She took the last of the gauze off, revealing Raven’s battered face underneath and smiled. Her face looked better than even she could have imagined. Dr. Walsh was a miracle worker. Dr. Briar remembered how Raven arrived at the emergency room two months earlier, unconscious and bleeding profusely from facial knife wounds so deep; everyone thought she’d die from blood loss. It was a miracle the poor girl survived.
“Okay, honey, you ready to take a look?”
Raven nodded, holding up the mirror slowly, her eyes closed in preparation. Mentally counting to ten, she opened her eyes, gasping in shock at the extensive bruising and swelling. Even though Dr. Briar warned her, the sight was overwhelming. She looked like a monster. With shaking fingertips, she traced the thin, jagged scar that started at her eye and ended at her jawline. Her left cheekbone, shattered by the powerful blows of her attacker and was put back together again by an orthopedic surgeon, caused the most swelling. Both eyes, purple and yellow with bruising, were also swollen and tender. The bruising extended down to her chest, and she remembered how he bit her like an animal. She violently threw the mirror across the room, shattering it, crying out with anger and frustration.
“I’m a monster!” she cried, “Oh, my God! Why didn’t you just let me die?”
Alison Briar felt her heart tug at the plight of the young woman. She didn’t deserve what happened to her; no one deserved such treatment. Putting her arm around Raven, she assured her the bruising and swelling was only temporary. She would heal.
“Are you okay to go home, Raven?” Alison asked, “Your friend, Tia is here, out in the waiting room. “
“Tia’s here?” Raven perked up a little, “Thank God, I just wasn’t sure I could face going back by myself.”
“No, she’s been here every day since you were brought in two months ago, hon,” Alison told her, “you’re very lucky to have a friend as dedicated as Tia.”
After signing all the necessary paperwork, Raven and Tia left the hospital arm in arm. Still stiff and sore, Raven was grateful for her friend’s help. As they walked up the three flights of stairs, Raven felt herself start to tremble.
“Easy, girlfriend,” Tia soothed, “I’m here. We’re going to do this together. Your landlord installed a double deadbolt for you and I got you an alarm system. Ain’t no one getting in here unless you want them to, got it?”
Unlocking her door, Raven froze, unable to walk through. “Can you check first, Ti?” she asked, “Just to make sure?”
Kissing her forehead, Tia went in, doing a walk-through and coming back to reassure Raven that all was well. “All clear, hon, let’s get you inside so we can sit you down.”
“Hey, how about a little wine to celebrate your coming home, Rae-Rae?” Tia asked, “I bought your favorite!”
Raven’s swollen eyes brimmed with tears when she noticed that all of Toby’s belongings were gone, except for his collar which hung next to the fireplace mantle. A picture of him was underneath it and next to that, a burning candle. A sweet remembrance of a sweet little dog. She hugged Tia tightly. Her friend was amazing.
A strange sound came from the living room and Raven immediately paled.
“What was that, Tia?” she asked, frozen in place.
“Why don’t check it out, sweetie?” Tia said, smiling broadly, “I promise you, it won’t bite, much.”
Raven walked slowly into the living room and saw the tiniest ball of white and black fluff she’d ever seen. Squealing with joy, she dropped to her knees in front of the Pomeranian puppy and gathered the baby up into her arms, crying and laughing at the same time as the little dog licked her tears away.
“Oh, Tia!” she cried, “oh, my God! It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“I didn’t know Pomeranian’s came in so many different colors!” Tia informed her, “My heart just melted when I saw this one. I knew she’d be perfect.”
“Oh, honey,” Raven wept, “You couldn’t have given me a better gift in all the whole world.”
“You’re so welcome, baby,” Tia crooned, “You just get better so I can hook you with a date, for God’s sake.”
Raven laughed, feeling the pain deep in the muscles of her damaged face. It reminded her of the old saying, ‘It only hurts when I laugh’. The wine she offered her was just like her friend to remember the tiniest of details. Ever since she tasted a glass of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, she was instantly in love, vowing never to buy another brand ever again. She loved its sweet caramel-vanilla flavor, without the tang of a fruitier wine. But now that she was home, remarkably, all she wanted was to be left alone so she could think, mourn her dog and sleep in her own comfortable bed. Yawning, feigning exhaustion, Raven swayed on her feet hoping Tia got the hint, which she did. Feeling a little guilty for wanting her best friend in the world to leave, she gave Tia a bear hug, thanking her for being there. She was honestly all that Raven had in the whole world. Both parents deceased in a car accident three years ago; she was an only child. Amazingly, so were both of her parents. She had no uncles, no aunts, and no siblings.
“Aw, honey, you’re exhausted,” Tia said after noticing her friend’s yawn, “let’s get you to bed and I’ll sleep on the couch tonight, so you’re not alone.”
“Oh, no, Tia,” Raven protested vehemently, “To be honest, all I want is some alone time. A hot bath, a glass of my fabulous wine and blessed silence. The hospital is definitely not a place to get to rest with nurses and doctors constantly coming in to get blood, check monitors and talk and laugh at the front desk all night long. And besides, I have my little Trixie, here to keep me company.”
“Aw, love the name! And I understand, baby, trust me,” Tia told her, giving her another gentle hug. “I’ll leave, but you have to promise me you’ll call if it all gets too overwhelming for you, okay?”
“Promise, Chica, thank you for everything,” Raven said, “I don’t know what I’d do without you. Honestly. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Finally alone in her apartment, Raven took a deep breath, hugging little Trixie close. The first thing she noticed was how different it seemed without her little Toby. Tears filled her eyes as she remembered the clickety-click of his little nails on the hardwood floors as he followed her from room to room. Her attacker took her little love from her, but her friend replaced him with another pup to love. The police showed her a myriad of photos, but she couldn’t identify him. The bite marks alone on her body could have sent him to prison. She felt an atypical feeling of rage building up like an inactive volcano come to life. It felt like hot lava needing to burst forth and cause destruction. How dare that son of a bitch break in her home, destroy her life and get away with it! Seething with hatred, she thought of her little Toby, who never hurt a fly. A sweet, loving, little ball of fluff who lived, for one thing; Raven’s attention. Putting Trixie down for a bit, she walked into the bathroom and once again looked at the bruised, beaten stranger in the mirror. He did this. He scarred her for life inside and out. He took from her what she was saving for her future husband. Screaming in rage, she put her fist through the mirror, shattering it and slicing her hand. Collapsing on the bathroom floor, she sat in the pieces of broken glass and blood, wailing her pain and anger.
Raven felt a little better, but she needed to care for the open wound in her hand. Remembering she had butterfly sutures, she quickly staunched the flow of blood with pressure, applying the sutures carefully. It was deep, but she refused to go back to the hospital for fear of being locked up in Mental Health for evaluation. She wasn’t crazy; she was livid with anger and resentment. That night, as she lay in bed, she knew what she had to do.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.