Mhhh . . .
Lily cat? Is that you?
Ow, God, my head. It really hurts. And why is it so dark in here? The lights must be out. He must have turned them out. But why? Why would he turn the lights out?
Where the hell am I?
Scritch, scritch. “Meow.”
Oh, shit, there’s tape across my mouth! And my hands are tied. With rope. Scratchy nylon rope. Tied behind my back. My ankles too. They’re tied so tight they’re going numb.
Ahhhh, my back . . . My back hurts as much as my head.
And that smell. That taste. It’s salty. And metallic. It’s blood. There’s blood in my hair and down the back of my throat and it’s hard to breathe.
He hit me really hard this time.
But where the bloody hell am I?
Oh, God, I feel sick. And I need to pee, really damn bad.
“Mo ahm mem Meemmy. Meemmy!” What am I doing? The mangy cat’s not going to understand me with tape over my mouth. It’s not gonna understand me at all!
Ow, my head. What is that? A wall? Do it again, but gently this time!
It’s plaster board.
Now, put your head backwards. Slowly. BOMP. A brick wall. Jesus Christ, I’m in the wall. The motherfucker PUT ME INSIDE THE FUCKING WALL!
I’ve to get out. THUD. I’ve got to GET OUT! THUD. I’VE GOT TO GET OUT, I’VE GOT TO GET OUT, I’VEGOTTOGETOUT! THUD.
Damn, my head!
I need to keep still.
Oh, God I feel sick.
Cold and sick.
And I still need to pee.
Oh, my God, what is that now? What the hell is on my foot? It’s something crawling . . . something big and heavy with wire-like hair and an unnatural number of legs crawling ACROSS MY FOOT.
Oh, God, please don’t let that be what I think it is. Oh, shit, oh, shit, oh shit, it’s moving! Please, don’t go up my leg. Please, don’t go up my leg. Please, don’t go up my leg. Jesus Christ, get off me, please, get off me, get off me, GET OFF ME!
Shit . . . it’s gone. It’s crawled away. But for how long?
I’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!
I’ve got to get this tape off my face.
THUD, THUD, THUD, someone’s got to hear the thudding in the wall. Oh, God, please let someone hear it. I don’t want to die in here. I don’t want to die without seeing my baby girl.
Don’t give up yet. Look around. It’s pitch black but can you see anything at all? Anything?
Think. Think and breathe.
It’s hard to breathe when it’s so damn cold in here. I can’t seem to catch my breath.
We had a fight. Another one. But I can’t believe he’s doing this to me.
He hit me hard this time, so hard I fell on the coffee table and broke one of the legs. Emily was terrified. She screamed and cried and ran away from him. I hate that she’s afraid of her father.
As soon as he fell asleep, I crept into Emily’s room and grabbed her. My heart was hammering as I carried her downstairs and out the building. I was terrified he was going to catch us. When we got outside, we got into a cab and went the shelter.
But they were turning people away.
Other people are struggling with lockdown too.
He’d look for us, so I didn’t want to get my friends involved. And my parents live interstate. There’s no getting across the border so that was pointless.
I had no choice but to come back.
He knew we’d come back. He was waiting for us. He sent Emily to her room. She didn’t want to go and started crying. All he had to do was raise his hand and she ran.
He was furious . . . I’ve never seen him so angry. The way he looked at me . . . I could see the rage burning in his eyes. I ran when I saw the knife. He chased me all over the apartment, but there was nowhere to go. I felt the icy steel as soon as he plunged it into me more than once. The metal was cold against my insides. I remember gasping as breath escaped my lungs. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hold it there. And my blood . . . It was hot against my skin as it leaked out of me, as it ran down my back into the waistband of my jeans.
I guess I hit my head on something when I fell.
Now, I feel shaky and wasted, like all the blood has drained from my face.
I’ve got to get out of here . . .
Scritch, scritch. “Meow.”
“Where are you?”
Oh, my God, Emmy? I’m here, baby! I’m right here! Can you hear me? Can you hear me, baby? Can you hear Mamma? Emmy? EMILY?
“I can’t find you.”
Sobbing. She’s sobbing.
Oh, baby, please don’t cry. I’m here. THUD. See, I’m right here. THUD. I’m here, baby. In the wall. Go get help, baby. Go get help for Mamma. THUD THUD THUD.
Oh, no, I’ve scared her! No, Emmy, please, don’t go. Come back, baby. Please, come back. Mamma needs you. Mamma needs you . . .
She’s scared. I’ve scared her.
She’s not coming back.
Now, I’m going to cry.
Whatever I do, I can’t cry. I’ve got to stay strong and get out of here. I’ve got to get out and take care of my baby girl.
Get it together.
Breathe deep and think.
It’s hard to think when it’s so cold.
And I can’t wait to pee anymore. I don’t think anyone’s gonna care if I pee my pants.
Look up. What is that? Is it light? Coming through a crack somewhere?
Don’t worry, baby girl. Mamma’s gonna get out of here. Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be okay. I can see the light.
I love you, baby girl.
* The Wall features in The Village Views anthology.