‘‘No, please don’t hurt me,” she pleaded. She screamed for help at the top of her voice.
Her voice seemed lost in the empty darkness of the room. She coughed, gasping for breath, at a corner of the room. She could see the shadow of her predator looming over her. It was darkness all around and all she could hear was the thud of her heart against the overpowering silence.
She tried to control her breath., She panted heavily.
How long has she been here? She seemed to lose track of time. Her pupils’ dilated, trying to pull in more light into her eyes than was there. She could see the flashlights from under the door above the staircase. She could see his shadow move across the room calling her name. She crouched in the corner but in vain. He now stood in front of her, the light from his torch fell on her. She groped for something – anything, near her. Her hands found something cold by her feet – perhaps a rod.
But before she could do anything he got hold of her.
There was a loud bang. A few more thuds.…
She felt something warm on her face and she passed out.
”Ellie wake up or you’ll be late.” her mom shouted.
She woke up rubbing her eyes. She didn’t feel like going to school that day. Her mom worked nights and used to wake her up before she hit the bed in morning.
Ellie reluctantly got up and dragged herself to the bathroom. She sat for some time in front of her dresser, admiring her face. She loved the way her bangs have grown. They enhanced her cheeks. She felt like dressing up that day. She tried dress after dress and finally settled for a black halter neck top, a red jacket and black shorts. She wore her favorite pair of red stilettos and put on some make up.
When she was finally happy with her appearance she went down to have breakfast. That’s when she heard her school-bus honk. She gulped down a glass of milk and ran out, but too late, the bus was gone. She didn’t wanted to go home and get her scooter to avoid her mom’s “I told you so”. She started to walk.
There was a short cut that would save her at least 30 minutes of walk. She took the route in spite of her mother’s numerous warnings about its notoriety. She was hardly a few minutes down the lane when she heard footsteps from behind. She turned around to find two hefty guys eyeing her shamelessly. She almost sprinted but they caught up on her.
The guy with the beard sealed her mouth with a tape and the other guy carried her into what seemed like an abandoned godown. She tried kicking and cried furiously but they pinned her down. She lost consciousness somewhere during the struggle.
She woke up almost naked by the side of the road, badly injured, scared and scarred for life.
She never smiled after that incident. She locked herself up in her room. That became her world. She was too scared to go out or to talk to anyone.
”Wanna buy me a drink,“ said a provocatively dressed Lizzie to the guy sitting alone at the corner of the bar.
It was a dimly lit bar, with just enough light to see someone sitting close to you. He looked up, sized his chance, and offered her a seat near him with a broad smile.
Now, Lizzie was a very voluptuous girl and dressed very invitingly too but she wasn’t at any man’s call. It’s just that she had her way of doing things.
With the first drink down they got busy with each other. Soon they were out in the deserted parking. He laid her on the back seat of his car and got busy. Lizzie felt suffocated soon. She wanted to leave but he was stronger than he appeared. He kept her down. She was almost going breathless when she pushed him away with all her might, grabbed crowbar spanner from under the seat and hit him hard, screaming ”You can’t hurt her you sick bas***.”
She ran away leaving him bleeding profusely in the parking.
Beth was making dinner for her mother. It was after a long time since she cooked. She felt very happy. She kept humming her favourite song. She wanted to surprise her mother with her favourite pie. She served the pie on a plate and took it to her mother’s room. Her mother was bed ridden.
“Mom, look what I made for you.” Beth took a spoonful of pie and tried to feed her mother, but she wouldn’t eat.
”Fine I’ll leave it here. You can have it later when you wish mom,” said Beth and left the room. She hummed her song closing the door behind her.
Officer Perez was briefing her captain outside the interrogation room about a homicide in her area. Behind the one-way-mirror-window was Ellie, crying and shivering in fear.
Officer Perez: ”What’s your name ma’am?”
Ellie: ”Ellie, My name’s Ellie.”
”Can you tell me what happened last night at your house?”
Ellie stumbled but she continued: “I… I was in my room sleeping when someone broke into our house. My mom was out on her night shift and I was alone. I got scared and so I went to the basement – you know, we call it our safe room. I heard footsteps all over the house. Then someone stepped down to the basement. There was no light. I tried to hide. He was calling my name. I think he was the guy from the alley. He was came to get me. I got very scared and felt breathless.…I think I passed out.…”
“Uh! I don’t remember anything,” she burs-ted out crying.
”So you don’t know who killed your mother?”
”She’s dead? No! Please god nooo…”
Perez got restless. She was at her wit’s end. She shouted ”Enough of the drama, ! Tell me what you did to your mother? And why did you hurt our officer?”
Ellie kept crying, covering her ears, trying not to listen to anything. She just lost her only family.
”Speak up you…, Why did you do it?” Perez banged her fist on the table and shouted.
“Tell me the truth or I’ll throw you in jail. Don’t act all innocent with me.”
There was an erie change in the air. Ellie stopped crying and looked up at Perez.
”Shut your bloody mouth you bi***,” her voice was cold as ice. There was menace in her eyes.
“I did it. Ellie doesn’t even know about it.”
Perez was thrown aback at the sudden change of scene.
”I am Lizzie, her sister. Ellie is too sissy to do anything. All she knows is to be scared and cry in a corner. Mother started bringing guys back to our home. I had to stop her from making our house into a brothel and so I just gave her some extra sleeping pills. But don’t you see, our mother has stopped making it a living hell for us. She now peacefully sleeps in her room.”
”But why did you hurt the officer?”
“He tried to hurt Ellie. I did what I always do – protected her. She always fall prey to such creeps.“ Lizzie fumed with anger.
Perez got exhausted of the rather unexpected interrogation. She took off her cap, went near the one-way-mirror-window, looked at her reflection, loosened a button of her shirt and took a deep breath.
She was suddenly reminded of one of her favourite childhood tunes: “Wonderful tonight…”
She started whistling the tune and suddenly from nowhere she heard someone singing the song with her.
She turned to look at Ellie. She now looked a chirpy kind, her eyes full of child-like pleasure.
”Do you like this song?”
”Ah.…I love this song. It’s my favorite. My mother loves it too,” said Ellie and she continued singing it.
Perez got confused. She looked at Ellie without a clue.
”Ellie? I’m Beth. How do you know this song? Me and mom loved this song. We used to dance to it. Maybe you should visit us someday. You know, my mom’s not keeping well these days. She’s always sleeping on her bed. She doesn’t dance with me anymore!“ she started humming the song again.
A news on the paper read: “Elizabeth Downey, age 23, sent to mental asylum. She has been tried on counts of murder of her own mother and attempt to murder of an officer who tried to rescue her from her house. She has been declared mentally unfit for trial and sent to mental asylum for treatment. She was the only child of Frank Downey and Maria Downey. Reports has it that Frank was an abusive father and died of liver failure ten years ago.”
“And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight.”
Beth hummed her favourite tune as she brushed her hairs in her room.