Two girls, different times, similar stories. 1 word that changes their lives.
|Jamie sat, her pen tightly in her grasp, as she stared at the paper. Blue blotches smeared the paper as another tear shed from her eye. The dim light from her desk lamp cast shadows around the room. The stuffed bears that lined her shelves and were once cute and cuddly, stared back at her, their beady eyes filled with anger and hatred. She turned her focus back to the paper, but couldn’t concentrate on her homework tonight.
A sudden beep echoed around her. Her stomach danced as if a thousand tiny butterflies urged to break free.
Slowly Jamie turned her eyes towards the bathroom. One step at a time she inched toward the door. Her throat dry, hot sweat dripped down her forehead, but still her thoughts remained focused on what she would find.
The floor was cold against her bare feet as she made her way across the smooth white tiles.
Her hand trembled as she grasped the thin stick. Her eyes fought her; they didn’t want to look down at the stick. Jamie could feel the tears caught in her throat as she lowered her eyes. Her breaths came in shallow gasps. The colour drained from her face as she collapsed to the ground.
Her hands reached for the box. In a state of denial she re-read the instructions, she must have done something wrong. The box fell from her hands as she lowered her head. She could feel the lump in her throat rise; she had to fight to keep everything down. ‘Why?’ Jamie thought to herself. How could she have let this happen to her? It was all her fault and she knew it.
“Jamie,” a voice called from the kitchen. “Can you come and help me please?”
“Coming,” Jamie replied as she pushed the evidence to the bottom of the bin. Her hand grabbed the side of the bench as she pulled her self shakily to her feet. As she looked in the mirror she quickly ran her fingers through her hair and wiped her eyes before she went out to her mother.
“What have you been up to?” Jamie’s mother asked, peering over a bag of groceries. “Is everything okay?”
“Fine.” Jamie turned to put the groceries away, hiding her face behind the bags of food as she placed them in the refrigerator. “I was just doing homework.”
She quickly put the rest of the food away, not once did her eyes look at her mother.
“Are you sure everything’s okay?” Her mother asked in a loving voice. “You can talk to me if there is anything wrong.”
Jamie raises her eyes to her mother about to say something, but the words are stuck and nothing comes out. A quick shake of her head she rushed to her room, closing the door behind her.
Jamie sat in the corner. Her eyes stared at her lunch, a vegemite sandwich. The brown spread stained the white bread. Small crumbs had fallen upon the table. She tried to have another bite, but her dry mouth refused to swallow. She was aware that all eyes were on her. Their snickers echoed around her. Shrinking down in her seat she lowered her head. There was nowhere to hide.
“You bitch!” A girl slammed her hand down on Jamie’s table. Sarah had once been Jamie’s friend and Jamie didn’t know how things had gotten this bad. “How dare you show your face?”
Jamie kept her eyes on her sandwich. No matter how hard she tried to ignore Sarah, she would not leave Jamie alone.
“Listen to me, you whore.” Sarah swung her fist at Jamie, knocking the sandwich out of her hands. “It’s your fault Rick left me, how could you? I thought you were my friend?”
“But I didn’t…”
“I know what went on between you two.”
“You’ll pay for this.”
Everyone now stared at them, in an awkward silence. Tears welled in Jamie’s eyes. Pushing past Sarah she raced out of the cafeteria. There was still 40 minutes left of lunch and she didn’t want to face anyone. Locking herself in a toilet stall she lowered her head and wept.
Jamie had to be alone; she did not know where she was going. After school she just walked. She had to get away from their looks. Her feet dragged on the rough pavement as she walked. Past the identical houses of the suburban neighbourhoods, the neatly trimmed bushes that lined the brick walls, the light poles that were painted a dark shade of green and had a metallic reflection when she looked at them. Her mind lost in thought she had forgotten that she was still moving until a loud horn sounded in front of her. Quickly she stepped back as a car dashed past her.
She stared at her surroundings; she stood in front of a second hand shop. The shop sign hung loosely over the door, making a squeaking sound as the wind gently brushed past it, the door was painted several shades of green, the windows covered in a thin layer of dirt. Placing her hand against the glass she peered through the shopfront window. Her eyes strained to see inside the darkened shop. She could see shadowed outlines of furniture, shelves and racks that were full of old items.
Curiously she walked through the shop. Her hands brushed gently against the artefacts that were inside. Now inside she could see the furniture that could be called antiques but that looked as though it would collapse with one touch. The darkened corner was stuffed with an antique table, chipped and cracked, that needed attention. She lifted a blue cotton dress and observed the long flowing fabric, the seams were split and ends of frayed cotton held the dress loosely together, it looked as though it had more holes than fabric. The shelves were lined with dusty boxes and ornaments of memories from the past. An old wooden case caught her eyes. It reminded her of a jewellery box. The cracked tarnish was rough against her skin as she picked the box up to get a closer look. It was hand painted and even though the pain was faded Jamie could see a picture of a mother holder her child painted on the lid. There was something about this box that made her want to buy it; this could have been because of the girl on the front. The small girl appeared to be looking at her, tears streamed down her face. Jamie could relate to the emotion of this child, but she was only an image on the front of a box.
Jamie arrived home. Still with the handle held tightly she closed the door with a soft click. Removing her shoes she crept across the room in just her socks. She could hear her parents in their bedroom arguing. Her name was being tossed around in the heated conversation. She knew whatever was being said was not a good thing to be listening to, and she continued to her room.
In her room she stood in front of her mirror. Her reflection screamed at her. Standing on the side she ran her hand across her stomach. Jamie didn’t know how long it would be before everyone could see her shame. The nightmare still played around her mind. No matter how hard she screamed he was still there, she could not escape him. Hands everywhere, all over her, her body smothered. He kept coming. Whispering ‘This is what you want’. And now this. No one would understand how she felt. This was her fault. Sarah was right; everything was her fault.
Jamie picked the box up to examine it more closely. There was something odd about it. The inside did not seem as deep as it looked. Jamie felt around the bottom until she found a small groove that allowed her to release a secret compartment. Startled at what she saw she could only stare at a small book at the bottom of the box.
The book was older than anything that she had ever seen. She lifted the book up, her lungs choked as a puff of dust rose from it. The faded green cover barely held the book together. Surprisingly, despite the torn yellow pages, the words inside were clearly visible in black ink. It was like the words were just written. Jamie crept under her blankets and started to read.
…What have I done? Perhaps they are right, this could be the work of the devil. I did not want him, or perhaps I did. I do not know what I want anymore. People say the cruellest thing about this and all I do know is that I do not want to end up like the others have. I am not like the others…
Jamie looked around. She was just reading the book but all around her was changing. The pages of the diary dissolved in front of her eyes. She now stood in front of a mirror, but it was not her reflection that was looking back. The girls long red hair, knotted and messy, stuck to her face. Her eyes red and puffy. Jamie raised her hands and stared at the hands of the girl, covered in freckles and dirt. It was she, this girl. As she looked down at her white cotton dress she could see her stomach had a small bulge. She could hear people screaming out the front of the house. Slowly she walked towards the door. A crowd had gathered outside. All eyes were on her as she moved, walking to the front of the crowd.
“There she is,” one woman screamed from the crowd. “Brigitta, she is carrying his child.”
“The spawn of Satan is what she carries,” another voice pierced through the whispers of the crowd.
“Witch,” screams erupted from the crowd.
A knock at the door startled Jamie back to reality. Her mother poked her head inside. “Are you alright?” She asked in a concerned voice. “You barely said anything when you got home from school.”
“I’m fine,” Jamie snapped.
“You know you can talk to me if you ever got into any trouble,” her mother spoke in a sincere voice that was bitter to Jamie’s ears. “I don’t like seeing you upset.”
Jamie stared at her mother, the lump in her throat growing, still no words would come out. She turned away from the door and lay in silence until she heard her mother close the door again. She wished she could talk to her mother, but she wouldn’t understand. Her stomach felt as if it was twisted inside, every time she closed her eyes she could feel his breath against her neck, the overpowering cologne choked her. There must have been some way she could have stopped it. How could she tell her mother she got into this trouble? Jamie lifted the book once again and began to read.
… I do not know how much longer I can go on. What do they want me to tell them? The questions they ask I do not know the answers to, but I do know they are only after one answer. Should I give them the satisfaction and just tell them what they want to hear, perhaps they are right. Perhaps I am evil and need to be saved from myself and from him…
Just like before, the pages vanished and Jamie watched a scene unfold. She did not know how this was possible but the emotion of Brigitta was fused within the diary, she did not know if she was still actually reading or if she was just seeing the memories from this dead girl. She stood in a large room; the walls were made of rock and were covered in a slick layer of dirt and oil. Tiny sobs echoed around the cold room. The odorous stench of the other occupants of this place filled the air, mixed with the smell of blood and rotting meat, made her sick to her stomach. A dozen eyes looked at her. They remained frozen as they hid in the shadows, waiting for the man to leave. His cold green eyes stared at Brigitta, his face twisted in a callous smile. The thin beams of moonlight that shone through the small barred window highlighted her face as she stood before her interrogator. His icy hands smothering her naked body, squeezing and suffocating her, as he searched for anything that would prove their accusations to be true. Her clothes lay in a pile by her feet. Dropping to one knees Brigitta forced to keep her eyes open.
“Stay awake you evil child.” The man grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “You must recant the devil and your soul will be saved.”
“You are expecting a child are you not?”
“But you do not have a husband.”
“I do not…”
“We must prove that you are in pact with the devil.” The man grabbed Brigitta’s hand roughly and plunged her hand into a jar of scolding yellow liquid. The liquid hissed as her hand touched it. Brigitta cringed. A scream crept up her throat, to stop herself from screaming she bit down on her tongue. She could taste blood in her mouth but she continued to keep her teeth firmly closed. “If you do not have any scars after three days then you are innocent but if your hands remain shrivelled then you must pay for your wicked crimes.”
Jamie woke, her body trembling. Her clothes stuck to her wet body. She was caught in a tangled mess of sheets. It was black outside. Quickly she flicked on the light. It was only 2 a.m. but she didn’t want to close her eyes. He was there, in the shadows, waiting for her.
She grabbed the book and flipped to the page she was up to. Crawling back under the warm doona, she started to read again.
… They are still searching for a confession. I do not know how many days I have been here or how long I will be able to stop myself from giving them what they want. All that I have been subjected to I wished it would have killed me, but they do not want me dead, not until I confess…
The cold blade stung Brigitta as it moved smoothly across her face. She tried to wriggle away from it but the tight ropes that bound her hands burned. The hard stone on her back jabbed into her back as she hit the wall. There was nowhere she could go to get away from him. He moved closer to her, his breath warm against his neck.
“See this blade,” he whispered softly in her ear. “This will take away your powers witch, we will see how strong you are once you have been blooded.”
Her inquisitor moved the blade across her face, from chin to cheek. A thin trace of the sticky liquid dripped down her skin. Her interrogator looked back with a sadistic smile across his face.
The taste of blood filled her mouth. Her eyes glared at the man as he held up the knife, the red liquid glistening on the end of the metal blade. Brigitta spat at him, a mixture of saliva and blood sprayed across the floor. The interrogator laughed as he watched the red streaming liquid.
“A witch’s power is in her blood,” he preached. “I will be glad to watch your powers fade with every drop of blood that you lose.”
Jamie looked at herself in the mirror, her nose scrunched up with what she saw. The dark circles under her eyes, her knotted hair refused to go straight. Her stomach felt sick as she thought about facing everyone at school today. She looked towards her bed, just a couple of feet away, would be a good place to spend the day, but no she couldn’t.
When she reached her locker a crowd of students had gathered. As she pushed her way to the front the whispers told her they were talking about her. The knot in her stomach twisted until she felt like she was about to be sick when she saw what everyone was looking at. Jamie turned her head away but the black writing on her locker screamed at her. This reminded her of what she had done. Scribbled across her locker in black paint was the word ‘SLUT’. Laughter filled her head. She turned to run but was knocked back into her locker.
“Told you, you would pay.” Sarah pushed Jamie into her locker. “Everyone will know what you did.”
Jamie fought her way past Sarah and the crowd. Her feet were running. Her vision blurry from tears, she crashed through the doors and into the sunlight. She continued to run.
She found herself in the park; no one else was in sight. She took a seat on the vacant swings and once again began to read the diary.
… Please take me away from this nightmare. Oh God, what have I done to deserve this? It must be me. I brought this on. I let him take me. The devil is the one who did this to me. I am carrying his child. There is no other explanation. I am evil and I will pay for letting this happen to me. I only beg that God will forgive my sins when everything is over…
“There, right there, another one.” A bug scurried past Brigitta. The interrogator stomped towards the small insect, just missing stepping on it as it passed and squeezed through a crack in the wall. “They keep coming for you and you still deny being a witch.”
“Deny it all you can but you cannot fool me.” The interrogator circled around the room where Brigitta was being held. The dirt rising off the floor with every step that he made. “All those bugs, rats and spiders were al your imps coming to your rescue.”
“They are not.”
“Say you’re a witch.”
“Say it.” The interrogator struck her in the head, knocking her to the ground. “Insolent girl we will make you confess.”
He grabbed her roughly by the arms and started to drag her, her feet dragged on the rough ground as she tried to get to her feet. She could see a coffin-shaped box in front of her. The reddish brown metal was covered in a layer of dust that danced around the air as he opened the door and pushed her inside.
“Maybe spending a few days in here will change your mind.” He slammed the door on her, plunging her into darkness.
Brigitta felt sharp spikes pierce her skin. The entire inside was made up of thousands of sharp spikes that were all pointing towards her. There was only enough room for a person to remain standing, if she fell backwards or forwards just an inch the spikes would sink into her skin. Brigitta stood still, her body suddenly overcome with fatigue. Pain seared through her body as she stumbled backwards. Everything seemed hopeless. She didn’t care if she ever saw the light again; she just wanted it to end. Salt water stung her cuts as a tear escaped her eyes. Perhaps if she forced her body against the wall of her prison would bring an end to her suffering, all she had to do was lean back and the spikes would take care of the rest. Brigitta closed her eyes as she let her body fall backward. Pain shot up her body as blood trickled down her back. She just wanted it to end.
Jamie stayed in the park all afternoon. She could not return home because she was supposed to be at school, and there was no way she could face those people at the moment. All of the disgusted looks, their anger, and they didn’t even know what happened.
Jamie slowly opened the door to her house. She could not stay away any longer.
“You thought you could hide this?” Her father stood in the hall holding the pregnancy test. “I didn’t think I raised a little slut.”
“It’s not what it looks like,” Jamie tried to explain. “Please listen to me.”
“I don’t want to hear it?” Her father swung at her, hitting her across the side of her head, knocking her to the ground.”
“Stop it,” her mother screamed as she rushed over to her daughter.
“Stop protecting her!” He hollered.
“Leave me alone!” Jamie screamed. She ran to her room and slammed the door shut behind her, placing the chair under the door handle so that he could not get in.
The nightmare still played in her mind like a video in slow motion. She just wanted to forget. The bears on her shelves stared at her with anger. Jamie swung her arms at them, knocking them from the shelves. She ripped the posters from her walls, knocked the papers from her desk. The way he touched her, it was all her fault he was there. She opened her cupboard and climbed in and collapsed to the floor, covering her face with her clothes she just screamed. Her body trembled. The tears fell freely. It wouldn’t go away. This feeling would never go away and she hated it. She could never do anything right. She wished she could back to that night and do it differently, anything that would have stopped this from becoming her reality.
… I am struggling to write this entry. My hands are no longer useful. The only way I can write this diary is to bribe one of the guards that are keeping me here with the little things that I have left in this world. It pains me to write these words but this is the only solace that I can find, everyone has abandoned me and all I have left in this world, please do not take this away from me. These people take pleasure in watching the accused suffer. I am not alone. Many other people are here, people that I have known to be good. There is even a priest among the accused. His God has abandoned him and there is no one left to help him. Please let this merciless killing stop…
Brigitta turned her head away from the cell’s window. The twisted and mangled bodies hanging lifeless. It was over in a quick instance. Now silence. The crowd that had gathered to watch this execution was no longer there. They watched the life drain from these people. People that they knew. People that had once offered them a helping hand.
There hung Father Jeremy. He had been present at her baptism. He had offered her council in her hardest times. And now all that was left of him was this figure that did not resemble the kind priest that she had known. His face cut and mangled. Bone could be seen sticking out from his feet. Inside his mouth only the teeth could be seen, his tongue had been cut out and given as a prize to the one who got the confession. Brigitta forced her eyes to stay away from what was outside.
She looked down at her bloody fingers. The excruciating pain caused her vision to be doubled. The things they had done to her were too horrible for words; she could only stare at her fingers. The way they ripped the fingernails from her trembling fingers, one by one. They smiled as they performed this act. Now Brigitta watched as her interrogator passed a thing needle under the flame of a lit candle, the thin metal turning red.
She closed her eyes tightly as they took the needle and drove it through the quicks of her fingers. Pain surged through her body. The nauseous feeling in her stomach gave her a bad taste in her mouth. Swallowing, she fought the urge to be sick. The more she screamed the farther they jabbed the needle in. They continued this until Brigitta had collapsed from the pain that she had endured, her body motionless and twisted as they kicked her aside and moved on to their next victim.
* * *
Jamie did not know how long she had been out here. The dark shadows stretched across the street signalling that the sun had started setting. The cold breezed brushed past her sending chills down her spine. In the distance the orange glow from street lamps started to appear. She just didn’t want to go home. There was nowhere she could be safe. There was no one she could trust. She didn’t know where to turn. Lost in thought she didn’t see the shadowy figure creep up on her.
“What did you say?” A firm hand grabbed her around her arm, pulling her quickly behind a wall.
“You better not have,” Rick snarled, as he pushed her roughly against the coarse brick. His fingers digging into Jamie’s skin as he looked at her with hate-filled eyes. “You brought it on yourself. It’s all your fault.”
“You know you flirted with me and the way you dressed, you liked it and now you expect me to get you out of this trouble.”
“But I’m pregnant.”
“You can’t prove it’s mine.”
“But I said no,” Jamie lowered her eyes to the ground. “I said no.”
“You were asking for it, you can’t blame me for the way you looked.”
“I warn you, you’ll be sorry if you tell anyone this, you’ll be really sorry.”
Jamie pushed out of his grip. She ran. She had to get away from him.
She turned on the water of the shower when she got home. Immersing her head under the hot running water she cried. She scrubbed hard as she could. She tried to get the dirt off. It was still there. No matter what she did, the dirt would not wash off. Jamie’s skin was red raw. Her body weak and numb, she could only curl up on the floor and grab for the journal.
* * *
… I am so tired. I do not know how much more I can take. I do not know what to believe anymore. They are right. I am a witch. I have to confess to it, if not to save my soul then to have this stop. I will tell them what they want to hear…
“It is true,” Brigitta weakly cried in a hoarse whisper. Using the last of her strength she could only give them what they wanted to hear, or could only give them the truth. She didn’t know what was true any more but the one thing that she still knew was that if she gave them this then all of her pain would go away. “He came to me in the night, he showed me pleasures that no person has ever dreamt of. He promised me things if I gave him my body and soul, and I did. No one could stop me. He kept coming for me, the man in black, he wanted more than my body. He wanted me to birth his child.” Brigitta forced a smile to her interrogator. “And I agreed. That is whom the father of my child is and if I had my powers we would show you no mercy. May thunder strike you down where you stand.” Brigitta spat at him before she turned her head away. She despised herself for what she had just done, but there was nothing left to do. Now they would stop her suffering, and the small thought still plagued her mind, perhaps she was really a witch and he had chosen her. They were going to save her.
“I always knew we would get the confession.” He smiled as he pushed her away. “May God take pity on your soul even though you don’t deserve it.”
Brigitta sat on the ground as she watched him stride away. Her stomach twisted up inside, her breaths became short gasps, her body hot and flustered. What had she done?
* * *
Jamie stared in the mirror. Her naked body disgusted her.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” Jamie screamed at her reflection. Jamie slammed her fist into the mirror. The glass showered her as blood gushed from her cut hand. The red liquid dripped down onto the white tiles, staining the clean surface. She could only watch as the streams of blood mixed with the water as the tiles became clean once again. She wondered whether she would ever be clean again, if there was enough water to wash away her sins.
She just wanted everything to end. She had had enough of this. She could not understand why this was happening to her. She knew she had done nothing wrong but something told her that she should have stopped him. He was everywhere. She hated feeling like this. There was only one way to forget. Only one way to end it.
Jamie pulled one of her father’s razor blades from the cabinet and collapsed to the ground. The smooth metal in her hand sent shivers up her spine. She moved the blade across her skin, not deep enough to draw blood, just so she could feel the sharp blade as it moved across her wrist. It would be that easy. Just one move and she could watch all of her sins wash away. One last time she reached for the diary and started to read.
* * *
… The moment had finally arrived. They had told me what they will do to me. They said they must. They will take this child away from me before they take me. Oh please, God forgive my sins. Please let this cleanse my soul so that I will not pay for this for all eternity. This will be my last entry. I do not know if anyone will ever get to read this, if anyone will ever learn of my story. But if by any chance they do, please do not let this happen to you. Forced to admit that I was the one to blame. I could not have changed what happened to me. Please listen. I am and have always been innocent. The man who caused my predicament was not the devil, but he is just as bad. If my words can help another soul find peace then my life would not have been wasted in vain…
Brigitta lay on a rough wooden table but she couldn’t feel the splintering wood against her broken body. Her face was bruised, cut and swollen. Cuts covered her dirty body. Her fingers were pink and bloody. She didn’t have the strength to move. Three men circled her as she lay.
“We must kill the devil’s child.” One man lifted a knife and lowered it toward Brigitta’s stomach. “It must not live.”
Brigitta tried to scream but her voice was hoarse from all the torture she had endured. The countless days that they had attacked her for a confession. They did not care if the confession was legitimate or brought on by this torture, they only cared that they had the confession. She closed her eyes so she did not have to look at what they were doing. She could feel them inside her as they ripped her unborn child from her weak body. She stared at the roof. The pain was nothing more than a dull throbbing like the pain of a tooth ache.
Bloody hands wrenched her from off the table. Her body was trembling, she could barely stand. The men forced her out of the dark prison and into the burning light. The stony path shredding her feet as they dragged her leaving a trail of blood behind them. This was it. She knew where they were taking her. The thick ropes chafed her neck as she was placed in the gallows. Her eyes barely open a slit as she looked upon the crowd as they cheered for her last breaths. It was only a matter of time before the ropes would tighten, taking the last of her breath.
* * *
She slammed the book closed. A bad taste entered her mouth as the feeling of nausea finally overtook her. She didn’t know whether it was because of what was growing inside her or if it was what she had just seen. Jamie realised that Brigitta had no choice of what happened to her. There was no escape for her, but Jamie realised that she did have a choice. Jamie stared at the razor blade that she was still had a hold of.
“Jamie.” A knock sounded at the door. “Are you okay in there?”
Jamie tried to speak but the lump was in her throat again. She continued to look down at the razor.
With a click of the lock the door opened. “Jamie!” Her mother raced over to her daughter and ripped the razor from Jamie’s hand. “What are you doing?”
“I’m sorry mum.” Tears streamed from Jamie’s eyes. “I need your help.”
Jamie’s mother wrapped her in a towel and held her. The embrace was warm as she looked at her mother. All of her problems were racing through her mind, but with her mother around she finally felt some hope was there.
“You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to,” Jamie’s mother spoke softly in her ear. “We’ll get you help.”
Jamie swallowed, trying to remove the lump from her throat. “No,” Jamie choked. “I want to tell you about it.”