Authors: Salina Paine
Every time I call her phone it goes straight to voice mail. After four hours of trying to get ahold of Carlie I begin to worry and head home. I pull into the apartment complex and notice a strange car in my spot. Sitting in the truck for a bit longer it hits me. That's Joshs' fucking car. Why is his car at my place when I'm not there?
I reach to turn the knob and it's locked. I dig my keys from my pocket. Carefully placing the keys in the lock and turning, I hear a faint sound coming from inside. I close the door behind me and hear groaning from my bedroom. Creeping down the hallway the sounds become louder and I realize these aren't sounds of pain but pleasure.
Standing in front of the bedroom door for what feels like an eternity, I clench my fists so tight my fingernails are digging into my palms. Slowly turning the doorknob, I hesitantly fling open the door and there they are, entangled.
"Fuck!" Josh says when he sees me. He jumps up and practically throws Carlie off of him. She turns her head and rolls her eyes at me.
"Really? Josh?" I ask waiting for some sort of explanation.
His face goes pale. "Man, I can explain," he says.
"What is there to explain?" I ask. "I come home to my apartment and find my so called best friend screwing my girl. In. My. Bed." I reply.
"It's not what you think." He says covering himself with a pillow.
"It's not what I think? What the hell? Oh wait let me guess, it's all completely accidental. She thought you were me and you thought she was Michelle?"
Josh stands there just staring at me. Carlie rolls her eyes again and gets out of the bed.. She walks around the picking up anything she can and throws it at me.
"It's all your fuckin' fault," she screams.
"Oh, so this is my fault?" I ask, dodging the shoe she throws at me.
"Oh shut the hell up, Brandon," Carlie says, "If you were ever around I wouldn't need someone on the side."
My blood pressure is rising and anger is surging through me. Josh looks like a gust of wind would knock him over and Carlie is muttering under her breath. I take a step towards them and her other shoe whizzes by my head. At this point every ounce of self-control I have is being pushed to the limits.
"What are you going to do? Kick my ass? Kick his ass?" Carlie asks in a taunting tone.
I take a step back and put my hands up. "Screw this, Carlie pack your shit, and get the hell out of here. I'm going for a drive and I want both of you gone when I get back," I say turning to leave.
Driving around for a couple hours I've come to the conclusion that love sucks, plain and simple; a useless emotion that only causes heartache. I have resolved to never let anyone else in. Denial is vicious, it will play games with your heart and make you think everyone is a liar, except for her. She'd never do that, or so I thought. Love sucks, plain and simple; a useless emotion that only causes heartache.
Walking back into my apartment, just after dark, I notice the place is trashed. I sigh and curse under my breath. Just as I begin to clean up broken glass, my phone starts vibrating in my pocket. I ignore it as everything begins to crash down on me. The worst part is I knew something was wrong, with all the late nights and flirty texts that I had seen. How could I have been so blind to what was unfolding in front of me. I sling an already cracked glass, that shatters when it hits the wall. The incessant vibration coming from my pocket drives me to the verge of insanity so I answer it.
"What?" I hiss into the phone.
"Brandon? Are you alright?" Dr. Iverson asks.
I draw in a deep breath and close my eyes before responding. "Yes, I'm fine. Sorry doc, I've had a rough day."
"I hate to be abrupt, hearing the distress in your voice, but we really need you. It seems the full moon is reigning supreme tonight and we are overwhelmed."
"What?" I ask.
"In other words, we are busy and understaffed," he says again, I can hear the weariness in his voice.
"Let me get cleaned up and I'll be right there," I reply.
"Thank you," he says. you can have tomorrow off."
"Yes sir. I'll be there within the hour."
"Thanks again, bye." he says and the line goes quiet.
I hit end and lay my phone down on the kitchen counter before going to wash up some.
The emergency department is slammed when I get there. Going through the motions and checking in on each patient making sure they are comfortable keeps my mind off of Carlie. I head back to the desk as another ambulance pulls up. Stepping out to offer the medics assistance my heart drops.
"Jasmine." I whisper under my breath. Her blood soaked hair and the jagged cut down her face is disturbing. A teenage boy steps off the ambulance behind her.
"What happened? Was she in a wreck?" I ask the distraught young man.
"N-n-no," he stutters. "I don't know what happened to her."
I quickly usher him into the waiting room and get back on the floor. She is wheeled immediately away and I can barely concentrate on my patients. I sit at the computer just staring at the screen.
"Doc?" Asks the nurse across the desk from me. "She isnt showing any signs of consciousness and she is being taken to the ICU." I nod.
"Is she going to wake up?" The young man asks, clearly concerned.
"I don't know," I hear the nurse admit from the doorway.
"I sure hope so, Jasmine's a really great girl. She works here and she's had a lot thrown at her, but she just takes it all, and smiles." The young man scoots the chair a little closer to the side of the bed and takes her left hand in his own. Uncertain of what to do next, he looks over at me when I come through the door.
"I'm the one who found her," he repeats over and over, clearly feeling guilty. "She had ordered a pizza, and I was late getting it to her. My girlfriend and I were having an argument so I pulled the car over to try to talk it out with her."
I nod and his eyes begin to fill with tears so I walk over and pat him on the shoulder. "This isn't your fault, whoever did this was probably scared away by you. In fact you saved her life by acting so quickly and responsibly."
He nods wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. "When she wakes up will you call me?" He asks.
"Of course I will," I reply, taking the now crinkled piece of paper from his hand. I look down at the name and number scrawled across the piece of paper. "Austin?"
"Yeah?" He asks.
"I'm sure she will be happy to thank you herself when she wakes up." He smiles and walks out the door.
Standing there looking at her sweet face, I would love to know who did this to her, and show them the same courtesy. Looking at her tears me up inside, wondering how anyone could do this horrible thing to someone? I quickly check her vitals, and place another blanket over her before leaving.
No matter what I try to do, I'm distracted by the image of her battered face every time I close my eyes. Pulling into my apartment complex everything suddenly hits me. I don't cry, but an anger unlike anything I've known fills me. I open my door and flip on the light. The broken remains of my first love are strewn all over the floor. As I begin to clean up a single tear finds its way down my cheek. I don't know if the tear is for the heartache caused by Carlie or the violence inflicted upon Jasmine.
My eyes flutter open slowly only to find my vision distorted, and there's a burning sensation on the left side of my face. Blinded by the bright overhead lights I close my eyes again.
"Miss Greyson?" I hear, coming from only inches away.
Turning my face to the right I open my eyes and try to make out who is talking to me. As my eyes begin to focus, panic fills me and I try to sit up. I scream out in pain as the soothing voice speaks again.
"Don't try to sit up. Do you know where you are?" He asks.
"No," I say, barely audible. My throat feels like I swallowed acid. "Where am I?" I ask and tears fill my eyes from the pain.
"You are in the ICU at Health Guard Medical Center."
Everything begins to come rushing back and I begin to remember what happened. I lie there staring at the person talking to me. "Do I know you?" I ask.
"Yes, Miss Greyson, you do. I had the pleasure of talking with you at Bottlestopper a few days ago." As my thoughts begin to become focused I recognize him.
"Brandon Whitaker," I whisper as loudly as I can.
"Yeah," he says running his fingers through his hair. The nurse comes in and brings some pain medication.
"Well hello, Doc," she says to Brandon.
"Hey, Amelia," he responds. Amelia smiles at him and is probably thinking the same thing I am.
"Jasmine, this will probably make you sleepy," she says. I nod as the cold injection fill my veins. In a few moments I can feel my eyes sliding shut as the pain begins to subside.
"You do know that people who have never been abused often wonder why a person wouldn't just leave. They don't understand that breaking up can be more complicated than it seems," he says.
I nod listening to him and his attempt to get me to open up and press charges. "What day is it?" I ask weakly.
"It's Tuesday, Miss Grayson," he replies, watching me closely.
I remember it being Friday. As I sit there trying to comprehend what he has just told me, my mind begins to wonder.
"Miss Grayson, are you ok?"
"I'm as good as I can be, considering the circumstances. I have an answer to your question. I stay because of fear, I'm afraid of what will happen if I decide to leave the relationship. I have nowhere to go and no one I can trust." I am also aware of my cell lighting up and then fading dim, resting on the table next to the bed. I can't bring myself to move, or answer the persistent calls from Jeff. He did this and thereis no way I can ever put myself in that situation again.
Besides the beat of my heart the only sounds in the room are Brandons' baritone voice and the constant hum of the machines. He continues to talk and I lose myself in the reality of what happened. Brandon becomes silent as he observes me. I can still feel the piece of glass from the shattered whiskey bottle jaggedly tearing into the skin of my face and slicing down to my neck. I immediately bring my hand up to the left side of my face. I cringe at the pain that radiates from it when I touch face. I suck in as much air as my lungs will allow and let it out slowly. My eyes fall to my right hand and the cut that has been closed with black surgical thread. A flash of memory seared into my mind.
As I continue to look over myself I see the sporadic bruises that line my arms and my whole body feels like it's been beaten to a pulp. Shifting the blanket slowly to reveal my legs, I find dark purple bruises and scratches are evident on my thighs. As I pull my gown up higher the damage increases. I can feel the color leaving my face when I notice the net-like looking underwear and pad in place.
Tears begin to fill my eyes, "Did he rape me?" I ask holding my breath. He shakes his head and I release my breath slowly, grateful some part of me was still intact. As I continue to inspect myself I have to bite my tongue to keep from gasping. The bruise hidden by my gown looks nasty, it's the darkest of purple, outlined by red and yellow, just above my hip on my right side. Pulling the gown back down I feel the tears sliding down my face. "Can I see a mirror?" I ask.
"I don't see why not, but brace yourself, it's not pretty," he says handing me a small hand mirror and I peer at my horrid reflection.
An angry red and jagged line runs from my ear to my collarbone. My neck is circled in a reddish purple ring reminiscent of being strangled. The whites of my eyes are bloodshot with a pale opaque hue of pink. As I continue to scrutinize my face I notice stitching in the corner of my mouth and dried blood still lingering on my hairline. Slinging the mirror across the room, I scream as the sobs rip from my chest.
He pulls himself closer to me and wraps his arms around in a useless effort to comfort. "Calm down, Miss Greyson," he says softly patting my back. "I know this isn't easy but it's best if you remain calm."
I nod and try to breathe slowly. "Please, call me Jasmine," I reply through my tears.
"Ok," he says, "Jasmine, look at me. We will take care of you and the detective will be in here shortly for your statement. If you in fact know who is responsible for this, you need to tell them."
I shake my head in heavy denial. The one person who saved me from a similar situation has surpassed anything my parents had ever done to me. "How could he do this?" I whisper to myself as Brandon continues to hold me. Dr. Iverson comes in with a disgusted look on his face.
"Miss Greyson, it looks like you will be with us for a few days. Along with your obvious injuries you have multiple fractured ribs and we want to be certain they don't puncture your lungs." I nod and wipe my tears with then hem of my gown. "Is there any family you would like us to call?"
I shake my head and hear the familiar tap of my supervisors boots coming down the hallway. "Oh my God, Jasmine!" She yells as she walks through the door. She freezes a couple feet from me and her mouth drops. Her eyes make their way down my face and onto my neck. She pulls her hand up her mouth, muffling her cries. She rushes over to me, hugging me tightly and I cry out. "Oh. Im sorry," she says wiping her tears away with her fingers. She nods to Dr. Iverson and Brandon. "You boys better take good care of my girl," she tells them. "Jasmine, I hate to leave but I got to get back to work. When Cami told me they brought you in I came down to check on you. I had no idea it was this bad," she says trying to remain composed.
She hugs me lightly and leaves the room quickly; I can hear her heaving in the hallway. Brandon comes back over and sits on the stool. "I thought you worked," he says quietly before I cut him off.
"I work in labor and delivery," I reply in a garbled voice. Brandon sits there looking at me like he wants to say something, but never does. I close my eyes and focus on breathing. A slight click on the door startles me and my eyes pop open, I find myself all alone. I feel useless, like a failure. All I want to do now was lie down and give up, let the darkness take over. Closing my eyes again I feel tears start to trickle down my cheeks to the pillow, eventually sleep finds me.
The dim light in the room begins to become brighter as the door slowly freaks open. I open my eyes slowly, squinting and trying to make out the face in the dark. His feet slide across the linoleum quietly, I almost get a good look at the man when I catch a whiff of his cologne. I freeze, like a deer in the headlights. It's Jeff, it has to be. Opening my mouth to scream he must sense it and places his hand over my mouth. I try to reach the nurses button but the pain in my chest and side limit my movement.
"Don't scream, ok?" He says in a whisper. I nod lightly. "If you're going to scream I'll just leave my hand where it is, and I'm sure it's quite unpleasant." I nod again as my eyes begin to flood with tears. "Listen to me Jasmine, I'm sorry. I went crazy when you wouldn't listen to me," he says, his voice dripping with guilt.
When I dare to look up again, Jeff turns his head so that the dim light filtering through the blinds hit his face, he's unshaven and still in the same clothes. His bloodshot eyes are swollen and he looks a fright. The smell of whiskey and cigarettes is so potent I want to gag. I lay there unable to move, even more afraid to speak, because know If I open my mouth I will scream.
Jeff looks down at me. "Jasmine, damn it, I love you. I draw in a deep breath when he begins to move his hand.
"Why?" I sob. "Why would you do this to me? You were the one in the wrong."
"Fuck!" He screams, rearing his hand back to slap me. Unable to move without crying out in pain all I can do is bring my arms up to protect my face. Jeff catches himself only inches from me, "we'll talk when you get out of here." he says stumbling to the door.
Staring at the window as he creeps by I inhale deeply and shift to reach the call button. I hold my finger just over it and contemplate whether I should or not. He is clearly dangerous and I don't want anyone else caught in the crosshairs of his rage, so I place it back down on the bed and sit there in the darkness.
Every sound makes me jumpy and I can feel the medicine wearing off. My phone begins to ring so I reach over and look at it. The picture is one of the best memories I have. It's the picture of Jeff and me when we moved into our house a little over a year ago. I hit ignore on the screen and power off my phone. Closing my eyes to keep the tears from falling the door opens and I immediately panic.
"Jasmine?" Brandon asks as he flips on the light.
"Yeah?" I ask trying to keep my voice from shaking.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like crap," I reply.
He frowns, "I'm sorry to hear that, but on the bright side you are alive.
"I'd actually welcome death right now," I murmur to myself. He looks at me with shock on his face.
"I would have thought you to be much stronger than that," he says, coming over to sit on the stool beside the bed.
"I am, really. I'm just... afraid of the person who did this," I reply unable to look at him.
"You know who did this to you?" He asks. I nod staring down at my hands. "Did you tell the police?" He asks placing his fingers under my chin so I'll look at him. Shaking my head slowly, I can see the fire in his eyes. He draws in an exasperated breath and asks, "Why didn't you tell them?"
I've been waiting for this question to surface, anticipating exactly what I would say, but I have no words. We sit there just staring at each other when the door swings open startling me yet again.
"So how's my patient doing this morning?" Dr. Iverson asks, his voice carrying across the room.
He stops, looking back and forth between Brandon and me as huge smile crossing his face. Brandon nods at Dr. Iverson and quickly turns to me. "I'll be back later to check on you," he says as he walks out the door.
"My dear, you seem in better spirits today," the doctor says as he begins to examine my face.
"I am, Brandon has kept me company this morning," I reply trying not to smile.
He looks at me and shakes his head. "I've known Brandon since he was a small child and I can tell you, even though you don't know him all that well, that young man cares for you. I look at Dr. Iverson with a confused look on my face and he laughs. "How do you know him?" He asks me.
"I met him Thursday night at Bottlestopper, I was there with my cousin."
He nods. "Well you must have certainly made some impression on him if he was in here keeping you company."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"He caught his girlfriend cheating with a longtime friend of his." he says taking a seat on the stool. "He's a very loyal person and if he's with you he may simply talk to the opposite sex, but that's it."
"So that's why he didn't try anything." I whisper.
"What was that, dear?" Dr. Iverson asked.
"Oh nothing really, I just realized that's what I saw in him by himself all night." He nods and asks me to sit up. A burning pain shoots through my sides when I do and I whimper.
"I know its uncomfortable, but I've got to finish examining you." I nod as tears begin to fall from my eyes as he lays me back and presses on my abdomen. "I'm going to have a plastic surgeon come in and talk to you about your face, if that's ok?" he says.
"Ok." I reply closing my eyes as he turns to leave. The door shuts behind him and the silence of the room takes over. As I lay there with my eyes closed I hear the door creak open again. I open my eyes slightly and see Brandon and a teenage boy, not much younger than me, creeping in.
"Jasmine, this is Austin. This is the young man that found you," he says guiding him to me.
"I'm s-s-so sorry." he says taking my hand. The horrified look on the kids face speaks volumes. The bruising, blood soaked bandages and the purple rings under my eyes must look horrible. He just stares at me his mouth occasionally opening indicating he wants to say something but no words will come.
"Austin? Right?" I whisper. He nods, not taking his eyes off me. "Thank you. You are the reason I'm still breathing. If you hadn't gotten there when you did I would have surely died." I say, fighting my own tears from the realization of it. Austin leans down to me, kissing my forehead and hugging me softly.
"If you need anything...anything at all, please let me know." he says turning to leave.
Brandon takes his place by my side. "Sweet kid." I say with a smile.