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Path to redemption Chapter 1

Author: selfbetrayal
ASL Info:    19/F/NA
Elite Ratio:    8 - 212 /76 /10
Words: 1917
Class/Type: Story /What you did
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This is my first real attempt at writing a story which isn't a fan fic and any comments are welcome, particularly on how to improve it and what you thought of it. Yes, I know it's long!

Path to redemption Chapter 1

Path to Redemption
Chapter 1
In the Dark

Her gloved hand reached out to turn the handle of the front door, but even before the dark leather touched the cold metal she knew something was wrong. Deathly wrong. And she prayed that it wasn’t what she’d been running from for the past 9 years. She froze, shaking, and suddenly very cold, she’d only been out of the house for an hour, and at 9pm the neighbours would surely have seen anyone entering the house. But still, she couldn’t shake the feeling of cold foreboding that had settled deep in her stomach like a stone. She willed her hand to turn the handle, to move, to do anything, anything but just stand here, unmoving and chilled to the bone by the memories flooding through her. The tears, the smiles, the joy, the pain; and the eventual years running with a 5 month year old daughter who had learned the hard way to grow up in fear. And it was that last thought that finally set her hand into motion; her daughter, her beautiful Kat, who’d been the only thing to keep her standing for the last 9 years. Kat was in the house. And whatever her instincts to run, to start again in another new place, she could not leave her daughter.
So the feminine shape in a black trench coat slowly turned that handle, and stepped into the hallway which should have been home, but had now turned into her own personal hell. Her blood turned to ice, it was too quiet. Where were the stampeding feet of a young child? The high pitched voice raised with excitement and expectation? Instead of the welcome sounds of life in the house, there was nothing, nothing but the sound of her own breathing in the darkened hallway and the rasping breath of a mother who is truly terrified. Her feet started moving down the hall of their own volition, without the approval or permission from her brain, and she watched them in amazement as they carried her to the back room, the room where she’d last seen Kat. But there they stopped, almost as if negating all responsibility for what happened next and passing the baton back to the brain, which at this moment had done exactly what the body wanted to do; Run. A flash of her normal sense of humour came back to her for a second as she contemplated the difficulties of court-martialling her own brain for cowardice in the face of the enemy. But what was the enemy? Where was the explosion of incoming fire? That would have been preferable. At least then she’d have something solid to be afraid of, instead of this all pervading fear that usually came to her in the dead of night shortly before they’d move again. Another town, another house, another school; they all blend together after a while. 9 years she’d been on the road. So long, and yet so short when it comes to this dreaded moment.
Forcing her mind back to the present and trying to fight through the deepening urge of panic that threatened to overwhelm her, she quickly reached out a hand and opened the door, even though every instinct was yelling, ‘Run!’. At first, walking into the darkened room it seemed nothing was out of place, and she almost breathed out a sigh of relief. Almost. With quick, purposeful strides she reached the light switch, not sure whether she wanted to hit it, not sure she was ready for what she feared to see. But that hand, again almost of its own volition, moved upwards towards the light switch, and suddenly light flooded that small room. As soon as the light had infiltrated the corners, the dark places suddenly brought into terrifying clarity, all life seemed to leave her. With every ounce of energy that was left after seeing what lay in front of her, and forgetting all dignity, she fell to her knees, tears falling down her cheeks, and screamed.

Margaret O’Reilly in the attached house next door heard the scream of her neighbour and ran. Anyone who had met the 65 year old would not have thought she could move that fast, but at that moment in time she forgot her age, knowing there was someone in need, and this time at least she might be able to help them. Everyone looked up to her as a motherly figure, but still they all saw her as a doddering old lady, someone who’d lived past her best. Her only question to that was; ‘What is the best. Life is so full of pain and suffering that there is rarely a ‘best’.’ But still she listened, and advised, and helped; almost as if she was trying to make up for something she’d failed to stop. Someone she’d failed to help.
She’d seen her new neighbour move in three months ago, and had watched and helped her after she had moved in. It had taken Margaret three weeks to learn her neighbours name; ‘Tasha, but there’d been a pause before she gave the name, and no O’Reilly had ever got to the top by a lack of intelligence. Chances are she hadn’t given a true name. But that didn’t bother Margaret, at least she could call the girl something now. What bothered Margaret also broke her heart; how could someone so young have been hurt so badly? And she was young; somewhere between 22 and 25, and with a daughter who must be about 10, it didn’t seem to add up, the mother still looked like a child herself. And there was no doubt that she’d been hurt, there was something desperate in her face, perhaps the way her eyes moved constantly, always looking for a way out, an escape route, a plan B. Or how pale and drawn she was, or even how her child; she thought her name might be Kim, was rarely more than a step behind her, always watching her mother, as if waiting for a warning sign. There was something haunted about her, something that suggested prey being hunted. It made her vulnerable, childlike, and someone Margaret could try to protect, as she’d failed to protect her daughter all those years ago.
It was the thought of her daughter that propelled Margaret down the stairs, out the door and towards ‘Tasha’s door, whilst at the same time realising that she didn’t even know the girl’s second name, and through that just how little she really did know about her neighbour. But the door was open. That door was never open. Usually when she called round ‘Tasha would be so careful to identify who was at the door before even opening it. If there had been any doubt left in her mind, there wasn’t now; something was seriously wrong. She was halfway down the hallway when it occurred to her that if she just walked in on ‘Tasha without any warning she’d probably give the poor child a heart attack, so she called out ‘‘Tasha, it’s Margaret here. Is everything all right dear? I heard you scream…’

She heard her elderly neighbours call, but just couldn’t seem to reply. She knew that Margaret meant well, but at that moment she just wanted to be alone. Alone to mourn, alone to grieve, alone to sit on the floor rocking backwards and forwards while trying to pretend that none of this had ever happened. That she’d never got herself and her child into this whole situation. It was her fault and she knew it, if she hadn’t run then none of this would ever have come to pass. If she hadn’t run then He wouldn’t be angry. If she hadn’t run He wouldn’t have taken it out on her only child.
She heard the door opening quietly behind her and assumed that it was her neighbour, but didn’t really care if it wasn’t, she didn’t care who it was. Her whole world had just come crashing down around her shoulders, and it wouldn’t matter if she was killed now. At the very least it would save her the effort of doing it later. Every time a heart is broken and a soul smashed it takes a little more effort to put it back together again, but eventually you get to the point where there are just too many pieces to pick up, too much hurt to even try to heal. And ‘Tasha felt she’d reached that point, the one of no return, where nobody would ever be able to pull her out.
But someone was going to try.

Whatever Margaret had been building herself up for, it wasn’t this. As soon as she opened the door and saw ‘Tasha just sitting there, rocking, she knew that this was worse than she could have anticipated. But even then, lifting her eyes, she could not suppress a disbelieving gasp. The sight of ‘Tasha, normally so composed and almost cold, just sitting there, rocking, with tears falling silently from her sky blue eyes would be enough to unnerve anyone. But the sight beyond her, well, what words could describe it? Horrifying? Gruesome? Heartbreaking? None of them seemed to do justice to the sight of a young child sprawled on the floor at unnatural angles whilst blood around her soaked into her clothes and hair. With great effort Margaret ignored the young mother, and ran to the fragile form of the child who, and it hurt Margaret to even contemplate it, really didn’t look like there could be much worth left for checking. Kneeling beside the fragile, broken body, with shaking hands she tenderly felt for a pulse. And froze. With a racing heart she scanned the figure beside her, and tenderly stroked the blood sodden hair. With a firm and yet still gentle voice, she said ‘‘Tasha. Your child is injured badly, but we have a chance to save her if you call an ambulance now. Go.’ The girl’s head shot up and ceasing her rocking she just sat looking at Margaret with the most desperate expression of hope she had even seen. ‘Quickly, trust me, please. It’s the only chance she has got.’ Once again, she felt like the doctor she had once been.
With astonishing swiftness, ‘Tasha stood up and started moving towards the door. But in that one instant, Margaret had seen something that would stay with her for the rest of her life; ‘Tasha’s face went completely blank. No one should be able to go from distraught to blank, and yet she did. What in the high heavens had happened to the poor child?

‘Tasha however was moving almost automatically towards the house phone, while praying that it hadn’t been cut. She didn’t dare to hope, and yet she couldn’t not take the chance at salvation that she had just been offered. Simply the slim hope that her child may yet live. There may yet be hope for both of them. And so she started dialling.

And Margaret was still kneeling by the broken child, thinking. She was thinking of the look on the mother’s face, which was still a child’s face, when she first thought that her child may live. Hope. Such a simple gift, all that she had given her was those four plain letters neatly arranged. Hope. But in that word lay ‘Tasha’s only reason for living another day. Hope

Submitted on 2008-02-28 11:22:59     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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