Monday, August 2, 2010

Susan's Story

What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?
That was the game that night, as we all sat around the campfire, our only light. Even the moon had shunned us.
What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?
It was all Sam's doing, like usual. Her and Andrea had played a few songs on their guitars and sang and they were taking a break when she brought that question up.
What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?
And we all answered, one by one. We ended up with five stories told that scared us enough that after the last one was finished we packed it in and went home. If they were fiction, they wouldn't have had half as much impact. But knowing each other well, knowing that none of us were liars, knowing that each story was true, I think we all had trouble sleeping that night.
What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?

"Your turn, Suzy-Q." Said Andrea, looking at her from across the fire pit. That was meant as a joke but Susan didn't smile. Susan never smiled, she was one of those people whose face was fixed in a permanent frown. In the three months that I had been hanging out with all of them, I hadn't even heard her say more than two or three sentences to anybody. But she was a brilliant drummer and when she did talk, it was usually something pretty interesting and off the wall. She did have a sense of humor, although it was really dark.
She pushed her blond hair out of her face and glanced at everyone, with piercing blue eyes that took in everything. There was no hiding anything from her, if you were full of shit, she saw right through you. I did like her though, I'd rather have hung out with her then most anyone at school.
When she talked it was with a soft low mumble so that we all had to be really quiet to hear her.
"We all had pretty bad childhoods but I think mine was the worst. In fact I know it was. I'm not going to go into what happened in detail but basically I ended up in a foster home when I was about six or seven that treated me really badly and I ended up having to do a really bad thing to get out of there. It was about three years of therapy and pshycoanalysis before they figured out that I was sane and found me another set of foster parents."
She paused here and sighed.
"It was sort of the end of a nightmare for me, one that I had been living pretty much my whole life. When I got to my new house, I couldn't believe it. I had enough food to eat and ask for things without getting beaten. It was heaven, but the bad things that had happened to me where still under my skin. I dreamed about them, had terrible nightmares. Sometimes I would be sitting doing something like watching TV or trying to learn to read, and I would just start crying and I wouldn't stop for hours. And sometimes I would get angry for no reason and break things and I would feel so bad about it afterwards."
Sam broke in. "What happened? Come on, we're all your friends here, just tell us. We've all been through terrible shit."
Susan sighed again and sounded like she was going to cry.
"I was...I was sexually abused. Very badly for quite a long time. It's very hard for me to talk about...."
She wiped away a tear and Sam got up and walked over to her and they embraced for a long time. We all sat and looked at the fire as Susan sobbed loudly and Sam whispered things to her that we couldn't hear.
It made me feel very strange because I had never seen Susan cry before. She always seemed so strong and finally a wall had broken down. I wanted to give her a hug too and tell her that everything was fine. But of course that would have been a lie. When you've got something like that in your past, it's very hard to get away from. So I sat and poked the fire with a stick, feeling like a jackass till she sat down and regained her composure.
"I'm sorry, like I said, I don't like to talk about it." She wiped the tears off her face and pushed her hair back into her eyes.
"Anyways, weirdest thing I've ever seen? Well sometime in the first month with my new foster parents, they asked me what I wanted to do this one Saturday. They said they'd take me anywhere I wanted to go. I said I wanted to go to the beach, since I had never been to one. I had rode by a few of them and it had sort of become a place I would go in my mind. I would create real parents that would take me and they'd buy me hot dogs and ice cream and we'd play in the water and lay on the sand. I'd dream about it when I went to sleep at night, used it to escape when terrible things were happening to me..."
She looked like she was going to cry again but she swallowed hard and continued.
"They agreed and we went to Howling Wolf Lake that Saturday afternoon. It seems like such a small thing to people that went there whenever they wanted but I had never been to a beach before. I was over-excited. I ran around the sand and laughed and splashed in the water. My foster parents didn't know what to make of me since I had been so quiet up to that point but they played Frisbee with me and Dad threw me into the water over and over and we all built sand castles and dug water trenches. It was perfect, they even bought me ice cream. I ate it while they slept, I actually wore them out!"
She smiled here, a very rare occurrence.
"While they were asleep, I finished my ice cream and got bored. I thought about waking Dad up to play Frisbee again but I was afraid he'd get mad so took my Frisbee and walked off into the water. I was throwing it up in the air and watching it land, slowly getting into deeper and deeper water. After awhile I stopped and looked back and the beach was way far off, at least that's what it seemed like. I don't know what possessed me but I stopped throwing my Frisbee in the air and kept walking out further and further till the water was up to my chin, when a slight wave came, I had to spit to keep it out of my mouth. I had decided that was it and I was going to turn back when I felt a tug on my ankle. And when I tried to make my way back to the beach, I found that I couldn't move. I started to get kind of scared but I didn't start panicking till I felt the tug on my ankle again. This time it was strong enough to pull me right under the water."
"What was pulling you?" Andrea asked.
"It was a girl, about my age. She had this long blond hair that was all fanned around her face and these really green eyes. I know because she pulled me right down next to her and she smiled in my face as I kicked and struggled to hold my breath."
"Jesus..."
"It seemed like I was down a long time before I could make any headway towards the surface, but it seemed if I kicked as had as I could, I slowly moved upwards to the light and air. But the horrible thing was the grip on my ankle got tighter the higher I went and when I looked down, the girl was still there, smiling at me from ear to ear.
When I finally made it to the surface, I was so tired. And I was a lot farther out then I had been originally. I screamed as loud as I could and flailed my arms. And then I went under again and this time I couldn't get back up. My energy was gone and all I could do was grab at the lake bottom as the girl pulled me deeper and deeper. And then I blacked out..."
She paused again and stared into the fire.
"When I woke up I was lying on the beach and Dad was standing over me as I spit out a huge stream of water. He very looked very angry and I started to cry, trying to tell them about the girl through my sobs. They didn't believe me, of course, it all sounded so stupid. Till I showed them the marks on my ankle. It wasn't just bruises, there were deep gashes where the girl's hand had grabbed me. When I showed them, Dad stopped looking angry and got real quiet. He looked out at the water and then back at me and in a very odd sounding chocked off voice he said 'Lets go home.'
And that was that, we packed up and left. Never went back there again. I don't even think we ever even went to a beach after that."
"That's really creepy."
"And if you don't believe me, I still have scars on my ankle. And I'm done talking. John, It's your turn now..."

2 comments:

Oisin O'Sullivan said...

It totally reminds me of 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?'!!!!!!!

You had some very good characterisation on this girl.
And very creepy story, to boot.

Kurdt said...

Thanks!
I used to love that show when I was a kid and I think it's a great setting for stories with people around the campfire. So I stoled it!