The evening sun hung low in the sky when I finally shifted from my position curled on the floor. A film of sweat coated me and blood caked maroon streaks down my thighs. Morning must have come at some point. I couldn’t even remember what I’d thought while I lay there. It felt like waking up, though I knew I hadn’t slept, and as I limped to the shower my lack of overwhelming emotion perplexed me. This must be what shock feels like, I thought to myself. It wasn’t what I expected.
I drifted like a ghost through the house, feeling disconnected from the things I saw, and cool bathroom tiles were a comfort to my hot skin. Icy shocks of water were a relief. I stepped into the shower without removing my clothes, and remained there, cold and wet, and numb.
Slowly, I began to take in what happened. I saw the shape of where I now stood in the world. I felt no grief- it would come later- but the rage I had felt during my rape came bubbling up beneath my ribs. My blood circled the drain in crimson and orange spirals. Water stung on my hip, my brand. My shirt chafed. I stripped it off in one smooth motion, ignoring the pain that screamed through my skin with the sudden movement, and flung it into the corner of the shower.
Father had known where to meet the resistance. Surely, if he had found them, I could. They had weapons, armour. Working technology. I could ask for their help.
The shower knobs shrieked as I turned them, abruptly cutting off the water supply. I pointed my toes as I stepped beyond the glass door, my steps silent on the damp tiles. I stared at the mirror. The girl in the mirror stared at me. She pivoted to show me the angry red streak on her rump, twisting and lifting her long mahogany air to expose the hand-shaped bruise on her shoulder. She looked angry, her lips were feminine and lush but pressed tight with a cruel hook in the corners. Her eyes were piercing. She frightened me. I wanted her strength.
“Eleanor.” I tried to remember my name. Eleanor, the quiet girl with the books. She laughed easily, and enjoyed helping her mother cook meals. Elle, who liked the bright colours of the vegetables. The girl who wore tattered summer dresses and wanted to scream when the man in a uniform violated her. “Eleanor.”
It was an empty word. She was as much a stranger to me as the girl in the mirror.