The sun is a vivid red this evening. You watch it set with burning eyes. The clock is ticking. Soon, the moon will be full and another day would have passed. The night would welcome you with open arms, darkness engulfing you, bringing back the monsters of your past. You can feel the clench of your stomach, the tingling in your bones, the thump of your racing heart, and the time draws near.

The silence screams in your ears, the solitude crowds your mind, as the nightmares lay waiting to claw their way out of the dark recesses of your mind. Another night and you’re alone. You should have gotten used to it by now. Day by day, month by month, year by year, it is the same. It has always been the same.

You touch the smooth wood of the cabin wall, the scent of pine infiltrating your senses. Crashing water gushes far into the distance, and the whistle of the wind is noise nestled in the neighbouring hood of trees.

You hear it all and you don’t blink. A ripple of pain but you are numb. Or that’s what you tell yourself as you watch eyes of brown stare back at you from the window. Your long tresses, which were once a dark shade of black, are streaked with grey. The lines that mar your face appear distorted in the reflection; as distorted as you. So young, and yet so old.

A crow caws into the darkening night, masking the gasp that escapes your chapped lips. The onslaught of memories, the terror you felt as the vile creatures took away your innocence, seeps into your skin.

You can’t bear to lie down on the bed, you can’t bear to close your eyes.

Your insides are burning and you want nothing more than to shatter the glass in front of you. You turn away, walking to the other side of the barren room.

Barren except for a lone frame hanging on the yellowed wall. Your eyes inadvertently fall on it. There is a beautiful girl in the picture, unmarked and untainted. Her lips are curved in a half-smile, and her eyes shine with a bright light. You watch her, stare at her, transfixed. That laughter; you have not heard it in a decade and yet it rings in your ears. That light; you have not seen it in a decade and yet you remember the exact moment it burned out as if it were yesterday.

Has it really been only ten years? You don’t know. It feels like a thousand.

But you do know.

You have counted every moment, every hour, every day. You have counted and writhed in torment; hearing and watching and feeling as pain rips apart the fragments of your being, as shards of ice pierce your bleeding heart, as smouldering fire burns down the remnants of your soul. You have counted it all.

A bitter smile spreads across your lips and a million memories race through your mind. Memories of a time when you were just you, when the monsters hadn’t taken control of your body, hadn’t crushed your soul and revelled in your pain, when your days had been spent carefree, and the world was a beautiful place.

You laugh; beautiful. It is a strange word.

You were beautiful once – the beautiful, girl next door. And maybe you are beautiful today – a beautiful victim of a crime that the world says is your fault.

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