Right now, this is the beginning of my story. I want it to have more ooomph, but the story is still evolving in my head, and I don’t know all the badness yet, if that makes sense. LOL I’ll figure it out. I hope you like this unedited snippet. – RW
It was too dark. She hadn’t left the closet light on. It happened every time. She’d think she didn’t need it anymore. But she’d forget the nightmare always seemed to sneak back when it was too dark.
Years ago she’d slept with the light on every night, not a dim closet light or a tiny night light or even a lamp, she kept the regular overhead light on. It was the only way she could close her eyes. Her grandmother never said a word. They didn’t even talk about it, but she felt the old lady understood. She’d often wondered if there might be something in her own past, but she never asked. If there was something there that enabled greater empathy, Laurel decided to simply be grateful for it. She wouldn’t probe. God knew she didn’t want anyone doing that to her.
Now as she drank a glass of water she tested her mind to see if she could remember anything. But there was nothing. Her subconscious had graciously wiped all but the residue of the dream away. There were no specifics to follow her today, no horrible images to make her jumpy or to cause her to flinch away from the simple touches humans made as they went about their lives.
A few years ago she burned herself badly when someone touched her shoulder in a coffeehouse. Startled, she’d instinctively jerked away, and her arm took the brunt of a poorly applied coffee cup lid. She hadn’t wanted to make a fuss, but the manager insisted on calling an ambulance, assuring her the company would pay for everything. She took advantage.
She was unemployed and had no health insurance. Even she could see the burn was bad, her poor arm had throbbed like 20 rotten teeth, and the student health center wouldn’t have had much to offer beyond over the counter meds. They did better with STDs and broken bones.
The settlement she got – and a lifetime pass for free food and coffee – had been unexpected. She hadn’t asked for it, but the manager, and the district manager who’d come to see her in the hospital seemed to take it as a forgone conclusion that she planned to sue, and she was smart enough not to tell them different. They kept thanking her over and over for being so understanding about everything. Once or twice she had to bite her tongue to keep from thanking them for not throwing her and her second degree burn to the wind.
And when the money came it helped keep her alive and paid for her last two years of school and some of her student loans. Her lawyer had insisted the company pay for follow up care as well, and now her burn was just an extremely painful memory, the scar so faint she couldn’t even see it unless she was in the right light.
But she never drank hot beverages in company anymore. Only when she was alone and there was no chance of being touched.
She got up and stretched, righted a fallen shoe and made the bed. By the time the little chores were done her heartbeat was settled, and the past had receded enough for her to look out the window and smile.
She loved the city at this hour. It still bustled, but sluggishly, as if everyone was still half sleep but determined to go about their business anyway. Everything looked fresh today. It rained the night before, rinsing everything down before the summer sun dried it clean and burned away all the germs and badness…