self defense, and had every reason to assume that Bridget would harm her seriously (more than she already had). Regardless of the emotions E. had at the time (she described being angry, for instance)...there must have been a significant amount of fear and confusion swirling around in her brain at the same time. Self-preservation is a basic human instinct. I think E. would have had more peace of mind (later), had she reported the incident right away, and all the authorities involved had been able to assure her that her actions were in self-defense. It was the secrecy and hiding of what happened that messed with her mind so much.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. sorry, it's one thing to plug your blog here and another to make 95% of your comment be about your blog. How about posting respect to Jessica's great writing, instead of making this all about you. I don't see any other blogger doing that.

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  9. I knew you were a great writer but ohhhh ma god this is so great!

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  10. This blog is so good! If it was a book I wouldn't be able to put it down.

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  11. Wow, what an amazing post!! I didn't think I would be as engrossed in Elizabeth's story but I was surely mistaken. Each post is better than the next and I can't wait to read more. You've truly outdone yourself with this! Thank you so much for writing and sharing this with us:)

    Life's Greatest Journey

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  12. Wow! That was captivating!

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  13. Whoa! Can't wait for next Thursday!!!

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  14. I wouldn't be mad at all if you just turned this into a novel. I always love the bad guy, though. I can't wait for the next post. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. TOTALLY AGREE! I 1) wouldn't mind buying/reading this as a book 2) love the perspective!!!

      http://poetsandheartbreakers.blogspot.com

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  15. Dang, that's intense. I wish we knew more from Bridget why she did it - whether or not it was because of her boyfriend.

    Also OMG I went to the Drunken Ship my first night abroad in Rome! Way to pick the one bar who's name I remember lol.

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    1. Um, I ALWAYS started my night out at The Drunken Ship when I studied abroad in Rome! Maybe we crossed paths? My friends and I were obsessed with the doorman there—this unbelievably sexy Italian guy, Daniele. Daniele was very nice, and humored us even when we were throwing ourselves all over him, but he clearly had no interest in dating a silly American girl.

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    2. Loved this exchange right here. Good to know some of this stuff is based on reality.

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    3. OP here - Jessica, I wish!! But I studied abroad two years ago, and I think you have a few years on me, so I doubt it. Don't remember Daniele, he might not have been there anymore. I have fond memories of that place. Always love talking to someone else who's studied abroad in Rome!

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  16. Wow. Great writing. Can't wait to read more!!

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  17. I quit reading LoveSexPizza Josie's story. I would read it every few weeks for the comments. But this is fairly intriguing. I assume this blog will only go on as long as it takes to release the book, but I figured I'd let you know you gained a reader back. Congrats. Not sure about the Tuesday blogger yet.

    thecrazyobservatory.blogspot.com/
    crazygirlsmanicures.blogspot.com/

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    1. Rude, much? If Jessica suppose to keep blogging forever? She stared months ago that the story will end when her book is released. Why not appreciate her writing instead of being so condescending?

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    2. How was that rude? I understand that tone is hard to convey online, but that was meant to be an honest compliment. I wouldn't know that she stated months ago that it would end when the book was released (as I said, I only read it every few weeks, I quit following the story) And I never implied that she should blog forever. In fact, back when I was starting to be less interested in Josie's story, I said maybe it was time to stop blogging for good, and focus on just writing her book (or books should she choose to pursue that further). Something that people like you attacked me for. Why not calm it down and read things twice, before you assume that everyone is just rude and condescending? And if you want a reason to call me condescending, how's this? Sweetheart, you might want to learn how to proof read your posts. It's "Is Jessica" not "If" and she probably did state months ago that she would end this, but I doubt she "stared months ago" that she would.

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    3. A compliment? "I figured that I'd let you know you gained a reader back. Congrats." Why add the congrats part? Do you honestly think that Jessica really cares that you're reading hey blog again. She has meant readers and supporters. An honest compliment is "Jessica the Josie storyline wasn't my thing but I'm enjoying Elizabeth's story. " Not hey you gained a reader back, congrats. I'm sure in the comments section, because I remember when Jessica made the announcement, there was so much debate on this. Your comment was condescending. Finally, I don't have to proofread anything. Sometimes auto correct isn't perfect.

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    4. "Do you honestly think that Jessica really cares that you're reading her blog again?"
      No I don't. That's why I phrased it the way I did. "I figured I'd let you know..." as in "I'm sure you don't care much because you have plenty of loyal readers, but I wanted to let you know that this was interesting and brought at least one reader back, good job".
      And I don't really care about proof reading. I was just making a point; I can be condescending if I want to and first post wasn't meant to be. It's too bad that things can get misunderstood and turn into this.

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    5. Alicia, in all fairness all of your comments that I've read on this blog have a negative connotation. Maybe that isn't your intention but that's how it comes off. You wanted Jessica to know she brought one reader back? She has a lot of supporters and that sort of comment lacks sincerity. it's like apologizing by saying I'm sorry you feel that way.

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    6. I'm not the original poster.

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    7. I get it, a lot of them did have a negative connotation before. And that's part of why I posted the comment yesterday. In all sincerity, I was saying "Hey, this was interesting enough that it brought back a reader. This was good". I know that she has a bunch of supportive readers and that one person doesn't really matter (particularly one who didn't like the old blog) BUT if I had a following like there is on here, I would want to know that I had changed/improved/whatever-you-want-to-say, in my writing, that people who didn't like it before, like it now. Of course with a bunch of negative comments before, I can see how this one might come across that way. Regardless, it was a sincere compliment.

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    8. hiss hiss (angry cat noise) Fight ladies, Fight. Always keeping it classy all of y'all posting under "anonymous". Haha Just kidding! I guess being anonymous let's you say whatever you want, right?? That's what I do

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  18. OMG literally waited for this post all week and I was not disappointed. I wish this was a book. Damn, Elizabeth is royally screwed. Thanks for another captivating post, Jessica!

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  19. This was absolutely insane. I devoured this post. So good and so addicting!!

    http://highheelshappyhour.blogspot.com/

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  20. I find the comments as entertaining as the blog post. But damn. The Elizabeth story got me hooked! I haven't been this eager for the next installment since Lost. Great writing, Miss J!

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    1. Sometimes they're even better. lol

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    2. I agree. just hope it doesn't end like Lost!

      New Beginning, New Adventures

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  21. This story is really good! I agree with a lot of the other commenters, that this would be a GREAT book. Hope it continues for awhile, its such a great study break!

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  22. She should've called the police...she has a solid case of self-defense. They would have tested her blood and gotten evidence that she had been roofied. Now when the police do find out, they won't have that evidence.

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    1. Exactly; she was still very disoriented under the effects of the drugs, being kidnapped, etc. Defending herself against an angry, charging amazon woman who'd done her bodily harm and would likely do more would definitely be a legitimate case of self defense. Elizabeth had every reason to believe she was in imminent danger when Bridget came running at her. Considering the circumstances, calling the police would probably have been the best thing she could have done.

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  23. This is good reading... not sure if this is done to promote a book or not, but I could give a damn! If the book is as good, then it's a great ad for the book and I'd buy it!

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